It was enough to make me want to scream! I worked my butt off for six weeks to land the deal and then the asshole who was supposed to be working with me, but who didn't do a damn thing except ask me once a week how things were going, got half the commission and a promotion. Don't ever let people tell you that women in the work place are not discriminated against - I'm living proof that they don't have a clue what they are talking about.
I've worked for the XYZ Corporation for eleven years now and even though for eight of those eleven years I have been the highest grossing salesperson in the corporation I have never received a promotion. Raises yes, bonuses yes, but promotions no! I've watched as one incompetent after another has moved up the corporate ladder with absolutely nothing going for them except that they play golf and play cards with the right people. But for a woman even playing golf or cards with the right people isn't enough. I played poker once with the guys in upper management and never was asked to play again. I guess I hurt the VP's feelings when I bluffed him out of a fair sized pot. I've also played golf, once anyway, with the boys from upper management. The men's tee boxes on the course were being readied for a tournament and we all had to play from the woman's tees. Should have been an advantage for the boys, right? I beat them all by four strokes and was never asked to play with them again. Ron, the clown I had to share my commission with, beat them by seven strokes when he played with them and got a pat on the back for being a good golfer and was invited back. I beat them and we have to sweep it under the table because it would look bad if it got out they were beat by a girl.
My husband tells me that I'm paranoid and that XYZ doesn't have anything against women moving up. "All companies are the same sweetie. They all want what's best for the bottom line. If you aren't being picked it is because they don't think you have what it takes. Being a good ole boy has nothing to do with who gets promotions in modern day business."
"Bullshit! What about the time the regional sales managers job was open and they told me that Hawkins and I were the only ones being considered and they told us both that whoever performed the best would get the job? I outsold Hawkins three to one and brought in nine new accounts to his three and they still gave that lame ass the promotion."
"He must have had some quality that they felt they needed; some quality that you couldn't offer."
My husband is the perfect case in point. I love him dearly, but that doesn't make me blind where he is concerned. He is the prototypical good ole boy. He takes his clients on golfing weekends to Hilton Head. He hosts poker games and he takes them sports fishing on the Gulf and he lands lots of business for his company which leads to more poker, golf and fishing. As a result he has been promoted twice in the last eighteen months. Yet I have more sales and managerial ability in one of my pussy hairs than he has in his entire body and still I get constantly passed over.
The thing with Ron was the last straw. I had finally had enough and I sat down and composed my letter of resignation. My husband convinced me to sit on it for a couple of weeks, a cool down period of sorts, and I agreed. Nine days later there were some changes in upper management and all of a sudden I had a new vice president to report to. I put my resignation on hold until I could see how things would shake out.
A week after Chad took over as VP he called me into his office and asked me if I could attend a conference with him in New York.
"It is a industry thing, but I expect that there might be some opportunities for us there. You seem to be my top grosser and I'd like to have you along."
Was I going to say no? This was the first time at XYZ that anyone at his level had even acknowledged that I was something other than just another girl on the payroll. Of course I would go.
As far as industry conferences went there were no surprises. A lot of talk on common problems, some boring talks by executives full of themselves and a general round of information sharing. The real business got taken care of at the dinner and cocktail party following the day's conference. After dinner I circulated and renewed friendships, talked with people I had done business with in the past, and made a few contacts that would be worth following up on. I was on my fifth margarita, and being thankful that I didn't have to drive home that night, when Chad came over and sat down with me.
"This is the first chance I've had to sit down with you and chat."
I took a sip of my margarita and said, "Feel free to chat away."
"I understand that you are dissatisfied with the way you feel that the company has been treating you."
"I guess that is a pretty fair statement of the facts. Enough so that my letter of resignation has already been written."
"Has anyone ever taken the time to explain why you keep getting passed over?"
"No, but even if they had it wouldn't change that fact that they keep selecting incompetents and then to add insult to injury they place me under those incompetents."
"Is it just a title thing with you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Is it just a title you are after?"
"No, I really believe that I can do a better job than the clowns they keep picking."
"Maybe you could, but does the job need, as you put it, to be done better?"
"I'm not following you."
"Does the paper need to be shuffled any better? Is there a crying need for the weekly sales meeting to be held any better? What I'm getting at is that you are the top grosser in the company and what you do does more for the company's bottom line than any thing you could do if you got moved up. You might be a better paper pusher than the guys that moved up, but if you had moved up sales would have gone down. Not only that, but the people who would have had to take your place could have cost us some of the business that you had already brought in. Right now you are making more in commissions than the guys who got promoted are making in salary."
"That's not true and you know it. When you add the perks that go with the promotions they are way ahead of me. They get a company car and a company gas credit card. I have to buy my own car and pay for my own gas. They get larger expense accounts with wider latitude on what they can claim as a business expense. They get stock options, better health and dental, special retirement plans and so on. Plus not constantly being on the road during the week, better vacation time, bonuses at the end of the year base on how well their division, meaning me, does in sales. Add all that up and they damn sure are not making less than I am."
Chad sat quietly looking at me and then he said, "How bad do you want all those things that you just mentioned?"
"What are you getting at?"
"Simple question, how bad?"
"Everybody wants to make a good living Chad, and everybody wants their worth recognized. I'm no different."
"Okay then, what if you could get all the perks that you just mentioned and you stayed where you are, doing what you do better than anyone else in the company. How bad would you want something like that? What would you be willing to do?"
I had a feeling that I knew where this was headed, but I planned on making him be much more specific before I threw my drink in his face. "Let us assume that I don't know what you are getting at and go right to what you would expect me to do."
He smiled at me, "Whoa there honey, you got me all wrong, well maybe only partially. What I have in mind is creating a position that will satisfy the policy and procedures manual and allow me to give you the perks you want and still leave you able to sell and bring in new business. We will call it something like Special Assistant to the Vice President of Sales. You just have to decide just how bad you want the position. I'm going to give you a situation and then I'm going to get up and leave you to think about it. Okay so far?"
"Go ahead, I'm listening."