A Few Words On Becoming A Corporate B*tch
Let’s be clear. I do not believe in labels. Mainly because I have successfully failed to live up to one for the better part of my life. However, there are times when labels help us navigate situations better.
In this post, I want to briefly touch the corporations’ impact on our lives and how most of us become corporate b*tches without being aware of it. I hope at this point it’s clear that ‘b*tch’ is a reference to an unchallenged obeyance to a higher (corporate) power.
The way I see it, there are two stages of becoming a corporate b*tch. Stage one — walking the walk.
We all know it, the sense of belonging comes together with the appearance of belonging. And there goes the much loved or hated uniform. It’s true that sometimes, this uniform can actually represent you as a person. Think of how quirky the Apple support people are. It’s like a freakin museum of anthropology. It’s beautifully diverse and somehow still helpful. You go to the store with a broken iPhone, you come back with a new one.
The first stage doesn’t stop at an outfit. First stage of becoming ‘one of them’ is also food, drinking habits and sometimes social life. There is a reason why they’ve snuck Thursdays pizza or Friday drinks with the team after hours. You spend more time with the team, you smoothen out interactions so that you can interact better with them during working hours.
Sometimes this does indeed build friendships but how often really?
The second stage of becoming a corporate b*tch is thinking the thought.
Working for a corporation requires certain conduct, an etiquette. How to dress, how to speak and where to hang out after hours. And that is ok. A corporation is a well-oiled machine that delivers results. For that to happen, the puzzle pieces need to fit in real good and it’s much easier to do that when they are simple, without intricate sweeps.
So, as an employee, you adapt. You become that easy-going, flexible creature who can do anything, anytime; hardworking and pragmatic, the professional ladder is there for you to climb it. And you do. Courageously and gracefully. Every day for weeks, months and sometimes years.
And then, one time, at the dinner table with all your friends, you discover you have lost interest in their mundane drama. It’s distasteful. ‘Why couldn’t they just behave like grown-ups?’, you think to yourself, while sipping from that gin & tonic with two slices of cucumber in it. Lisa goes on and on about the last tattoo she’s got that she shows off by lifting up her ragged t-shirt to reveal her stomach; you look across the table at Dan and see him eating, a tat less than graceful, a burger; it’s all soo … soooo … not what you needed tonight to be. What happen to decent clothing and appreciation for cutlery?
When you catch yourself feeling that, congratulations, you have officially become a corporate b*tch.
Remember this moment right there. This is when the corporation has started to bleed into your being and is slowly shaping it. And it’s too late to go back now. You have to dance with it.
What’s wrong with being a corporate b*tch?
Well, essentially nothing. If you are up to it: the small talk, the fat paychecks and financial security that comes with them, the parties where everyone is … nice, the trainings, the politically correct jokes, the organized after-hour specials, the omnipresent representing-the-company attitude. There are people who do this effortlessly because this is who they are.
If you are not one of them, this doesn’t mean you can’t still do it, have the great job, the paychecks, the security. But you should watch out for the two steps I mentioned.
There is something incredibly seductive about wearing the suit, about belonging to a powerful tribe, but let it all stop at walking the walk. Stop before starting to represent the company in everything you do. Stop before the two slices of cucumber in your gin & tonic. That is not who you are and there might come a time when you’ll regret pretending otherwise.