I mean, I’ve heard all my life how employees have less power than employers or higher ranking employees. I heard it from everyone. I’ve read about extreme issues where someone “in power” could force illegal things on those “at his mercy”. Yet I’ve never seen this in my own life. I’ve never felt powerless front of a boss. I saw my employment as a consensual trade: “work for money”. If he makes further demands (exercises power), I can just say no and if he fires me, I find another job in no time, since my earlier job was at market value. “That’s not my job” was something I often said to bosses, much less often nowadays as they’ve learned that it’s pointless to push me to do stuff not in my field or to do overwork when I don’t like it. Once when I was told that “we need you to come in Saturday because we’re behind schedule and we must meet schedule or face serious losses”, my answer was literally “not my problem, I’m not a stockholder” and I wasn’t fired because – go figure – if they need someone on Saturday, they surely won’t fire him to not have him Monday-Friday.
My thought was that these people who fear their bosses are simple irrational cowards who were taught to just obey “authority figures” and they are giving up a game where they are sure winners. I should have known better: when lots of people tell something, they are right in some way. Not surely the way they believe it, but some way.
The solution is “career”. The women in these articles went to Harvey to “network” and Harvey had different idea about proper networking. But their purpose was to build a positive (not that positive) relationship with him to advance them in their career. Same thing for the junior employees going out with the senior partners. Or the epic “guildmaster’s girlfriend” who gets loot for horrible performance. The infamous “not what you know but who you know”.
“Building career” means accepting a job-conditions-salary that you would never accept without the assumed chance of promotion. No one would accept the offer: work 60 hours a week and spend 10 more socializing with colleagues for average salary. Everyone would say “I’d rather take an average job with 40 hours and no social demands for the same salary”. Yet people do the first because it’s hinted and assumed that if they do this job for some time, they’ll be promoted and they’ll get more money and/or better conditions and/or more fun job. Being a plumber for $40K/year is maybe better than being a horribly overworked and sexually harassed assistant for $35K, but the plumber will retire as a plumber, but the assistant will climb to a $500K senior partner who will do the harassing.
Except it’s an obvious lie. From the fact that there are more entry-level jobs than management, it should be obvious that most assistants will not climb to management. They will just be overworked, underpaid and harassed assistants forever (or until they get the picture and quit). There are no formal promotion schedules, no objective performance evaluations, no nothing. They promote you if they feel like.
How does this connects to power? If the plumber is fired, he has no reason to care. He accepted the salary for the work, so the ending of the contract doesn’t leave him at loss. On the other hand the assistant wasn’t working for $35K, he was working for $35K + option for promotion. In his mind, he was collecting “promotion points” in the heads of bosses, “network points” within the industry that he’ll once chip in for the promotion. If he quits or get fired, he loses all his points. By closing the trade, he accepts that he spent the last N years working overtime and being harassed for lousy $35K. Losing a career-job is like being fired from a DKP guild: you did the work for the DKP and now it’s gone. On the other hand, losing a “normal” job is like leaving a /roll guild: you just join another and roll.
Go figure, I didn’t get the big promotion. But neither did 95% of my coworkers and they all worked on Saturday and they all put in the time drinking with the management and they all spent their own money on “proper” gifts for them. The promoted one is better off than me. His overworking and smooching paid off well. But the average guy (him + everyone overworking and smooching but getting nothing) got much worse deal than I do. I make similar as them for much less work and zero smooching.
I suggest you the same: accept jobs-conditions-salaries only if you’d accept these for the rest of your life. If you’d be happy to work until retirement doing this thing, in this setting for this money, go for it. If you only accept it “for a few years”, you’ll have a pretty sad moment few years down the road.