Article: The Counsellor: Gender bias - is it really true?


The Counsellor: Gender bias - is it really true?

Gender bias – is it really true? How critical are post graduationqualifications today?
The Counsellor: Gender bias - is it really true?

I work at a very senior position in a leading IT firm. Being a woman in the IT sector has always been a challenge and I have been lucky to have bosses who have recognized my hard work and rewarded me at every stage and helped me progress. I have been with this company for 20 years now and it almost feels like a family. We have recently had a new global head and I now report to him. He does not seem to be very supportive of women at senior leadership levels, especially in the IT sector. Although there has never been any direct conversation around this, I have started to feel that I am being held back. The exposure and the level of trust my earlier bosses showed in me is not reflected in this case. I feel like 20 years of hard work and knowledge is being ignored simply because I am a woman. I do have better offers from other companies, but I feel angry at being treated the way I am and would not like to leave quietly, apologizing for my gender. However, I am sure that a conversation with my boss will be futile. Please advise if there is any way I can improve the situation here, or is it better to move on?

I can certainly empathize with you, but I will not recommend you taking any hasty decisions in this case, especially after having worked for 20 years and after having established the credibility.

You have stated that your boss is new to this role and you have not yet had any direct conversation with him on this topic. Your assumption that you are being held back due to a possible gender bias, needs to be tested. Maybe this new boss is still not fully familiar with his/her direct reports – their strengths and weaknesses and the possibilities that exist. I will suggest, give him time to settle down in his new role, make sincere attempts to establish your credibility with him through contributions, get into dialogues/conversations on what your abilities are and what the past track record is, let this new boss understand who you are, etc. Each leader has a unique style; you were comfortable with the earlier boss, for mutual comfort and trust levels to establish it takes time. You will appreciate that change of a boss, change of a role, change of a department, is always like a new job, wherein we start afresh and have to re-establish ourselves. Do not assume that conversation with the new boss will be futile; after all, in a highly competitive world that we are in, most leaders value performance and merit more than anything else, and not get biased by issues like gender or other such considerations.
I am sure with some time lapse, everything will be OK unless the new boss really has a gender bias. If things do not improve, talk to your HR head and see if he/she can intervene. Change of job should be the last option.

Vivek is a Senior HR professional with over 35 years of experience, ranging several leadership positions, in India and abroad. He leads his consulting practice since 2003 and presently works as a Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries, and is also an independent Director on the Board of Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd. Prior to this, he was based in Singapore for several years where he was Director HR - Operations at Hewlett Packard for the Asia Pacific Region.
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Topics: Diversity

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