We react to situations based on our experiences
Suresh was a first generation employee in his family as he was the first one to work outside the family business. He came from a conservative family of businessmen. He had defied the age old tradition and not joined the family business. To his father’s disappointment, Suresh had also refused to accept seed money to start up his own business, instead had preferred to join XXX, an IT company which promised to show him the world.
For the last five years he had single mindedly focused on succeeding at work and finally he was reaping the benefits of his hard work. He had recently been promoted and was now managing a large project, with over a 20 member team reporting to him.
With a sense of pride & satisfaction, he looked at his team with 8 women and 12 men, all highly enthusiastic and hard working.
He failed to understand why the women in his team were struggling so hard, especially the younger ones. They were so competitive and always wanted to be better than others. While it thrilled him to have such a dedicated bunch, who gave him results he desired, he worried about them. Sooner or later, the women would get married and start leaving jobs, to manage their families well.
He had seen what happened to his sister.
She was a qualified chartered accountant and her career had taken off with a bang at a large MNC bank. She had a bright career in banking and financial services industry. But, all that changed when she was pressurized into marriage. When no match could be found in the family circle, her details were registered in the marriage bureau. To ensure maximum proposals from eligible bachelors, details of her educational qualification and her position in the MNC bank was not mentioned. (yes!! this happens, even today, in parts of our country)
Finally, when a suitable match was found and details were discussed, the condition put forth by the in-laws had baffled everyone. They were firm that their daughter-in-law will not earn money!! Once married, she quit her job, focused on managing her house, in-laws and then her children. Apparently she looked well adjusted but she refused to talk about her past life. She also discontinued contact with most of her colleagues and friends from office.
Thinking about what happened at work today, he could not forgo the feeling that he had done something wrong with Kavita. He could not forget her face, expressing hurt and agony of having failed. He wondered, if he was the cause for it somehow. He recalled the events of the day – Kavita had been recognized for her efforts in training the new batch of fresher’s and she seemed happy then. It was only when Anthony’s promotion was announced, that she looked disappointed.
While Kavita had proved that she could handle pressure, manage projects and also work in ambiguous conditions, he was not sure how long she would stay in the company. Being from the same community as his, he was sure, Kavita would soon succumb to her family pressure and quit this job to get married and lead a life like his sister did. On the other hand, while Anthony had not proved his capabilities, he knew Anthony would not quit his job in a hurry for marriage or other personal reasons. Instead, with an additional responsibility of marriage, he may work harder and with a little coaching and motivation he would perform as expected.
Suresh thought, if he had to choose between the two, he would have happily chosen Kavita for the promotion, only if he was sure that she would not quit her job for marriage or personal reason. But considering the immediate project in hand, and also unsure of what to do with Kavita, he had chosen to promote Anthony and recognize Kavita with a spot award.
Dear reader, what is your view –
- Was Suresh right, in not nominating Kavita for the promotion, although she deserved it?
- Is Suresh right, in letting an assumed personal reason (probable marriage) effect his decision?
- Do you think, Suresh let his bias affect his selection of the right candidate for promotion?
- Did Suresh deprive the most deserving candidate of promotion?
- Did Suresh fail in upholding the organization’s values of fairness, meritocracy and equality?
Here are my thoughts
- Suresh should have had a conversation with Kavita regarding her aspirations and her career plans instead of assuming about her plans for future.
- Suresh should have promoted the most deserving person without biases affecting his judgment.
- Suresh is bound to uphold values of the organization he is working for, and any violation could lead to disciplinary action.
- When in doubt he should have approached either his manager or HR to clarify, rather than adopting an unfair / biased approach.