It still amazes me that in 2011 using the word “discrimination” can really get people riled up. When used in regards to holding someone back from accomplishing equal housing, better schooling, or climbing the financial freedom ladder people get very defensive, offended, and downright in denial mode. I noticed this especially when it comes to anything regarding racially motivated workplace discrimination. I could go on and on about the stats and news reports on this topic. However, I want to incorporate the element of workplace bias in this particular case of discrimination.
I was very bothered when a good friend of mine informed me that she was passed up for promotion for the third time. When I asked her if she knew the reason, she responded that her supervisor told her she was too young for a Director position compared to the woman they decided to offer the prestigious position to. At that moment, I naturally went into “are you freakin kidding me” mode. I had heard of age discrimination in the workplace but it was due to being “too old”, usually around retirement age. My dear friend had graced past her mid-twenties and wasn’t the “new kid on the block” in her field of work. So I decided to make sense of the whole thing. I looked at the facts as well as the complaints she expressed to me about previous problems she had when it came to her getting promotions. My friend has her Bachelor’s degree and plans to get her Masters. She has been in her field for a few years, she is respected by her clientele as well as her co-workers. When she asked for feedback regarding her job performance from supervisors they could not deny that she went above and beyond the call of duty.
Despite these facts, the woman who received the promotion only had her associates degree (nothing wrong with an associates don’t get me wrong), had slightly less years of experience in the field, and also worked for the company less years than my friend. I was also informed that this woman did not even complete her work assignments, as my friend and other co-workers complained to each other about picking up her slack. What the woman did have on my friend was that she was 10 years older and the supervisor was friends with her outside the workplace, while the supervisor disrespected my friend by speaking to her like a child calling her “little girl” in front of co-workers who worked under my friends’ supervision. (lots of hierarchy at this company) My friend is one of the youngest and most credentialed employees of this company. She has to work extra hard to gain respect from her subordinates who witnesses the belittling treatment she receives from her supervisors. This not only sounds like age discrimination to me but supervisor jealously and insecurity. I told my friend she should fight for her much deserved respect. She thinks it is not worth the battle. What should she do?