There is only one HSBC, one Nokia, one Ford, one Leica. That's fact. More important than fact, the customer only sees there being one.

Which is the straight forward unquestionable reason why it upsets anyone at all when we interact with a representative of a company, or have any kind of communication with a company, and the response effectively belies the fragmentation of the organisation, the fact that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing and actually doesn't care.

I put "they" in quotes, because we can learn two almost contradictory things from our use of this pronoun. First off, it indicates that we all recognise in natural language that an organisation is simply a collection of people. Just because the 20th Century bred organisations with tens of thousands of people making up "they", doesn't detract from the fact that it is still just people. Like you and me.

That's why we use "they" as the pronoun for a company more often than not in place of the grammatically correct "it".

Secondly, the "they" also indicates what's known as the reification of an organisation. In other words, we teach ourselves to consider the organisation as an entity in its own right, a thing, a tangible thing that lives and breathes of itself. We have abstracted it away from being the collection of individuals that it actually is. Read more