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Faith versus a full week of work

I work in an architectural firm with around 60 employees. We have moved entirely to digital production of construction and design documents. Our work depends on this digital production, which requires almost constant maintenance of software, hardware, program licenses and servers. But the company does not have a dedicated IT staff member – all of this is currently “managed” by one of the partners and the CFO, who neither have the time (or sometimes l ‘experience) to solve problems and juggle various demands from employees. Only management positions have access to administrative credentials, required for the installation of new programs or updates. This leads to an endless cycle of working on outdated programs, with an outdated computer system, on a server that never seems to keep up.

Although I have worked my way up to a mid-level position, I’m still one of the younger staff and don’t know how to have this conversation with my manager. How do I get my business to understand that it is essential to make IT a priority?

– Anonymous

I suspect your business decision-makers already know that it’s essential to make IT a priority, but a manager’s trust has no limits. (Yes, you didn’t say it, but I’m guessing who’s making that call.) I’m sure the partner and CFO are great at what they do in their own disciplines, but just because one uses a computer does It doesn’t mean you can maintain the complex technological infrastructure your industry demands. Sometimes the easiest path is straightforward. List all the reasons why not having an IT professional hurts business productivity. But first, open the conversation by congratulating these managers for the amazing job they’ve done in getting the business to this point. It is through their efforts that they have kept the technical vessel afloat for so long, but now the business is at an inflection point. It’s time for them to cede their IT responsibilities to professionals who can move the business forward into a technological promised land. It is in everyone’s interest, including their own, to recognize that just because they can (somehow) doesn’t mean they should.

I work in a private school that is often funded more by its endowment than by tuition fees. Development office staff annually solicit donations to this endowment, arguing that it is important to ensure the future of the school and allow it to continue its mission of educating children. I’m okay with them collecting this money, but they ask all faculty and staff to donate, frequently emailing about it. They think it’s important that 100 percent of teachers donate to the fund, because it shows other donors how committed the people who work here are to the school’s mission. However, I think it is inappropriate to ask us to donate money from our school paychecks to the school itself. Development says the donation is ‘optional’, but last year I got so many emails until I gave in and donated a small amount. It’s like blurring the line between worker and employer asking us to donate our hard earned money to school in the name of our “mission.” Am I wrong?

– Anonymous, California

No, you are not wrong. This nonsense has happened in all the universities where I have taught, and I categorically refuse. It is cowardly, manipulative and greedy of institutions to ask employees to donate their hard-earned money to the institution that pays them. They are basically asking for their refund, which is outrageous. Ignore their fundraising pleas. It’s very elaborate language designed to separate you from your money. Do you know which institution also has the mission of educating children? Public schools! Private education is a choice, and it is a huge privilege. (My journey includes a mix of public and private education.) You and your colleagues demonstrate a commitment to the mission of educating children by showing up for work every day. This is more than enough.

Roxane Gay is the most recent author of “Hunger” and an opinion writer. Write to him at

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