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the crime of not having glamour girl looks to qualify for the group picture

here I am sharing yet more of those wonderfully discriminating incidents at work with the world pulse community. For about 4 years, I was an employee of a company that exported tea. My working hours were insane. I was the first to come to work (07:30am) and often the last to leave (09:00pm). Sri Lanka sat on the 5:30 + GMT time zone and the reason the one I worked for and many other similar companies worked till late was because they were open to serve the international customers sitting on different time zones. By the time we were pooped out by working 05:00pm the rest of them sitting on the time zones (especially USA, Canada) were all energized to begin another day of trading. I was a mere office support service-mostly typing out the different kinds of faxes, email messages while also writing copy for some of the product marketing literature, packaging etc., My average work day was just flooded with work leaving me very little time even for a proper sit down meal. I had to stomach up as the money just kept my mom and myself going. I had no weekends to really enjoy because although Saturday was just a half working day on paper most days I ended up working till 05:00pm. Sundays always breezed through all too soon making me head to another week of ungodly working hours.

English was the language used for all written business communication. Many of the unit heads were not very fluent to draft business letters to shipping companies, bankers and other various government institutions. All of these landed on my plate. All day long I was just putting the various requests, needs appeals and submissions in English that seemed decent and professional to be sent out from the company stationery. I never had any time for socializing or time for myself. The work brought in money to survive and I just went on.

Along the way I realized my copy writing had really brought in results. The two weeks I spent tirelessly working over a proposal brought in a lot of credit and recognition for the company. In a single year the company was awarded four gold medals in recognition of their performance and contribution to the economy while the following year, four more were bestowed along with the ‘Exporter of the Year’ award. This one elevated the company to a very high platter and bankers were delighted with their customer.

There was a lot of high end celebration and over time the company grew and was doing really well. The credit of getting the job done was bestowed to a Marketing Executive who only signed on the final application. There were many pats across his back to commend him right in front of my eyes. I couldn’t take it and simply said I am the one who spent countless late nights doing all of it. The response was “Yes but that’s your job isn’t it?” to which a very irritated me responded “Why did you give the job to me? it is because you know I will do it up to expected standards and you have to admit that there is no one in here who can write all that content in the way I did”. I was disheartened and felt it was a huge waste of time trying to justify my skill and efforts.

As the months rolled by, more employees came in and were offered really great perks. While I did see many getting ahead, it didn’t seem like I was going anywhere, except just doing what I usually had been doing all along. There was more work as well. Discouragement set in. I felt used, my efforts not genuinely credited. I toyed between the option of staying on and finding something else. The company was no more considered a medium scale enterprise and there was the need to profile itself in print, electronic with much more ribbons and laces.

Just one day, many of the newly recruited management trainees, managers and directors turned up to work all dressed up and left. The few who were left behind did not know where they went. Only when they returned we understood that they had gone to the production unit to pose for a group picture for the company profile. I sensed something not quite right. Why were some taken and some left behind? In my mind I ran a slideshow of all who were left behind. They were from the lower tier of the organisation structure. Aha ..that rings a bell !!! So it was only the management staff that worked to bring all the credit to the company? We were just kept there to work and not to be displayed as a part of the company’s team spirit.

I overheard a conversation that went on the lines of “how can we take them for a group photo, they don’t look good enough eh?” OK, get it so !! it wasn’t too important to portray the team spirit of the entire workforce by taking a complete group picture but what was more important was to have glamour girl looks fit enough for the organisation profile. I felt really humiliated and was wondering if the accolades really screwed up the brains OR is it just the typical male chauvinist attitude that exists in this country?

This time there was no turning back, the time was up for Plain Jane to pack her bags and look out for another job that would keep them going.


Amei's picture

This is so wrong and you are strong!

Dear Janice,

I am glad yo read your post. I felt the pain as I have had experience where I felt that my work was not appreciated. You are not alone.

I too leaned that it is for me to take control of my life and do something about it. You inspire. Thanks for sharing your story.

I wish you all the best and I pray you get a job that you want fast.

My thoughts with you. Looking forward to hear of your progress

In friendship

janice.corera's picture

Hi Amei

Thank you for the comforting words. Yes I do know that there are thousands, millions of women out there who deal with different kinds of discrimination at the workplace. I am glad I bumped in to this very interesting portal where I can share my story with many others and also learn how others dealt with similar situations.

My intention in writing all these posts is to expose these destructive habits. Maybe someday there will be better policies brought in to combat these ugly attitudes ? I may not live to see it happen but hopefully in time to come such practices at the workplace will only be a thing of the electronic slave age ?

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