If you happened upon our Facebook feed Monday morning, you likely came across a classic Late Night with Conan O’Brien video sketch we shared, entitled “Chimney Sweeps Lying About what They Do for a Living”. In the video, which you can view here, several stereotypical soot-covered chimney sweeps, complete with top hats, tails, and British accents, attempt to convince fellow bar patrons that they do anything other than spend their working hours sweeping chimneys.
“I work in an office… corporate… a corporation… a office company”, says one sweep sitting nervously between two women in a booth. “I bake and sell my own line of oatmeal cookies”, says another.
While a lot of people found this video humorous, some even sharing it on their own personal pages, there were still a few who were left with a bad taste in their mouth. It may come as a surprise, but we were actually glad this was brought to our attention, because this gives us a great opportunity to talk about how to render stereotypes powerless through education, certification, and positive promotion. And, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on in regards to this specific video, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of (if not all) CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps® are incredibly proud to identify themselves as such, and for excellent reasons, including:
- CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps undergo rigorous training and testing in route to certification.
- For more than thirty years, the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® credential has been the industry standard credential.
- In addition to the required continuing education for maintaining their certification, CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps® must also commit themselves to a mandatory Code of Ethics or risk losing their certification.
As for rendering an outdated stereotype powerless, there’s really only one sure path to doing that, and that is to do good work you can be proud of, acknowledge that the stereotype still exists and then proactively use it yourself in a humorous way to (preemptively) illustrate the distance between perception (chimney sweeps are uneducated and embarrassed by their professions) and reality (CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps® are required to maintain a high level of education and are incredibly proud of their work); because, once you claim it as your own, it can’t be used against you.
So, be proud of your work and don’t be shy to let the world know that being a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® is no laughing matter.
Have a great week!
About the author: Jordan Whitt is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Additionally, Jordan also does occasional public affairs work for both the American Red Cross and Indiana Department of Homeland Security. You can email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.