Faith vs. a Full Week of Work


I work at an architecture firm of about 60 employees. We have fully transitioned to producing construction and design-related documents digitally. Our work depends on this digital production, which requires the near constant maintenance of software, hardware, program licensing and servers. But the firm does not have a staff member dedicated to information technology — all of this is currently “managed” by one of the partners and the C.F.O., neither of whom have the time (or sometimes experience) to be troubleshooting and juggling miscellaneous requests from employees. Only management positions have access to administrative credentials, required for new program installation or updates. This leads to a never-ending cycle of working on outdated programs, with an outdated computer system, on a server that never seems to keep up.

While I have worked my way up to a midlevel position, I am still one of the younger members of the staff and unsure of how to have this conversation with my manager. How do I get my firm to see that making I.T. a priority is critical?

— Anonymous

I suspect the decision makers at your firm already know that making I.T. a priority is critical, but the confidence of a man in charge knows no bounds. (Yes, you didn’t say, but I am making an assumption about who is making this call.) I’m sure the partner and C.F.O. are great at what they do in their own disciplines, but just because one uses a computer does not mean one can maintain the complex technological infrastructure your industry demands. Sometimes, the easiest path is straight forward. Make a list of all the ways not having an I.T. professional is hindering productivity at the firm. But first, open the conversation by commending these managers for the remarkable job they’ve done getting the company to this point. It’s a credit to their efforts that they’ve kept the technical ship afloat this long but now, the firm is at an inflection point. It’s time for them to relinquish their I.T. responsibilities to professionals who can usher the firm forward into a technological promised land. It is in everyone’s best interests, including theirs, to recognize that just because they (sort of) can, does not mean they should.

I work at a private school often funded more by its endowment than tuition dollars. The development office staff solicits donations to this endowment every year, arguing that it is important to secure the school’s future and allow it to continue in its mission of educating children. I am fine with them raising this money, but they ask all the faculty and staff to donate, sending frequent emails about it. They believe it is important that 100 percent of faculty donate to the fund, as it shows other donors how committed the people who work here are to the school’s mission. I believe, however, that it is inappropriate to ask us to donate money out of our paychecks from the school back to the school itself. Development says that the donation is “optional,” but last year I received many, many emails until I relented and donated a small amount. It feels like it is blurring the boundary between worker and employer to ask us to donate back our hard-earned money to the school in the name of our “mission.” Am I wrong?

— Anonymous, California

No, you are not wrong. This nonsense has happened at every university where I’ve taught, and I absolutely refuse. It is craven, manipulative and greedy for institutions to ask employees to donate their hard-earned money to the institution that pays them. They are basically asking for their money back, which is outrageous. Ignore their fund-raising entreaties. It’s highly crafted language designed to part you from your money. You know what institution also has a mission of educating children? Public schools! Private education is a choice, and it is an immense privilege. (My background includes a mix of both public and private education.) You and your fellow employees demonstrate commitment to the mission of educating children by showing up to work every day. That is more than enough.

Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at workfriend@nytimes.com.



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