It’s Day 158 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and a few days of reflecting on the plot of “Wicked” have made me realize how the relationship between the two witches plays out in wicked ways amongst women in the workplace. So, even though I posted briefly about seeing Wicked the other night, I hope you’ll read on…
In Wicked: Elphaba, better known as The Wicked Witch of the West, was born green. This difference caused her to be the target of discrimination, bullying and labeling. Though she was indeed the witch with the superior abilities, these were minimized while personal characteristics that had nothing to do with her performance were maximized, resulting in her marginalization. When she dared to stand up for herself and what was right, she became the victim of retaliation. Glinda the Good, a misnomer until the end of the play, was the ringleader.
In the Workplace: Women experience discrimination from other women based on race, ethnicity, their femininity, sexual and/or gender orientation, religion, socio-economic class, etc.
Understandably, Elphaba experienced low self-esteem, self-blame and loneliness which led to depression. Though she actually had a generous, kind and self-sacrificial heart, her depression made her believe no good deed goes unpunished, which ultimately caused the self-fulfilling prophecy about being wicked to come true.
In the workplace: Women who are being discriminated against suffer from a host of maladies including emotional, mental, physical, and social ones that cause decreased performance, job satisfaction, and personal problems that stem from those at work.
Glinda was a highly dysfunctional person. Her narcissism and ineptitude, combined with the knowledge that Elphaba’s talent exceeded hers was a dangerous mixture. With jealousy stirred in (Elphaba was not only like but loved!), it became poisonous. Once Glinda realized she could not control Elphaba as her enemy, she drew her into a complex co-dependent relationship that was truly toxic.
In the workplace: Workplace bullies and/or saboteurs, including superiors, may try to get close to their target so they can control them. Unwanted invitations to lunch, to engage in social media or other activies are then used to gather information/ammunition to be used inappropriately later. Fear and manipulation are usually attached to these “olive branches”.
Distrust, Delusion, and Desperation, Oh, My!
Because the tenuous “friendship” between the Elphaba and Glinda was built on distrust, when a seeming breech occured, Glinda became delusional and projected all of the negativity she’d harbored toward Elphaba onto her. Her own insecurity caused her to take desperate measures to contain the threat to her fiefdom, including bringing intentional heartache and loss to Elphaba. Oh, my!
In the workplace: Whereas coaching and guidance are usually provided to address performance issues, documentation is used to reprimand and or retaliate against the target. A case is often being built about the woman being targeted, the purpose of which is to “beat them into subjection”, cause them to quit, or to be terminated. Oh, my, indeed!
In the end, though Glinda knew what she cost Elphaba, her own selfish desires ruled the day. Despite the fact that Elphaba’s actions had proven time and again that her desire was for the good of all, and not just herself, she is derailed from using her powers in a constructive way to benefit others. Finally, Glinda had to carry on with the knowledge of what she’d done and live with all of the lies and false pretenses. And while Elphaba’s reputation remained blemished, her conscious was cleared. She was content and at peace.
In the workplace: When the bullies or saboteurs are in positions of leadership or power, they are often successful in derailing other women by whom they are threatened and of whom they are professionally jealous or intolerant. They run them out of jobs and even careers. They succeed in painting them as wicked. That’s the bad news…
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who’s been there myself, I’m so glad I have some good news! It’s this: Women who are targets are often resilient. We bounce back with better jobs. We not only lead fulfilling careers, we fulfill our purpose.
How is that? Because we’re wicked good.
Have you ever been Elphaba in the workplace? Glinda? How did your story end?
Be savvy & chic,
~Pink Collar Coach