Seat at the Table


HR peeps are notorious for saying, “We need a seat at the table.”

In fact, it was just discussed (again) on The HR Happy Hour.

A seat at the table? Ugh. Ridiculously lame. Business isn’t done at a big boardroom table—it’s done over drinks, coffee, and dinner. Decisions are made in smaller groups. Both formal and informal committees. Then those decisions are brought to the big table. That’s how it works.

Anyway, I really hate that phrase because it shows a lack of understanding how shit gets done. It makes me think Human Resources would get a seat at the table and stupidly lose it because they’re just so damn excited to be there.


But lately, I’ve been hearing people in other departments/functions use that phrase.

  • Accountants who have a difficult time making an impact with the CFO? Can’t get a seat at the table.
  • IT professionals who can’t seem to explain privacy & security concerns? Need a seat at the table.
  • Managers who don’t have the attention of leaders? Struggle to get a seat at the table.

Makes me wonder if every single American worker lacks a seat at the table and is feeling disenfranchised due to the consolidation of power during the economic downturn. Do we envision that — somewhere — a group of people are sitting around a table making decisions that are ultimately bad for us? And do suspect that we’re not in control of our own destinies and that our hard work/common sense will ultimately be ignored?


And you’re right to be paranoid because that’s exactly what’s happened from 2001-2009, or what’s being labeled as the lost decade in America.

But those executive leaders and politicians who killed your jobs and now want power back? They’re not sitting at a table. They are sitting at a high-end restaurant in NYC — drinking scotch and eating meals that cost as much as your monthly mortgage payment.

I don’t know about you, but I want a seat at that table.

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