did this goodbye email overstep, problematic volunteer events, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Did our alumni director overstep with her goodbye email?

This isn’t my personal workplace, but it did lead me to wonder about professional networking in general. Today my alma mater’s director of alumnae relations sent a mass email from her professional account to all alums announcing she was leaving the position as she is seeking a career change. That’s not so strange, but she concluded the email by asking (politely) if anyone had any job leads in the career fields she’s looking to transition to.

This has caused a huge debate in our community and has largely put alums in two camps: 1) It might have been gutsy, but an example of good hustle in today’s competitive job market. Or, 2) It was a misuse of resources, bordering on rude and inappropriate to include in an email to the entire alum network on company letterhead. What do you think?

Oooh, interesting. I don’t think it’s an outrage, but it does feel a bit off and like it was a misuse of resources that she had only access to because of her job (assuming that the rest of the alumni don’t have the same ability to email the entire alumni list in one click like she did). What do others think?

2. Our manager might be planning a problematic volunteer event

Our team is spread across a few offices around the U.S. Once a year, our manager, Ophelia, gets the whole team together. This year’s get-together is approaching, and we’re all headed to Ophelia’s location.

Ophelia recently emailed, “As long as everyone’s in the same place, let’s do a volunteer event.” The company’s big on volunteerism and each office has different events that we enjoy in our respective communities. But some organizations that Ophelia’s touted in the past are problematic and don’t align with our company’s mission for diversity and inclusion. When this was brought up a while ago, Ophelia said she was not aware of these organization’s stances and the subject was dropped. With this event coming up, some people are wondering what it actually is, especially since Ophelia has so far declined to give any details other than a date.

So what if we show up and the event is for, say, The Foundation For Giving Cancer to Children? We can’t be forced to volunteer, right? How can this be handled properly?

Someone should ask her directly about this now, which will decrease the chances of an awkward situation once you’re all together. You or someone else should say to her, “Can you let us know ahead of time what charity this is for, so that we can make sure it’s one everyone is comfortable volunteering for?”

If she refuses to tell you — which would be really odd — and you get there and discover it’s something problematic, at that point you just have to be straightforward. As in, “I’m really uncomfortable with this charity because of X, so I’m going to sit this one out.”

But frankly, if she refuses to tell you ahead of time, you might even discreetly ask HR to intervene, explaining that her choices in the past have been at odds with the company’s stance on diversity and inclusion. This is the kind of thing HR generally will not be thrilled to hear about.

3. My boss’s boss derails our meetings

My boss’s boss, who’s been around for a few years now, is a terrible person to have meetings with. Any meeting he shows up to gets derailed. I’ve come to dread accepting meeting invites when I know he’ll be there, because the meeting ends up being a waste of time. He’ll show up, spend about five minutes trying and failing to explain what we’re here to accomplish, and then the rest of the meeting will be spent with him derailing the speaker with irrelevant questions or questions that have been answered before. Most of the time, his direct reports (i.e., the ground level managers) will try to keep him on topic, but I’ve seen very smart people walk out of a meeting more confused than when they went in.

I’d love talk to the CXO he reports to, but that man has a temper (yelling in the office, which is a whole other issue) and I refuse to spend more time around him than necessary. I just want to have my meetings be productive. How do I go about stopping him from derailing?

You probably can’t. This is your boss’s boss. If he were your direct boss and you had good rapport with him, you could talk to him about it, asking for his help in keeping your meetings on track and sticking to the agenda. And it might or might not work. But this is your boss’s boss; you’re not really in a position to take this on. For your own meetings, if you can avoid inviting him, do … but for meetings convened by other people, this is really on them to handle to whatever extent they can.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. I don’t want to use my personal cell phone for work

My new (very large, public) company has a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. While they do provide cell phones for some people, they’re trying to encourage people to use their own devices, likely to keep costs low. To participate in this program, you install their secure apps and agree to a laundry list of things that include checking your location but not storing it (in case you lose the phone), handing over the phone if the company gets sued or something of the sort, and approving a remote wipe. They do not contribute to my bill, though the company has an overall discount with my service provider that I can access.

I’m three days in and my boss wants me to do the BYOD thing. Is it acceptable/appropriate to push back this early on about something like this? Do you have any language recommendations? I like my privacy, not having work notifications on weekends on my personal phone, and not using my own items for company benefit. I’m considering adding a line to my plan and asking to be reimbursed for that instead.

Yep, you can push back on this and there are a lot of reasons to, including the privacy loss and the utterly messed up fact that some companies will remotely wipe the entire phone, including your personal stuff, when your employment ends. And on top of that, they’re not even contributing to your bill, so they’re transferring a business cost over to you.

Since it doesn’t sound mandatory, start with a simple, matter-of-fact, “Oh, I’d rather not use my own phone — can I use a company-provided one instead?” And if that doesn’t work, then shift to, “I’m not comfortable with the stipulations that are attached to this, like the remote wipe, so I can’t do BYOD. What do I need to do to get a company phone instead?”

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Can we invite our managers out to dinner with us?

I recently started working my first post-grad job at a relatively small department of a large company. My department is very friendly and informal, and is broken up into two areas – one for a handful of product managers and another for a group of young temps like me (year-long jobs, if it matters). Many of us are alumni of the same small school, including mangers Jack and Emma, who aren’t much older than the temps. Emma is the only manager stationed in the temp area and Jack also drops by a lot to chat with everyone for fun, so we see them often. We all get along great and enjoy working together.

The temps have started going out for occasional after-work dinners and want to invite Jack and Emma to come out with us. Is that appropriate to ask, or too weird? And if we do invite them, is it okay to not invite the other managers who are also fun and friendly but who we don’t have as much of a relationship with? We’re all very new to this, and don’t want to mess up a great environment.

It should be okay to invite them along once or twice, but I wouldn’t start doing it regularly, since that’s too likely to blur the professional boundaries that you and they need to have in place. It’s okay not to invite all the other managers, since you don’t have the same rapport with them. (But that’s also another reason not to make it a regular thing; it does risk getting weird if it’s regular and you’re never inviting the others.) I would think of Jack and Emma as special guest stars at a dinner or two, as opposed to regular cast members.

{ 480 comments… read them below }

  1. Daria Grace*

    OP 4, you really shouldn’t have to do this but do you have an old handset or a cheap basic smartphone you could stick a cheap prepaid sim card in to use as your work phone? You shouldn’t have to spend the extra money, but you might decide that preferable to the risk of giving your company dangerous levels of control over your primary personal phone

    1. Tangerina*

      I’m super privileged to be in a position that I’d be willing to lose my job instead of agreeing to this. I wish everyone in such a position would do the same.

      1. Annoyed*

        Likewise. I wouldn’t even use a different phone rather than my primary phone.

        I’d be too concerned that if something happened (legal stuff) and company info was subject to discovery this would give who knows who access to my personal stuff via my account.

        Or rven just in the course of normal work with no particular issues, that Company could finagle a way to nose into my personal stuff *just because* I use a phone …connected to my personal account… for work.

        Not thst Ihave anything to hide, I dont, but …privacy. I am *not* an “open book” nor should I be expected to be.

    2. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      My jaw dropped to the floor reading those stipulations! I was amazed that anyone agrees to it but as Tangerina pointed out not everyone is in the position to say ‘no.’ Take the advice and do whatever you can to avoid doing this with any phone that’s genuinely personal. Its also not a terrible idea to keep a wary eye out for any other horribly invasive policies they might have or bring up in the future.

        1. nnn*

          This gave me the mental image of showing up with an old flip phone “Okay, this is my phone. How do I install the app?”

          1. Emelle*

            My 12 year old has a “Gibbs phone”. (NCIS) I would 100% use her phone or one like it for this.

          2. arjumand*

            Me too! I have an old Motorola Razr lying around somewhere – OP can have it: if only for the look on her boss’s face when she turns up, insisting that it’s her only phone. Bonus points for flipping it open like the communicators on Star Trek.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              I have an old Nokia “stick” style (3310 or thereabout) phone laying around at home. They have a reputation for being near-indestructible; maybe that would be a good excuse. ;)

              1. Lora*

                Nokia brought these back! Unfortunately they are now smartphones that can do apps and all that too. I have no idea if they’re still indestructible, but I know I fell off my bike a few times in grad school with a Nokia phone in my pocket, fully expected to find the phone smashed, and it was barely scratched.

                This is basically why I’m Team Android: the Motorola Droids were the first to have gorilla glass and water resistance; plus, you can unlock them and get developer rights and run experimental scripts and apps.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve dropped my Droid on concrete, parking lots, tile floors, literal rocks… not a scratch.

                2. ContentWrangler*

                  My first cell phone was a hand-me-down Nokia and once at a soccer game, it fell out of my pocket while I was on top of the bleachers, clanged its way through the metal stairs and then onto the concrete below and was totally fine. Those things were indestructible magic.

                3. Breda*

                  Yeah, everyone I know who has smashed their screen has an iPhone.

                  (I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing smashed Galaxy Edges, though, because WHAT a dumb design.)

                4. Specialk9*

                  @Breda, yup, the Galaxy Edge are a nightmare. I got a Samsung S8 for the storage didn’t know about the stupid screen. Paid out of pocket, $900, and preordered it and the official protective case (with preorder nobody had any other cases available). 3rd day, I put it down – PUT it down, not dropped or slammed – and the glass shatters. WTfingF?! I put some tape over it, got a case that actually protects the glass, and curse every time my finger gets too close to the edge because then it pops up all these icons that I didn’t want. It’s been months and I’m still irritated at this phone, but $900, man. I don’t like Apple’s paternalism, but I’m thinking I’m close to switching. This is ridiculous.

                5. JessaB*

                  I could not use the galaxy edge, with my arthritis, the phone just kept doing things, because of my grip position. Luckily I was replacing my old phone in a Sprint store in person and they simply tore up the contract, got me a regular s7 and we did paperwork again because nope, that edge stuff is awful. I’m glad I did now that I’m hearing about screen issues.

                6. Lora*

                  SpecialK9, I have a MotoZ with the gorilla glass and I like it a lot. Have dropped it many times and it’s been fine. It has a backup battery which helps a lot.

                7. Happy Lurker*

                  About 5 years ago, I found an old Droid in a snow covered parking lot Our snowmobile rode over it. I dug it out, I plugged it in and called the owner. He picked it up the next night.

                  I still love my droids….but, OP I have a couple Razrs and a Convoy flip I would gladly donate to your cause. BYOD, with authorization to remote wipe – what a terrible policy!

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                Oh, those bulletproof Nokia phones. I had one with a slide-out physical keyboard. Loved it so much.

              3. King Friday XIII*

                My college SO once threw my Nokia across the street at me and it hit the pavement and was fine. Magic!

                1. Anonny*

                  I had those old Nokias as a teenager, and my dad’s in a wheelchair (together, they’re quite heavy – he’s a fully-grown man and his wheelchair is a pretty powerful electric one) and one of my family’s party tricks was to get him to run over the phone. I think the worst that ever happened was he accidentally changed the ringtone.

                2. blackcat*

                  Surprisingly few years ago, my coworker was making fun of my Nokia brick phone (at the time, it was 4 or so years old, so a “new-ish” version–I think I bought in in 2007 or so) and comparing it to his iPhone.

                  I looked at him and said “You know what my phone can do that yours can’t?” And I threw it as hard as I could against the brick wall. Case popped off, battery popped out, I put it back together and it turned on as good as new.

                  And then I walked away.

            2. Artemesia*

              I was sad to give up my flip phone for just this reason when my husband got a smart phone and a plan and it made sense for me to be on his plan. I always loved that star trek moment of flipping open my communicator.

          3. Persimmons*

            Literally my RL situation. Staring at my crappy pay-as-you-go dumb phone right now.

        2. fogharty*

          And then “Oops, I’m out of minutes. Will the company pay for more? No? Ok, no calling me I guess.”

        3. Clorinda*

          Dollar General smartphone costs $30-40 and you can get a 3 month plan for $20. OP shouldn’t have to pay that, but it’s certainly better than giving these people access to the real phone with his or her whole life on it.

      1. Namelesscommentator*

        Those look like the standard stipulations for linking an instalitutional outlook account to a phone, at least a year ago, so it may not be company driven.

        (Not that I’m defending the company, but those terms may be more common than people think).

        1. CJ Record*

          The policies are customizable and are set by the IT team on the Exchange server. (Source: my phone is connected to two school Exchange accounts, with different login restrictions and purge policies.) So having some restrictions is common, but that many?

          I’ve got a Google Voice account. I have really thought about setting up my old smartphone with a cheap Fi account. Bonus: I’m not giving my personal information to students!

          1. Observer*

            There are a number of factors that come into play. But one thing that affects what IT can do is budget. The standard MS Exchange setup doesn’t allow you to be selective in what you wipe – it’s all or nothing. You need to upgrade to MDM – whether from Microsoft or another provider.

            1. John Vinall*

              Ah, the good old Exchange server limitation.

              When my boss and I were configuring MDM on our exchange 2k10 server (iirc) we set his iphone up so that we could remote wipe to test what it would do (he had been planning on wiping his iphone to upgrade it I think anyway). Testing the remote wipe worked perfectly, it blatted everything on the phone returning it to factory defaults.

              Except what we didn’t realise was that the exchange server stored that you’d wiped the phone and linked that to your account until you explicitly turned it off. So my boss went through the process over the weekend of reinstalling all his apps, his personal settings, etc, before finally on Monday morning bringing it into work and setting it up on the exchange server again.


              Blank phone again.

              He at least thought it was funny.

          2. A Non E. Mouse*

            The policies are customizable and are set by the IT team on the Exchange server.

            Yes and no, depending on the version of Exchange (if the company is even ON Exchange – we no longer are).

            But the default Exchange setting is really all or nothing.

            Fun fact: while we were testing BYOD settings on our old Exchange server, we found out that wipe on a phone with a add-on SD card *also wipes that SD card*. Glad we tested first!

        2. Specialk9*

          Yeah, my company has those same stipulations, but they also pay $70/month toward my plan.

          OP, they’re trying to sucker you. $0, using up your data and minutes, and rights to wipe and track your phone? BULLSHIRT! Next they’ll expect you to bring in your own laptop. Work needs to pay for work expenses.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Those terms are actually really common for BYO phone policies! Maybe not the location logging, but definitely all the rest. Which makes sense if it’s a work-provided phone, but is utterly ridiculous if it’s your own.

        1. Observer*

          Location logging is actually rather uncommon. But, the rest is largely a function of budget – the kinds of tools that allow better precision tend to be expensive.

          I’m not defending it – if you need that kind of security, you should be willing to spend the money either on the management software or phones.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            It would be so much easier to provide phones! They could be purchased in bulk with a standard setup and procedures to manage them. Having to customize to each personal phone would be much more labor-intensive.

            1. Keyboard Cowboy*

              Smartphone designers spend a lot of time and effort making it easy to set IT policies on phones. BYOD has gigantic demand! There’s usually a standardized set of policies that corporate IT can define, and the phone will begin to enforce them as soon as you set up your work account (although it will warn you and ask you to agree, or uninstall the work account). I used to work for a smartphone company and they really bust their humps trying to make it easier for companies to do this.

            2. Specialk9*

              I used to carry 3 cell phones, all the exact same model. It was ridiculous and made my purse heavy, and hard to keep track of email on 3 accounts and 3 phones.

              I’m thinking of going back to a 2nd phone though.

        2. Millennial Lawyer*

          What’s uncommon is no benefit to the employee – friends I know at certain accounting firms say the firms pay their phone bill

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yeah, that’s the weird part. Why would I accept all of that with absolutely no benefit to me?

            1. Windchime*

              For sure. My previous company originally provided us with Blackberries, but then went to BOYD. I chose not to have my work email on my personal phone; my job didn’t need me to be connected that badly and I didn’t want the invasive “phone wipe” to be a possibility. But coworkers still would call my personal phone about work things, which was annoying.

            2. Gatomon*

              Exactly. If I consolidated on my work phone, my company would pay for the phone* and cover the monthly bill. I’ll happily fork over $70/month to avoid my company dictating what I can and can’t do with my own device and having the ability to remotely destroy all my stuff at any time.

              *Up to a certain price… you can’t get an iPhone X on the company dime….

      3. D'Arcy*

        To be fair, remote wiping the entire phone isn’t something they do for spite; it’s that it’s quite difficult to selectively wipe all the company specific info unless you start out by installing company-specific apps and all the company stuff is internally segregated to stay inside those apps.

            1. BYOD forever*

              No, thanks. I’d much rather supply my own phone and computer — the kind *I* like, not the kind some IT manager likes. There is a lot of bottom up demand for BYOD policies.

          1. snowglobe*

            It is possible for the company to use secure apps that keep company information segregated so they don’t need to wipe the entire phone. The reality is that most people who need to use a phone for work prefer to use their own phone so they don’t have to carry two phones with them all the time. I use to have a separate work phone and was grateful when they finally allowed us to BYOD. However, we use a secure app for company email, which does not allow the download of any company information to the phone.

        1. sam*

          So, my company has similar policies, and I’ve never heard or seen them actually wipe someone’s phone. It’s largely a “reserve our rights” situation in case something really dire happens and the phone (with their data on it) becomes compromised in some way.

          It’s still not ideal, but it’s the sort of thing that any company with a BYOD is going to reserve for and almost never actually use.

          In terms of your personal data, if you regularly back up your phone (to your computer, not the cloud!), you can restore all of your personal data/settings pretty pretty quickly – again, not ideal, but this is the best way to protect your data for a variety of issues, not just this one.

          I will say that enacting a BYOD policy and not giving you any sort of compensation is pretty shitty. My company reimburses up to $50/month, which definitely makes a difference in how I feel about this sort of thing.

          (and for those folks suggesting to just get a cheap flip phone, often what the company wants is to reach people via email, etc. – a smartphone is specifically required.)

          1. gecko*

            I have to say what really wigs me out is the location access, since it takes one bad actor in IT to use that data maliciously or one incompetent actor in IT to allow the data to be misused.

            The ability to wipe the phone still gives me the willies, honestly; it’s definitely a reserve your rights situation, as you say, but it doesn’t sound like OP trusts the company very much in the first place. There are measures OP can take, but the idea of remote access to your phone feels really gross.

            Agree that the flip phone ruse is not a great idea.

            1. Tiny Orchid*

              I have seen location data seriously misused – at an old company we had work-provided phones but were encouraged to use them as our personal phones too. When a coworker was sick, they went to the corner store to get cough drops, and when they got back to work, they got questioned about whether they were really at home all day.

              1. Gatomon*

                Oh this is creepy. Sometimes I’ve gone to the doctor’s office and then run home to drop off the reams of paper/medication they give you before going back to work since it’s on the way. Now I feel like someone will think I’m committing time theft….

          2. CAA*

            This has been my experience as well. When I left my last employer, they just disabled my corporate Exchange account and watched me delete that account from my settings. They did wipe a manager’s phone after she had it stolen while on vacation, and yes, they wiped her personal info too, but that was actually a good thing in this case. It was an Android phone and all her contacts and personal docs were in her own Google account, so no big deal getting it loaded onto a new phone.

            This company actually bought the phones and paid all the bills while we were employed, but you could keep your phone when you left if it was a year old, or buy it from them if it was newer.

          3. Antilles*

            (and for those folks suggesting to just get a cheap flip phone, often what the company wants is to reach people via email, etc. – a smartphone is specifically required.)
            Agreed. Bringing in one of those cheap flip phones is going to get you a “yeah, but we really need you to have access to email and be able to view PDFs and…”

            1. Observer*

              For that, you get a cheap phone (you can get stuff for $40-50 in many cases.) These are not GOOD phones, but you’re not looking for a great experience here. The bigger issue is ongoing costs, so I’d look for a really low end plan that falls over after you hit your limit rather than making you pay overages.

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              Bringing in one of those cheap flip phones is going to get you a “yeah, but we really need you to have access to email and be able to view PDFs and…

              “Okay, but this is my phone. If you need me to have a device I can use for work purposes, you need to provide one for me.”

              It’s like being hired to deliver furniture and then having them say “Oh, you need to bring your own 15′ truck.”

          4. Nye*

            I had an intern whose phone was wiped because he had tried to log in incorrectly too many times.

            In reality, his phone was in his pocket and he was wearing shorts that were some kind of synthetic material that just happened to trigger the phone touchpad. Repeatedly.

            It was optional to put work email on personal phones, and I hadn’t because I was Not Okay with the remote wipe provision. After that I felt very bad for the intern, but good about my choices. (This was technically US government email, I believe, so no real recourse for the intern.)

          5. Luna*

            I’m not sure it really matters that it’s a “reserve our rights” policy, unless it is truly optional and the company allows employees to either opt out or have the option of using a second company-provided phone. But if it is essentially mandatory in order to be employed there, the policy is wrong and 100% creepy, no matter the intent behind it.

          6. Mike C.*

            Why does this even matter? They can still do it and the only reason they would ever want to do it is because they’re too cheap to pay their own business costs.

          7. samiratou*

            Unless someone accidentally triggers the “wipe all” feature, which happened at my company a few years back. Obviously they’ve tightened up procedures since then, but that’s small comfort to people who lost all their kids photos or something like that.

            But that functionality is optional, if people want to be able to access company data on their phone. With the move to office 365 we can now have email on our phones with a 2-factor authentication tool, which doesn’t have those risks and is mostly what people wanted to use personal phones for, anyway.

            I figure if the company wants me to have a phone that badly, they can pay for it. Even those that have a BYOD policy usually reimburse part or all of your cell phone bill–the fact that this company requires all of that AND puts all the liability on you to pay for & maintain the device that they, effectively, own with this stipulations? That’s a bunch of BS.

          8. CM*

            My company terminated my data plan without telling me, the day before I left. I assumed they would just transfer the charges over to me. I had a grandfathered unlimited data plan and was super annoyed. They did not, however, wipe my entire phone.

            1. Specialk9*

              That seems like a really unusual expectation you had. Why did you think that would happen that way?

              1. technwine*

                I had a company phone plan and when I left they transferred it over to me. That seems like a completely reasonable expectation.

          9. SarahKay*

            I would dispute that ‘most people who need to use a phone for work prefer to use their own phone so they don’t have to carry two phones with them all the time’. Granted, we’re heading into anecdata here, but in the team of 12 people that I’m on, only one person has made the decision to have just a single phone.
            Everyone else, myself included, looked at the BYOD requirements (which looked just like OP#4’s) and went with some variation of “Heck no!

            1. medium of ballpoint*

              Yup! The only time I declined a company phone was when I lived in a dead zone. I had a repeater that worked with my carrier, but our work phones had a different carrier and they wouldn’t pay for a repeater. I didn’t have to use my phone often for work matters, but when I did it sucked. I didn’t remember half the time to hide my caller ID so I’d get random callbacks months later and it was just a mess. So glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

            2. Persimmons*

              Many of my colleagues just forward their personal number to the work phone. Carry one phone, still keep everything separate.

            3. Pat Benetardis*

              Agree. I have 2 phones by preference. I can choose when I carry the business phone or not and it’s not bothering me when I don’t want it.
              Almost everyone else I work with does the same.

            4. mark132*

              I totally agree with you. Also doesn’t this give you the flexibility to leave the work phone home when you still want to have a personal phone?

            5. BananaPants*

              My employer doesn’t do BYOD, but for employees above a certain level (typically management) they pay for a company phone. Every employee who I know who has a company phone also keeps a personal cell phone. Those who haven’t figured out call forwarding will even tote both of them to meetings!

              No one here wants to mix personal use with a company-controlled asset that could go away in a matter of seconds if there are layoffs.

        2. Angela Ziegler*

          I downloaded the Outlook app and logged into my work email from there, and there weren’t any permissions about wiping the phone. When I tried logging in through my phone’s email app, however, the data-wipe permissions had to be agreed to before accessing that email. That might be a good alternative since the Outlook app doesn’t have phone permissions for an entire data-wipe.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            My company has a very similar policy and this is what I do. I both need to access email remotely and am not senior enough to qualify for a company-furnished phone. It’s very frustrating. I compromised by not installing any of the security software, but accessing email when needed on the company’s outlook web app. It’s annoying to have to do 2-factor authentication and type in my username and password every time I check my email on my phone and the interface for webmail is terrible, but it’s far preferable to having them completely in my privacy and able to remotely wipe my phone. If your company has a way to access email via a webmail website I’d recommend this route.
            I didn’t know the outlook app was a possibility though–I’m going to try that!

    3. Graciosa*

      I’m not sure I would admit to the existence of a personal cell phone for these purposes.

      “Unfortunately, I don’t have a cell phone I could provide for company use under these circumstances. Is a cell phone necessary in this role? If it is, I would be willing to carry one that the company provides, but if it’s not really necessary for the business, I would certainly understand not receiving one.”

      This could be true if you had shared cell phones with family members, or simply aren’t willing to provide your own under these conditions, or don’t have one at all.

      I really agree with Sami below – if the company needs this for business purposes, the company needs to pay for it. I absolutely hate the idea of someone buying and paying regular service fees for a phone that the company demands you carry (although I admit to being fortunate enough that I wouldn’t be reluctant to fight this battle, which I know is not the case for everyone).

      Are there any options for legal recourse on this one if needed? I have a vague memory that California has a law designed to stop companies for foisting necessary business expenses onto their employees, but I literally have never read it (and have never practiced in California, so this is just a question for others more informed than I am and NOT legal advice).

      1. Wintermute*

        California law requires businesses to cover all expenses that are related solely to employment (I.e. a uniform they must pay for, your daily clothes they don’t even though you’re presumably not allowed to work nude).

        This would absolutely fall under a business expense. If they do a BYOD policy then things get a little trickier because they should pay their share (pro-rata) of the amount of use of your private device that is due solely to your employment.

        If you elect to take a more expensive route as opposed to a less expensive route then typically you bear your own costs however, the specific details of implementation in this situation I am not sure on.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This would definitely fall under California law re: covering all expenses. If it’s BYOD, oftentimes California employers will pay for the full cost of data and phone service, and it’s usually not pro rated. If you request that the employer provide a device, or if you buy a burner phone, then the employer would have to pay for that, too. (Regardless of the cost to the employer—it’s a business expense being imposed by the employer as mandatory.)

      2. Tilly the Widge*

        Righty, they’ll believe someone working at a company in 2018 doesn’t own a cell phone. And whether they believe you or not if you use this line, you’ll then have to never be seen using your own cell phone at work again – assuming you haven’t been spotted already.

        1. Chocolate lover*

          Several of my family members don’t own cell phones. And several others use pay- as- you- go with absolute minimal features just for emergency.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yeah, my parents have jitterbug phones. Good luck installing apps on those.

          2. Pollygrammer*

            A laet-20s friend of mine who felt he was spending too much time “on the grid” recently downgraded from his smartphone to a flip phone. (He said it was the only flip phone the company still made, and the guy at the store asked several times if he was joking). He’s excited about it.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Hubs has always had a flip phone. He’s never had a smartphone. When his old flipphone finally bit the dust, the guy at the store was absolutely flabbergasted that someone in their 20’s didn’t have nor want a smartphone. It was pretty funny.

              Hubs has only been required to have a work cell once, and they issued him an iPhone. He apparently didn’t realize that when you do the voice-calibration thing with Siri that the phone saves it, and henceforth could only get Siri to respond by saying very flamboyantly: heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey SeeereeeeeEEEEE. And, since I only do Android, I had no idea how to help him to fix it.

              1. fogharty*

                from lifehacker .com:

                All you need to do is turn Siri off and back on again. Head to Settings > General > Siri and toggle the Siri option to Off. Then, head to Settings > General > Keyboards and turn off “Enable Dictation.” After that, go ahead and toggle both of those back to on and you’ll have a clean slate with Siri.

                1. Environmental Compliance*

                  Yeah, he Google’d it and figured it out relatively quickly. But he did learn the importance of actually reading the prompts the phone was giving him, instead of just being goofy with it.

              2. tusky*

                Hubs is me. I had an 8 year old nokia brick that was still going strong–pulling it out became something of a party trick. I probably would have kept using it, except that when I switched carriers (realizing I could save a pile of money), they offered an inexpensive smart phone and I decided to give it a try. Still miss that old phone sometimes.

                1. AMPG*

                  I still have an NV2. I love it, even though the inability to respond to group texts is probably what’s going to make me give it up in the next couple of months (that, and one of the buttons fell off).

          3. Clisby Williams*

            Exactly. I still use an ancient Tracfone where I can talk and text. That’s all I want from a phone. Actually, I don’t want to text, but occasionally it comes in handy. I pay for minutes.

          4. aebhel*

            Same. My dad got rid of his company-issue phone when he retired and never bothered to get his own; I do have a smartphone, but I rarely keep it on me, because I generally prefer not to be accessible 24/7 (I’m 32, fwiw).

            And more to the point, it’s none of the company’s business.

        2. Basis, also a Fed*

          My husband doesn’t have a cell phone and he has no desire for one. If his employer required him to have one, they would need to provide it or pay for it.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            My husband feels the same way, except that he would strongly resist getting one even if the company paid for it. His feeling is that he really doesn’t want to be any more accessible to his boss than he already is (which is pretty dang accessible).

            1. Anna Held*

              Absolutely — BYOD leads to you working more, too.

              I only have a flip phone. But my broke-ass nonprofits have provided me with smart phones. This place is exploiting their workers.

        3. Dorothy M.*

          I’m 33 and I don’t have a smart phone (my phone just does texts and phone calls). Got a cell phone in 2002 and never upgraded to a smart phone and I’m planning on never doing it either. My job gives us a laptop and I have a work desk phone (landline). If they need me, they can email me or call my phone at work.

          1. AsItIs*

            The problem comes when 2G is dropped. Many countries already have dropped it and the old phones won’t work.

        4. Guacamole Bob*

          I wonder if any companies would be persuaded by the fact that many people regularly let their kids use their phones? Either in a “my 5 yo sometimes accidentally deletes stuff or emails random people” way, or “sometimes I leave my phone with my 12 yo so she can call me to pick her up from soccer practice, so I can’t always be reached on my personal phone.”

          “Has a phone” and “has a phone available all the time and suitable for work use” really are two different things.

          1. Dragoning*

            I suspect the answer would become “The kid can’t play with your phone anymore”

          2. Antilles*

            I doubt it, because there’s obvious answers to all of that:
            (a) use a passcode on your phone to keep the 5 year old out of it;
            (b) your 12-year old could just borrow a teammate’s phone for the 15 seconds it takes to call and say “hey, come pick me up”;
            (c) it’s perfectly acceptable to not respond to an email for an hour or so if your daughter has your phone; and/or
            (d) it’s 2018, even in middle school most kids have their own phone.
            It’s a good thought, but I doubt it would really persuade anybody…especially any company who’s bold enough to require BYOD while steadfastly refusing to contribute any cost reimbursement.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              I agree with you that companies aren’t likely to be persuadable, but my kids shouldn’t have to stop having access to play occasional games on my personal phone because of my company’s tech policy. I know there are counters to individual examples, but the fact is that it feels like a major overstep for a company to, in effect, tell parents they must restrict their kids’ use the parent’s personal phone.

              1. Turquoisecow*

                Eh, I don’t think your kids have a right to that. Get them a tablet without a data plan, or an iPod Touch or smartphone not connected to data or something. Or buy a handheld game.

                I grew up without cell phones. Just because they make things convenient doesn’t mean they’re a necessity, especially for kids. “Junior needs it for Pokémon Go” isn’t going to fly, I’m afraid.

                1. aebhel*

                  It’s not about whether or not the kids have a ‘right’ to it, it’s about whether or not the company has any right to have input over how a person uses their personal cell phone. Maybe I let my kids play games on my phone. Maybe I have all my banking info on there. Maybe I run a side business using my cell phone as a primary contact. Maybe I enjoy sexting with random strangers, for that matter. As long as it’s my personal property that I pay for, the company does not get to make any demands about how I use it just because I could potentially be offering them a cost-saving measure by using that personal property for work purposes.

                  You can have all the opinions you want about my parenting skills because I let my kid play puzzle games on my phone sometimes, but if you’re my employer, you don’t get any say in it whatsoever, and you certainly don’t get to demand that I stop doing that because it’s inconvenient to you.

                  And frankly, I would quit any job that had that as an expectation on the spot.

                2. Guacamole Bob*

                  aebhel has it exactly right. I actually don’t let my kids play with my phone, but it’s the principle of the thing. A company demanding that I change my parenting style or otherwise start acting more restrictive about how I use my personal device is pretty outrageous. So maybe now I have to buy a separate device for my kids, which makes it even more clear that the company is offloading costs to its employees.

                  My spouse and I also use each others’ phones pretty freely, which at many companies would be a violation of confidentiality. Should my company be able to demand that I change how I conduct my marriage (in a way that might cause tension in some marriages, because now I have to act like I’m keeping secrets on my phone even though it is for a work reason), so that the company doesn’t have to provide me with a device? Do I have to make sure she doesn’t know my passcode, and therefore can’t do all the things she normally does on my phone (look through pics I took of the kids, look up a friend’s phone number, answer a text from a friend while I’m driving, call her own phone when she can’t locate it)?

                  And what about if my elderly parent lived with us and didn’t have a smart phone of his or her own, but borrowed mine on occasion? Now my company is going to prohibit that, or make me go to the extra expense of getting separate devices?

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I save a fortune by paying by the minute/text/meg. My first flip phone was on a T-Mobile plan like this because I wasn’t willing to pay a high monthly fee! I wasn’t even sure I needed it.
            When I was ready for a smartphone in 2016, I found the big carriers had gotten rid of such plans by hiding them and not letting customers know they were available, then discontinuing them. Greedy monsters!!!
            I spent months looking for a carrier with a similar plan and ended up with Speedtalk Mobile. They have plans where you pay 2 cents or 5 cents each minute/text/meg and they use the T-Mobile network. (the 5 cent plans roll over, the 2 cent don’t)
            I bought a refurbished iphone and I’ve been using the 2 cent plan. I buy $50 for 6 months and I’m paying $100/year.
            Since I realized I can use my internet for my phone and the internet at my doctor’s office and places like that, I don’t even use $50 in 6 months! My smartphone works just like any other, I can surf, use Facebook, etc. :)

        5. pleaset*

          I agree with your warning about deception.

          Worth noting, just as one data point – I make a low six-figure salary in communications for a global nonprofit organization and only have a flip phone. No smart features. I almost never text either. If I didn’t have school-age child I probably wouldn’t even carry a phone most of the time.

          People like us do exist. It’s rare – I think I’m the only person out of 30 in my office w/o a smart phone.

          PS -I was on the internet in 1996 and among my jobs has been creating websites. I’ve even taught some basic technology workshops. Not a luddite.

          1. Clisby Williams*

            Same here. I was a computer programmer for almost 27 years, and there are 3 reasons I even carry my cellphone with me: (1) my car might break down and I need to call AAA; (2) My husband or one of my children might need to reach me right away; (3) I need to call 911 to report a crime/get an ambulance. When I was still working (now retired), I carried it in case my company needed to call me. That’s it.

          2. Artemesia*

            We only got cells phones a few years ago after my husband went to the ER in France and I didn’t know where he was and he had no way to contact me. We realized it was a safety issue at our age to be able to contact each other. We had flip phones for years until he got hearing aids that are driven by an Iphone. When he got the Iphone plan, I bought a cheap android to be on his plan. Not everyone has smart phones or needs them. We didn’t have them when we were working and we were fine with that. If his clients needed to reach him, they had his email and office number.

          3. Persimmons*

            In my experience, bare-minimum cell use is common amongst a certain segment of the tech crowd. I guess the more time we spend building the networks these things use, the less we want to deal with them when we leave the office!

            1. Michaela Westen*

              That’s certainly true of me. I reached a point where I refuse to deal with technical glitches at home!

        6. Persimmons*

          I have only ever owned a dumb phone with a pay-as-you-go no-contract plan, and rarely have the phone turned on. It’s meant to help me get roadside assistance in an emergency, and that’s it.

        7. boop the first*

          I had a cheap flipphone right up until 2 years ago when the phone company discontinued the service, and then at home we decided to change ISP, which didn’t offer landline so I had to upgrade.

          Of course, now I have the cheapest “smartphone” available and it doesn’t even have enough space to download system updates, so I still wouldn’t be able to participate in a BYOD setup. Maybe I really am just that weird.

          1. boop the first*

            A big part of this is actually that I greatly prefer home computers more! I can’t touch-type on a cellphone (I can barely fingerpeck those teeny “buttons”), mobile versions of websites are always a disaster, I can’t scroll without clicking links, and I have a job where I actually have work to do.

    4. Tau*

      This is a good pragmatic solution if OP finds she can’t get out of this, or can’t without spending more capital than she’d like.

    5. pcake*

      Perhaps the OP has a legit family issue? “I’m sorry, but since my mother has alzheimers, I must always be available by phone, so I’m not in a position to have my phone wiped or taken from me for any amount of time”, for example?

      1. Daria Grace*

        The risk there is that the employer will try to make a case as to why their apps and access wouldn’t disrupt personal use and you wouldn’t find out if that’s true until too late

    6. Len F*

      I came to suggest this, too.

      Apparently Nokia re-released the old 3310 for €49 RRP. There’s also cheapo stuff like http://www.konkamobile.com/en .

      Perhaps a phone expenditure of <$100 might be easier to get expense approval for, for that matter.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Hah! I just mentioned the 3310; I didn’t scroll far enough. I have a very similar old-school model lying around the house somewhere still.

    7. Amelia*

      My company has a very similar policy. Except they reimburse $50 a month (which is great, since adding them to my existing plan only costs $25.) However, they also have plenty of old cell phones laying around. So if you don’t mind getting a beat-up old iPhone 5, you can have one.

      But most of us end up using our newer personal phones because it’s so much easier to be able to send documents, work in Google docs etc while in the field instead of waiting to get back to a computer.

    8. Not Rebee*

      This is murky for companies too, in that there is a very murky line on who gets to keep what once you and the company part ways. In theory, other than for cost-saving purposes, there should be no reason a company wants a BYOD. My current company provides devices for everyone and as a member of the legal and compliance team that makes things so much simpler. Keep all work to work devices, do whatever you want (no porn or terrorism) with your work devices at your own risk, and then your company gets to take physical control of your devices back when you’re fired or you quit and there’s no messy sprawl of information that would involve your company owning any intellectual property that would exist on your personal device.

  2. Tangerina*

    BYOD is a growing problem. From an employee perspective, I completely hate it, but from an HR perspective… I completely hate it. I’m in a blended IT/HR role, so I’ll let my IT side weigh in: completely hate it. There so much to lose for all sides. Sure, it’s a huge money saver (for the company) since we don’t have to buy a device and accessories and ship it to you, AND we don’t have to train you on using it! But in all other ways, it’s a massive horror time bomb waiting to go off.

    1. Sami*

      There’s just NO way I’d agree to this situation. My phone is MINE. Especially since I bought it and I’m paying for it.
      This is a legitimate business expense that companies and organizations should budget and pay for.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I agree with Sami. MY phone is MY phone and if it’s going to be used for business (with a bunch of third party apps AND the ability to remotely wipe the whole damned thing if I quit or am fired, even for nebulous reasons?) you can bet your butt you’re going be paying at least part of my bill…or getting me a company phone to return when my tenure is up.

        Companies provide laptops – a cell phone (which can dang near be a laptop with all the functionality that smartphones have) isn’t a big step.

      2. samiratou*


        I resisted putting the 2 factor authentication app on my phone, and that was a relatively small intrusion. I have the Webex app on my phone, but that’s for my convenience so I can listen in on meetings if I’m at desk.

        It’s more of a “principle of the thing” protest, but it’s one of those bright, shiny lines for me.

      3. Annoyed*

        This. I am an employer. I want to be able to reach remote employees during business hours. Some need a phone to do their jobs.

        I buy the phones and pay for the service/plans. Seems pretty straight firward to me.

        Who knew I could strong arm them into paying *my* business expenses?

    2. Arya Snark*

      I work in wireless expense management and completely hate BYOD. I’ve seen it create more problems for the employees than it solves, especially when an employee leaves. It’s also kind of weird that they are asking the OP to BYOD and not even paying the bill.

      1. Windchime*

        My previous workplace instituted BYOD and didn’t pay any portion of the bill at all. I didn’t really care since I chose not to install the email app, but plenty of other people did it. Including my sister who still works there, and is glued to her work email 24/7. No thanks!

    3. Thornus67*

      Ex-job tried implementing a rule during my last year there that we had to download software so that office phone calls could be forwarded to our cell phones when we were out of office. The forwarded calls would use up data (or go over Wi-Fi if the phone was connected to Wi-Fi at the time). I never said anything and just refused to install the software. The office went to a new e-mail server at the same time too, so I used that opportunity to not sync up my new office e-mail account also.

      No one was the wiser. And I was quite happy.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I agree – it’s a dreadful idea from every perspective.

      When it comes to hills to die on, I draw the line at being expected to carry a device with me that gives my employers the ability to track my location (without a good safety reason – if I’m wandering the wilds of Greenland on a business trip, I’ll happily carry a GPS locator). I also, as a matter of basic internet security, don’t let anyone else be root on my personal devices.

      1. Wintermute*

        To be fair, if it’s an android or Apple app, it’s not Root, Android or iOS is the root, and all apps are sandboxed users.

        Only Blackberry had a method for employer apps to truly have root-level permissions.

        But even so, most corporate IT policies will then prevent you from rooting and flashing your own device because once you do you have full GPS control and can alter the GPS data to your whim. Same goes for developer mode toolkit. I’ve had beta-test phones from Samsung and Motorola with TRUE root enabled for testing purposes and they are… well it’s fun to mess with people by checking into Facebook from Moscow one day and Australia the next morning.

      2. Amelia*

        My company had almost 10 years of a company provided device and now we’re in Year 1 of BYOD.
        There are a few advantages:
        1) You don’t have to go through your company to make changes to the phone. If I wanted to set up call forwarding for a few days, add an international plan for a work trip, make any kind of change, get a screen fixed – I had to go through our company’s tech team. And it was always a pain. I probably spent an hour a month dealing with things that take 3 minutes when dealing directly with the phone provider.
        2) You were stuck with the device they gave you. So for a while I had an Android even though my work computer was a Mac and it created problems.
        3) You have to have two phones. Between the phones, my work iPad and computer, I felt like I was constantly forgetting something. I vastly prefer having only one.
        For me, our new policy works out better but I’m out of the office working on client sites 4+ days a week – my phone is my work lifeline so I want it exactly to my specifications.

        1. pleaset*

          I’ll add your comments in the context of the piling on about BYOD: The original impetus for it as a trend came at least in part from employees, not just employers. People wanted to not carry two devices. And IT departments in general were against it.

          I’m not saying it’s a good idea. Actually, I don’t think it’s possible to make a blanket statement that it is good or bad – there are trade-offs and it depends on the person, the company, and the role.

          I wouldn’t do it myself. But some people like it.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Agreed. I object to mandatory BYOD though, or near-mandatory, which sounds more like what the OP for this one is dealing with.

            If a company is *willing* to have its employees BYOD for a phone, with X and Y stipulations, I’m fine with that. If they’re requiring it or heavily leaning on employees to do that rather than use a company-provided phone, then I have an issue with it.

        2. Mike C.*

          But you aren’t addressing any of the massive issues that everyone else is bringing up.

        3. Judy (since 2010)*

          I really don’t understand why dual sim phones are not a thing in the US. That would allow you to have one device, but keep the business and private somewhat separate. I think that even some of the Samsung Galaxy phones sold outside of the US are dual sim.

        4. mark132*

          One of my concerns is your case 1, though, If I screw something up like the international plan for a work trip, I could have thousands in charges. But if the company does that, then they have thousands. This happened to a coworker, but with a company phone. The cellphone person in this case didn’t add the international plan. So my coworker was insulated.

    5. BRR*

      I need to have it in order to get an access code for our vpn and be able to work from home and am so salty about it (I’m not willing to give up my work from home time). We later were incredibly strongly encouraged to use our phones for two-factor authentication for shared files, even when we’re jn the office.

      Frankly, I don’t trust my IT department or colleagues to not create a situation that requires wiping my phone.

      1. pleaset*

        “two-factor authentication for shared files, even when we’re jn the office.”

        This seems like a poor quality IT team covering it’s a$$. In an office, it seems to me that authentication by password AND IP address is quite strong.

        1. Observer*

          2fa using a token or something the person carries has a lot of IT advantages, and I don’t fault the company for pushing that. Fortunately, that shouldn’t give the company too much access to the phone – eg it does NOT require allowing the company to wipe your phone, or see the contents, etc.

    6. Kittymommy*

      It’s times like this I’m glad I work in government. This is expressly discouraged because of public records laws.

    7. Anonymosity*

      It would be a complete deal breaker for me. It’s one thing to use my own computer or phone if I’m doing freelance work; that would be my business expense. But as an employee, why should I take on a company’s business costs? Plus the whole wipe thing, and the whole not-paying-the-bill thing. Hell no.

      If I ever consented to this (I won’t) and anything happened to my device because of this policy, they’re for damn sure paying any costs associated with it. And paying at least part of my bill. Which would semi-defeat the purpose, so why not just provide it already? :P

    8. Text Your Calendar Worked For Me*

      I learned to live without email on my phone, but it drove me nuts to not have access to my calendar. Checking before bed to see if I have an early call to adjust my alarm for required getting out the computer, booting up, etc…

      Now I have Outlook text me my schedule the night before and it’s great.

      We’re in Office 365. It probably depends on your IT settings, but there are options in the WEB version of Outlook under Settings/ Calendar/ Notification to text or email your schedule at a certain time. Our IT doesn’t allow us to email our calendars to outside emails, but it does allow the text. I get a short description of my schedule texted to me every night at 9:30. As far as I know the setting is only in web Outlook and not the version on your computer. You’ll also need to associate your cell phone number with the Outlook account so it knows where to text.

        1. OP#4*

          GREAT advice! I love this. I’ve made my opinion somewhat clear and I’m hoping my boss will sort it out without me having to push back. Til then, this would be so helpful. Thanks.

    9. Anonym*

      I will hang on to my BlackBerry up to the point that it endangers my job. At which point I will tell people, with great regret, that due to company policy, I will not be reachable outside business hours.

    10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Totally agreed. Originally BYOD was supposed to benefit employees, but as applied to phones, laptops, etc., it’s a real headache. It’s even worse when you realize how much has to be preserved for litigation holds, etc., and how little privacy you have on your previously private device.

      It’s cumbersome, but I’d much rather deal with two devices.

    11. It's_A_No*

      Changing my handle due to the following answer.

      Having been in the mobile security space, I highly recommend that you push back and say, “No.” BYOD allows the company to legally search really anything on your phone if needed legally for resolving a company related matter. Like the other member mentioned, they can wipe your device clean if you leave. Many people think that this is not possible, but it is. Also, if you are given a company device, whether it is a phone, iPad, laptop, open a “New Incognito Tab” if you do decide to open a site non-work related, e.g., answer your child’s teacher email, check on your Amazon order. Or do not use the company laptop for any personal related stuff. Keep them separate. Use your personal device for these.

      Here’s a quick story that happened at a BigCompany recently, there were a major legal issue involving a key dept. In order to resolve this major breach, BigCompany sent a legal notification and request that all laptops and phones had to be turned over legally for inspections for communications via email, chat, etc. Many information that was found on a chat history revealed non-related work conversations and some involved disparaging remarks about execs.

      A solution: make recommendations of devices that the company can purchase and/or reimburse you, e.g., prepaid ZTE Maven for $39.99, Straight Talk Alcatel OneTouch Pixi Eclipse Prepaid Smartphone $9.99, etc.

    12. Michaela Westen*

      Just as I suspected. :( All my life I’ve been watching employers try to take advantage of workers. I wish I was wrong when I see this, that it was something else. So far I haven’t been.

  3. fposte*

    I clutched my pearls hard on #1. No, nuh-uh, no way. That’s not a good look for any job—using the pulpit of your current position to openly canvas for the next—and it’s raising questions about your departure when you’re supposed to be representing the school.

    1. Cat Owner*

      Especially on an email with the University’s letterhead! That was the part that moved it over the line for me – if only in that it is a disservice to their current employee, and not necessarily too much of an imposition to the alumni.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        I agree, if it were just a mass email, well, I’d still grumble but I guess it’s a hustle.
        But with the letterhead it looks like job hunting is part of her job! Does she do other personal things from her work email? I’m picturing emails to her parents signed on behalf of the university.

        1. Chocolate lover*

          My universities specifically prohibit alumni from using their alumni directories for mass emailing for personal gain, so I’d hope it applied to staff as well. (It’s the mass part that’s an issue, and it’s completely prohibited to try and sell anything. )

      2. Angelinha*

        I wondered if the LW was likening the email address (likely the official university email) to letterhead. It sounded to me like this was done in the body of an email, not actually typed out onto letterhead and scanned in as an attachment. If it was just in an email, I can see how someone would think it were inappropriate, but I don’t think it’s that big a deal. If she actually typed up a formal letter and emailed out an image of it, that feels way weirder.

        1. LawBee*

          It was on email letterhead – with the school logo and header. It definitely felt to me like official correspondence from the Alumnae Department, until the weird bullet-pointed list of her achievements and the ask at the end.

          (I’m not the OP but I got the same email – which is kind of awesome because it’s a fairly small school.)

          1. Anon Alumnae*

            There are so many of us here! It was definitely official, as it combined a resignation with the job question. The official resignation information was fine, the job lead not as much.

            1. LawBee*

              I feel like Alison should be invited to speak, haha. Clearly she has a following!

          2. BettyD*

            Hey, me too! Didn’t know there were so many of us on here.

            I didn’t notice the job lead request when I read the email, but it definitely looked like official Alumnae Department correspondence.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Completely agreed. Sending a mass email about moving on would have been fine (or at least fall within a range of acceptable things to mass-email about in light of her role). But requesting job support/help? Absolutely not. You can’t send that on University letterhead, and you certainly shouldn’t take advantage of a list you can only access because of your job at the University to do it!

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      Exactly, it looks awful. Additionally, I’m sure the alumni provided their e-mail addresses to be mailed about the college’s activities, not about a personnel chnage in the alumni office and definitely not to be asked for job hunting leads.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Also too–if you don’t know me well enough to have a personal conversation (via whatever means) about your new job search, then I don’t know you well enough to recommend you to someone I know.

      2. Anonforthis*

        I’m actually I’m an alum too (love that someone emailed this in!), that was my concern, were the privacy ones. I signed up for news about the school and the annoying fundraising, I did not sign up for random networking, which the not annoyed category of people were pointing out, “it’s just great networking!” Our school has other resources for that, and since they’d been the director for years, they know what those resources are. It honestly made me want to see a user agreement about how our email addresses can be used.

        1. Ivylaughed*

          I’m a fellow alumna and had similar issues. If I don’t know your work (which I didn’t, it was the first time I’d heard from her), I won’t network for you.

          1. Legal Rugby*

            I am so curious what school this is. I work in academia, and when my cabinet level boss just left, we had to enter into negotiations with HR for what the goodbye email would look like and who she could send it to. And she HAD a job.

            1. Anon Alumnae*

              A very very small school that wouldn’t have had the need for a lot of rules. This person had been there over a decade, so her networking list was likely wide anyway, I have no idea why she’d just send it to all of us.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Huh, just realized I had been thinking she was the head of the *networking* alumni directory where people did at least sign up specifically to help people in their alumni network looking for jobs… but it does say just alumni relations. That changes everything for me and puts this in hard 100% NO. Not acceptable at all.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes, it looks awful. And the fact that she is leaving without something else lined up, and is asking the network for leads to her next job, casts doubt on what is going on in the department that someone is leaving without something else lined up. It just looks bad all the way around.

      5. Amber T*

        To be fair… I don’t think I ever provided my (non college) email address, just like I never provided my phone number or updated address. Schools just know – they gotta beg for money some how. I haven’t unsubscribed either, because I’m curious and I like staying informed, and this wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me.

      6. Specialk9*

        That was my biggest objection, that she basically gathered private data for one purpose and then used it for another. That’s a big no-no with private data.

        But also, super sketchy to use work time, computer, space, email server, and even the official letterhead for a personal purpose, especially since it was in direct competition with the express purpose!

        There are lots of things to ding her on, and gumption just doesn’t balance this out.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Here in the UK that could also open up data protection issues – using the personal contact details of alumni for job hunting would almost certainly fall outside the reasons for keeping their data so it would be a data protection breach.

      And even if that were not the case, if I were to receive an e-mail or letter from my former university including something like this, I would not be happy as it raises the question of what other non-alumni stuff they are going to spam me with.

      It strikes me as very unprofessional and would definitely put me off both the individual and the organisation concerned.

    4. Mookie*

      Yes to all of this. Positions like this are often filled by people (many times former students) whose career path is ultimately going to lead elsewhere and to another field. You’re allowed to change professions, move away, or continue your own education at another university; it happens every day. But this is not something alumnae and potential donors need to know, nor does the alumnae contact list exist to provide her personalized career counseling or networking opportunities.

      Coupled with the fact that she has nothing firm lined up, it could almost read like she’s jumping ship but is unable to say so in unadorned terms, and that doesn’t make the department look good. If you know where you’re going, you can say so, like staff generally do in quarterly newsletters so the people who want to can drop them a private line of congratulations and so that the department can be seen to formally thank them for their service and wish them well, but a lack of employment in the near future does not need sharing in this situation. There are better resources and more appropriate environments for her to solicit this kind of help.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Agreed so hard.

      My first thought on getting an email like that would be “why are you leaving without something lined up? there must be more to this story.”

    6. PB*

      Agreed 100%. It’s bad enough that alumni are regularly hit up for money for our alma maters. Now we’re expected to help out-going employees find jobs? I mean, I know it’s not a literal expectation, but when it looks like an official email from the university, it feels like a stronger ask than a random email. I’ve worked in higher ed my whole career, and can’t imagine any of my employers being okay with this.

      1. pleaset*

        “It’s bad enough that alumni are regularly hit up for money for our alma maters.”

        At most places, if this annoys you you can ask them to stop. Try it.

      2. Tangerina*

        ” In their letter, they were like, ‘Hey, it’s been awhile since you’ve given us money.’ I was like, ‘Hey, it’s been awhile since you’ve housed and taught me. I thought our transaction was over. I gave you $120,000 and you gave me a weird cinder-block room with a Reservoir Dogs poster on it and the first real heartbreak of my life and probably HPV and then we called it a day.'”

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          John Mulaney perfectly summed up my attitude toward my alma mater with that bit. And it’s part of why, like others said, I would be annoyed by this email. And while I have no problem using the alumni network to look for a new job, the way this person is using it would sour me on the whole system.

          1. raktajino*

            I have a friend who tells the alumni fund that he will donate once he pays off his student loans. Totally reasonable to me.

            Also, I just realized one benefit of my grad school closing: no alumni fund emails!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I was put in mind of a few local election kerfuffles, where someone realized “Hey, I feel strongly about this issue/candidate (possibly because the candidate is ME) and I have access to this email list of all the _______! I’m sure they would appreciate my using it to communicate with them about this important topic.”

      Also I snorted at “today’s competitive job environment” because when in the past 2000 years was that not a fig leaf people could hide behind? Like, obviously in the 2008 recession people wouldn’t have gone to these lengths, but now in 2018 the only way she could reasonably be expected to find a job is to abuse her access to this mailing list.

      1. Chameleon*

        We just had the opposite problem, where the head of the local political party used the mailing list to send advertisements for her husband’s business.

    8. Smithy*

      As someone in development – this had me grinding my teeth. I know that Alumni Director and Development Director don’t necessarily go hand in hand – but I also don’t know of too many organizations that would have an Alumni Director that wouldn’t also be engaging in fundraising activities from those alumni. And in that regard it does feel very off.

      I went to a super tiny liberal arts college where alumni events were very intimate and people did know those in the Alumni office on a more personal level. But even in that case, I couldn’t imagine anyone taking that kind of mass email approach.

      I believe that the Alumni Office would appreciate this being brought to their attention – if for nothing else as a lesson learned going forward to be more explicit about the kind of language that would be acceptable for communication with the alumni database.

      1. Ivylaughed*

        As an alum of the college OP1 is from, it’s a super tiny liberal arts college, but that still doesn’t mean everyone who got her email was that familiar with her.

    9. Amber T*

      Eh. I say this as someone who ignores 99.9% of my alumni emails, but I don’t see this as a big deal. There are basically two types of people who graduated from my school – “must help fellow alumni at any cost,” and “oh hey, you went to the same tiny school as me, neato, ok bye.” There are also plenty of legit/non-weird reasons someone leaves a jobs… the gossipy side of me would want to know the reason, especially since it seems like a career change, but I wouldn’t automatically assume something nefarious.

      1. Blossom*

        Yeah, I don’t see it as a big deal either. It sounds like sending a resignation email was expected of her, and since she couldn’t say “I’m taking on a new challenge grooming llamas in the Andes”, she had to end the email some other way.
        I guess I’m either not even going to open an email like that, or I’m going to open it like “aw yeah, my dear old school, let’s lend a kindly ear this time, oh, this woman is leaving, eh? Going to retrain as a portrait painter, eh? Great, good luck to her, delete, next email, move on”. I know not everyone feels the same, but to me it’s just an email.

      1. Twisted Knickers*

        As did I. As another reader in the alumni relations field, this is a major non-no, and something that would cause me to send a strongly-worded message to the head of the school’s alumni relations/development team immediately. Wow.

    10. Bananymous*

      I work in alumni relations. If this gets out, this person will *never* work in the field again. This is a colossal breach of decorum, professionalism, trust, and data stewardship. Alumni give you their information for a specific and limited set of uses, and “so your employees can spam me for jobs” is NOT one of them. Yikes.

    11. Artemesia*

      I think it is a firing offense. Using the official alumni list to job search as part of one’s job is serious misuse of the information. It would be one think if she discreetly contacted alumnae she personally knows (and gets the addresses from the official file) and does it on her personal Email; it is serious malfeasance to blast this to the entire email list from her official email and position. It would not be amiss to terminate her immediately rather than let her resign. I would be seriously shocked to get this email.

      1. Alumna*

        Apparently the resignation e-mail was pre-approved by upper administration before it was sent. Which is surprising because other employees at the same institution were specifically forbidden from using college e-mail and official letterhead for personal promotion.

    12. Jadelyn*

      Same. This is not “good hustle”, this is appalling misuse of privileged resources for personal gain. My employer would throw a fit if I used our all-staff email address, which I have access to as HR so that I can send staff communications in my manager’s absence, to try to canvas for a new job. How is this any different?

    13. MillersSpring*

      Gross misuse of resources. A goodbye email to a few colleagues is appropriate, but one to an alumnae email list is vastly inappropriate. Then you add her networking pitch, which doubles down the inappropriateness. If she initially was leaving on good terms, to me this would push her over to “not eligible for rehire.”

    14. Triple Anon*

      The phrase “role reversal” comes to mind. As an alumni director, she was presumably responsible for helping alums to network. And now she’s asking them to do the same in return? Even though she was being paid for her role and there’s not much in it for them? No no no. I can see how someone would end up making this bad decision. But no.

  4. Sherm*

    #1: I agree with the answer. Misuses of resources come in different shapes and sizes, and this is one of the smallest. It’s worth raising one’s eyebrow a millimeter and then moving on.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Certainly I don’t want to hire her for a job in which she would have access to any new mailing lists.

        1. There All Is Aching*

          Ooh, good point. She clearly lacks the judgment to distinguish what’s within the bounds of types of emails the addressees agreed to receive by signing up for the mailing list. Who knows what she’d hijack your list for!

      2. myswtghst*

        This was my first thought. Chances are, I don’t know this person nearly well enough to help them network or job hunt, and now, they’ve shown they lack judgment in multiple ways (using the mailing list for questionable reasons, leaving without another job lined up), so I’m even less likely to “send anything promising [their] way.” It may not be a huge abuse or anything, but it certainly isn’t going to get them positive attention or help from most smart, well-connected people on that mailing list.

    1. Bananymous*

      A perspective from the field: this was an outrageous breach of trust and misuse of alumni data. If they weren’t leaving, they should be fired (and would be from my team). Even if it does no harm, it’s absolutely unacceptable.

    2. Specialk9*

      It’s really not minor though. This is a pretty serious misuse of PII data, as well as personal solicitation from an official work account, stealing her org’s fundraising list for her own use, pointing out to alumni that there’s dirty laundry here… She basically just squatted and peed in the school’s fundraising stream, in front of everyone.

      I have never worked anywhere that would not result in a firing, apology to the list, and bad reference.

    3. Gumby*

      I think it depends on the school – but I can’t really see this being ok at very many. Like only the very smallest and most informal.

      If you could email all alums of my school (pretty sure you can’t – I worked for the alumni association for a while), it had better be about something that informs or connects them to the school. It had better be professional, have gone through multiple proofreaders, and paint the school in the best light.

      If you want to network, use the career networking part of the alumni site. Do not spam tens of thousands of people with your job search. I cannot imagine. Because [household name CEO] does not care about your job search and now he’s going to be mad at [school] for letting an employee spam him like that.

  5. beth*

    Regarding #1: my undergrad institution has a really active alumnae community, and we have forums where we do things like ask for job leads, post openings in our organizations, etc. But someone using a resource that they only have access to because they’re working in alumnae relations would be unethical and well over of line. This sounds like an inappropriate use of power to me, and I would be pretty unhappy about it if it were in my alum community.

    1. beth*

      OP2: It’s super weird that Ophelia is refusing to give any info on the organization. I’m wondering if Ophelia already knows that it’s an inappropriate organization–I can’t imagine why else she’d refuse to share such a basic piece of information. I think you should either shut this down until an approved organization is selected, or take over planning and select an organization yourself.

      1. Nobody Here by That Name*

        It could also be that she hasn’t picked the charity yet. Sometimes folks will punt an answer if they don’t want to admit something hasn’t been done.

        Ultimately that’s all the more reason to find out what the situation is, so something can be picked that is appropriate before plans need to be changed. But point being there could be non-nefarious reasons for why she’s keeping mum.

        1. beth*

          I mean though, in that case I’d expect the reply to be something like “We’ve narrowed it down to a couple options, but I’ll update you when a final decision is made” or “I haven’t picked one yet–do you have any suggestions?” That’s different than refusing to give information at all; it’s the flat-out declining to say anything about it that makes me suspicious, especially given that Ophelia has a history in this area.

          1. Lionheart26*

            My take on it is that Ophelia probably resented the complaints last time she selected a project; maybe she thought the diversity issues were no big deal and OP was making a mountain out of a molehill (charity is charity! Intentions are Noble! Etc).
            So this time, rather than giver her the opportunity to “complain”, she’s avoiding telling them until the last possible moment.

            To be clear, this is a bad idea. And my take on Ophelia is that she’s terrible at both choosing charity projects and handling legitimate staff concerns.

            1. Washi*

              This was my guess as well, that the only lesson Ophelia has learned is “people will complain no matter so I’ll just pick something and people will deal.”

              I’ll also point out, as a former volunteer coordinator, that one-time volunteer events tend to be a net cost to nonprofits in terms of staff time + money. That’s why nonprofits often request a donation for these events (since they are basically being used as a team-building exercise) or if they don’t, they do these because they hope it will raise their profile and recruit more donors or advocates for their mission. That’s why it’s worth pushing back on volunteering with problematic organizations even though some people might say something like “why are you depriving people of canned goods/kids from toys/etc just because of the politics of their leaders.” These organizations rely on those sentiments so people will look the other way on their stances that cause harm on more of a macro level.

              1. Flinty*

                Yes to this. My nonprofit had a list of “partners” on its website that included companies that had done volunteer events with us. If your company would not want itself publicly associated with the types of nonprofits Ophelia gravitates toward, you absolutely have standing to push to learn ahead of time where you are volunteering.

              2. Guacamole Bob*

                I volunteered in the office of a Habitat for Humanity chapter years and years ago, and I came away from that feeling like the business model of running on volunteer labor and donated materials was incredibly inefficient. Everyone involved was well-meaning and the work did help some people, but the amount of coordination and oversight it takes to have volunteers do productive construction work is kind of nuts. They had a full-time office staff of maybe 6 people, plus some AmeriCorps volunteers on site, plus paid tradespeople (electrical, plumbing, etc.) and I think they actually finished like 2-3 houses a year.

              3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

                Mm hmm. Also, on top of that, depending on how large the group of volunteers are, it can make it that much more difficult to find an event for everyone to participate in a meaningful way. I used to organize something similar for a youth leadership group that consisted of 200 teens participating, and a lot of places were flat out not interested in dealing with it.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Also, in my area at least, Habitat has a *minimum* annual income for its beneficiaries that’s far more than I make.

                2. Specialk9*

                  Hunh, when I worked with habitat they just went through a neighborhood house by house, working with tenants, and judging by how utterly freaking DIRE the neighborhoods were, I’d be surprised if those residents had made much income at all.

                3. Guacamole Bob*

                  In my area Habitat was building new construction single-family homes, and the new homeowners did have to pay a mortgage, just a smaller one than they’d otherwise have in this area. So they required a certain level of income and credit to qualify.

                  It wasn’t a bad thing to do, necessarily, but I left feeling like that amount of money could have done more good for more people used on other housing programs.

              4. Amber T*

                “I’ll also point out, as a former volunteer coordinator, that one-time volunteer events tend to be a net cost to nonprofits in terms of staff time + money.”

                I hadn’t really thought of that, but that makes a lot of sense. Thank you for pointing that out!

            2. LW2*

              We’ve never done a full-team volunteer event before since we’re scattered. Me and the other person on Ophelia’s team in my office usually tag along with another team here for volunteering. Our colleagues in other offices do the same. It would not surprise me if Ophelia took offense to being called out for supporting an organization that wasn’t appropriate. But I also don’t think she’s naive enough to think we would go through with a problematic event and not raise a flag to someone else about it.

          2. LW2*

            This did start with “I haven’t chosen an activity yet”, which we were fine with, even though in the back of our heads we wondered what the options were. Shortly after that, we received an invite only with a time and date. Clearly, something is planned. The non-reply to “What are we doing?” has some of our team openly wondering.

            1. Jadelyn*

              That would be throwing up red flags right, left, and center for me, ESPECIALLY with someone who’s already shown questionable judgment on choice of charities in the past.

              Honestly, I’m really not a fan of work-based volunteer stuff in general; I’d much rather choose for myself how and when I do charity work and which charities I support. I have ethical Issues with most Christian charities due to my personal experiences, so when my branch planned a volunteer day with a local church-based food pantry, I had to figure out how to explain why I wasn’t going to participate without either my coworkers being upset by what they would perceive as hostility toward their religion, or coming off as a grinch who just Doesn’t Want People To Get Fed or whatever. Just let people figure out their charitable work – whether it’s volunteering or donating or whatever else – on their own time and leave it out of work!

              1. Washi*

                Yep. I get that most companies just do this stuff to look good and build morale, but if a company really wants make a social impact I would suggest compensating and promoting staff equitably, and if they really want to go above and beyond, giving people a certain amount of extra PTO/flex time to volunteer, and making sure they are encouraged to actually use it. I don’t necessarily hate these company volunteer days or whatever, but choosing the activity can be a minefield, and it’s not easy to make them impactful.

                One time my nonprofit participated in something that was billed as a free consulting session with a business we were hoping to partner with. We went mainly for that reason, and it was good we didn’t expect much from it, since our supposed consultants did not listen to us at all, and at the end one of them told me that he did this because “there’s a free lunch and it’s a fun break from my normal work.”

              2. GlitsyGus*

                I’m with you on this. I worked for a short time with a company that did these kinds of volunteer events. They were good events; planting trees, packing boxes for the local homeless shelter, etc. But while they were mandatory they did them outside of normal work hours, which meant a lot of the lower-paid warehouse staff, most of whom were parents and a lot of whom were single moms, were stuck trying to find childcare or paying for extra babysitter time.

                They would ask if the kids could come and help, sometimes like the tree planting they could if they were big enough, but a lot of the time they couldn’t. It was really just a poorly thought out plan that made people more resentful and probably didn’t help the charities as much as may have been hoped.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It puts me in mind of those surprise team building events, where maybe we’re going to play Apples to Apples while eating cupcakes, or maybe we’re going to be dropped in the wilderness in our underwear and need to fight our way to civilization–management doesn’t want to spoil the surprise.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          You’d at least want to make sure you wore the workout boyshorts if you needed to run in your undies through the wilds. I can’t imagine a thong would be work appropriate nor comfortable whilst fending off wolves and bears with spears.

          1. Jadelyn*

            If someone tries to get me to run around in my everyday work bras without letting me be prepared with my industrial-strength sports bra (look, I’m a 38I, there’s no such thing as a sports bra that’s anything less than industrial-strength), some of those spears are going to be aimed at the manager whose idea that outing was!

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              I feel ya! I’m a 30E and narrow/shallow chested, which I can barely find everyday bras in, let alone good sports bras. Still haven’t found one that’s tight enough around the rib cage and controls the girls. I usually wear two at once.

              I’d be peeved if someone decided it was a great day for running amok outdoors and didn’t warn me so I could throw on the sports bras, a sweat-proof top, and good shoes. Ain’t nobody want to see grouchily sweaty EC trying to not get a black eye and an ankle sprain!

              1. Jadelyn*

                On the other hand, if they’re really trying to strip away the thin veneer of civilization that keeps us from each other’s throats, that’s a great way to get me to be extremely uncivilized to them. ;)

    2. Willis*

      Agreed on #1. It would be ok if she used resources available to any grad, or even if she’d sent a separate email to a smaller group of people she actually knew asking about leads (like an alumni committee she’d worked with or something). But this was a misuse of resources that basically amounted to spamming the alumni network with her request for job referrals. I’m not sure a goodbye email is even necessary from the alumni coordinator, but if she wanted to do it, she should have left it at that.

      I don’t disagree that it was “gutsy” or “hustling,” but I’d say it was the negative version of both of those!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It would also be gutsy if you came downstairs to make coffee and I was sitting in your kitchen, asking about job leads. Having bribed any pets with meatballs.

  6. Nobody Here by That Name*

    Reply #2: “This is the kind of thing HR generally will not be thrilled to hear about.”

    I enjoy reading things like this, since it reminds me of how dysfunctional my current job is with its “You can’t please everyone” response from HR when I raised similar concerns about a charity event and our diversity statement.

    1. Lara*

      I hate false equivalencies like that, because it positions say, the Charity for Kicking Puppies as a quirky option that Nobody Here by That Name just isn’t into. As opposed to the fact that supporting puppy kicking is bad and will make the org look bad.

    2. Lance*

      “You can’t please everyone”

      “No, but you can work to displease the fewest amount of people you’re able to.”

      1. Pollygrammer*

        And in OP’s case, “You can make sure the people who would be displeased at least get a heads-up about it rather than being unfairly blindsided.”

    3. Bea*

      “You can’t please everyone” should be reserved for picking company party locations (ppl have complained museums are boring waaah) and choosing a radio station (put it on shuffle, stop trying to plug in personal playlists ffs!). It’s not for “this offends the crap out of people!” situations, argh.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      “You can’t please everyone. Today we’ve chosen to please the masochists. Maybe next time it will be your turn.”

    5. Jadelyn*

      I’m in HR, and my eye is twitching slightly at that response. That is NOT how you respond to someone raising a concern about diversity stuff! Even if it’s absurd (a white male coworker complaining that he doesn’t want the company to work with a racial justice charity or something bc He Is The True Oppressed Minority Here, cause let’s be honest, we’ve all known at least one of That Dude in our work lives), you at least need to take it seriously for the space of a conversation with the employee. If the answer is still “we’re going to do this thing anyway,” then so be it, but you don’t just cavalierly shrug off that kind of concern. Ever.

    6. Jennifer Thneed*

      I actually disliked that phrasing a bit, only because someone might read it literally. No! Don’t do that! It really means this: “HR wants to hear about this stuff. It will upset them because they know how wrong it is. So they don’t want to hear that it happens because it’s bad news, but they really want to know that it has happened, so they can fix it (not because it’s being nice to the employee but because it’s preventing big expensive problems down the road).”

  7. Magenta Sky*

    OP #2: If you are in the US, in some states, your employer allowing (much less requiring) you to use your personal phone for job-related business without reimbursing you might be illegal. (California has case law on this.)

  8. LNZ*

    There is a reason why in California it’s against the law for employers to force employees to BYOD.

    1. CAA*

      The CA law is not quite as strong as you’re making it out to be here. California employers can require you to have and use your own cell phone for business, however they must reimburse you for the portion of the monthly bill that is attributable to business use. They don’t have to buy the actual phone for you though, and they can refuse to hire you or let you go if you won’t get one (I’ve never heard of any employer doing that, but they could). It’s similar to requiring an employee to have a car or her own tools in professions where that’s customary. The employer has to reimburse you for business use of your car, but they don’t have to provide the car itself or hire you if you don’t have one.

  9. in a fog*

    Letter #1: NOPE NOPE NOPE. I work in advancement for a similar institution and that is not OK. We likely wouldn’t send a dedicated email announcing the director’s departure to the entire alumni community, but to send one AND ask for job leads is really over the line, and for the same reasons Alison mentions: Do all alumni have the ability to send out an email like that to all of those constituents? Probably not.

    Many alumni communities have LinkedIn groups or similar through the school’s/college’s website, and that’s where that kind of outreach should take place. If the alumni director was an admin on the school’s LinkedIn page, I’d argue that that’s where they should post the request for leads along with a departure announcement. Over email, the director could probably reach out to those alums with whom they closely worked on an individual basis, but not all of them.

  10. Middle Name Jane*

    OP #1–I have a feeling we’re alumnae from the same college because I also received the e-mail you described. I was taken aback by the request for job leads. I think it was a misuse of the college’s resources, and I plan to tell them so.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Because it’s helpful to let the people who remain know that you’re not shrugging, or admiring the moxie, but feel like your trust in providing contact info was violated.

        (And hey Amazon, let’s talk about your stupid food delivery advertisements, which you are STILL sending me after I figured out how to call a human and complain that “What if you were in a city 1000 miles away from your actual shipping address? And wanted food delivered?” is never going to be not-annoying.)

        1. Artemesia*

          I ate at a small Polish restaurant recently that was really inexpensive and good; loved it. Next day I have an email with coupons. I did not give them my email; I have no idea how they got it; it totally creeped me out. So I emailed back my displeasure with them stalking me when I did not give them or authorize use of my private email. They gave me an ‘only trying to serve’ response and I still get email spam from this place. There is no privacy at all in the US.

          1. Jadelyn*

            My favorite are the ones from political candidates in places I’ve never lived. No, Jim who is running for state senate in Ohio, I, who live in California and have never even set foot in Ohio, do not want to give you money, and how the hell did I wind up on your mailing list in the first place???

          2. Amy*

            If you paid with a credit/debit card and they used Square, they probably got your email that way. Somewhere, once upon a time, I must have provided my email while purchasing something with Square– maybe for rewards or a store-specific mailing list– and Square has now permanently associated my email address with my debit card and I get random coupons / emails from other stores that I’ve frequented that use Square. It’s really annoying!

      2. Anonforthis*

        Also an alum! Hey!
        The person isn’t actually gone yet though, they’re staying until the end of the year. And hopefully a policy would actually be drafted about how our email addresses are allowed to be used out of this, or at least a clearer one if there is one.

        1. mehh*

          I just genuinely don’t believe you need a policy for every possibly random event. “Use good judgment” is a good policy to have. “Don’t stand on your toes and turn around and flip off your boss on the way out” is not a good policy to have, even if one time five years ago someone did that.

          The people at the school are aware of the email. They don’t need to hear from you.

          1. AMT*

            They might be aware of the email, but they’re not necessarily aware that a large number of alumni thought it was in bad taste. Maybe they don’t need to have a policy for every possible event, but it’s not ridiculous to have a blanket “no personal soliciations” policy. I’m sure it’s come up before (e.g. people using the email list to promote their businesses or fundraisers).

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I definitely disagree. There will always be times where a company (or a school or what have you) sends out a communication that they think is perfectly appropriate yet a lot of recipients do not. If people at the school are aware of the email but think nothing of it, then they should know that their recipients– their donor base– are unhappy about it. Granted, if it’s two or three people who aren’t thrilled, fine. But if a whole lot of people are upset, the school should know so they can avoid this type of thing in the future. That could mean something as simple as putting proofreading processes in place, or running all wider communications past the marketing team before distributing. Or as simple as hearing that alumni of the school find this type of thing inappropriate– which may affect donations and support in the future– and they can do some damage control.

            I’m an alum of a private school and I donate. I’m not a huge spender or a super important person, but the school is very important to me. While I don’t think they need to hear from me about every tiny little thing, I do truly believe they would welcome and value my feedback on something like this.

          3. Bagpuss*

            I think they do need to hear. If they don’t hear from alumni you are unhappy, they may shrug it off as ‘no big deal’, and/or find it difficult to stop it happening again in future.

            If they get a lot of e-mails / calls from people saying ‘I am not OK with my e-mail address being used for this / this is unprofessional / this is annoying and reflects badly on the university’ then they are more likely to take t seriously and ensure that it, or similar issues, don’t recur.

            I don’t think you need a specific policy for ever possible random event, but I think that ‘appropriate use of the alumni database’ is an appropriate policy to have, and right now, it looks as though they either don’t have a policy that deals with that, or they do, and it is either badly drawn and needs to be updated, or else their employee didn’t know about it, which flags up a training issue, or the employee knew and ignored it, which would be a disciplinary issue they need to know about and address.

          4. J*

            I work at a university in advancement (which sometimes shares a department with alumni relations).

            The school needs to hear it from alumni. Staff can grumble about things, but if there are enough alumni voices to bolster the argument, it’ll be easier to make it clear that it’s not just whinging from the staff.

          5. CM*

            Policies for specific one-off incidents are not useful.
            A general policy like “Use contact info only for official communications” is not only useful, it’s a way for the organization to avoid liability if people start getting mad about their privacy being violated.

          6. Rusty Shackelford*

            The people at the school are aware of the email. They don’t need to hear from you.

            And thus the infamous “well, no one complained about it…”

          7. Jadelyn*

            So, no one should ever complain about anything then, right? Since presumably every inappropriate thing someone does has at least a few other people aware of it, there’s no point in ever speaking up about anything because we can just assume that TPTB are already aware of it (and by extension we’re assuming they agree with us about the inappropriateness of the act, which is really not something one should generally assume).

            This sounds like “Don’t rock the boat” taken to extremes here. Sometimes the boat needs a little bit of rocking. I don’t see the point of trying to actively discourage people from being honest about their opinions.

          8. KayEss*

            Having worked in higher ed… hearing from reasonable alumni about a legitimate issue like this would be a welcome break from constantly hearing from utter whackjob alumni airing their weird grievances, which are usually related to how the school is more diverse and liberal now than it was 50-60 years ago, and proclaiming that they will not be donating until we reinstate those good ol’ days.

          9. beth*

            At my alma mater at least, things tend to get a much swifter and more direct response if alums start making a fuss than if staff (or even present students!) say the exact same thing. I suspect we’re not unique that way.

        2. Artemesia*

          This ‘policy’ is a no brainer and ought to be covered by professional ethics. I would fire her now rather than letting her work out her contract.

      3. Middle Name Jane*

        Actually, she hasn’t left her position yet. The e-mail says she will leave by the end of the year.

        And if no one informs the college that the e-mail was in poor taste, then they won’t know how it came across.

        1. Anon Alumnae*

          I’ve been donating and going to events ever since I graduated. I wouldn’t be able to take another of her emails seriously. I have no doubt that she felt she could do this because of the other transitions happening now.

    1. logicbutton*

      Hey fellow alum! You should definitely do that. I never want to get an email like that again. It reminded me of the self-important emails I sometimes get from my employer’s executive leadership about personnel changes that don’t affect me, except at least those don’t include requests for networking.

      1. Middle Name Jane*

        I sent an e-mail earlier today to the general alumnae inbox as well as to the person who oversees the Advancement division for the college. Go to the “Giving” section of the website and click on “Contact Us.” You’re looking for the Vice President for College Advancement. Her direct e-mail address is listed.

        I encourage any alumnae who received this e-mail and feel it was in bad taste to contact the college and let them know.

        Incidentally, in my e-mail to the college, I directed them to check out this thread and pointed out that strangers and alumnae alike felt this e-mail was ill-advised.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Coming up? It has came up. It went into effect on May 25. (Ask me how I know. Why yes, I *am* involved in writing some stuff that’s directly impacted by the new regulations.)

  11. Tau*

    OP #4 – Gee, what a generous offer. To have company data on your personal device, have them track your location, able to take it away from you under certain circumstances or wipe everything on it on others (which they’re openly admitting to!), this is a low price to pay in order to get… nothing? At all? Not even $10 towards your phone bill per month?

    Definitely try to push back, but I’m worried it won’t work. Frankly, the deal sounds so imbalanced that if it’s being used widely by employees I have to wonder if there isn’t pressure from management to go along with it.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      As a last resort I’d ask the boss if it’s OK to have porn on a work device, since that’s what’s gonna happen if they insist on commandeering my personal phone. /s

      1. Rosemary7391*

        You jest – but I have, on my email on my phone, personal data from a volunteering role I’m in. I need to be sure that that stays secure and available which doesn’t sound like it’d be compatible with this. I’m happy to donate the use of my personal resources to the volunteer role, but paid employment is a different kettle of fish.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Not even just porn – and I lol’d at that – but pictures and video of my husband and my kids and my dog and other things that are utterly irrelevant to work.

          My own personal email where I might or might not blow off steam about a difficult work situation?

          My FB posts that are locked down to only friends but still…no one is the same person at work as they are shooting the bull over a backyard BBQ.

          I keep my work persona and my home persona very separate. I imagine that most people do. Using my personal phone as a company phone – and technically treating it as such, with location information and remote wipe ability – should include a portion of the bill since it’s no longer just “my” phone.

          1. Anonymosity*

            Haha porn (fine on a personal device) but yeah, all this too. Especially Facebook. I don’t friend ANYONE at work until one or both of us are gone from that job.

            And all my personal writing–would they then try to own it because I worked on it on a *company* device? Would they try to count that?

            1. TakeBackPowet*

              Absolutely. Your employer does not want you to have anything of your own outside of them. If someone were to buy your book/article… why, you might discover your own worth! What employer wants that?

        2. Persimmons*

          I work with two volunteer firefighters, both for the same township. I can only imagine what would go down if their phones had been confiscated for whatever company security issue and they got a fire call. That’s half a truck, unresponsive.

      2. Not me today*

        I don’t have porn on my phone, but I do use it to read web sites that I would NEVER go to on a work computer or phone. I also keep my work and personal life separate when it comes to (what are for me) very personal things like my politics, sexuality, etc. I already carry a separate phone for work, and I’m happy to keep doing that in order to maintain my privacy. I would never agree to BTOD for my phone or my computer. I’m job searching, and this is now going to be something I ask about.

    2. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      I just…. don’t see what the benefit is for the employee. It’s not like companies can ask employees to pay for office furniture, I don’t see why cellphones are any different?

      A rational BYOD-program would make it attractive for employees to use it, not punish them for the company’s cash flow problems…

      1. Michaela Westen*

        This type of employer has an attitude “you’re lucky we have you work for us”. They wouldn’t even pay people, if they could get away with it. They’re trying to squeeze the employees any way they can.

    3. D'Arcy*

      Being able to take the phone if subpoenaed is pretty much an inherent requirement for using phones in business. It’s specifically why my company tells our security officers *not to* use their personal phones to document incidents even though they invariably have much better cameras than the company issued phones, unless they’re willing to potentially put up with that.

      1. Anon Today*

        Exactly. I work for a state agency. My state’s public information laws specifically include that work-related texts, etc. on state OR personal cell phones must be included in data supplied in response to a records request. Hence, those of us who will be using cell phones for work are issued a state phone. (The occasional text does happen on our personal phones, but it’s something innocuous like “We can wear jeans tomorrow” or “Did you bring orange juice for the department breakfast?”)

  12. CatCat*

    #1, Nope, nope, nope. I would have thought it rude and a misuse of resources. Use the proper tools and channels and a targeted approach, not just an email blast to everyone under the sun that graduated from the school. I wouldn’t be cool with it from a student, but perhaps more forgiving, but from a director, nope. That person should know better. Not a good way to build professional relationships, imo.

  13. Geoffrey B*

    #1 is definitely unprofessional. Had it happened in Australia it would probably have been illegal under our federal privacy law, which specifies that most organisations can only use personal information for the purposes for which it was collected or purposes which the provider might reasonably have expected. Various exceptions exist, but I don’t see any likely to apply here.

  14. Rosie*

    I have been in similar situations to OP#4 regarding contracts which have clauses in them I am uncomfortable with. Often what happens is this: I say I’m unable/unhappy to sign, they ask why, I explain the problematic clause and they say something like “I suppose it could be taken that way but we’d never do that”. Then it gets awkward because you’re implying you don’t trust them if you refuse to sign. Anyone have any good tips for avoiding this for me / OP?

    1. Namelesscommentator*

      “I’m not comfortable signing while those are the written terms, can we update the contract to the standard protocol?”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep. “Great, it’s a relief to hear that would never happen. Let’s update the contract to reflect that and then I’d be glad to sign.”

    2. Nerfmobile*

      I’ve developed an “appeal to authority” response that works pretty well. It starts with “my mother was a lawyer and she would never let me” [sign a contract without reading it/agree to such a ambiguous clause/speak without a lawyer present/etc]. It usually gives people a little chuckle and me time to make sure everything gets handled correctly.

      1. Screenwriter Mom*

        I used to be easily intimidated by people trying to get me to sign things that had problems, and I finally was able to stand up for myself by saying “my lawyer says I can never sign anything he doesn’t read….” and EVENTUALLY, I discovered an even better response, which works weirdly well, which is to say “I have a rule that I… [never sign a contract with an ambiguous clause, etc etc–in fact whatever applies–can be also “I only give to one charity per month/I only volunteer for one thing per month”….] By beginning with “I have a rule,” which can also be “I’m so sorry, I have a rule…” …. for some reason, that makes people back off (“Oh, if it’s a RULE”). Bonus–it worked with my teenager, too.
        Another thing that works if people are really pressuring you (and again, worked really well with a surly teenager) is to smile and say “We can have this conversation all you want, and I’m happy to have it, but at the end, my answer will still be no. But I’m happy to talk as long as you like!”

      2. Artemesia*

        My husband’s law firm took out a loan for office renovation; the bank wanted spouses to sign the loan too. I, on the advice of my husband, refused to sign. They got the loan anyway. At a party later one of the other partner’s wife asked me why I wasn’t willing to support the firm and sign. I looked at her, surrounded by expectant faces of other partner’s wives all of whom signed, and said ‘I guess I got better legal advice than you did.’ Everything went fine — but had it gone sideways, our personal wealth would have been protected by my not having signed since he had little separate personal wealth.

    3. Sue Wilson*

      Take their assurance as confirmation that they’re going to change it. “Oh great! I’m happy you won’t have a problem updating it to reflect that!”

    4. Mark132*

      I mentally translated that response to “We haven’t done that yet but as the text clearly reads, we reserve the right to do exactly that. “

    5. On Fire*

      Oh, ugh. Been there, did that, left the job over it. Started a new job, and they had a non-compete document. Okay, fine, I’ve done those before. Then I actually read it, and wow. I had an attorney friend look at it, and he said, “If you wrote anything, even a personal journal, during the time you work for them, and wanted to publish it 10 years later, they would be entitled to the proceeds.”

      We tried to get the company to update the non-compete. They refused, including actually saying, “Well, you have to display *some* trust in us.” Luckily, we could live on my husband’s income until I found another job, so I walked.

      1. CM*

        Your reply when somebody says “trust me” is “I agree, we should trust each other. So it’s not necessary for me to sign a non-compete.”

    6. ArtK*

      Oooh. I recently saw one of those. NewCompany is buying assets from OldCompany and hiring some of OldCompany people. Some permanent, some temp. Contract as written for the temps implies that the contract can be ended early by “mutual agreement.” The implication is that both the company and the temp have to agree. One of the people ask that it be reworded to avoid any ambiguity; the response was “well, it might say that, but we’d never enforce it that way.” Even though the clause likely would fail in court (indentures *are* illegal, after all), it still left a bad taste in people’s mouths.

    7. beth*

      When people get pushy on just about anything, and you’re not ready to outright say no, one useful tactic is to stall.
      Tell them you need to do some research, tell them you’re consulting an expert, etc. People with bad intentions tend to back off when they realize you’re not easy prey; people who mean well will generally take it as a sign that you really are uncomfortable and will try to address that discomfort.

      In this case, that might look like “Hmm…I think I need some legal advice before signing this as is. Can we reconvene in a day or two?” Either they’ll realize you’re serious and get the change in writing right then, or you can consult someone (or ‘consult’ someone–chatting with your aunt the paralegal might count just fine here) and come back with “My counsel won’t let me sign without clarifying this clause, how can we make that happen?”

    8. Jennifer Thneed*

      > “I suppose it could be taken that way but we’d never do that”

      “Well, the thing about lawyers is that they tend to take things that way.” Of course you trust the person who will hire you but everyone knows about those weasley lawyers, amirite?

      (I say this as the daughter of a [non-weasley] lawyer.)

  15. Jemima Bond*

    #1 – Rude. You wouldn’t expect the the head librarian of St Tangerina’s Public Library to email all the patrons about jobs in other libraries.
    #2 – Ophelia is preposterous. Even without past issues, you can’t expect people to donate time and effort to a charity event without telling them what the charity is, any more than you could ask them for money without saying at least vaguely what it is for. Also you need to know what you will be doing so that people know it’s a suitable activity for them (you can’t expect the intern on a tiny budget to bid for a speedboat in a silent auction, and if it’s a fun run a wheelchair use will need their racing chair).
    The answer to Ophelia is “sorry I can’t commit until you tell me what the cause is and what we’ll be doing.” Because of course you can’t!!!

    1. mimsie*

      100% agree. Don’t let her commit you and your co-workers hours to this event until she can confirm what the charity is. Tell her this ASAP so you guys don’t show up and she just expects you to go. She needs to know right now that she has no bodies and no hours towards this until she can tell you what it’s for.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I can’t believe someone is so obtuse as to not realize how ridiculous it is to ask people to commit to a mystery-cause, even if her judgment hadn’t previously been called into question.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Well, she clearly has questionable judgement. Which means she didn’t learn from the previous incident, she just got the message that she couldn’t do *that* thing.

    2. LW2*

      I think Ophelia feels like we’re a captive audience since we’ll be in her community. It’s not like any of the out-of-towners will say “I have another commitment.” Even though many of us have not participated in events with her in the past, she knows some of us have taken issue with her preferred organizations. Hopefully, this is all for naught and the event is something everyone can agree is worthy and proper.

      1. Artemesia*

        Have a plan B. That way those of you not on board can calmly go do something else. It would hilarious if it were also charitable, but that is probably not realistic, but have a clear plan of where you will go.

        1. Anna Held*

          You also need to know how to dress, what physical or other abilities you’ll need, what to do about lunch, etc.

          The nonprofit probably wouldn’t be happy about this, either. They want people who want to be there! As someone said upthread, this sort of thing is actually a pain for them in most cases. And they definitely need a hard number of how many people to expect. She’s doing everyone a disservice.

      2. StellaBella*

        I get the sense that she chooses events that align with her general beliefs – just my intuition – and those may not align with the company’s stance / other employees’ stances on inclusion and diversity … I support the idea that you should NOT wait til you guys get there, as many of the replies here say. Ask now, and have a plan B. Also going to HR on her vagueness is a genuine issue that you can ask about. If part of your team are A, or believe in B, or have overcome C, or are classed as D…. then if she chooses to do event the benefits people/groups/promoters of Q, her choice is askew of the inclusion factors at the firm of A-D….this is not cool. A long time ago I worked on a team of 30+ men and 4 women. We went snow mobiling. We went golfing. Some of the men were very careless with the golf carts. We went to lots of events that were ridiculous and for over privileged men in our team. Those events always had more participation that the days of giving back in the community cleaning up public parks, etc. It always angered me. And is one small reason why I decided to change careers 11 years ago.

        1. StellaBella*

          Also sorry – I was combining morale boosting events with other events not tradtionally seen as morale boosting as they do things for others vs for the team members specifically – but what my point was, was this: having a group of people do something together to encourage better team work can be done, and it can be done well so that no one is left out, or offended, or put on the spot. The way to do this is to have alternatives for folks who can’t or won’t want to do something (I was environmentally opposed to golf, for example) that can still built team work – it’s about having lots of stuff over the year to encourage these things, not just one event…and having the option for people to choose not to participate should be there and without any penalties, really. Am sorry am being unclear- seems to be the case these days.

      3. beth*

        Has anyone said something like: “Ophelia, I’m not comfortable volunteering my time without knowing what it will benefit. It’s a personal rule of mine. Will you share the name of the organization this is for? (assuming no) All right, that’s unfortunate, since I won’t be able to join you.”

        If this is done in a somewhat public way–e.g. a quick chat in the break room, I’m not advocating for calling a special meeting to shut her down or anything dramatic like that–I suspect that one person doing this would clue others in that it’s an option, and lead to a larger-scale refusal to engage. No one likes being pressured in this way; lots of people will probably take an out, given the option.

    3. Snazzy Hat*

      #2 reminded me of a recent volunteer event with my department. I thought it was mandatory, and when I learned it was truly voluntary, I opted out. Coincidentally, I had a meeting with my boss scheduled the day before the event.

      boss: {in context} And you’re not attending the event, correct?
      me: Correct.
      boss: Coordinator mentioned she was a little confused when you bowed out.
      me: Well, to be honest, I’m not too keen on that organization.
      boss: Fair enough.

  16. Greg M.*

    ok the cell phone thing is a huge problem. I work retail selling electronics. I deal with a lot of accounts and passwords. So here’s the thing, a lot of people have no effing idea what their passwords are, heck a lot of them don’t even realize that their email has a password. I’ve had to explain this to many people because their computer just auto logs them in.

    What does this have to do wtih the cell phone? 2 factor authentication. It is slowly becoming universally mandatory to have a phone number on your account, and in a lot of cases it’s a good thing because companies like gmail or microsoft have made their password recovery steps without a phone number almost impossible now. So a lot of people have a lot of accounts tied to their phone.

    God knows what those apps actually do. The worst part is the remote wipe though. some devices require after a wipe that you log in with the account it had before or the device is locked. I saw an old lady accidentally wipe their phone somehow and then basically have to get a new phone because she didn’t know her android password. Now imagine your company decided to wipe your phone. You might end up having to get a new phone.

    This is a terrible idea. absolutely utterly terrible.

    1. Greg M.*

      like right now, to log into to my google, twitter or steam account requires my phone on a new device, wiping it would be very frustrating for me.

    2. Lora*

      “God knows what those apps actually do.”

      THIS. Holy crap.

      If I personally get to write the EULA for the company’s use of my phone, I might consider BYOD. You agree that by using my phone for business purposes, you will pay me $1M in restitution in the event that your app damages or makes unavailable any other files on my phone or Cloud storage. You guarantee that your company apps will not affect the performance of any other app on this phone, including beta and development versions of other apps, scripts and programs; any resulting impact to performance of non-company apps shall result in forfeit of both access to the phone and any assumptions of privacy or confidentiality regarding the company app source code, as well as a minimum of $50,000 in restitution payable to the phone owner per non-company app affected.

      Hey, I have some really cute cat and dog pictures on there. You never know when one might go viral, right?

      I did actually let a company do BYOD for me once: All I said was, “yeah, I read the agreement, but ahhh…there’s some questions I have with it, why don’t I send you a markup copy?” and then emailed a redline copy of it back to the HR lady. The IT dude asked if I could just set up a simple POP3/IMAP email account with them instead, to which I would have access perpetually, and promptly “forgot” about the agreement I had marked up.

  17. Maddie*

    You don’t send out help me find a new job on current job company letterhead. Period.

  18. Maddie*

    They’ll have to pry my cell phone out of my cold, dead, hands before I agree to this bring your own nonsense.

  19. Alice*

    #4: I would ask about the remote wipe part of the agreement and specifically ask how they can ensure your personal data won’t be wiped as well.

    1. Tuxedo Cat*

      And what they plan on doing if your phone gets taken away for legal reasons. For many people, their cell phone is their only phone. No one will be able to reach them and they might not have a way to contact an emergency line for a little bit.

  20. Shannon*

    #2 I am a volunteer manager with a CVA who has worked in CSR for 15+ years. You need to ask what you’re doing point blank. You can frame it as the perfectly reasonable request that the staffers/ volunteers want to be prepared & engaged in knowing what to expect so they can fully support the non-profit. From the NP perspective they are not going to a) want volunteers who are uncomfortable b) be preparing an event for 100 volunteers and then only 50 actually participate.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Exactly. Until people know what the charity and the proposed fundraiser are to be, they can’t decide whether they are able / willing to participate.
      And since presumably part of the reason for doing it is that it makes the organisation look good, wouldn’t you want to opportunity to know in advance so you could publicise it?
      I’d send Ophelia a cheerful e-mail (maybe as reply all>?)
      saying something like “A joint fundraiser event sounds as though it could be interesting. I look forward to receiving the proposal once you’ve considered which charity you plan to suggest, and what your proposals are for the event itself? If you are looking for suggestions from others about the choice of charity and event let us know”

      That way, you are clearly framing it as being an idea she has suggested but not something which is yet agreed, and also flags up the sort of detail which will be needed.

  21. Kakaporg*

    (Long-time reader, first-time poster)
    #1 — I would be pretty miffed to get an email like that. Finding employment post-graduation has been a struggle for me. I would find it seriously tone-deaf for a current employee of my alma mater to be asking ME for job-hunting leads. I’m not sure I would be irritated enough to do more than have a little rant to a sympathetic friend or family member but this sort of behavior would not impress me one but.

    1. Rebeck*

      But that’s what alumni associations are for, aren’t they? Networking and finding jobs? Sure it’s not a great look, but I’m a bit confused by all the “misuse of email address” comments.

      1. beth*

        Alum organizations generally do have some way of helping with job hunts and career support. This often takes the shape of forums, a dedicated section on the organization’s website, networking events in areas with large alum populations, ongoing access to the school’s career services center, etc.

        But the general email list with every single member’s email on it isn’t usually available for that purpose. It’s generally for the organization to share info that’s for everyone (the college’s donation drive, info on an upcoming event like a reunion, where to find the new alum org website, etc.), not to spam people’s inboxes with things that benefit just one member. Your average alum probably wouldn’t have access to that list at all. Assuming this person had access due to their position in the organization and not because it’s available to everyone, it’s a misuse of the list to spam everyone for self-promotion in a way that others couldn’t make use of in turn.

      2. rldk*

        Alumni engagement/advancement is very different from alumni networking. Engagement is usually saying what the university is currently up to (new departments or projects or achievements). Networking should always be a separate opt-in group, especially since staff of the university aren’t necessarily fellow alums.

  22. My Manager Turned Out to Be a Back-Stabbing B*tch*

    OP 5 – heed this advice!! When you first start working, and your office is relaxed and informal, you can quickly think your managers are your friends. They are first and foremost your superiors who answer to your boss(es). If they have trouble with boundaries (there are already some red flags in your letter), you could find yourself being questioned about personal matters in your reviews. Do not confuse friendly rapport with friendship!

    1. Maddie*

      Your managers can never really be true personal friends. This is very good advice.

    2. GlitsyGus*

      Yup. As an added thought, while it would be fun to have them along once and a while for now, down the road when the New Job Shine has worn off and you guys want to go out and vent to each other about the job and possibly the managers it’ll be a lot harder to disinvite Jack and Emma than it will be to just maintain, or even taper off, the “they pop in once every three or four dinners” pattern.

  23. Engineer Girl*

    #3 – Do you know the schedule of your Boss’s Boss? Try to schedule your meetings when he’ll be busy or out of the office.
    I had a manager that would do similar things. The whole team would have an operation plan in place. Then manager would show up, negate everything, and leave the meeting with planning pieces hanging. It took us days to get everything right again. The manager had one weakness – he was NOT a morning person and couldn’t make it in before 9 AM. So we started scheduling our meetings at 8 AM “to accommodate the team on the other coast”. Manager couldn’t get his body to come in that early. We made sympathetic sounds and then did all our planning without him. We delivered on time.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is great advice. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, managers have a ton of meetings.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      We had a manager like this. We started creating calendar events with the people individually enumerated, instead of the Llama Department, so that they didn’t show up on his calendar. We called them Pig Power meetings (verbally, never in the calendar event) because of the old joke about how the chicken is involved in a ham and egg breakfast, but the pig is committed.

    3. Lora*

      Ah, the Seagull Manager phenomenon. Fly in, crap all over everything, eat the free food and leave.

      I try to re-frame their contribution to the meeting as suggestions rather than requirements when they do show up. “That’s an interesting suggestion, we’ll consider it carefully. Thanks for coming in!” Or give them a tangential sort of aspect of the project to work on to keep them out of everyone’s hair – sometimes they just cannot get it through their head that their job is no longer hands-on work and is now much more about dealing with senior management things (which are admittedly often boring and barely related to the field) and they really just want to feel like they work in the field again instead of grinding through spreadsheets and PowerPoint and dealing with people’s horrible little personalities. It’s a little tricky to figure out what you’re dealing with though: do they figure people are incompetent and they must micromanage? do they want to do field work and they hate spending 95% of their time making dumbed-down PowerPoints and placating the disgruntled? were they promoted via the Dilbert Principle vs the Peter Principle, i.e. “you’re too incompetent to be allowed to touch actual work, we’ll make you a manager”? were they hired via the “looked good on paper and interviewed okay” method?

    4. myswtghst*

      I used to do something similar, in scheduling meetings when “most of the participants” were available and specifically looking for times when the disruptive participants were busy/OOO/not in yet. I always made a point to send out a good summary with to do’s for everyone after the meeting, and to follow up with the disruptive people one-on-one if needed so they could still be involved without making our meetings pointless, but it really helped us have better meetings.

    5. smoke tree*

      My boss’s boss in a previous job had a similar effect on meetings. He doesn’t ask questions, but he likes to take the opportunity to chat at length about all of his thoughts and ideas about all of the projects and any concerns he might have. Soon a quick project status update meeting can take upwards of 5 hours. He is also not a morning person so your strategy would have been useful if it had been possible to convince everyone else to meet up first thing.

  24. Drama Llama*

    Why on earth would anybody agree to using their personal phones for work if the company doesn’t contribute any costs towards it? No effing way.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Because they are in a desperate financial situation and if they don’t accept this job, they will be homeless.
      Because they have a serious health issue and they need this job to obtain insurance.
      Because they don’t have a lot of experience or business savvy and don’t realize how inappropriate this is.

    2. Mookie*

      A few years ago my brother was interviewing with an organization that did this and had a kind of cocky attitude about it, like you’re a dinosaur if you don’t agree with it. When he pushed back, one of the panel told him he was lucky “we’re not confiscating your car.” I can’t quite fathom the mindset of someone who acknowledges what BYOD is all about (“confiscation” says it all) and still thinks it’s great and defensible. My brother really didn’t respond to that, but later we both agreed he should have effusively thanked the man for letting him keep the car he bought for himself and wasn’t going to be using for transportation to work, anyway.

        1. Kat in VA*


          Seriously, any mention of liver + work on this site gives me a giggle. A horrified, appalled, “I can’t believe this actually happened” giggle, but a giggle nonetheless.

      1. AnotherJill*

        For me, that’s be a “thank you for your time, but I don’t want to work for a company that considers employees to be chattel” moment.

      1. Perfectly Particular*

        I work for a huge corporation with a BYOD policy for phones. There is no option to get a corporate phone if you are below manager level, but there is the expectation that you periodically check emails after work hours. So, some people, myself included, would rather check email on our phone than drag out the laptop and connect to the VPN. I have heard that they only wipe in cases where people left under bad circumstances, and all of my personal stuff is in the cloud anyway. That took me a little while to figure out. The security profile keeps me from backing up the entire phone to the cloud, but does not keep me from syncing my photos and contacts with my iTunes account.

    3. Thlayli*

      Regarding #4, This doesn’t relate to the question so let’s not do it here, but can someone start a discussion on the Friday thread re ideas for how to minimise the impact if you do have to use your own phone for BYOD? Eg things like using google photos to auto back up your photos to the cloud so they don’t get wiped if your company decides to wipe your phone. This would also be great if your phone is lost or stolen.

      I never get to the Friday thread early enough, so I can’t raise it myself.

    4. pleaset*

      Because they don’t want to carry around two phones.
      Because they find it convenient.
      Because their employer forces them to.

    5. Jennifer Thneed*

      Because they were already employees for years when the company started this policy, and they have good reasons to stay where they are even if they are all “Eff This Noise”?

  25. Glomarization, Esq.*

    OP#1: She definitely inappropriately used school resources, but the more telling problem, I think, is that it looks like she’s put the cart before the horse in her job search. Great planning there!

    OP#4: I hope pushing back on this is successful. This is your employer pushing some of its operating costs onto employees, and it’s not right. Last time I was doing tax law (the new code may be even worse), you couldn’t deduct your work phone unless you use it 100%, exclusively for work, too. So with your employer’s scheme here, you have to pay for the privilege of being in contact and working remotely without any extra pay or tax deductions. Eff that.

    1. Allison*

      Unless she was actually fired, or it was a mutual decision that she was no longer a fit for the position, and she’s making it seem like it was 100% her choice.

    2. swan.feather*

      A friend that’s a CPA told me it didn’t have to be 100%. You could claim whatever percentage you used the phone for work related stuff.

    3. strawberries and raspberries*

      Yeah, re: #1 to me this really undercuts her professionalism in a way that I would be reluctant to help her. “I’m taking the bold step of changing my career!…. help?”

  26. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

    LW4- My company has a similar policy. Company phones are provided to those at a certain level, but the other exempt employees have to use their own phones. It’s optional, but eventually it became more of a hassle to not have my work email and calendar on my phone. I don’t love that the company has the ability to wipe my phone, but until they start providing all exempt staff with phones, it is what it is. It isn’t something that bothers me enough to use up political capital.

  27. Delta Delta*

    #4 I have a whole drawer full of old phones. I suppose if my choice was BYOD or no job I’d get a cheap pay as you go plan and new number for one of my old phones. I wonder if that would work?

    1. Anonymosity*

      I’m guessing it would have to be a smartphone if they wanted the employee to have access to email, etc. But there are cheap PAYG smartphones that do come with plans. They don’t have all the bells and whistles of a contract-type phone, but if all they need is email and text, it might work.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I don’t know how much sim-free phones have evolved in the US, but if I were required to BYOD right now I’d get a used smart phone off eBay and get the cheapest possible pay as you go plan and use that for work. Having two phones is a pain but having my phone remotely wiped, confiscated, or otherwise damaged by malformed security software or overzealous monitoring is a bigger pain.

      I bought a Moto G 2015 last year to use on vacation for £30 and bought a month of PAYG access including 25GB of data to use anywhere in the world for an extra £25. If I was using it all the time I’d get a cheaper plan.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Hmm. If I were in this situtation, I think I’d take a page from your book and get a cheapo phone to use for work email access and leave it at home full-time. Because I only need it when I’m not at work, right? And I agree that carrying 2 phones is a pain.

  28. Rebecca*

    #4 – I’d be so tempted to bring an old style basic flip phone (like my Mom uses) as my BYOD. Policies like this make a lot of assumptions, like, I use Tracfone service. I have a smart phone, but I don’t have unlimited data, etc. because of the cost. I’d not be happy if I had to use my phone for work and at the same time, upgrade to another service that would cost me a lot more money per month than I’m paying now.

  29. Birch*

    OP1, yeah, that’s one of those things that’s not explicitly Wrong, but is not a good look. There are so many other platforms that can be used for networking, and it comes across as disingenuous to mix the goodbye with the request. Kind of like including wedding registry information in the invite–it’s against etiquette just because it’s too fast a transition between announcement and directing attention to what you want from people. Personally, I think people should keep mass emails as bland and impersonal, and positive, as possible, just because there’s no way everyone getting those needs to know the details. Last year we had a situation in which someone felt slighted for not getting a promotion and decided to leave, but also sent a mass emailed manifesto about how unethical the whole situation was. Even if it was unethical (which is under debate), people like me did not need to receive that email because now the only thing I know about this person is that she has poor judgment.

    OP5 I love the reference to You Me Her! I agree with Alison here– it is great to develop a rapport between temps and managers. Having been on the temp side, temps are often treated terribly, so it’s really encouraging to hear about you getting along with your managers! However, being on the other side of that as a young co-supervisor for the first time, it’s extremely difficult to know how to draw professional boundaries when your supervisees are cool people you get along with and when you aren’t totally secure in your own authority yet. It’s too easy and tempting to become buddies, and then it becomes hard to be the manager when you need to be. So it’s great that you’re thinking about this, and you have the power to help Jack and Emma in acknowledging those boundaries by not treating them like your besties. If you need an excuse to draw lines, invite Jack and Emma to event-related things like birthday dinners or say you’re celebrating someone getting a new apartment. Save the casual hanging out in student bars and pizza-in-pajamas movie nights for your peers.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      OP1, yeah, that’s one of those things that’s not explicitly Wrong, but is not a good look.

      If she’s using those email addresses for a purpose other than that for which they were gathered, I consider it explicitly Wrong.

      1. Birch*

        Well yeah, but I meant it might not be specifically stated in the rule book (yet).

  30. Roker Moose*

    Re #4, as others have suggested, it’s worth looking into a cheap, PAYG, phone. I got a basic device— not a smart phone— when my employer decided I needed to use my personal phone when reaching out to clients.

    It is a little annoying to carry a second device, but less annoying (for me!) than having my number out there.

    1. drpuma*

      If you really only need a separate phone number for clients, Google Voice or something similar could be really helpful for you. I always loved being able to text my staff from my work computer :)

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        Love Google Voice for this reason. I don’t use it a lot on my end (and it has some quirks), but I LOVE the option of not having to give out my personal number.

  31. Sarah*

    #4 If you absolutely have to participate in BYOD consider getting a cheap second phone for it. Most plans will let you add a line for $10 a month or look at cheaper options life freedom pop. Its really not a good idea to let your work have control of your personal cell phone, or any devices that have your personal information, especially larger companies that you would have a hard time sueing if something went wrong. I know its not always optional to quit a job over these things but protect yourself first.

  32. Marlene*

    #1 I find it a little strange that so much time is being spent analyzing and debating one email.

    #2 You guys aren’t “volunteering” for anything since it sounds like you’re not sure you can decline it. That aside, find out what it is beforehand.

    #4 Simply say you’re not comfortable with it and stick with that. They can’t force you to install something on your phone. Maybe I’m a little grouchy now in my 40s but there’s no way I would allow any company to access and control my personal property and information that way.

    1. Observer*

      Unfortunately, they CAN come pretty close to forcing the OP, if they so choose. If their manager says “do this or your job is on the line” and HR is not willing to intervene, the OP may have to decide if the job is worth it. Also, even if the boss won’t push that hard, the OP needs to consider if the boss is going to make their life miserable over this.

      To the OP, I would say, definitely push back if you can. What your manager is asking for is NOT reasonable. But, if you assess the situation and see that this won’t work for you, a cheap smart phone and cheapest plan is the way to go. It also works well because it makes it impossible for anyone to obfuscate the cost that is being passed on the the employees.

    2. LawBee*

      re #1 – it was a really weird email. The middle part was basically a resume – and it was definitely not something that I expected to receive from my alma mater. (Not the OP, but a fellow grad)

      1. Anon Alumnae*

        More than that, we just don’t get emails like that. Our network is small and close-knit, so when something is out of the ordinary, especially something coming from a long-time staff member, it’s quite striking. (Also not the OP, but a fellow grad)

  33. MLB*

    #4 – if they push back on your push back of using your own cell phone for work, ask them if they would expect you to use your own laptop as well, because this is really no different. I would look into the legal aspects of this, because while I got my law degree watching L&O, if they’re expecting you to use your own cell phone without reimbursing you at all, that sounds a tad illegal. At my last job I was on call very rarely and used my cell phone when needed but I wasn’t expected to install anything on it and I didn’t have to pay any additional money for using it on the rare occasion for work.
    #5 – be careful with this. You may have a great relationship with the managers, but that does not mean they’re you’re friends. Don’t cross that line until you’ve known them longer and 100% know you can trust them with anything. I am fortunate that my manager (who has been my manager in the past and reached out to me for this job) is a legitimate friend, not just a friendly acquaintance, but it’s rare and you don’t want to overstep because you consider them friends when they don’t feel the same.

    1. swan.feather*

      I’m not sure if it’s really illegal since, if you BYOD, you can deduct whatever percentage of your cell bill that you use for work on your taxes (which I didn’t know until a CPA friend told me). If you decide you use your phone 75% of the time for work, you can claim that much of the bills on your taxes.

      1. Searching*

        The new tax law eliminated the deduction of unreimbursed employee business expenses, starting in 2018. And even before that, it was a deduction, not a tax credit, so you’d still be left paying most of the expense (and got back only a percentage of it by way of reduced taxes).

      2. Artemesia*

        You pretty much can’t deduct anything under the wonderful new billionaire only tax laws just passed. My daughter works from home and one room of her home is totally dedicated office space; now she has to pay for that with no deduction. Her company does provide her computer but not office furniture etc.

  34. Temperance*

    LW2: talk to HR now. I’m going to assume that Ophelia is one of those people who has a certain set of beliefs, and because she believes that she’s correct, she sees no issue with working with orgs that exclusively share her beliefs than orgs that welcome everyone.

    1. Bea*

      This is where my mind landed. She’s being sneaky and has a history behind her charitable choices, just jump the line and find out what’s up.

    2. LW2*

      You are correct on why we’ve have had issues with previous events. Thankfully, team members in other offices have not had to participate in these events, so we never felt the need to say more than “There are problems with that organization.” And she’s never had an issue with the events we’ve chosen at other offices. But now that we’ll be at her location, maybe she feels like we’re a captive audience. I’ll definitely be taking it up a notch about what we’re doing.

      1. AMPG*

        Sounds like you need a better policy around volunteering or charitable events done in an official capacity. I ran into this problem at FormerJob, where we all had a holiday party raffle every year and voted on which charity to donate the proceeds to. One coworker suggested a nonprofit that ran an afterschool program for local kids, but neglected to mention in her write-up that it was an evangelical Christian organization that included mandatory Bible study as part of its services. I objected once I found out, but since the vote had already been taken the compromise solution was to have the runner-up charity as another option. But the next year there was a requirement that the charity not be religiously-affiliated in order to be considered.

    3. myswtghst*

      Yes, this. Do not give Ophelia time to set this all up and frame it as “but I want it to be a surprise!”, then guilt people into participating once they arrive in her town and feel they have no other option. Reach out to her and copy HR, or go straight to HR (and share her history of less than great charity choices), but either way, push back now while there is still time to find an alternative activity.

  35. Cat Herder*

    OP #1: this is completely inappropriate. She’s using her employer’s resources for her own personal job search. Additionally, communications to alumni are supposed to focus on the school, the alums, and issues and events pertinent to the school — “I need a job” does not fall into any of these categories. As an alum, I’d be steamed that she’s misusing *my* donations. As a potential employer, I’d be mighty unimpressed by someone *at the director level* who doesn’t understand this, or perhaps even care about it.

  36. Environmental Compliance*

    1 – If I received an email like that from my (very active) alumni group, my eyebrows would be very raised, and I wouldn’t be too enthused about it…..but I’m not sure I’d do anything about it personally. I don’t think it’s appropriate in the slightest, as there’s many other ways to use your alumni group (usually) – we have forums, a specific job posting board, Facebook groups – but I’m not sure I’d spend a whole lot of time on it. To me it’s worth an eyeroll & deletion of the email.

    2 – TBH I’m not even sure I’d go if she was refusing to tell people what the charity is. That’s just….so odd. Why would you keep it a secret from everyone? That’s the opposite of any charity volunteering I’ve ever been a part of. With Ophelia’s past shenanigans, a refusal to announce what charity would have me feeling very suspicious.

    4 – I have been incredibly lucky to have been issued a work cell phone at every place that’s required a phone. There’s no way that I’d be okay with using my personal phone. I do not need random contractors/the public/random coworkers I may not know calling my personal cell phone. I got enough weird creepy calls/texts from contractors when I had a work cell phone, definitely do not need that on my personal phone. I also would be incredibly irritated to have to hand over my personal cell phone for a wipe – I run a side business and need a phone for that. My cell phone is also the only phone I have. We don’t have a landline. If family needed to reach me, and work had taken my phone, I’d be SOL. Side note – I’d definitely get a cheapo flip burner phone. Hubs has always had a flip phone. What exactly would this company do if that’s legitimately the phone you own, and they want you to install all these apps that the phone doesn’t support? I also find it sketchy that the company won’t be contributing at all to your phone plan. I’m lucky in that I have unlimited everything plan for super cheap (grandfathered in discounts for the win), but I’d be peeved if I had to have this expensive piece of equipment, on my personal plan, that at a minimum doubled my phone bill each month, AND could be wiped/removed from me at any time, with most likely little to no notice. Hell to the naw.

    1. Dram*

      I’m guessing it’s religion-based or associated because there aren’t Kick Puppies charities, and many people find anything religion-adjacent troubling. (See: Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which SCOTUS just ruled basically infringed on a baker’s constitutional rights by being so overtly hostile/bigoted toward him based on his religion when the government first started investigating complaints from a gay couple that the baker wouldn’t provide services to them.) All the more reason for her to be upfront about which charity it is.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I was guessing that, or that they’re not well known for being a transparent, legitimate charity.

        There’s not a lot I’m against, really, but I’d like to do my homework on the charity (do they do any questionable things that go against my personal beliefs, do they do questionable things with their donations, etc) & know if I need to plan to wear work-outside clothes or nicer clothes.

        This is a problem easily solved by telling people what the charity is and what the event involves. Refusing to tell just creates more drama and pushes more people away, which is incredibly silly for what is supposed to be a beneficial charity-based event.

      2. Observer*

        It could be, but it could be a lot of other things, as well. Take any organization that pushes “English Only” policies – I can’t imagine that jiving with any company that has explicit policies on inclusion. That’s not the only thing I could think of, but this is just the most obvious one.

      3. Nita*

        Or they could be one of those “charities” that has a very low percentage of donations actually going to people in need, and their ratings are low enough that it’s an open secret they mostly exist to support the charity founder.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        Religious or political, probably. But you never know. There are people who have legitimate gripes against charities most people consider bulletproof, like the Red Cross or the Susan Komen Foundation.

        1. Not a Mere Device*

          Yes. I don’t give to the Red Cross, because of how they treated a relative of mine who was working for them. I’m mentioning this because, in addition to larger-scale things like “too much of this organizations money goes to administration” and “they showed up for the news cameras after Hurricane Sandy, but didn’t do much for storm relief,” which is at least researchable, any organization may run into one person’s “I have a grudge against them, so my money goes elsewhere.”

    2. LW2*

      The tricky thing is the time directly follows the actual business reason why we’re all getting together. So while I’m prepared to say “I won’t participate because of these reasons…”, I think Ophelia may see us as captive. I do think she will reveal the event before we actually go to it. But will it be a week or a day? Less? I have no idea. Based on all of the feedback so far, I will definitely be pushing for real details.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        That’s even cruddier of her. You are all stuck here, so you must do whatever I’ve planned!! Mwahahhahahaha! Sucks to be you!!

        (And now I’m imagining her as Yzma, so there’s that.)

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        Lots of charity work that uses large numbers of volunteers for events is dirty (like food banks) or outdoors. You need to know how to pack!

  37. AdAgencyChick*

    #1, oooooh, that’s not good. *If* she is also an alumna and is emailing a career networking-specific email list, sure. But emailing ALL alumnae, regardless of whether or not they’ve agreed to receive networking communications…she just spammed you.

  38. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    #1, if this person is also an alum, that makes it worse. Alumni organizations put tons of work into pushing the message that they have lots of tools (private forums, networking events, educational webinars, etc) to help you in your career, so if the director is implying “actually these are useless so I need to email thousands of people directly” that’s an embarrassment to the institution.

  39. BadWolf*

    On OP2 — even if I’m happy with the cause, I want to know know what I’ll generally be doing.

    Do I need comfortable shoes because I’ll be standing all day? Grubby clothes because I’ll be painting? Or casual, but presentable because I’ll be carrying out bags of groceries to cars at the food bank? Do I need sunscreen and hat? Are we doing something with tools where I might what to bring my own tools that I know and like and are comfortable for me?

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      This – There’s not a lot of charities that I personally would be against, but I would definitely need to know what type of work I will be doing for the day to plan accordingly.

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        I can’t think of many – if any – charities that I am actually against, but there are some that I would be more willing to give my time to than others.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Oh, I can. The two biggest categories for me are organizations where barely any of the money goes to the actual cause, and organizations with heavy-handed proselytizing. There are also some orgs that mean well and are in a worthy cause, but IMO misguided in their methods. e.g. “donate clothing to Africa” kind of things. Those can be more debatable, though.

        2. Temperance*

          I don’t participate in faith-based initiatives that discriminate. I do work with many orgs run by Catholic nuns, and those ladies help errrybody. The Salvation Army, not so much.

    2. Perse's Mom*

      And how about coworkers with medical conditions? My employer is very involved with local charities, but a number of their selections for charity drive events wouldn’t be doable for me. I should not have to “out” my medical issues to my employer when those issues don’t affect my ability to do my actual WORK.

    3. Twisted Knickers*

      Absolutely! Since many people are traveling to this annual event, if nothing else it’s a common courtesy to help people figure out what to pack!

  40. Mike*

    Regarding the remote wipe on #4: I would get clarification of what they can wipe remotely. For instance, I can remote wipe company data from a device but it won’t affect personal data.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      Exactly. I work for Booz Allen Hamilton, and they do it that way too…..

  41. Workerbee*

    #1: Yeah, that was a misstep, though it’s interesting how fervent the debate is in your community. :)

    When I became an unwilling part of a widespread workforce reduction, I still had two weeks at work instead of being hustled out. I sent an email to colleagues that explained how my position had been eliminated, that I enjoyed working with everyone, here are the four people taking over aspects of my job (not kidding about that), last day will be X, stay tuned for the wake.

    At the end, I put my name as usual, but also my LinkedIn and personal email. And that was it. I figured people who wanted to stay in touch and/or pass on job leads would do so. And they did.

    (I only really remember this because one of my buddies in the Legal department called me up and congratulated me on how I wrote that email. That company was quite an exercise in learning what not to do, so it was nice that I didn’t mess that up.)

    1. Middle Name Jane*

      The alums of our school are known to be rather…passionate about things. I’m not surprised this has become a thing.

      1. LawBee*

        The drama that went on in my class when we learned The Wall in the quad was gone… oh my. (c/o 95)

  42. Aaron*

    OP4, this sounds just like my prior company (Fortune 500, public company). I got a $50 monthly reimbursement, but had to do all the things you mentioned. Once they implemented this policy, I just stopped getting work email on my phone – even though I was a department manager, I wasn’t going to do this (and I told my boss so), and they were too cheap to generally issue company phones to those below the VP level.

    1. Observer*

      I sympathize. But at least they were willing to give you a reimbursement. The OP’s company won’t even do that.

      1. I'd Rather Not Say*

        You can get a no contract plan for $50 a month and a serviceable smart phone for under $200. For me it would be worth it to keep things separate.

        1. Observer*

          You can get a plan for less than that. But that’s still a decent amount of money for anyone who is not making a huge salary. It’s not fair or reasonable to demand that.

  43. Natalie*

    “the company has an overall discount with my service provider that I can access.”

    Don’t let them convince you that this counts as compensation for BYOD – these are about as common as dirt these days and they’re not tied to you providing equipment. My spouse had one at a part time retail job, literally the only non-legally-mandated benefit they offered.

  44. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

    The BYOD stuff is interesting. I wonder if the answer from Alison would be different if the policies around the BYOD were different? For example, if there was no mandatory device wipe, or that the request was for basic functions that relate to you position (i.e., you work in IT and you keep the organization’s app on your phone)?

    1. Marlene*

      I wouldn’t want to store any apps on my phone. I am always running out of storage space. And a lot of things use data (that I share with my family.) I also don’t want to give out my number. If it’s related to my position and required, they can provide my phone.

    2. Some Sort of Mangament consultant*

      I mean, the problem of the company expecting employees to subsidize the company’s costs still remains.

  45. Goya de la Mancha*

    #4 – Yikes, and I thought our company was bad with the cell phone issues. They don’t supply phones and expect you to use your own (with no reimbursement) – but we don’t have any software to download or expect people to give over remote access.

  46. Jules the 3rd*

    OP4 / BYOD:
    My company has a voluntary BYOD, worded as, ‘if you want to use a device to access the company network, here’s the requirements’. No location, I think, but all the rest that you list. They are industry normal, and the company never pays for them. It’s a ‘benefit’, having better access to work stuff.

    I use my phone for all phone calls, personal and professional. It’s in my email .sig, I forward it to the office if I’m working there. I get very few personal calls during the work day – maybe 1/week.

    I do not use it to access the company network. I’ll sit in the car on the side of the road, hotspot my laptop to my phone and check email / calendar on the laptop if there’s an emergency – just did that in April, as a matter of fact. I note meetings on paper if I won’t have access to my laptop for some reason.

    I only want to deal with 1 phone
    I am not interested in subsidizing my company by purchasing a phone / phone line
    My company does not have an expectation of random email checking in the evening; evening work is meetings, by appointment.
    My workspace is mobile – I wfh 2 days/week, office 3, so I’m used to whipping out the laptop
    My eyes are not up to handling information on a phone’s tiny screen
    I am NOT willing to give up control of my personal device and information. NOPE.

    1. Observer*

      The key here is that your company is NOT *expecting* you to use your personal phone. They are *allowing* it. The minute you go from allowing to expecting or requiring it, that changes.

      I’ve been having this battle with my organization. In our case, everyone in the organization actually agrees with me, but we have to deal with funders and regulators that have weird ideas about cell phones. So, at the moment we have people who we would LOVE to have use their phones for access, who don’t. Because they either don’t want to deal with the cost, or they don’t want to give us the power to wipe their phones.

      On the other hand, I have had at least one person give back their company issued phone – they don’t want to deal with two phones, and are willing to take the risk. The cost is not high, so it works for them.

  47. Nita*

    No. 2 – given the past responses, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ophelia is deliberately holding on to this information so no one can research the charity in advance. The most innocent reason I can think of is that she’s too thin-skinned to deal with the blowback, but it’s also possible that she’s already aware that the charity is questionable. Soooo, someone with the authority should really make her share the info before it becomes a Thing on the day of the event, and ruins the entire get-together.

    Not to mention, as others have pointed out, people kind of need to know if they need specific clothes/if it’s something they can’t do due to health reasons/how long it might take/if there’s additional travel involved that’s going to cut into the main team event.

  48. It's a women's college, not a girl's school*

    OP 1: We went to the same school! I’m popping some popcorn to read the responses.

    1. Unicorn*

      Wait, what?! I went there too, did I miss that email? I guess I do just delete them all lol.

    2. Spider*

      Which school? (I went to one of the Seven Sisters schools, so now I’m curious.) If you don’t want to name names, does the phrase “ya ya ya nike” mean anything to you?

      1. Middle Name Jane*

        As an alumna of the school in question, that doesn’t mean anything to me. But I was there in the 90s and things may have changed since then.

  49. Database Developer Dude*

    I work for Booz Allen Hamilton. We have both MDM and MAM. It’s a *choice*, however, and not mandatory at all. Remote wipes will only wipe company information, not personal information.

    Mandatory remote wipe for the entire phone and location logging is absolutely ridiculous. OP, check out ‘InTune’.

    1. Observer*

      InTune is a great product. It’s also expensive, and requires some management. Which is to say that proper management IS absolutely doable, but someone needs to be willing to accept the cost. Considering how much of BYOD is driven by unrealistic expectations of cost reductions, that tends to the the real problem.

  50. Frankie*

    #1 – Ew. That would seriously annoy me. I do think it’s a misuse of resources–she has your information due to her job, so she shouldn’t be using your info to find job leads.

    But honestly I think official alumni groups are filled with this kind of icky stuff. The alumni group at one of my old schools sends me credit card applications, so…

  51. LilyP*

    I think it’s good for the comments that we don’t know what the “problematic” charities were, but man am I curious now…

    1. Birch*

      Most charities are problematic for one reason or another. The leaders may have problematic beliefs or a history of discrimination either through the charity or within it, or a history of fraud, etc. Plus the issues with effectiveness–there’s a reason you rarely see those “miracle” inventions touted on TED talks in practice–they don’t often work as well as the theory behind them. This comes up as a problem every time there’s a natural disaster, things like people wanting to send material goods or things like teddy bears when money would help more for people to buy what they need where they need it. Money wasted on shipping useless things, money spent housing and feeding volunteers who aren’t trained and just get in the way, groups not upholding their own values… Do your own research based on something like Give Well and make sure your time and money is going where you trust.

      That being said, if a work group wants to do a charity project together, that’s great, but maybe come up with different options and let people vote, or make multiple volunteering groups.

      1. Artemesia*

        I could live with a charity that is inefficient in this type work situation although I wouldn’t like it, but I would not work in an organization that conflicted with my values.

      2. Observer*

        There is a difference between an organization that is not as efficient as they could be, and one that is actively problematic for ethical or legal reasons. Especially if the lack of efficiency is due to attempts to encourage public engagement.

        So, I wouldn’t knock out the Red Cross for accepting donations of goods along with money in the after math of a major disaster. I might, though, if they tried again to pull what they did after 9/11 – firstly, they raised a HUGE amount of funds, a very significant portion of which was diverted to another project. (Yes, the project was a worthwhile one, but had nothing to do with helping first responders and victims, which is what people were donating for.) Also, they put out a call for blood even though they knew that the didn’t need it and might even have to dump some of it.

        Not everyone feels the way I did about those two things, but many people saw it as dishonest and unethical, and don’t want anything to do with them. I’m not about to tell anyone not to donate to them – I don’t think they are the equivalent of “Society to Spread Disease”. But, please don’t force me to “donate” money, time or effort, either.

    2. Thor*

      A few charities off the top of my head that are well known that people have issues with:

      -Salvation Army has a history of anti-gay discrimination.
      -Some people believe that Autism Speaks minimizes the experiences of actual autistic people and, similarly, don’t like their rhetoric.
      -The Susan G. Komen Foundation has been criticized for the amount of money they spend on “awareness” vs research, their sponsorship program and either their support of disavowal of Planned Parenthood.

      From there, plenty of people have strong opinions on big charities and how they spend their money, those opinions may or may not cause them to have issues supporting them as part of a company initiative.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        The Salvation Army is more problematic than that. And they announce it with their name.

        Specifically, they’re openly anti-semitic because part of their mission is preaching to convert people, and for some reason, some christians think that all jews should be christians. They got in big trouble in NYC because their parallel tracks of religion and social services that were supposed to be well-separated got more than a little muddled. And they’ve lost an ADA suit too, mostly because people are people even if they work for a charity religious organization, and some of them are horrible people who need to be restrained by rules.

        Some links in my username if I did this correctly. (Otherwise I’ll drop them into comments.)

      2. moosetracks*

        Susan G Komen also diverts a lot of money to its high ranking staff, while suing smaller charities that use the pink ribbon.

        To clarify on the rhetoric on Autism Speaks, it had a video where a mom whose daughter has autism talked about murdering her daughter. In another video, they personified autism as a monster that stole children and wrecked divorces. Also, they funded and distrubted a movie where, per wikipedia:
        “[The filmmaker] instructed the families she interviewed not to do their hair, vacuum or have therapists present, and appeared with her film at homes crew without preliminary preparations, in order to authentically capture the difficulties of life with autistic children, such as autistic children throwing tantrums or physically struggling with parents”
        You know, the way kids get upset when film crews randomly show up at their houses, especially when those kids might have sensory issues that mean a bunch of bright lights are painful.

        Autism speaks also spent a great deal of time researching a “cure” for autism and researching a link between vaccines and autism. there’s a ton more informationbut I will stop, because blood pressure

    3. smoke tree*

      With the mention of diversity, I was thinking they’re likely organizations with known discrimination issues, like Salvation Army.

  52. Michaela Westen*

    OP#4, this would be a deal-breaker for me. I’m not giving anyone control over my personal phone! If they want that control, they will provide me with one.
    This seems like an example of corporate stinginess and disrespect of their employees. You know their execs are making millions – they can provide some effing phones! Grrrrr…..

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      Assuming a company of 50,000 employees, 50% of whom get a reimbursement of $50 per month (which is what our company had set its reimbursement to), that’s an annual expense of $15,000,000 dollars.

      Fifteen million dollars. Every. Year.

      And that doesn’t even address the cost of hardware and logistics if the company PROVIDES the phone and foots the entire monthly bill.

      I can TOTALLY understand why companies are getting rid of reimbursements.

      1. Observer*

        So, instead you are placing a $15 MILLION expense on your staff. Have you looked at what internet, phone service, rent, electricity, equipment maintenance costs are? Are you equally on board with employers shifting those costs to employees?

      2. Michaela Westen*

        15 mil sounds like a lot, but what percentage is it of the companies profits? revenues? executive salaries?
        I bet it would still work… unless they’re mismanaging and losing money.

      3. Ciaraamberlie*

        If it’s £15 million, then it’s £15 million. That’s the cost of doing business, and they can either pay for it or do without.

        They do not get to force that business expense onto their employees, just because they want the benefits of it, but don’t want to pay for it.

  53. AnonGD*

    #3 – You’ll probably immediately know whether this is bad advice for your office depending on your gut reaction– but have you given any thought to attempting to intervene gently in meetings yourself to get things back on topic? I’m not a manager but my company has relatively informal meetings so I have been able to say things like “that’s a great point on project x, but going back to project y…”

    I’ve actually been *praised* for that in the past from managers because I typically only speak up with the known “derailers” in meetings that are supposed to be critical to a project. But like I said, YMMV– if you have a very formal meeting structure (or are supposed to), that may be a no-go.

    1. Artemesia*

      It is highly particular to the specifics, but in a similar situation I have as meeting leader done summaries to ‘assess where we are’. that go something like. ‘ Thanks for your input Seagullboss, so so far we have identified steps A B and C that need to be addressed and still need to look at D and E. Seagullboss has brought to our attention that we need to look at the ramifications of X and Y for steps A and B, so we will need to consider that carefully as we go forward with our plans. Bill can you note that, since you are lead on A and B. Let’s take a look at what we will need now for step D.’

  54. EMW*

    I am probably in the minority since my work provides me a phone, and I actually like reasonable BYOD programs. They updated their policy for company phones after I started, and basically restrict it to upper level and people who travel multiple times a year. They introduced the BYOD program at the same time of the update.

    If I didn’t do so much international travel, I would prefer to BYOD. I’m stuck with an iPhone 6s. I hate the apple system and refuse to carry two phones around, so my current phone is also serving as my personal phone. It ends up saving me $30 a month overall. I dropped my company phone in the toilet before a trip, and it took over a month to get a replacement phone. If I am ever laid off or fired, they will take my phone and I would lose access to anything I didn’t have backed up vs just potentially having the app wiped on my personal phone.

    1. Lilivati*

      So I’m in nearly the same situation (hate the apple environment, have a company-issued 6s, find two phones a pain)… but the opposite reaction. I find these are small inconveniences to put up with to protect my privacy. I use my personal phone extensively. I don’t want them knowing/tracking every website I visit, every personal email I send, every picture I take. I prefer to keep a firm wall between my personal and professional life. And my company has made it ABUNDANTLY clear that everything I place on a device owned by them is subject to their scrutiny.

  55. Not a Girl's School w/o Men, but a Women's College w/o Boys*

    OP #1: That email was so off-putting. I’m glad I’m not the only person who thought it was odd. I honestly thought she’d been fired.

    1. Middle Name Jane*

      I still have that t-shirt!

      I didn’t realize there were so many of us on AAM–I may need to change my username.

      1. Anon Alumnae*

        I didn’t realize either! We do like supporting smart ladies though, so it makes sense that this blog would fit.

      2. Alumna Elsewhere*

        So just to clarify – you’re not Nasty Forward Minxes? Or Smashing the Patriarchy since 1871?

        love your t-shirt slogan!

      3. Anonforthis*

        It’s so awesome!

        I totally wear that shirt to the gym, it makes me happy, definitely need a new one soon though.

  56. Thor*

    With #1, huge huge overstep. Something to keep in mind with mail programs is that every email you send costs the organization money, because X amount of people will always unsubscribe and email addresses have tangible value. Every email sent needs to balance out that cost. Even if there isn’t extra attrition on this one (although I suspect there is), it still is harming their organization

  57. ENFP in Texas*

    #4 – Regarding BYOD, my company (Fortune 100 with a lot of WAH and sales roles) has cut WAY back on the reimbursements for phone bills. With the ubiquitousness of Unlimited Data Plans, the logic of “we are reimbursing you for the cost of your data that you use for business” is really not valid as much as it used to be.

    My company requires installation of certain security protocols, and as I understand the email and attachments are on a cloud server, not on my phone itself, and there are severe restrictions on what I can save to my personal device – it’s basically a dumb terminal to the mail server.

    I use it for the convenience of not having to boot up my laptop on the weekend in order to check my email to see if there’s anything exploding. But aside from that I have all the alerts, notifications, etc turned off. I don’t want my personal phone to explode with work notifications.

    1. Observer*

      Actually, those unlimited plans are NOT as ubiquitous are you think. Nor are they truly unlimited. What I mean is that pretty much all of them throttle your bandwidth over a certain point. If you want throttling to be at a higher point, you need to pay more. Which means that more than light use of email can cause a financial hit.

      For a lot of people “unlimited” plans are a non-starter for a number of reasons. In general, those plans are a lot more expensive than capped plans, which work perfectly well for a lot of people (unless they are being expected to use their data for lots of work!)

  58. University Admin Employee*

    OP1- At the University where I work this would be a direct violation of our data use policy and would open the (former) employee up to legal consequences. Anyone with access to mailing lists- particularly alumni and donor lists- should know that.

    Even if there are no legal consequences for that employee, its in poor taste. Whoever is on that mailing list is expecting emails with information about how to stay connected and support the University, not an almost former employee seeking networking opportunities. That’s what LinkedIn is for.

  59. Anna*

    Oh man regarding # 1, my first instinct is that it’s kind of tacky. Only because it’s an impersonal mass request for job search help and my instinct is that it should be more personalized. Goodbye email is one thing, tacking on a request for job leads is something to do one on one.

  60. Anon Alumnae*

    OP1, I know exactly what you’re talking about, as I also got the email. I glossed over the spot where she asked for job leads since I skimmed the whole thing. Having worked in alumni offices for a good part of my career, no one I know would have ever done such a thing, but I think the outrage in the discussions has become far greater than the outrage at the actual ask. I do think she should have known better than to do this, but I also think it might be helpful with her older, target demographic. I don’t want this to set a precedence though, else I’d stop donating. Alumni Relations shouldn’t be a networking springboard.

  61. Yorkshire Rose*

    OP #4 – my company also has BYOD, and it is completely optional. However, if you are a manager, it is sort of an unwritten rule to have a device connected to work email. Here’s what I did: I bought a Tracphone iPhone that was compatible with their security requirements and I use that specifically for work items. Yes, I don’t get reimbursed for this, but the phone was incredibly cheap. As long as I keep my Tracphone account on auto-pay, I don’t lose service and the charges to keep it alive are nominal. Not sure if you are in a position to do that but that is how I BYOD and keep my personal information out of the hands of my IT Dept.

  62. Lilivati*

    This is a bit anecdotal, but regarding OP4… my company provides iPhones. Over the past year, they have decided to use them exclusively (disabling all the desk phones) because they’ve found this is less expensive. So pretty much everyone at my 4000 person site has a company-issued iPhone. Obviously to effectively use an iPhone you need an Apple account.

    What has truly shocked me in the wake of this decision is how many people, who were already using Apple devices, simply used their existing personal ID and cloned their personal phone settings and information to their work phone. They basically use them interchangeably. So while working at a company that actually did the ethical (and legally prudent) thing and deliberately did not involve personal devices in business, these people voluntarily handed over their privacy for a slight convenience. They honestly don’t understand the problem.

    So I think some companies end up endorsing BYOD because people like this exist- and some of them work there, and inevitably some of them wind up in positions where they make these policies.

  63. Thomas W*

    I say “The Foundation for Giving Cancer to Children” should be the stand-in name for hypothetical horrible employers from this point forward.

  64. Noah*

    #4 is much ado about nothing unless she’s barely making ends meet. She needs to have a connected cell phone for her job. Buy yourself a work phone. The cost of the phone and the service should be an above the line deduction. The taxpayers will pay for whatever percentage of the phone and service of whatever tax bracket she’s in. Just suck up the rest of the cost, or try to get the company to pay for it.

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