A few weeks ago, my company went through a second round of job cuts in four months. The week it happened, everyone I worked with knew it would be theweek, and we knew that Thursday would be theday that people were told. The only question was: who would it be? We all spent all week wondering if it would be us, if it would be our coworkers, our friends, our bosses. The rumors were flying fast and furious, and all of it only served to confirm the cause of the anger that had been brewing in me for months. We have absolutely no agency in our professional lives. The power lies in the hands of others. I don’t control the amount of work I have to do each day (it is “slotted” for me by someone else), I have no say in the type of work I do, nothing. The decisions about this latest round of cuts, which impacted several of my coworkers and my boss, as well as moving another coworker to a completely different team, were made at least three levels above us by a man who has no idea what my team even does on a daily basis.
After the firing of my colleagues was horribly mismanaged throughout the entire week (picture finding out you lost your job when every member of your team receives a meeting notice about meeting your new manager…except for you), we had a town hall meeting with the man who actually made the decisions. In this meeting, the new organizational layout was detailed, but something much bigger happened. This man, who is based out of an office over 500 miles away and only visits to deliver bad news, made it very clear that not only does he not know what we do, but he doesn’t care (this was later confirmed by my boss who was let go…then was extended for a month. I don’t get it either). He marginalized and belittled each and every one of my team members by making our work sound like it’s something a machine or a monkey could do. He couldn’t name more than two people he’d decided to let go. Then he asked that we please try to have sympathy for him, since he had a hard week. He became the physical manifestation of everything that is wrong with corporate America. With each of his horribly uninformed decisions, he reinforces the patriarchal system in which I work, and it is killing me.
I work at a company that was established in the 1960’s, and its business practices reflect the old, antiquated practices of the time. Employees at the lowest levels are treated with disrespect and distrust. Instead of being treated like people, we’re treated like names or ID numbers on a piece paper. How can anyone reclaim their agency over their professional lives when apparently I’m working at a company where it doesn’t exist until you are a senior VP with a yearly travel budget large enough for someone to live off of the rest of their days? With each re-organization we go through, there is an opportunity for them to make real changes that can make an actual difference in employees’ lives, to do something new and different but the higher ups seem perfectly content to smile and wave at them as they pass them by. What a shame.