The following was originally written in 2011 and posted on the Women of HR site here: http://womenofhr.com/is-the-good-ol%E2%80%99-boy-network-just-a-myth/
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:
From Women of HR
The following are a few hypothetical (not really) life stories related to human resources, being a woman in what is still in some circles ‘a man’s world’ and organizational behavior.
At the end of each story, I challenge you to put yourself in the position of anyone in this story and comment on whether or not you think the “good ol’ boy” network is a myth or has a touch of reality. There are no right or wrong answers. Have fun!
Myth or reality?
A fully qualified female non-commissioned officer applies for a commissioned officer position within a department for which she is the only female. The department sits just outside the main office area of the control tower for a huge contingency of male pilots who currently fly with other male co-pilots due to the aircraft type. Women are not allowed to fly this type of aircraft. The department is made up of 2 long term male non-commissioned officers, 1 male commissioned officer, and 1 female non-commissioned officer who works as an administrative assistant – and also happens to be the applicant.
In the building, friendships are strong, male dominated communications with a tint of sexual harassment are common place, and a layoff of the co-pilots is pending due to the base switching to more modern solo piloted aircraft. The position is filled with a male co-pilot who would have lost his job had this position not been available due to the aircraft switch.
Myth or reality?
A fully qualified female civilian employee has an idea to promote HR related services to members of the organization that will improve efficiency and effectiveness of their operations while generating revenue for her own department. She has the support of her boss and together they pitch the idea to the company attorney to minimize organizational risk and ask for professional advice.
The attorney has been long time college buddies with the CEO and other members of the organization including those on the board of directors. This attorney also has the qualifications to offer the same services for a fee from his company. The idea is not approved by the CEO but later shows up as a service outreach of the company who employees the attorney.
Myth or reality?
A small independent contract offers HR related services to a governmental entity that is managed by a former small town business man who had previously served in a political position before his long tenured private career. The independent contractor develops an idea to cut costs for the client who had previously mentioned not having a budget at all for the services sought. The idea is shut down and the independent contractor is told they are moving in a different direction and a formal proposal would not be necessary. Later, the client announces a contract to be approved that is over twice what the independent contractor was going to charge for the same services they were previously told were moving a different direction.
The winning contract has had many past dealings with the decision makers as well as those around closest to him and in other positions across the state. Come to find out there were several other big players in the bidding process that were much larger and had connections both within that organization as well as within the larger organization.