I had a tremendous experience hearing from Tolulope and Zenith Cleaners. While I was thrown off at first by the fact that someone was presenting to us about “cleaning”, and that he actually meant house cleaning, surface cleaning and what have you! When you are used to Ernst & Young executives coming in to show you the latest trends in venture shares for major IPOs, talk about consulting for Wal-Mart and trying to sell their company as the smartest kid on the block. And there we had a guy in his thirties telling us about cleaning… It made me take a step back.
I was confused when he first started telling his story: how could a McGill grad, especially a Desautels MBA graduate, have become a house cleaner? Isn’t that the type of employment that we worked so hard to avoid?? However, Tolulope’s definition of cleaning got me hooked on what he was saying: “Cleaning is the process of removing dirt from any space, surface, object or subject thereby exposing beauty, potential, truth and sacredness”. My initial reaction was along the lines of “I’m not sure what kind of drugs he took to arrive to that statement but it must have been powerful”.
But as I started listening to him, I realized that the notions of stigma that were associated with the job were the reasons I reacted so violently to his opening lines. I did have a prejudice against this type of work. It was not necessarily my fault, as I didn’t know this type of work that well, it simply was natural for me to assume that a cleaner was someone that didn’t have the chance to get an education, and was therefore “relegated” to cleaning other people’s mess.
One of the sentences that resonated with me was along the lines of cleaning being a must. It is an action we all have to do. It is not glamourous, nor is it well viewed by society. However it can be gratifying in ways other employment never would. Tolu managed to link this to the superfluous aspect of many jobs. Cleaning was at least something more essential than marketing for example. I immediately associated this prejudice I had against cleaners to the ones people might have against farmers, or other forms of employment considered “bottom of the chain” or “dirty”. It made me realize that without them, the ones that were built on these foundations would crumble and eventually fall. If what is at the roots of a society becomes cast out, its very foundations tremble.
Matthieu Lefort McGill BCom Student at a guest lecture at McGill Desautels Faculty of Management, October 2014 Dec. 16, 2014