Fit In Or Fuck Off

"Fit in or fuck off" ("FIFO"[1][2]) is an expression used unofficially within organizations. It is a controversial[3][4]human resources philosophy whereby the employee is expected to rigidly conform to the prevailing organizational norms or get fired.[5] It is also used to encourage conformity to perceived racial, national, gender or societal norms.


The principle can directly effect hiring and retention decisions. In the world of television news, there is a bias to hire those who have shared values and biases with the organization.[6][7] Likewise, executive producers of news shows tend to hire staff that share their ideology and viewpoint, to the extent that FIFO is ruthlessly applied.[6]

At least one writer suggests it is a "no-holds barred", "frank" and open assessment by a supervisor, who maps the employee's chances and alternate career paths boldly, forthrightly and unhesitatingly. This is said to be "not necessarily" to the employee's advantage.[8]

Fitting in is not "a one way ticket." The Guardian newspaper quoted an anonymous source, who was employed by a United Kingdom housing association, said that FIFO is a rule of organizational life. It is an organizational paradigm whereby the members of the team adopt 'protective coloration' and undergo a change in their behavior and beliefs. It is a strong deterrent to whistle blowing, for example.[9]

As an organizational model it tended to effectuate the leader's desire to "surround himself with a bunch of 'Yes-men'". It also had the perverse effect of driving away groups of independent-minded employees, who formed alliances, pooled their expertise, and left to form their own start-up. Of course, this was touted by the employer to be evidence of their evil intent and lack of loyalty.[10]

Corporate implementation of a FIFO policy was said to be coincidental, if not causally-related, to a toxic tit-for-tat relationship with a union.[4] As The Tyee opines:

"One of the few things that the union and management agree on is that there is a new culture at Telus. Management describes it as the culture of a competitive meritocracy. Some people in the union at Telus call it the 'FIFO war.'

"The term comes from Telus CEO Darren Entwistle, the Montreal-born executive who came to Telus five years ago from a telecommunications company in the U.K. In a profile of Entwistle that ran in B.C. Business magazine in May, Lori Bamber wrote this about FIFO:

"'In accounting it stands for 'first in, first out'; at Telus, after Entwistle's arrival, it stood for 'fit in or fuck off.' It wasn't something that endeared him to people who heard about it. 'You could get away with more in Europe,' he says when asked about this controversial human resources philosophy. 'People expect you to tell it like it is there.'"[4][A]

Such tactics and countertactics have implications for the organization's strength.[B]

In the United Kingdom there were government proposals to statutorily extend Employment-at-will and permit employers to have immunity for "Fit in or fuck off" (not in those words) discussions with employees. Such proposals have met with vocal opposition by organized labor, specifically Unite the Union.[12]


The acronym "FIFO", the neologism, the phrase and meme "fit in or fuck off", and the concept have been expanded and exported to other contexts. These transcend space and geographic boundaries. For example it is used as a justification for racism, nationalism (e.g., jingoism), ethnic, nativist, immigrant restriction and xenophobic reaction, regulation and action.[3][13][14][15]Sexist reactions and stereotypes are also justified under the rubric.[16] Thus, female guests on podcasts of This American Life have been often criticized for 'non-Alpha' speech patterns, even though prominent males (e.g., Noam Chomsky) have exhibited similar traits.[16] And some have advised them to "FIFO".[16]

As one novelist observed:

"I remember the t-shirt... This one had the EO crest ... and the slogan 'Fit in or fuck off.' The fuck off part was written in Afrikaans to highlight our speech preference. A common cultural anomaly of the area was despite both speakers knowing each other's languages neither speaks the other's. Each speaker stubbornly speaking his or her own tongue, despite a complete understanding of the other's. On the back of the t-shirt it read, in Afrikaans, 'I'm not a U.N. soldier. Go die someplace else.'"[17]

The use of the phrase is controversial. So, at least in some Australian environs, it has been more politely sanitized as: "Fit in or farewell."[3]

Irrespective of political leanings, it has been used as an accusatory and pejorative expression and criticism of persons and viewpoints contrary to the writer's.[18]

See also



  1. ^ It is related to the "last hired, first fired" concept. FIFO more commonly stands for first in first out or fly-in fly-out, so the casual observer may confuse it with that meaning.[4]
  2. ^ Some systems theorists and management consultants, such as Gerald Weinberg, see the flow of blame in an organization as one of the most important indicators of that organization's robustness and integrity. Blame flowing downwards, from management to staff, or laterally between professionals, indicates organizational failure. In a blame culture, problem-solving is replaced by blame-avoidance. Weinberg emphasizes that blame coming from the top generates "fear, malaise, errors, accidents, and passive-aggressive responses from the bottom", with those at the bottom feeling powerless and lacking emotional safety.[11] See Kiss up kick down.


  1. ^ Dalzell, Tom; Victor, Terry, eds. (2015). The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 297. ISBN 9781442615861. ISBN 9781442647770. 
  2. ^ "What does FIFO stand for?". All acronyms. Retrieved 2017. [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ a b c Sarra, Chris (January 1, 2013). Good Morning, Mr Sarra: My Life Working for a Stronger, Smarter Future for Our Children. St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia: University of Queensland Press. p. 279. ISBN 9780702249082. 
  4. ^ a b c d Barrett, Tom (August 8, 2005). The Video that Outrages Telus Employees. The Tyee. Retrieved 2017. Lewd 'team building' party, caught on tape, further soured relations inside phone firm. 
  5. ^ Bamber L (2 May 2005) On the Line with Darren Entwistle BC Business
  6. ^ a b Bivens, Rena (January 2014). Digital Currents: How Technology and the Public are Shaping TV News. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division. p. 143. ISBN 9781442615861. ISBN 9781442647770. 
  7. ^ Buerk, Michael (September 27, 2005). The Road Taken. London: Arrow Books. p. 96. ISBN 9780099461371. 
  8. ^ Duncan, Kevin (January 17, 2017). The Business Bullshit Book: The world's most comprehensive dictionary. Concise Advice Lab (paperback). LID Publishing; Com edition. p. 10. ISBN 1910649856. ISBN 9781911498148. 
  9. ^ The Guardian (2015) quoted in Ash, Angie. Whistleblowing and Ethics in Health and Social Care. City: Jessica Kingsley. p. 62-63. ISBN 9781784501082. 
  10. ^ Strichow, Hans (December 19, 2013). My Life in a Nutshell: Life Is All About Fun, Frustration, and Fulfillment. Balboa Press. p. 117. ISBN 9781452512440. 
  11. ^ Gerald M. Weinberg (March 5, 2006) Beyond Blaming, AYE Conference
  12. ^ Burke, Tony (November 25, 2011). "Vince Cable's employment rights changes - "fit in or f**k off"". Tony Burke. Retrieved 2017. 
  13. ^ Ward, Trevor (March 26, 2013). "An Englishman In Scotland The English and the Scots have always had a bit of a turbulent relationship but Sabotage Times discovers that what was once refered [sic] to as "friendly banter" has now boiled over into full blown racism.". Sabotage Times. Retrieved 2017. 
  14. ^ Giggs, Rebecca (November 4, 2015). "Open Ground". In Williamson, Geordie. The Best Australian Essays. Collingwood Victoria, Australia: Black Inc. p. 112. ISBN 9781863957779. 
  15. ^ Wells, Theresa E. (July 28, 2016). "Why People Who Don't Fit In Should Never Fuck Off". Retrieved 2017. [unreliable source?]
  16. ^ a b c Holman, Rebecca (August 2017). Beta: Quiet Girls Can Run the World: There is more than one way to be the boss. London: Coronet. pp. 123-124. ISBN 9781473656208. 
  17. ^ Covey, Scott D. (February 23, 2011). Grey Redemption. Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse. p. 32. ISBN 9781450296397. 
  18. ^ Lutwyche, Michael. Hardcore. ISBN 9781783010509. [unreliable source?]

Further reading

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