I was overlooked for promotion for a woman

I was overlooked for promotion for a woman

daniele fiandaca, token man consulting

…and I swear it is because they are on an inclusion drive. I am resentful and I won't support her."

This scenario is no doubt playing out throughout the world and making it even harder for women to succeed when they finally receive that promotion.

Here is my response to this hypothetical man:

Firstly, I empathise with you. I can imagine it’s really disheartening not to receive that promotion you've been working so hard for, especially when you believe you deserved it. I do wonder, though, would you feel as aggrieved if a man had received it instead?

Regardless, I can understand why you might be feeling a little disconnected from the Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity narrative. You are certainly not alone. Token Man’s recent Masculinity in the Workplace research shows that 39% of male employees in the UK feel less valued because of diversity initiatives. 46% of male employees in the UK feel they will be overlooked for promotion due to diversity targets. And that same amount of male employees in the UK feel they struggle for another role due to demographic profile.

However, the workplace has changed, and the pace of that change is only going to accelerate. As Alvin Toffler once said, “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write; it will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

It seems like your attitude towards losing out on the promotion is only going to hold you back further. To progress, I would recommend a mindset shift across three areas. Firstly, recognise that most workplaces are masculine, which creates significant barriers for many women and non-binary people. Consider how you can be the change agent who makes it more inclusive.

Recognise that it’s no longer just about promoting or recruiting the best person for the job but rather the best person for the team. And that means recognising that difference in itself is a factor to be considered, as it's diversity that really makes a team more innovative, creative and effective.

Finally, understand that equality is a myth. We need to recognise that equality only exists where everyone is coming from the same place and no one has privilege. We need to provide equity to women and historically marginalised groups so they have access to equal outcomes. It’s entirely up to you whether you make this shift, but if you don’t lean into inclusion and diversity soon, I fear you will become a bicycle in a world of fish. And when that happens, it might not be a lack of promotion that you are worrying about. If you’re ready then perhaps it's time for part II…

Stepping in to become a true ally is not easy

Being a true ally requires you to be active. And if you want to be a true ally, you ultimately need to be working to change the system which is never easy. Which means that becoming a better ally takes time. Time to talk to those who are most impacted by exclusion and truly understand their experience. The privilege of being in the in-group means that you are often completely oblivious to how your own behaviours and those of others around you are leading to exclusion every day.

Time to build key skills such as empathy and vulnerability. The latter can be particularly tough when so many men have been taught that vulnerability is a weakness and have become disconnected from their own feelings. Time to put yourself into uncomfortable situations that help you become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Time to learn the tools and build the confidence to effectively call in or call out your colleagues when they get it wrong.

So if you are feeling hesitant, then I do empathise. It might be that you are not ready yet and need to focus on looking after yourself in the short term. But if you are looking to lean in but are a bit scared, I do understand. We are here to support you.

And the good news – 97% of the men we surveyed back in 2022 said that by leaning into inclusion and diversity, they were better leaders and/or human beings. And who wouldn’t want that. In the meantime, for all those already committing to becoming better allies, I salute you. And I hope we can also help support you on that journey.

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