By Kit Goldman, President of Workplace Training Network, Inc.
Felicia: a Hispanic employee at a fictional company
Frank: her Anglo co-worker and team leader
SCENE: Frank is in the break room. Felicia enters.
Different Worlds Scene 1
Felicia: Hey, Frank! Glad I found you. Sorry to interrupt your break but I need your input right away on a couple of items for the Inter-Tech project. (calls out to someone across the break room in Spanish) Luis! Entonces me vas a conseguir los graficos para el final del dia, OK? Excelente! (to Frank) Luis is re-working the graphics for Monday’s presentation. That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, actually.
Frank: Re-working it? Why? Barb’s graphics are fine. She’s got about 60 hours in those graphics.
Felicia: I know. And I like some of what she’s got, but it needs to be massaged. Over all it’s a bit….simplistic…unsophisticated…..
Frank: I viewed it as accessible….
Felicia: (emphatic) ….. accessible to who? The market we’re dealing with here is Hispanic. Being from that culture, I’m worried some of the images might come across patronizing. Possibly even offensive. I figured you could see it but didn’t say anything because you figured Barb’s feelings would be hurt and we all know you hate conflict.
Frank: (looks around, embarrassed) Felicia, it’s OK if you think I’m a wuss. But could you kindly not shout it to the whole break room.
Felicia: Excuse me? I wasn’t shouting.
Frank: Fine. Whatever. Let’s just take it down a notch, OK?
Felicia: Sure. We can do that. By the way, I wasn’t calling you a wuss. Sorry if it came across that way. Look, Frank, I don’t want to hurt Barb’s feelings either. I’m trying to be a team player. I plan to use a lot of what she did. I’ll be happy to sit down with her and explain the changes. It’ll be a win-win, OK? I’ll make sure of that.
Frank: This is supposed to be a team effort. Why are you making unilateral decisions on the graphics?
Felicia: You put me in charge of that at the first project meeting, remember? Said I was responsible for the physical look of the presentation and had final say. Remember? Plus I sent you a memo outlining all the changes 2 days ago and asking for your input. I didn’t hear from you so figured you were OK with everything. Like I said, I’m trying to be a team player. It’s not an ego thing for me. It’s a quality thing.
Frank: I saw the memo. I’m mulling it over. You’re like a freight train going down the track at top speed. The thing that concerns me is they may be appealing to the Hispanic market but it’s a Hispanic soccer mom market. At least in part. Women with a husband and 2.3 kids and acrylic nails. That’s more up Barb’s alley. You see what I’m saying? You may be Mexican, but she’s……well…..
Felicia: Aha. Well, this probably isn’t the time or place to get into sexual politics, although it sounds like tons of fun. Frank, I’m a team player. I’ll talk with Barb, listen to her ideas, and make the very best decisions I can for the project.
Frank: I know you’re trying, Felicia. It’s a style thing. You come on really strong and it gets me on edge.
Felicia: Well, if I’m coming on strong, it’s because I care. I’m sorry if it makes you edgy. I don’t want you unhappy with me. You’re my teammate. Also the team leader. You get to assign a sales rep if we get the account. I’m hoping for that assignment, so it’s pretty risky for me to be this honest. But that’s how much I care about this presentation.
Frank: Boy, can you sell.
Felicia: See? That’s what I’m saying. I’m the woman for the job. Anyway, that’s the situation on the graphics, there are a couple of other things….
Frank: (looks at watch, rises) Oops. I’ve got a conference call in 5 minutes. Can this wait?
Felicia: (rises) Sure. Can we get back together….say around 4:30?
Frank: (exiting) That works. Got to leave by 5:30, though. It’s Karen’s birthday. Taking her to the Jimmy Buffett concert.
Felicia: Maybe tomorrow morning is better.
Frank: Right. Call me in the morning. Not too early. We’ll set something up. (exits)
Different Worlds Scene 2
Norman: an African-American employee at the fictional company from scene 1
Frank: the team leader from scene 1
SCENE: The next day. Norman’s at his desk on the phone. Frank comes to his door. Norman gestures for him to enter.
N: (on phone) ….right….uh huh….once the alternate formatting program’s up you shouldn’t have that problem… make sense?….good…hey, conceptually you’re right on…. once it’s working, you’ll blow them away. You’re the best, Felicia….OK… hang in there….let me know if there’s more I can do (hangs up) What’s up, man? You look wrung out. Want some coffee? Water? Shot of white out?
F: What’s Felicia want?
N: A little tech support for the presentation Monday. Problems with the power point bells and whistles. How was Buffett last night? You and Karen have a good time?
F: Karen had a great time. My head wasn’t in it. I’m having this problem. A conflict in my head and it kept bugging me. Tried drowning it in a few too many cervezas. It’s about Felicia, actually. Then I walk in and you’re on the phone with her. Weird.
N: Welcome to the Twilight zone.
F: That’s what it feels like sometimes. Hey, level with me, man. Doesn’t it bother you a little? About Felicia — that she’s gay?
N: Why would it?
F: The aggressiveness. The intensity. You combine being a lesbian with being Hispanic and it’s a very fiery mix, you know? It’s not easy to work with. And I’m not comfortable with the whole lesbo scene. I can’t help it, it creeps me out.
N: I’ve always found Felicia great to work with. Total team player. Always looks for the win-win. Yeah, she’s passionate about her work but that’s a big reason she’s so effective. I’ve never seen her hit anything but home runs.
F: The problem is, the company we’re pitching Monday’s a Mexican outfit. They all speak Spanish so Felicia’s the point person for the presentation. That’s fine. But she’s putting a full court press on to be the sales rep if we land it. We’re talking a very macho culture. It’s iffy they’d go along with any female rep, especially someone as…forceful…as Felicia. Besides, I’m not sure she’s as good as everyone says she is. And she’s not all that experienced. She needs more seasoning. The thing is though, if we don’t use Felicia, I’ll have to go outside for a rep. She’s the only one in the group who speaks Spanish. That means going to Audrey and her putting on the knee pads and groveling to the CFO for another person in the budget. Not pretty. It’s the rock and the hard place, man.
N: You just venting or you want my opinion?
F: No, yes, I want your thoughts. That’s why I’m here.
N: Felicia does superb work. You ever done a presentation with her? (Frank gestures “no”) I have. She’s phenomenal. Doesn’t miss a bet. Her close ratio’s unbelievable. My guess is with Felicia, you’ll land these guys. As far as being the rep, she’s got a lot going for her. She’s a Latina, they’re Mexican, so she knows the culture. She’s got the language. She’s got the expertise. She’s a team player. They don’t have to know she’s gay. It’s like in the military, don’t ask don’t tell. Level with her. Tell her to wear a skirt and keep her personal life to herself. That way it’s a win-win.
F: OK, buddy. Thanks for the input. It’s giving me a worse headache than the cervezas, but thanks. I’m gonna mull it over. (he exits)
Different Worlds Scene 3
Audrey: supervisor of Frank, team leader from scenes 1 and 2
Frank team leader from scenes 1 and 2
SCENE: Audrey’s office. Frank comes to her “door”. Audrey doesn’t see him. She’s holding a paper, rehearsing a speech.
A: (intense, dramatic) …“What is the sales commitment? It is going deep inside to where that bright blue flame of power, passion, and persuasion burns and turning it up so high every possibility is ignited”.
F: Isn’t that a fire hazard?
A: (startled) Oh Jeez! Where did you come from?
F: Don’t know. Mommy said I was a hatchling.
A: Very funny. Come on in. I’m giving a speech at the sales management association tonight. What do you think? Too schmaltzy? Say no. Too late to change it.
A: You’re a doll. What’s up?
F: Our revenues. At least they will be. Big time. I’ve got good news.
A: That’s exciting
F: And bad news.
A: That’s depressing.
F: Do you have a minute?
A: For the good news, yes. For the bad news, you’ll have to make an appointment. Yes, of course. Sit. Relax. You want coffee? Tea? Soda? Chocolate? (offers candy from box on desk)
F: No thanks. Just let me know when I’m free to move about the cabin. OK, Audrey. Here’s the deal. I just got off the phone with Fernando Carranza from Inter-Tech. They loved the presentation. It’s a go.
A: (they high five) Fantastic! Great job!
F: They’re ready to rock and roll. We’re looking at a six-figure deal with plenty more down the road if things go as expected.
A: That is great news! Fabulous! No surprise, though. You guys cooked up a world-class presentation. And what a coup for Felicia deliver it in Spanish, do all that cultural bonding with them. Awesome. So when do they want to launch?
F: Two weeks.
A: Excellent. This puts our sales revenues way over the top this quarter. You know what that means. Bonus time! Does Felicia know?
A: (picks up the phone) Let’s call her in. Celebrate. Have a little toast. With sparkling water, of course, then after work we can….
F: No, wait. Don’t call her yet. There’s an….. issue involving her we need to talk about. And when Felicia finds out, she won’t be thinking celebration.
A: (puts the phone down) What issue?
F: Felicia’s been very persistent about wanting me to assign her as the rep on the account — if we got it. Anyway, she knows they need someone who speaks Spanish and understands the culture. Plus the ideas we pitched were basically hers. She was amazing. I’ve got to admit she’s the reason we landed the account. She went way beyond my expectations. When we were getting ready, she made it clear a big reason she put in all the extra hours and effort was she expected I’d recommend her to you for the assignment.
A: Can I assume from this rather wordy preamble you’re not recommending Felicia?
F: I can’t. When Fernando called to say we got the account, I felt him out about Felicia being the rep, let him know a lot of the ideas were hers, etc. There’s no way. Hey, they thought Felicia was really bright, really competent, loved the fact she spoke Spanish and understands the culture, but they want a male on the account. A Hispanic male. That’s it bottom line. I had to agree to it to close the sale. So I did.
A: I see. So they want Felicia’s ideas but not Felicia.
F: Hey, I feel bad for Felicia, but what can we do?
A: I feel bad too, but the decision’s out of our control. We don’t have a Hispanic male. We’ll have to hire one. (to the audience) We’re a growing company. This is a 6 figure deal. Plus, we’re reaching out to a global market and other cultures see things differently. You have to respect that. Wouldn’t you do the same thing?
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