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Competition among women in the workplaceCompetition among Women in the Workplace
Photo Credit: CulturaMix.com

With rapid growth at the leather company, the challenges soared. More work. More staff. More intrigues. More stress. Wherever women gather, troubles follow. Envy, jealousy, and power become our deadliest enemies.

The Instigator was the Brazilian wife of one of the Italian supervisors in the tannery. She joined the Cut-and-Sew Factory in a supervisory position for which she was ill-prepared. With her incompetence unmasked, she used her Italian connection to belittle the factory staff and instigate conflicts among the female sewers. Tempers flared.

Complaints from our clients placed me in a conflict situation with the Instigator’s husband. In defense of her man, she added me to her Enemy List. When the company let her go, peace returned to the Cut-and-Sew Factory.

The Seductress used different tactics to get her way. A single woman in her late twenties, she held a business administrative degree from her home state. Like all out-of-state staff members, she lived in the nearby township of Cascavel. Her sexual encounters became the talk of the small coastal town. Monday mornings began with the circulation of her weekend escapades. The young, local, female staff relished recounting the spicy details.

The Seductress reveled in her conquests and fame. “I have them in the palm of my hands,” she declared one day, smacking her palm. ‘Them’ referred to our company directors.

Instead of focusing on her work, she roamed porn sites, read her fan mail, and flirted with men on the phone. Assured of her privileged status, we were shocked the day she was fired.

When I was appointed manager of the export department and began training my team, the Vampire – a local, young mother in an unstable marriage – became my Achilles heel. She sucked my energies with her jealousy of new team members, especially those with English language skills. Thwarting my attempts to have her train newcomers to use the company’s operating system, she sabotaged their work forcing me to seek help from the technical staff.

To complicate matters, the Vampire started a clandestine liaison with an Italian director. Nothing is secret in a small town. Her affair triggered a chain of intrigues and alliances among the staff within and outside of our department.

She had demonstrated great potential for growth as an import-export professional. With advance technical training and fluency in English, she could one day become the company’s export manager. I had erred in keeping her on the team. Better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. Hopefully in time, she would see her folly.

In a small town like Cascavel where jobs are scarce, competition becomes fierce. Women like the Instigator, Seductress, and Vampire transform the workplace into a battlefield. One always has to be a step ahead of the enemy. Always alert. I had to be tough to survive. That I succeeded in meeting our shipment deadlines and attending to the needs of our clients to their satisfaction was no easy accomplishment.