As expected, Genevieve is very disappointed to learn Abigail has “gone over to the dark side” by working at Bickering Plummet and snubs her cousin for several days, until Leah tells her to invite Abigail over. For her part, Leah is not at all supportive of Genevieve’s attitude toward Bickering.
“Jean-Claude may have encouraged you to take stands on issues, but I don’t want you stirring up trouble with Bickering Plummet,” Leah tells Genevieve when Abigail joins them for dinner. “I partner with them rather frequently.”
“You do? They’re a global defense contractor. Why would they need to outsource security?”
“A corporation like Bickering often needs to work with a small, minority, or woman-owned business to go after certain government contracts. With my company, they’re two for three — three for three if I tell them I’m Jewish. I win the contract and hire a few of their workers, or I’ll subcontract when they need expertise in a field.”
“I never pictured you as a corporate drudge.”
“That is not what this is. When I’m the primary, I have the final say on all work. You don’t understand how things operate in the real world.”
“Corporate America is like a massive social network. Who you know is almost as important as what you know. It can take years of knocking on doors and shaking hands to establish a reputation. Once you’ve got it, you guard it with your life because when you lose someone’s trust, you rarely win it back.”
“I can see how that would be problematic,” Genevieve says.
“How did you get in with Bickering?” Abigail asks.
Leah chuckles. “I hacked their system.”
Genevieve leans forward. “You didn’t.”
Leah puts up her right hand. “I certainly did. In fact, I hacked every corporation in Atlanta and prepared a dossier on each to show them what I found.”
“Weren’t they angry?” Abigail says.
“Angry, but a few, like Bickering, were damned impressed as well. Some of the CEOs complained to my father about what I’d done. After chewing me out, Dad told me he advised them to hire me.”
“I’d like to poke around in Bickering’s files. No telling how many skeletons are lurking there.”
Leah gives Genevieve a frustrated sigh.
“All you see is this monolithic corporation. Do you have any idea how many people would be out of work if Bickering closed its doors? Tens of thousands in the Atlanta market alone. Hundreds of thousands nationwide, and an astronomical number if you include their overseas ventures. In some countries, they’re the major employer for a given community.”
“I never thought of it that way.”
“Apparently not.” Leah turns to Abigail. “What are things like in your division, Abby?”
“The head of my division is a black woman, Lisa Summers. That’s kind of unusual in corporate America.”
“We’ve met. She was project manager on some contracts I did with Bickering when I was fixing their security flaws a few years after they merged with Cairo. I heard she’d finally been promoted to management. About time.”
“I’ve also noted quite a few women and minorities in key corporate positions,” Abigail continues. “Very impressive, actually.”
“Good for them,” Genevieve says. “But if I see something that’s wrong, I say something. That’s what Papa taught me.”
“And that’s fine,” Leah says, “but you’ve got to be diplomatic about it. At least learn the nuances before stirring up stuff.”
“Nuances. Got it.”