CinderellaWill Cinders, a downtrodden HRD, ever win her seat at the table?
The curtain rises on the office of an HR Director. She is sitting at her desk, weeping into a ‘I♥CIPD’ mug. This, alas, is Cinderella.
CINDERELLA: Woe is me! Although I am an HRD, I am treated like a common housemaid. I spend all my time sweeping things under the carpet, ironing out wrinkles, putting out fires and tidying up after careless managers. Worse still, I am being victimised by two ugly sisters, who also happen to be our IT Director and Marketing Director. Oh, no! Here they come.
She hides under the desk. Enter two ugly sisters, Digitalia (the IT Director) and Twitteralia (the Marketing Director).
DIGITALIA: Yooo-hoo! Where are you, Cinderella?
CINDERELLA (under desk): I’m not here! I’ve gone to a conference on human capital quantification methodologies!
TWITTERALIA: Come on out, Cinderella. We promise not to beat you up too much.
Cinderella reluctantly emerges from under the desk.
DIGITALIA: We were wondering, Cinderella – do you have an invitation to the CEO’s Christmas drinks party this evening?
CINDERELLA: Yes, I have. Here it is.
TWITTERALIA: (tearing up Cinderella’s invite) Well, you won’t be needing that, because you’re not going. There’s an emergency you need to attend to instead.
CINDERELLA: Emergency? Oh no, there isn’t.
TWITTERALIA and DIGITALIA: Oh yes there is.
CINDERELLA: Cripes. What emergency?
DIGITALIA: Twitteralia’s hand has been hurt by her PA’s face. We need you to go and fire the little diary monkey.
CINDERELLA: Where is she?
TWITTERALIA: In hospital. Off you go, and don’t forget to take the cost of the manicure I now need out of the little so-and-so’s wages.
CINDERELLA: But I was so looking forward to going to the CEO’s party.
DIGITALIA: Nonsense! That kind of high-level exposure isn’t for the likes of Personnel. The Post Room’s having a curry night in the local Wetherspoon next week. Why don’t you go to that instead?
DIGITALIA and TWITTERALIA exit, cackling.
CINDERELLA: What a hateful pair. And it’s such a shame that I can’t go to the CEO’s drinks party. There’s a rumour that he’s looking to meet someone special – someone he can give a seat at the top table! Oh dear, what has happened to my career?
AUDIENCE: It’s behind you!
The phone on the desk rings.
CINDERELLA: (Into phone) Hello? There’s someone in reception to see me? But I’m not expecting a visitor. Still, you might as well send them up. (She puts down the phone.) While I’m waiting, I can do some work on this brilliant strategy I’m writing that would increase organisational productivity by 3247% during the next financial year.
Enter a Fairy Godmother.
CINDERELLA: Hello. Did reception send you up?
FAIRY GODMOTHER: Everyone sends me up. It’s probably this make-up and the frock that make me look like Grayson Perry.
CINDERELLA: Who are you?
FAIRY GODMOTHER: (clears throat) I am your Fairy Godmother!
CINDERELLA: Shhh! You can’t use language like that around here.
FAIRY GODMOTHER: Eh? What language?
CINDERELLA: Well, fairy, for a start. That’s discriminatory.
FAIRY GODMOTHER: Oh. Well, can I just be your Godmother then?
CINDERELLA: Not really. ‘God’ is a complicated issue in multicultural organisations. And you’d better not identify as a ‘mother’ either. There’s already enough controversy here about institutional bias against childfree workers.
FAIRY GODMOTHER: Oh, b***** this. I’m off. (Exits.)
CINDERELLA: What an odd lady. Still, best get off to the hospital to clean up that mess with Twitteralia’s PA. Maybe I can put the P45 into one of those Get Well Soon cards the Wellbeing taskforce had printed up. (The phone rings again.) Hello? The hospital, you say? What? Twitteralia’s PA has discharged herself? Hmm. Well, at least that means I can go to the CEO’s drinks party after all! Maybe I’ll take that brilliant strategy I’m writing that would increase organisational productivity by 3247% during the next financial year.
The scene changes to a boardroom. Important people are milling around, drinking sherry and eating cheese straws. DIGITALIA and TWITTERALIA are lurking in the background. CINDERELLA is talking to NIGEL, the charming CEO.
CINDERELLA: And so Nigel, I’m writing a brilliant strategy that would increase organisational productivity by 3247% during the next financial year.
NIGEL: Really? Wow! What’s your name again? That’s exactly the kind of commercial thinking we need at the top table.
DIGITALIA: (interrupting) Coo-eee! Nigel! Stop talking to that dismal person and come over here. We’ve worked out a joint scheme whereby we can transfer all our marketing to social media and save squillions in advertising costs!
NIGEL: That sounds fine ladies, but I’m busy talking to this very high-level business consultant.
CINDERELLA: (aside) Wowsers! Nigel really likes me!
Suddenly, TWITTERALIA’S PA enters with arms full of custard pies. She has a bandage over her nose, presumably from the injury incurred earlier.
TWITTERALIA’S PA: It is I, Twitteralia’s PA, here to wreak my revenge. (She throws pies at everybody.) That’ll teach you for treating your staff badly. In your face, the leadership! Stick one of these custardy tarts in your Employer Value Proposition, you values-unaligned oafs!
The whole scene descends into a chaotic custard pie fight, as somewhere in the distance a clock chimes twelve.
CINDERELLA: Blimey! Is that the time? Better get home quick, as I don’t want to contravene the European Working Time Directive. (She puts on her coat.) I’ll just leave this brilliant strategy I’m writing that would increase organisational productivity by 3247% during the next financial year here on this desk. (Exits.)
NIGEL: Where has that exceptional business consultant gone? I didn’t even ask her name. Still, she seems to have left her strategy behind…
The stage goes dark. When the lights come up again, we are back in Cinderella’s office. She is sitting at her desk again, with her head in her hands.
CINDERELLA: Such a shame I had to rush off last night. I was having a great time with Nigel. I’d love to get involved in some top table action with him. I had a real thrill when he was running his fingers through my brilliant strategy that would increase organisational productivity by 3247% during the next financial year. (Sighs.)
NIGEL appears at the door.
NIGEL: Hello, I’m touring all the offices looking for people who might be the author of this brilliant strategy that would increase organisational productivity during the next financial year.
CINDERELLA: That’s me!
NIGEL: Well, I need to be sure. How many per cent will this strategy improve organisational productivity by?
NIGEL: Hooray! You are the author. Will you take a seat at my top table, please?
CINDERELLA: Yowzers! Nothing would give me greater pleasure!
As a finale, the entire cast reappears on stage and joins hands to sing the following, to the tune of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
Cinders, the girl from HR,
Never got a second glance:
Both of the ugly sisters
Used to make her soil her pants.
All of the board directors,
Treated her de-mean-ing-ly –
They never let poor Cinders
Contribute to strat-e-gy.
Then one Christmas, at a do,
Nigel came to say:
‘Cinders, with your great insight,
Won’t you join the Board tonight?’
Then the directors loved her,
And they shouted out with glee,
‘Cinders, the girl from HR,
Welcome to the Suite called ‘C’!
Curtain falls. Tumultuous applause, etc. etc.