I want to debunk white privileges. A white middle-class friend complains that because of white privileges, he feels like he can not complain. You can complain, recognize what other people think and how your situation compares to them.
White middle-class males enjoy distinct or passive advantages that they may not recognize. That is the definition of White privileges.
In some similar ways, an executive working in the corporate world enjoy perks that they conveniently forget about. That is how I define Executive privileges.
I can’t know what happens in the locker room of the white middle class, but I imagine it goes a little like this: They complain with other white middle class men about the challenges they face e.g. How they feel that new policies force them to recruit the minority even if less qualified than the white middle-class male, how you have to be careful now of HR violations, how they think Clara got the VP spot because she is a woman or how Dre is not VP of Urban Marketing because he is Black.
For Executive privileges, I do not have to imagine. I can tell you some of the things I have seen, or experienced:
- Asking for a salary increase: Not any salary increase. An increase where the amount of the increase is more than the average salary in a company.
- Complaining about bonuses: Even when that bonus can buy you a brand new BMW, cash.
- Not understanding why someone is not giving it all: Although they have already delivered more than what the job description requires.
- Job promotions: Complaining that it takes 6 months longer than expected
I would never voice these complaints to people fighting to make ends meet. I find it disrespectful and the opposite of showing gratitude.
So, from a particular perspective, the “struggle” is real, but it also feels petty from another angle.
My thoughts on why the “struggle” is real:
- When I bring almost 1 million dollars in fees to my employer, I believe I am right to ask for close to a 6 digit bonus. I created a lot of value for my company, and I am asking for a fair share. I am not talking about exploiting an army of low paid individuals. I generated so many fees when I was a consultant charging large corporation thousands of $ per day (well actually the consultancy that employed me did for my work).
- Executive burnouts are real. I see many executives crash and burn after working too much. I see many people sacrificing their personal life for their career. The impact: Divorces, relocation to countries they may not like to live, limited family time, etc.… All that for a tiny chance of getting higher in the corporate world. And the higher you go, the fewer spots there are.
My thoughts on why it looks petty:
- Any top earner complaining about not earning enough sounds like a douchebag. Moreover, people are going through much harder work and pressure that make less than one a high earner is asking as a salary increase. That is the case of many hard-working immigrants that do it all for a better future for their children.
The context in this problem is everything — your setting but also the context of people around you. Still, I won’t give a pass to white privileges. Just like I won’t let myself become a douchebag.
Everyone has the right to work hard and aim to better their situation. I do it every day. I go by the motto “there is only one way, and it is up”. A critical difference, though, is how do you better yourself. Are you bettering yourself by making others worse off? Are you gaining from people that society is not allowing to stand? On a professional side, my success in the end, will not be based on how many millions I made. My success will be based on how many millionaires I supported.