business news in context, analysis with attitude

Michael Sansolo had a column yesterday about people who include in their online signatures notations like "he, his, him" or "she, hers, her" or "they, them" - designed to tell the reader how they identify in terms of gender.  At a time when a number of people do not identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth, perhaps being in transition or nonbinary, this can be helpful in terms of conversation.

Michael wrote:

For cisgender people (those for whom their gender is in alignment with the gender they were assigned at birth), these are easy statements.  But for others, they may not be.  For them, the world is harder to navigate.

For customer-facing businesses out there, I know this is one more complexity in a world that seems loaded with complexities and near endless ways to offend.  Sensitivity to pronouns seems like such a small thing, but to a specific group of people, it means everything. And perhaps to a larger group, it demonstrates caring.

Yes, it is an amazingly complex world with near endless demands on your time and attention. The necessity to be aware of so many issues can be draining, but it’s endlessly important that we all pay attention to such things so that we can make informed decisions on when to act or not act.

Prompting, perhaps inevitably, one MNB reader to write:

The pandering to every imaginable perceived feeling is leading us into a tyranny – the choice to adhere to an idea or philosophy is being removed. Imposition is the new normal.

The days of treating everyone respectfully and equally are over, it is no longer acceptable or enough, now one must adhere to the protocol dictated and imposed by specific groups/movement otherwise one is a racist, bigot, homophobic, white supremacist individual who deserve to be eviscerated.

These have so much love that they will beat the s…t out of you until you are able to love as much as they do.


Who are you hanging out with that whenever you express these feelings, they're threatening to beat you up?

I think you are talking about two different things here and, for some reason, conflating them.

It is my experience that often, when a person is accused of being a "racist, bigot, homophobic, white supremacist," it is because they have said something or done something that makes people think that they are racist or bigoted or homophobic or a white supremacist.

As for the tyranny to which you refer … I must respectfully disagree with you.  I'll only speak for myself here.  I don't feel imposed upon when people ask me to be sensitive to who and what they are.  I don't feel like I am pandering when I do so.  I'm just trying to be a decent human being, do the right thing, and be respectful of their feelings and identities.

While you say that "the days of treating everyone respectfully and equally are over," I would suggest that for some people, those days never began.

We also got another email about Michael's column:

I think you could have better served your purpose of educating your audience about pronouns and gender diversity without the false dilemma device of bucketing us into only two polar opposite groups.  We are not all only either completely clueless (unlike Kevin and your wife) or reactionary (“what is this politically correct crap”) , any more than we all fit into only two traditional gender groups.

I asked Michael about this, and he agreed that the column oversimplified the situation by bifurcating the group.  So, point taken.

Responding to our continuing coverage of DoorDash's shift from delivery service provider to retailer competing with its own clients, MNB reader Mike Gaumond wrote:

You mention DoorDash stealing these retailers customers, but they’re also letting them steal their customers shopping habits first by delivering for them. More information they can use when tailoring their own stores. 


Reacting to something we used to illustrate the ethical housecleaning that McDonald's clearly needs to do at its headquarters, one MNB reader wrote:

Wow!  That was an uplifting Mc D’s commercial straight from my childhood.   Couldn’t help but notice there were no women and no teenagers in the clip.  Looks so odd now…

And from an other reader:

Thanks for sharing the Iconic McDonald’s “Deserve A Break Today” ad.  I watched it on You Tube and many others that they ran in the 70’s. Makes you think abut the cleanliness upfront again too, not such a bad idea in these times…

On another subject - now consumer confidence is dropping while CEOs seem more sanguine about economic prospects, MNB reader Mark Heckman wrote:

It is amazing to me that Consumer Confidence numbers seem to have developed an inverse relationship with retail least in Food, Drug, Mass, and On-line across all channels.  I didn’t see that coming. 

But understandably, with the reality that COVID-19 is now COVID-20 and is not likely to leave the planet without a vaccine, it is not surprising that with all the negative news --consumers are feeling less confident, especially if you are in state where unemployment due to lockdowns is still double digits and you are one of those digits.  

However, as you have noted and written, the pandemic has provided many retailers THE reason to finally put an end to their indecisions about making consumer-driven changes to their business model. Fueled by  the 25% year over year sales growth many are enjoying, they have smartly monetarily rewarded their brave associates and are beginning to make investments in technology and process to better compete in a post-Covid marketplace.

So maybe every cloud does have a silver lining…or at least in this case -- the cloud has provided a solid kick in the rump to make long overdue changes …focused on the shopper. 

From another reader:

Probably what one should suspect with the level of unemployment and schools starting back and so much worry about the short term.  Expect it to get better, especially if Congress can get off their behinds and get a package out there.

Big "if."