Hypothetically Speaking

You’ve worked hard to get where you are in your career, but you aren’t satisfied. You consistently raise the bar on your performance and you are an avid reader, always looking to improve yourself. One of the executives from your office stumbles upon your blog one weekend while doing some diversity research and is quite impressed with your ability to speak to the issues. On Monday you get an email from this executive inviting you to lunch to talk about some of your views as it relates to an upcoming project. You graciously accept and look forward to this opportunity as your moment to shine.

Ms/Mr Executive has wanted to try one of the better known soul food restaurants in the city, so you agree to meet them there. While having lunch you relay facts and figures in effect to let Mr/Ms Executive know you are the real deal. After some small talk about how each of you came to the company you realize you must have passed the test.

“I have a proposition for you. We are currently putting together a committee to handle some of the diversity issues we face as a company. This committee is comprised of other executives but after hearing what you’ve had to say I’d like to invite you to participate.”

You like what you are hearing. You’re beaming on the inside, nodding your head at all the right moments, listening intently, and you want to shout, hallelujah! This is music to your ears!

“In preparation for this committee meeting I have been asked as the sole minority executive on the panel to put together a report for my colleagues. Instead I’d like for you to create this document with some of the facts and figures you’ve stated to me today but I’ll need to present it as my own.”

Hold up. You didn’t hear what you just thought you heard did you? The light illuminating Mr/Ms Executive begins to fade. You knew there was a catch. Now that the music that was playing in your head has stopped you begin sizing up Mr/Ms Executive a little more closely. You wonder if they even deserve the position they now hold since you’ve gotten a glimpse of how they operate.

“I wouldn’t ask you to do this if I didn’t think you were capable. I’d consider it a personal favor and when the opportunity comes you can count on me to be there for you. I can see the hunger and drive you have and I can help you get to higher places in the company, but before that happens I need you to take care of this for me. You have some time to think about it, but I need to know if you are willing to play ball by the end of the week.”

Question: If you were the woman or man in this situation, and this happened to you, what would you do? Hypothetically speaking of course.

About the host:
Rich Fitzgerald is the author of the short story "One to Remember" featured in Love and Redemption (Bloggers' Delight Vol. 1), a collection of short stories by authors who blog. To read excerpts or to order a copy of the title, visit i-Lit. The book is also available on Amazon.


CapCity said...

I would communicate as much as possible via email - "Let me get back to you on this. I'll shoot u an email to let u know my decision." As much as one can create a paper trail the better!

PrettyBlack said...

Simply put, I'd ask what needed to be done, do it, and present it ahead of time to the individual whom asked mr/mrs executive to put together the report. When asked I'd explain what happened.

Big business is cut throat. I doubt Trump got to where he is giving everyone else the glory.

Mr/mrs executive just offered a chance for advancement...who'd pass that up?

I'm steppin on toes and kickin' in assholes to feed mine...Wouldn't you?

Don said...

I would decline.

My very first thought would be how many others were made the exact same proposition. Others whose hard work either ended up being in complete vain, or eventually ended up being called upon to give even more reports. To the point where they begin to feel like they were being sold a dream @ and when the opportunity comes you can count on me to be there for you.

This would cause ongoing problems between @ me and the minority executive. So I'd decline and keep improving, cause without there being anyone whose hard work he could take credit for, the exec wouldn't be there long anyways.

In a perfect world, I'd say that I would present my own ideas to the committee.

Don said...

@ prettyblack: I just read your comments and lo' and behold we think alike.

If he liked the idea then sure enough his bosses like the idea even better, right?

Mizrepresent said...

Depends on where i'm i just starting out, trying to break into the bizness, on the money trail, or have i already carved a niche. The fact that Mr/Ms. is observing me and appreciative of work is a good thing, so i would do as Cap stated, prepare the report, keep enough trails to show that i did indeed do the work, so that even when the accolades are passed out, i know the truth, and even if Mr/Mrs Exec does or doesn't keep his/her word...i know my worth and sooner or later that will surface. This happens everyday in corporate world, your work becomes their work, managers, directors, execs are compensated because of what the workerbee gets done. Plant your seeds...then watch them grow...nobody gets anywhere trying to be the tree with no roots.

bts- Excellent post Rich

12kyle said...

I'd utter those two famous words...
Kick rocks
Catch fiyah
Beat it
or my personal favorite...HELL NAW!!!

Business is cutthroat. You gotta always take care of yourself b/c its every man for himself

Good post

Bernice Burks - Sista GP said...

first visit
Interesting question. I would respectively decline stating that it would contradict my character. I have no desire to promote deception.

I care more for my soul than my job.

Lance said...

man, rich fugg dem's an ass-kissin' proposition with no promise of shit.

yo situation is like that sista cook for col harlan sanders. y'all know who he is? the famous cracker that "supposed" to have created "kentucky fried chicken"


this guy "claimed" to have created his fried chick'n masterpiece of 11herbs and spices and the rest is history. more than likely, he had a dinner party over at the house, sista mary anne, bethel mae, or pick a name, was back in the kitchen cookin' up a storm. she served the food, they loved the chicken and the colonel raved how "he" did it and later probably ask'd her what's in the recipe. she didn't want to tell him, but he "reminded" her being out of a job if she didn't.

once you commit, you can't go back.

or think of it like in the hell they get where they are now, if they didn't have the intellect or fortitude to figga it out for themselves? i'd be pissed if i was a business owner, i'm paying you six-figures and you can't figga shit out on your own and it's yo' job?

fugg the dumb shit.... ;-P

fuzzy said...

There is the optimistic side of me that wants to go for it. Take a gamble and help the man out. I'll wash his back now and he will was my back later!

On the other side, people are so ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and using! There is no guarantee that there will be any future advancement.

Since I am not one to gamble i would walk away from that!!!

Anonymous said...

I would have to say no. Reminds me of the moving Working Woman. Homegirl ran ideas by her boss, was turned down only to find out that the boss used her ideas as her own.

In this situation, the executive acknowledges that I bring something good to the table and wants to use my idea.

If I say yes once, I'll more than likely find myself being asked twice and so on. At some point I would have to speak up and say no. I can nip all of that in the bud by saying no the first time around.

Lance said...

@ jewells: preeeech...

Rich said...

@jewels -- u r right, it probably would open up the gravy train.

@fuzzy -- it's interesting, but I think most brothers share this sentiment. My gut tells me, more women would try than men.

@lance -- u know, I have tossed that around before. I don't know ANY light pigmented man from the south mind you who is capable of out cooking ANY big mama, grand mamma, nanna, or the like. So, u probably right.

@sista gp -- i feel the same way

@kyle12 - hell naw is exactly what went through my mind as I was writing it.

@miz - that's a good point about where you are in the career.

@don & pretty black -- it takes some pretty big cahona's to make that move. I guess it's either in you or it's not.

@capcity -- paper trails are always nice to have.

shelia said...

Situations like this hardly ever end in a positive note. The person asking is clearly overusing their authority. I wouldn't mind you using what I wrote if I am given some credit...even share some credit. I feel that if you allow the person to use your material one time, they will be coming back to you asking you to contribute to another project--each time, you'll be getting the short end of the deal. When it comes to evaluations and a raise, you won't get credit for it. People who have the gall to ask something like this or quick to get amnesia later.

Anonymous said...

I would give the "executive" a very well spoken tactful discourse about my thoughts and beliefs regarding integrity and truth. I would let him/her know that I understand there is a game to be played and even how to play it, but that I would rather play by rules I feel are just and right.

Then I'd counter propose him/her. I'd encourage him/her to collaborate with me on the best way to put forth both our thoughts and open the door to his mind about the possibility of introducing a new and talented resource. This way he/she get's credit for the work AND an eye for talent. I'd sell ALL the features and benefits of this idea.

Barring acceptance, I'd do all I could to preserve the relationship and see if there are ways other than what has been asked to provide a measure of assistance and the continuation of dialogue. It would not be necessary to get indignant, burn bridges or create enemies.

[two cents]

The Jaded NYer said...

I'm already a ghostwriter- there are no "Jaded NYer" by-lines in the three trillion articles and OP-EDs I've written in the year and a half that I've worked at my job.

However, I'm fully able to claim the work as my own. There are weekly status reports and client emails, etc to verify, so I don't feel like I'm not credited.

The situation you presented, however, is straight cheating! It's writing someone's term paper for them, letting them copy off your homework and letting them sit next to you during the mid-term.

I'd politely decline, but offer my assistance in a research capacity which would include credit for my work. If they didn't like that option, then, oh well, too bad so sad!

lea78 said...

this is a tricky situation, on one hand of course you would want to say no, b/c letting someone use your voice Cyrano style is something that a lot of writers won't do, but on the other, if you don't the executive can make your work life a living hell for saying no. God I would pray and pray real hard about a situation like this. I may have to look for a new job.

Don said...

@ sojourner G: man, how wise are you. it never crossed my mind to think about asking collaborating in a way that would benefit the both. i guess i tend to believe people have their minds made up. good advice.

@ sheila: that's what i felt. if they ask once - and its underminded as a favor, chances are, they will be back asking for another favor. then it becomes a matter of being stuck because who wants their hard work to end in vain?

Rich said...

@sojourner -- wise indeed. that is some great forward thinking. I think oftentimes we feel like these types of moments push us on our heels and we only see limited options, neither of which seems favorable, but finding the win-win is the real gem in this scenario.

Rich said...

@jaded -- great advice. I'd love to see some of your work. where can I find it?

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

I would only offer to do what i belived in the scope of my job description. I have beenasked to write grants that were not in my field of interest so i declined. likely in this case too.

Craze said...

Hell no!

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

There's NO WAY I could do it! I'm a person who rarely gets credit for my contributions at work, so to allow someone to blatantly shine as a result of my ideas, concepts, etc. is something that would make me sick inside. I COULD NEVER DO IT!

PRO said...

ITA with SoG... @ SoG, your sagaciousness ALMOST made me say, "Yes! Daddy!" <- And you know how I don't get down with the term. LMAO. You rock in alotta ways, my fren...

Rich, this was thought-provoking. I don't readily burn bridges, nor do I like to make waves. I would have come up with a way to receive creative credit for my efforts. I started a nonprofit org some years ago and presided over it for the first couple years. After I knew my season was changing, I found another to fill my shoes. However, I still shared new ideas, always marketed the great things going on with the org., etc. I ended up getting burned and played. When it came time for the org's limelight and media recognition the newest president took ALL the credit for the organization's success. Even though I had the mind to contact the news about their misprint of information etc. because I had all of the 501c3's and everything pertaining to the start-up of the organization, me as its founder and the grueling executive board selection process, etc. I took the high road. I still have the article as a reminder of my personal accomplishment(s) and back-biting at its best. This hypothetical brought back a memory. *TGIF*

Ms. Behaving said...

I would decline [respectfully of course].

I think it would be too hard for me to sit back and watch someone else take credit for my work.

Besides opening the door for one "proposition" is likely to lead to opening the door to a lifetime of em'.

Nobody needs that kind of pressure hangin' over their head...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know why this person is unable to do it themself. Sounds like a test. (is he discreet, is he a team player, can he work behind the scenes)

I agree with cap that if you do decide to do it, you confirm via company email.

Verbal Vixen (T Caldwell) said...

I don't like handing my spotlight to anyone else, but I don't like burning bridges unless I absolutely have to.

I would let Mr. Executive know straight up that I would be interested in helping them with this project, but that I am in no way comfortable with not getting any credit for it. I would let Mr. Executive know that I am a team player, and remind him how much the company "values teamwork and cooperation". I would tell him that I don't need a week to consider - that I will gladly create the report and allow him to present it, so long as my name is clearly on the byline.

I would give HIM until the end of the week to let me know if he is willing to play ball.

If I am talented and a hard-worker - my abilities will shine with or without this dude's help.

Don said...

@ pro: what do you feel that was gained by you taking the high road in your situation.

note: not to necessarily say that you were looking to gain anything from taking that route.

Don said...

@ verbal vixen: I would give HIM until the end of the week to let me know if he is willing to play ball.


I like your style. I swear to God I do.

anonymousnupe said...

Unless I was just obtuse in my reading, you never stated that the exec is black. I guess it is implied by the fact that lunch was at the soul food spot and by him stating "as the sole minority on the panel...." But neither of those tidbits mean that he is black, actually. Not that that necessarily matters in everyone's mind, but I would just have found it that much more egregious a deed if dude is a brother.

On another note, knowing me and my distrust of people, execs, and black people in high places, I would have probably been taping the conversation the entire time. Not sure to what end. Maybe simply as an arrow in my quiver should he attempt some form of corporate retribution against me after I refused his offer.

Sexxy Luv said...

Hell 2 tha nawl,would be my only answer!

He/She would experience when keepin' it real goes wrong!

N. Steven said...

Sorry. I am not the one. I wish some slickster would try to come to me, asking me to do his/her work FOR THEM TO CLAIM AS THEIR OWN.

Puh-leeze. I know that it may have some kind of help for me in the company (or so he/she says), but I also believe that this ish would come around and leave a big ol' bite mark on someone booty.

antithesis said...

i hope i am never in that situation. morally, i would simply say that i felt it was unethical and i was not willing to compromise my integrity.

PRO said...

@ Don: I gained further respect from my peers who knew the TRUTH. I also gained peace from God knowing that vengeance was not mine and what I started was not in vain. My work, organization and efforts STILL remain to this day. It matters not how women CONTINUE to come together because of people like ME, and I gained confidence in knowing that I can -and will- do it again. Fast forward. The woman who stole credit came to me, thanked me for not 'outing' her and said she had mad love and respect for me. I countered with a connect and some contacts for her family's relocation to the 'A' and how she could become affiliated with a local chapter/affiliation in the area.

Just for shits & giggles, I gained an unpolluted colon because this vegetarian don't 'beef'...

Rich said...

Dang, a brother can't keep up with you all and work for a living. So here's a great big thank you for all the wonderful advice and comments from:

Brown Girl Gumbo
Pro (I need to holla at you about the non-profit thing)
Ms. Behaving
Jali House
Verbal Vixen
Anonymous Nupe
Sexy Luv
N. Steven

I'm glad everyone is enjoying the collaboration that we are doing, it will only get better.

Anonymous said...

@ Cap city- Good advice about the paper trail. You must always cover your own back in corporate America- buddy or no buddy.

I for one am not big on profanity, but this situation deserves a big H No from me. I can't get past the last paragraph. I'm surprised that it was devulged up front that he would be taking credit for the work. Normally you would have found that out until he got promoted or was presenting your info in front of a large meeting of the staff. Also, he should be enlightened to the fact that you don't ask someone to give you a favor in advance. He should not have asked for a favor unless he was already owed a favor. I wish someone would ask me to pay them a favor in advance. When I think about it, I do favors in advance for people all of the time, but it's mostly when I offer to do the favor first. I have learned that there is no guarantee that he will ever pay you back the favor, and if he does pay back the favor I can almost guarantee you that his payback won't match the hard work/forethought put into the work that you would be presenting to him.

Bam said...

I had to think about this one. My gut says no, but my knowledge of the work world knows that saying no to this chick could make me look wrong... Depending on who she is.

So... Considering the chick asked me, rather than artfully playing me into doing it by appealing to my own self interest successfully, clearly she is not the puppet master.

I'd gracefully outshine her to whomever the master is... I'd never even tell her, I'd make her come to me about it. The bait would be fear of me taking her position.


The Flyyest said...


but i never been in that situation so i dont know what id do....but if i were to say yes...i would be so hurt and mad if it blew up and he/she got all the credit...FOR MY ISH..hell nah!!!! then how would i know if he/she wont ask me again

MysTery said...

Mmmmm think that would end up being a no.