Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

So far, my morning had been uneventful. Don’t get me, wrong, uneventful was good. I liked things to be simple.
I decided to fill some long overdue questionnaires that a company I had worked for had sent (I do the occasional freelance job for them. It pays the bills). I almost fell off my chair.
To cut a long story short, in the UK, your ethnicity or sexual orientation dont matter, except for statistical purposes. In France, such things are considered to be private. You NEVER EVER mention them, let alone  fill a questionnaire with your name on it for your company, for whatever purpose it might be. To make matters even worse, it was not the first time I had worked for this company. Hadn’t I already filled this? I couldn’t remember. Why do it another time? Maybe things had, well, moved on for me. You could never know.

Right, let’s start. I struggled with the questions on my ethnicity. I could choose White/Mixed/Asian/Black/Chinese or not stated/Please Specify. Right. What was I? I could say white, but I have some Arab blood. Does it make me mixed? I wonder. The options for mixed were White and Black Caribbean, White and Black African, White And Asian or Other/please state. I could say Other/White and Arab. I was not too sure about this. If I were to choose White, the options were White British, White Irish or Other/Please Specify. Should I say White British as I have a British passport? Or should I say Other/French? As my grandfather is Italian, should I say White/French/Italian. How about White/French/Italian/British with a bit of Arab background. Or maybe simply White/European. This is becoming too complicated. Let’s pass, I will decide later.
Onto the sexual orientation questionnaire. Seriously, this was getting from bad to worse. Why did they care?
Let’s look at the choices:
For our company statistics, please state whether your are:
1.     A heterosexual male
2.     A heterosexual female
3.     A homosexual male
4.     A homosexual female
5.     A bisexual male
6.     A bisexual female
7.     Male to female transgender
8.     Female to male transgender
9.     Other (please specify)
I started wondering was the last category was. This was all becoming too much for me, and I was still deep in thought when a friend of mine joined me for lunch. I decided to have a glass of wine with her (I don’t normally drink during the day but all these boxes I had to tick were freaking me out). I must admit that filling in the questionnaires with a couple of glasses of wine in my system was a lot easier. I couldn’t remember what I decided to put in the end, but soon enough I hit the ‘send’ button. I was pleased to be over and done with the whole thing.
But I had spoken too soon. Of course I had. An hour later, the HR assistant called me to let me know that I had forgotten the questionnaire about my religious background. No, really?
Seriously, when does it stop?
Then, she said that if I wanted to, she could use the form I had filled 5 years ago.
Of course, please do.
The thing is, she said, my responses were not the same in the ethnicity questionnaire. What should she do?
Damn it. it will never stop. I told her to choose the one she liked most.
What about you? Do you think it is normal to fill in such questionnaires? Have you ever had to do it?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London