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7 thoughts on “I have a sense I am being victimised and singled out (with negative implications) in a largely male leadership team. I find it mentally and emotionally draining, but still forge ahead. The discrimination is super subtle. I am made to feel uncomfortable – the tone, tenor, body language is very posturing… how should I handle this?”
The truth is, you don’t know what they are thinking. So, its best not to assume. Be super comfortable in your skin, think of the larger picture of the work and service your company is doing, talk work with passion. And you’re in.
This has worked in the past. But this team is different – I think rather than forging ahead and ‘surviving’ it I need to get the leadership team to course correct the way !
For what it’s worth, this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon, sadly. Subtle discrimination is even harder to fight sometimes, simply because it is harder to identify. I’d like to know more about your specifics, so do message me privately if you like, but generally speaking there are 2 complementary approaches to solving this.
There are also other possible solutions, depending – for ex. a change of teams / roles etc. etc. I can get into that after I understand the details better.
Hope this helps!
Thanks for offering for me to reach out. I have got my current course of action sorted – will reach out if I get stuck.
Hi, if you are sensing discrimination, there must be something to it. It’s tough to deal with and you might be going through a range of emotions.
So first things first, I would encourage you to speak to someone you trust and someone who will listen to you without judgement. A coach can hold this space for you to vent and explore how you are thinking and feeling about the situation.
Once you have had a chance to vent, I would invite you to examine the situation from different perspectives. How we see situations is strongly determined by our perspective. So it’s important to make sure we make an attempt to see all perspectives. Some questions that can help are as follows:
These question will help you clarify what exactly is bothering you and whether these would be seen as discrimination by others as well.
Once you have gone through this process, if you are convinced that there is discrimination, then the next step is to decide what you want to do about it. Is this something you need to formally complain about or can be handled by either a direct conversation with the concerned person(s) or through a mediator?
It is important to approach the situation firmly and assertively. Talk specifically with the concerned person(s) about the situation rather than making broad sweeping statements. The more specific you are, the less likely are they to be able to deny or minimize the situation. Talk about how their behaviour made you feel. Sometimes having such conversation firmly but respectfully can do the trick, make them aware and lead to gradual behaviour change.
If you choose to report the discrimination instead, it’s important to understand that it may lead to different kinds of reactions and there could possibly be some negative consequences for you. The idea is not to dissuade you from taking action but to make sure that you are mentally prepared for the tussle that will likely follow and are ready to deal with the potential fallouts.
Also consider what will be the consequences of not reporting the discrimination. How will it impact your self-esteem and your career? How will things change in the company? Sometimes the top management may not realize that there is a discriminatory culture in the organisation and such reporting can actually sensitize them and change things for the positive for all levels.
After considering the pros and cons of reporting the discrimination, take a decision. If you choose to report the discrimination, it’s important to gather evidence before you do so. When the discrimination is subtle, it’s even more difficult but you can take detailed notes of the situation. These will come in handy when questions are raised. Make note of what happened, who said what, when it happened, etc. Make sure not to bend any rules or use company resources while doing so.
The next step is to identify who you will report this to. It has to be a person senior enough and mature enough to take this forward. Explore whether this is an area that’s covered under the POSH rules and whether you can approach the Internal Complaints Committee. Understand your company’s grievance procedure or discrimination policy and go to the concerned person for making a formal complaint.
While the above courses of action may seem tough, not being able to do something about it also has its negative impact on our sense of self in the long run. Think through what it is that you want at the core and work towards it. I wish you the very best! Please feel free to reach out directly if you feel like discussing further.
This is a brilliant, sensitive and detailed response – love your insights Sonali. I think the way forward is very clear to me – I need to sit down and chart out what my response will be to the situation I face, and how I can, by my actions impact positive change so that I not only do I stop being a ‘victim’ but perhaps we can move to a situation where this will not continue to be a problem in the future.
Thanks a lot for your response.
This following question amongst the list you shared was particularly thought provoking – and I think it will be my endeavour to get more women into a our senior team.
Hi ! I agree with Sonali that the situation needs some introspection and she has asked some relevant questions. To that I would like to add :