Office Coach: Don't bother confronting boss about his bias

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Question: When my boss advised me that I had not made the final round of interviews for a promotion, I couldn't help shedding a few tears. As he was leaving my office, he said, "That's why I don't like working with women." Although I understand why I wasn't promoted, I really resent his insulting comment. What should I do about this?

Answer: I thought dinosaurs were extinct, but you certainly seem to be working for one. In this day and age, any manager who makes such a blatantly discriminatory statement can't be very bright. Giving direct feedback to someone this clueless would be an exercise in futility.

Instead, consider having a confidential chat with a trustworthy human resources manager. Biased staffing decisions could create legal problems for the company, so this information should cause management to scrutinize your boss' behavior more closely. It might even trigger a review of the promotional process.

Filing a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is another option, but that step should not be taken lightly. Doing so would put you in an adversarial position to management, and your career could suffer as a result. I would like to tell you that legal rights can be exercised without repercussion, but that is often not the case.

If you are planning a future with this company, try to determine whether your boss' prejudices are shared by higher management. Should this attitude seem to be prevalent, you may wish to find an employer whose view of your potential is not clouded by your gender.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at www.yourofficecoach.com.


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