Monday, October 9, 2017

Engaged Bride to Be = Discouraged Employee

The following was originally written in 2011 and posted on the Women of HR site here:

As I prepare for a program on harassment and discrimination to be delivered at the Danville Community College later this month, I was reminded of this post and thought I would share again here.  From the archives (although updated slightly with number of years married, etc.

By Donna Rogers, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Last week (in 2011), I was teaching a two-day Certified Public Manager session for a group of association members.  The session was called Human Resources: Productivity and Quality.  During one of our discussions regarding compliance related issues we covered the process of an HR Audit which included as one of many tasks, a review of posters that need to be posted at work sites.  One participant mentioned a poster that drew quite a stir when it first came out, which I personally was not aware of, pictured to the left here.  I asked her to send it to me and we later got into a discussion that this situation reminded me of during my early working years before my HR career.

At 23 years old, just after graduating from ISU with my undergrad in public relations, I obtained my first marketing director position officially after having been doing the job during my internship when two of our marketing directors moved on (all during one semester).  Of course at that age, I was all gung ho about moving up the ladder in the mall management business.  So I worked very hard for another two years and was pleasantly surprised with the prospect of promotion.  Life was really going well because my boyfriend of 5 years (now my husband of 27 years) had just proposed and I accepted.  Unfortunately, life took an unexpected turn for the worse when I went to work to share the news with the office.

Much to my surprise my boss (a female mall manager) suggested that I do not share the news with anyone else in the office and especially not her boss, the regional mall manager.  Still a bit naive of the ways of work for women, I asked why.  She proceeded to tell me that she thought it would hurt my chances of a promotion within the industry because Marketing Directors were expected to travel around the country moving from small to larger malls.  The idea of a female Marketing Director being married and possibly planning a family would not go well.  So I basically had to hide my engagement (and put the ring in a drawer when I went to work) for six months.  I was then promoted to a mall two levels above normal.  There were four levels of malls based on square footage and sales.  As a new Marketing Director, I would have been expected to start at a level one mall first. 

However, the promotion offer was for a level two mall.  I turned it down because that was not the company I wished to work for any longer.  The point is I had no idea I was being discriminated against (at least not from the same lens I look at the situation now).  The bottom line is harassment& discrimination comes in all shapes & sizes.  Be aware and try not to get discouraged.  Engagement is a time to celebrate! 

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