Shit I Want Employers To Stop Doing In 2020

Literally, 10 minutes ago, I was on LinkedIn after getting an email with jobs I may be interested in. I scrolled and noticed a position for a “Complaint Writer.” I read the job description carefully. Basically, when customers complain, the Complaint Writer is the one who writes the nice professional letter explaining the outcome of the complaint and its accompanying reasons. Sounds easy and frankly, as a writer, when you can find a staff position with benefits, you’ll write about jelly beans all day if you have to. 

Anywho, I get to the requirements and at the very end of the list is the requirement to know how to do v-lookups and pivot tables. Now, most of us hate Excel. I don’t particularly like Excel because I feel like it’s not catching up with the rest of us in terms of usability. At this point, v-lookup and pivot table should be two buttons you can push and not some apocalyptic formula you have to know and input. Further, I’ve had a job where I had to only work in Excel and do that v-lookup shit (which I learned at that job and immediately forgot after that job) and that job was strictly numbers. I don’t understand why I need to know v-lookups and pivot tables to write people letters about the status of their complaints.

This got me thinking: it’s time for employers to stop these nonsense pre-employment behaviors. It seems like after the recession in 2007/2008, every employer decided that they were actually doing nuclear fission and that they needed to construct some high and mighty image when none of the positions they are hiring for actually merit them. 

So, here’s my list of the shit that I want employers to stop doing in 2020.

counselor

So, in general, school counselors must have a master’s degree in counseling plus a teaching certificate with the counseling specialty. $14.50/hr. Yeah, no.

1. Ridiculous requirements: As I mentioned earlier, it’s time for employers to stop requiring skills and background that are not relevant to the position. We’ve seen far too many companies wanting someone with a 4-year degree while only paying $17.00/hr. If the position that you’re hiring for only pays $17/hr., then trust me, a 4-year degree isn’t necessary. I have two master’s degrees. When I see a job listing that requests that level of education, I presume that the knowledge needed to execute the position well is such that one will need higher education and the salary is commensurate with that knowledge. If the job only pays $17/hr., what you’re wanting people to do ain’t that special nor hard, tbqh.

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2. Phone screens: I don’t know when it happened but this need to have applicants talk to three people on three separate occasions before you call them in for a real interview is ridiculous. In my experience, all three people ask the same thing in a different way and being the stable earth sign that I am, my answers don’t change. What I also notice is that there is often a level of disorganization present. It seems that one hand doesn’t know what the other five are doing. It feels like a popularity contest in which, instead of seeing if a candidate is qualified, it’s really more like, “I like him/her. See if you do too; then, see if Chad does too.” What a waste of time!

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3. Working interviews: Here’s the scenario: you’re called in for an interview and the questions are normal at first and get more and more specific until you realize that they are presenting you with actual problems they have and are asking you to solve them…in the interview…for free. I don’t participate in those because I see it as an underhanded way to get free labor from people who likely won’t be hired. Being a Black woman, I have to be especially careful about employers trying to use my intellectual labor without compensation; and that’s after being hired. There’s no way I’m going to let an interviewer turn me into an employment side-chick giving them what they need only for them to not commit.

4. Catchall job listings: People are trying to shape careers. This is why I find it highly irritating when employers post a job title that is very specific and when you start reading the post, you find out that they really just want someone to occupy all the other positions they can’t afford to hire different people for. It started out as a “Junior Communications Representative” and by the time you get to the end of the job description, you find out that you’re really a secretary whom they want to be able to also write flawless press releases, speak to the media on the company’s behalf, answer phones, take messages, travel to job fairs, and be on-call on the weekends. But of course, you’ll be making a secretary’s salary. I won’t start on the abusive “other duties as assigned.”

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5. Offering shitty insurance plans: You can either pay $20/month for your insurance but have a $7,500 deductible when all they are paying you is $40k/yr so that when you fall ill or need a serious surgery, you can’t pay for it anyway OR you can pay $800/month for your insurance when your net pay each month is only $2500 once your insurance is deducted, Uncle Sam gets his, your retirement is accounted for, etc. Insurance rates have risen damn near 70% while wages have risen less than 30%. Let’s not. 

6. Employee “appreciation” that doesn’t involve money: As far as I’m concerned, since the recession, the only way to appreciate an employee is money. Point blank. People wake up before dawn, sit through hellish traffic, put wear and tear on their vehicles and bodies, put up with corporate b & b (bullshit and bureaucracy) for 8-10 hours, get back in hellish traffic, and come home long enough to eat, workout, tend to their family, and go to sleep so they can do it all over the next day. Keep your pizza party. I can go bowling with people I like. There are enough streaming services to not need free movie tickets. You want to let me know you appreciate my hard work? PAY!

 

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You’re Not Special; Just White

Yesterday on Facebook, I came across an article from The Wall Street Journal (I didn’t add the link cause it’s not free to read the whole article and I know how y’all are) about a woman who sat out of the workforce for two years and came back to end up CEO.

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Apparently, her story is supposed to inspire the rest of us. Similar to Sheryl Sandberg with her book, “Lean In” and all these other people who have pulled off career feats, these people allegedly show us the power of focus, tenacity, and intention.

Unfortunately for The Wall Street Journal, that lady they reported on (Deanna Mulligan off Guardian Life Insurance), Sheryl Sandberg and the rest of them, there is actually no magic here.

They aren’t special. They’re just white.

At one time, I had a friend who is an attorney. I remember her telling our friend group (confidentially, of course), that she was conducting a deposition at a hospital. One of the people she had to depose was the VP of the hospital. They opened with a line of questioning on this VP’s credentials.

Two years of college at a community college, no degree, no work history in the medical field nor hospital administration.

No, she didn’t start as the janitor at the hospital and work her way up. She came in as the VP making more than the fucking president.

She was also a white woman.

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*sits back and folds arms and re-reads that shit and gets mad all over again thinking about the highly qualified Black people that applied and interviewed for that job but they didn’t get it cause….*

Black women are the most educated demographic in the country, yet we can’t seem to pull off these dynamic feats in the workplace where we are allowed to take time off to raise kids, recover from divorce, go through an extended illness, etc. and come back and slide into 6-figure positions as if we never missed a day even though our education and previous experience suggests that we are a fit.

Nobody “takes a chance” on the high-achieving Black woman with potential. Instead, we get bombarded with questions about what we’ve been doing the last two years and statements that express doubt about whether or not we are capable of performing the job tasks adequately. If we’re offered a position, it’s usually some administrative support role with a shitty salary under the supervision of someone who shouldn’t be left alone with a goldfish.

Almost a year ago, I sat being interviewed by two non-Black women. In that interview, the following statements were made:

“You’re really confident.”

“I believe you could do well at this job.”

“That was a great idea!” (followed by her writing down my idea that I’m sure she used}

“You seem really competent.”

After an hour of that, one of the same interviewers said, “I’m sure you can do the job well, but I don’t know…”

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Mmmkay.

About four months later, I saw that the job was back up on the company’s website so apparently, the less qualified candidate they hired (I already know) didn’t meet their expectations.

For all the kvetching that white women do about how unfairly they are treated in the workplace, they still do better than non-white women and even when they “make it,” forget that 1) white privilege was likely a huge part of their rise and 2) there are women of color who should be where they are but aren’t and never will be because white men have convinced themselves that hiring a white woman in upper management is what Affirmative Action is all about.

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This is from an article the NY Times wrote about the fact that this partner class was so…white.

Deanna Mulligan noted that her time off taught her focus and made her realize that life is not a straight line. No shit, Sherlock! Black people could have told you that because no matter how hard we work, no matter how educated we are, we are faced with the prospect that people like yourself can and will shoot past us simply because of systemic racism.

Let me back up one minute. Click here and scroll down to where it says “Leadership” and see all the white faces that run the show over there.

Am I saying she’s not qualified for her position? Not necessarily. But what I know is that a Black person can’t be out of a job for 6 months without interviewers behaving as if all the knowledge they previously acquired has leaked from their ear and evaporated, thus disqualifying them from the position. What I know is that for all the articles I’ve seen on LinkedIn about not staying in a position for too long because you risk becoming stale and unattractive to future employers, every Black person I know who has tried this is believed to be a “job-hopper” by white interviewers and passed over.

So I guess these employment hacks, like “leaning in” and bouncing every 10 months only work for white people; the men first, and then the women.

I watched this video where Deanna Mulligan talks about her “unorthodox” rise. It’s only two minutes but you’ll hear the delusion I’m mentioning in this blog post. “Find your passion,” “be yourself” (since when has being yourself EVER worked for Black women outside of rap?), “hard work” (Black women are and have always been the hardest working people on the planet – we have no choice).

In that video, the claim is made that she mentors women. I wonder how many of her mentees are Black.

To the people who’ll say she probably had good connections, I’ll offer this: because Black people are often boxed out of the positions that qualify someone to be a “good connection,” we’re back at square one. The fact is that white people are in a position to close ranks at whim and if they want to hire the mediocre son of a golfing buddy over the brilliant Black MBA, that’s what they do (which is why I don’t listen to white people who claim Black people want a handout when they are the original makers and takers of handouts).

By the way, by the time I post this, I would have written an e-mail to corporate headquarters asking why every single person listed under the “Leadership” heading on Guardian Life Insurance’s website is white. Deanna Mulligan is the CEO and the other woman is head of Human Resources and well, we all know about white women being in charge of Human Resources.

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Chad Over Becky Any Day: Workplace Becky & Why White Women Actually Are The Worst

Picture this: a young Black woman starting her career in government. In her immediate office, there are two other women who seem to be friends. The Black woman is nothing but professional. She comes to work on time, dressed appropriately, puts her head down and does her work. One of the other women finds out that the young Black woman, besides clearly being intelligent on her own, is college-educated and secure. They invite the young Black woman to lunch for pizza and she declines. One of the women tells her friend, the other woman, about the young Black woman’s impeccable background and that begins a reign of office terror. The women begin spreading rumors about the young Black woman. They begin tracking her every move. The young Black woman can’t sneeze without it getting back to the manager within the hour. The young Black woman is called into the manager’s office to address false allegations. When the Black woman provides proof that the allegations are false, she is sent back to her office without so much as a “mea culpa.” The reign, however, does not stop and eventually, the manager moves the Black woman to three other offices since she, “can’t get along” with anybody. The rub is, all the young Black woman has done was come to work, work, and go home.

Toilet scene

 

Dig, if you will, a Black woman in the middle of her career. She is educated. She is quiet and always has been. She goes to work for a mid-sized accounting firm. Her work product is beyond reproach. She shows up early and often leaves late. She even shows interest in the little irrelevant moments of their life like recitals and shit. Three months in though, it starts. One of the women starts to tell her boss that the Black woman is behind on her work. When the boss comes to her office and questions her about it, the Black woman is able to produce every file and every piece of work that the co-worker told the boss she hadn’t done. The boss is satisfied. Seeing that the Black woman didn’t get in trouble, the woman then raises “concerns” about the Black woman’s demeanor and whether or not she’s a fit for the company. After weeks of this, the Black woman is unhappy and starting to apply at other firms.

snooping

 

Since bad things come in threes, a Black woman who has worked at her company for almost a decade in B2B sales, and exceeds her target every month is constantly harassed by her female boss. One month, it’s the female boss “forgetting” to correctly tabulate a large chunk of the Black woman’s sales. The next month, it’s the female boss fraudulently taking credit for the Black woman’s work; a matter that ended up having to be escalated to her boss’s boss. The month after that, it’s the Black woman being reprimanded for losing a client based on bad information that her female boss gave the client in an after-hours venue where the Black woman wasn’t even present.

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What do all these stories have to do with each other, you ask? Well, first of all, they’re all true.

But more importantly, in all three stories, the lying, conniving, insecure, envious female co-workers were white bitches.

Ask 95% of Black women who are or were of working age and they will be able to tell you at least three stories a piece about how a Workplace Becky tried to sabotage them at some point in their career. There is a clear pattern and it all adds up to white women being the worst.

I know Black men have an issue with white men but as a Black woman, my worst work experiences by far have come at the hands of Workplace Beckies. I thought about this most recently a couple of days ago after reading yet another tale of a Black woman just trying to live her life, work, and support herself and being administratively bullied by the Workplace Becky du jour in her office.

What is their fascination with Black women that makes them want to emulate us while simultaneously hating us? I have a few theories:

  • Awareness of their own mediocrity. Usually, in situations like the ones I’ve described, the Black woman in the office is smarter, better educated, more competent at the job, and has more life-long potential than Workplace Becky. Workplace Becky should never have been hired in the first place but you know, white privilege and all….When you know you have no business being where you are, you can’t help but act like an emotionally rabid dog towards the people who are sure to pass you up. If you can get the more excellent out, the pressure is off. White women have gotten by for centuries bringing little to nothing to the table but somehow are on that same pedestal that systemic racism put them on centuries ago. The thing is, they know they don’t deserve it. Basically, you can think you’re cute until you have to go and stand by Naomi Campbell, figuratively, of course.2cf27de1f1ef3ef5a83bb44e4f4cdc0c--annie-lee-ego-tripping
  • Jealousy/Envy. It’s been said that women are naturally jealousy of other women. That claim may have some merit. But when you mix racism with jealousy, that makes for a helluva drink. White women, where Black women are concerned, tend to unleash a special brand of treachery when a Black woman is stuntin’ on them in any area of life. Maybe it’s the fact that we have lips to actually apply lipstick to. Maybe it’s because we can change our hair every single day if we want. Maybe it’s because, in the words of Nikki Giovanni, we are so hip that even our errors are correct. Who knows? But workplace Becky seems to be pressed like ham about it.no butt
  • Feminism. More like white feminism. Another theory I’ve kicked around (because theorizing is another talent that Becky can hate me for), is that white women sat under the thumb of white men for so long that they need to control (read, fuck up) somebody else’s life. Who’s the easiest target of their bunco (look it up)? They know the corporate structure and systemic racism and sexism are not going to let them screw Chad over without question. They also know that Black men have an intra-community safety net and someone will come to his defense. But Black women….the double whammy. We have no friends so that makes us easy targets. White women, in the name of deranged feminism, will stick together no matter how wrong they are. What I didn’t tell you is that in every one of those stories, the bosses and managers who dangled the Black women’s jobs over their head based on nothing more than hearsay were also white women. You see how that works?

As I’ve grown older, I now fully understand what my mother and her mother and Black mothers and grandmothers everywhere meant when they would say that white women are dangerous. Them lying and getting someone’s Black child lynched or thrown in prison is just the tip of the iceberg. Their bullshit has infiltrated every place you can imagine and for Black women, who are most often heads of household or the ones called on to care for sick elderly relatives or other children; who go to college and rack up student debt in hopes to get an education good enough to put them in places where they can not only support their livelihood but effect change, the workplace is one of many precarious places for us to be because of Workplace Becky.

sojourner

But what makes them dangerous is not only that they have it in them to behave this way, but that they are using the systemic racism this country operates in to get away with it. When are the (mostly white) men in the C-Suites going to check Workplace Becky? When is the white female boss (who was a diversity hire) going to use her brain and break rank when Workplace Becky decides it’s her job to be the hall monitor of Black women colleagues? When are people other than Workplace Becky’s targets going to tell Workplace Becky to sit the fuck down or take a pink slip? Probably never. And that’s why she keeps doing it.

Mommie Dearest

People laud Black women for being the newest crop of blossoming business owners but did anybody ever stop to ask why? Maybe, on top of the normal reasons that most people become entrepreneurs, we’re sick of having to play office politics with Workplace Becky who operates like Mommie Dearest the minute she feels threatened by us simply breathing in the same space. Perhaps, we’re tired of everybody else’s resting face just being their resting face but our resting face = “angry,” “aggressive,” “not a team player,” “not a good fit” when Workplace Becky doesn’t get the worship she wants from us. *shrug* Just a thought.

I know white men feel like these days they are getting a lot of heat; and to be honest, they deserve a lot of it. But, I’ll take Chad over Becky any day of the week.

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Déjame: The Self-Care That People Seem To Hate

I’m going to let you all into my life a little. I work a day job. I get up and go to work most days of the week. I work long hours most of the time. On my day(s) off, I mostly sleep, do laundry, grocery shop, prepare my lunch for the week, give sassy responses to the men who contacted me on dating apps, and try to catch up on all my shows on the DVR.

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I know that this doesn’t sound too much different from the lives of most adults my age. The thing that’s different is that I’m pretty sure that at least 75% of the people at my job need to be committed long-term (insert cries of ableism). There’s also another large segment who feel the need to be up your ass all.the.time. You can’t pop the top on a Crystal Pepsi without a barrage of questions that are all code for, “can I have some?” or some other way to inject themselves into your time, space and/or business.

at work

Another thing about me is that I don’t really make friends at work – ever. I’ve met some cool people at this job and I’ve even met a few that I want to keep in contact with when it’s time for me to move on. One of these people really crossed one of my personal boundaries Friday, however, and now I’m starting to re-think where or if I want her in my life long-term.

The thing is…I don’t like feeling trapped. I don’t like feeling smothered. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I actually fear the thought of being constricted. Friday was already a stressful day. I’m on the verge of PMS and the constant chatter was just irritating me. I put on my sunglasses, popped in my earphones, and worked away. Yet, it seemed that every half hour or so, somebody was trying to get my attention, not for work-related shit, but just because they didn’t feel like working in that moment. I felt like I had been locked up in a cell with a bunch of motormouths and, more than usual, it was a living nightmare.

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Things came to a head when I ordered delivery for lunch. I went outside and got my food (shrimp) and came to my desk. I put my earphones back in, shades back on my face, and continued typing away. I didn’t even open the sack. Like clockwork, one of the people at work that I actually like came a-knocking. I didn’t even look in that direction, shook my head, and kept working.

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Long story short, that lead to some adult form of the silent treatment (which in and of itself is a paradox if you ask me) for the rest of day. I was told I had a “stank attitude” that this person didn’t “have time for.” Let’s be clear, I already knew what was going to happen. This person was going to ask what was in the bag and then eventually if she could have a taste, (though she had already easily eaten 600-800 calories worth of snacks and other foods, before I even ordered my lunch).

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On the drive home, I started to think to myself: why does society have such a problem with people wanting to be left alone? What’s wrong with someone not having something to say and deciding not to talk just to hear their own voice? That’s wrong with people wanting to enjoy the silence (cue Depeche Mode)?

I live in the south. Here, if you don’t walk around like you’re at Disneyland, you’re “cold,” “mean,” “uppity,” and any other word that’s used to try to guilt people into being social. If you’re a Black woman, you can add in the (apparently) obligatory accusation of anger. I’m not talking about the smart-alecky extrovert vs. introvert memes. I’m talking about the lack of understanding that people have a right to their space; and that someone asserting that right should not be considered to have committed a social faux pas. And though it doesn’t rise to the same level of sexual harassment, the irony is not lost on me that people are all-in (at least verbally) on taking consent seriously but still have a problem accepting being denied people’s time, space and emotional/mental energy.

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Just like we accept that annoying people can’t help being annoying and that nosy people can’t help being nosy, we need to collectively make peace with the fact that people who don’t want to spend the bulk of their time unnecessarily interacting can’t help being who they are.

Speaking for myself, I find people exhausting. When I was 16, I had a job that involved heavy interaction with customers and I knew then that I wasn’t cut out for constant interplay with others. I was “shy” as a child but in adulthood, I literally become physically tired by too much interaction at times.

We talk a lot about the importance of self-care these days. What if someone’s self-care is silence and needing others to leave them the fuck alone until they can re-charge? Energy is precious and I will never apologize for trying to preserve mine. If you’re like me, you shouldn’t either.

If you’re one of the bigmouthed offenders, it’s time to stop. Someone wanting you to go be interested in something else but them at any given moment isn’t a personal slight but if you keep transgressing their boundaries, it could become something you can’t bounce back from…

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