Friday 19 November, 8.45am, Teutonic Room: “Cop this!” snorts Charlie Boy, staring down at his phone, interrupting my half-hearted explanation of why GBH now wants staff to define their personal pronouns.
“Look!” he says, waving his Samsung Galaxy Fold. (He has no idea how sad it looks for a 55-year-old to display new toys.) “Our masters in Atlanta have paid silly money for those weirdos in Hoxton to greenwash our pitches. Listen to this BS: ‘Together with our new partner we aim to drive disruptive and impactful change by embedding sustainability in everything we do.’” (A familiar-sounding statement I discover later was cut-and-pasted from a JLL website.)
I’m seriously annoyed. What’s Atlanta doing? Aren’t they supposed to tell UK management first? (Turned out our Hoxton weirdos were owned by some proptech planet-savers in San Jose who leaked the news in the middle of our night.) Best to lie. “I’d heard this was in the works. The £20m will only be paid out against performance targets, I’m sure.” (I’m not.) “Our rivals are all over sustainability for good reason. The potential fee income is humongous, with the incalculable bonus of making us agents look like we have souls. Can’t say that of our valuers, can you?”
Nods of half-hearted assent.