But RELATIONSHIPS!

How do we know if your work is good if we can’t see you in the bathroom next to us?

1. Seats – as if men ever have to wait. 2. What really happens in there? Transitions of power, I think.

Finance needs face-to-face interactions. You need to develop human trust along with conventional technical understanding.

Random very bad manager on twitter

My friends. This claim – that people cannot have successful careers unless they are in the office with their co-workers – is moot for me, as I hope to be part of The Great Resignation until I can get on Medicare, when I will devote my time to fostering cats and volunteering in literacy programs.

(By then, I hope we will be able to – voluntarily – see each other in person again. By then, I hope everyone vaxxable will realize that Fox news and the Former Guy lied to them and that vaccines are GOOD and that if nothing else, they won’t get normal life back until they suck it up.)

You know what face to face interactions do?

They perpetuate privilege.

They perpetuate systemic racism.

They perpetuate systemic sexism.


I hear the sorrowful cries of, “But how will people develop relationships – how will they develop trust – if they are not in the office?”

I don’t know. By talking to people? The same way you do in the office?

I spent seven years in two different jobs working with people around the world, most of whom I never met in person. Or, if we did meet in person, it wasn’t until we had been working together for a while.

Guess what?

I developed relationships with them.

It is possible to develop a relationship via the phone, or skype, or zoom, or whatever the means of communication.

You just have to show a tiny bit of interest in the other person.

Me? I have to hold back. I am nosy and want to know everything about everybody, but I don’t let myself ask too many questions because then people think you’re weird.

But I do want to know. Are you married? Kids? Where did you grow up? How many siblings? What did you study in college? What do you do for fun? What do you want to do when they retire? Where did you go on your last vacation? What are you reading?

See? You probably wouldn’t want all that coming at you at once, but I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS.

And trust?

Here is how you develop trust, FINANCE INDUSTRY: Don’t screw people over. Sheesh.

(At a more practical level: Do what you say you will do. Meet your deadlines. Help your coworkers. This is not a complicated concept.)


I hear some of you saying, “WTF Texan? What do you mean face to face perpetuates privilege, racism, and sexism?”

Simple.

People like to promote – and this is not always a conscious decision – people who are like them. The people they pee next to. The people they golf with. The people they’re in the locker room with.

How often do white male executives in the US pee with golf with, or change clothes with women and/or people of color?

In 2021, a whopping 8.1% (that “.1” is critical, I guess, when the number is that small) CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women. (Fortune)

There were only four Black CEOs in the same group, a percentage that I am too lazy to calculate but (4/500) is very very small.


You know what work from home does?

It forces management to evaluate people on what they accomplish, not on how well a person can BS with the boss or on how familiar and comfortable the person seems to management.

Yes, I know the ability to schmooze and be political is necessary for some jobs.

But even if it is, it shouldn’t be the only thing. It shouldn’t be prized about actual ability, but that’s what seems to happen sometimes: the political people are valued over the competent people.

It’s not that everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder. But – it would be nice if those who do would have a shot.

(And also – even if you don’t want to climb the ladder, in many cases, you have to pretend that you do.)

When you evaluate people on what they actually do as opposed to what they look like, women are picked more often.

A number of studies have found that female-authored papers are accepted more often or rated higher under double-blind review (when neither author nor reviewer are identifiable).

Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez

[A] number of orchestras adopted “blind” auditions whereby screens are used to conceal the identity and gender of the musician from the jury. In the years after these changes were instituted, the percent of female musicians in the five highest-ranked orchestras in the nation increased from 6 percent in 1970 to 21 percent in 1993. 

American Economic Review, September 2000

This is not a new concept. When I was in grad school, my organizational behavior professor (thank you, Dr Janet Duckerich for teaching this to me), asked that we identify ourselves on our papers and tests by our social security numbers, not by our names.

She wanted to eliminate as much potential bias as possible, she explained.


What if management thought about how to serve customers and employees in the best way possible instead of about how to perpetuate power?

That would be weird.

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4 thoughts on “But RELATIONSHIPS!

  1. You are totally right on this. And, we all need to work HARD to try to break down the walls of white, male, privilege! Keep crusading, Sister!

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  2. If management thought about *serving* anyone other than themselves and the stockholders, that would be nice.

    (but really: people do better work long-term in a better work environment; if people are not stressed to the gills, they have more capacity to *do the work* and to *see errors* and to apply creative solutions to completely revolutionize aspects of their job in a good way. Stress them to the gills? They’ll work harder, not smarter, for a while until they burn out.)

    I wish all jobs could be evaluated truly behind screens, but they can’t (for instance, some people are valuable to an organization more as “glue” and support for other people than for their individual “production” levels), and I don’t know what the answer to that is. But not “go back to the way things were in the 1950s” anyway.

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    1. Of course you are absolutely right, KC. Not every job lends itself to easy quantification. But I have heard executives talk about how they can’t promote someone unless they develop a relationship – and I think, “Then develop it online because good young people have options now.” I hear “develop a relationship” as code for, “Someone I can talk to easily while we golf together or go to a strip club.” And that means I am not the person they want the relationship with.

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