Is it Sexist to Promote a Male Employee over Two Females

by Evil HR Lady on September 12, 2019

I manage three analysts: one male and two females. All analysts have been working in the field for a similar amount of time, but one of the women is currently on maternity leave. The male analyst recently asked for a promotion to a senior analyst position. This role doesn’t technically exist, so we’d have to create a new job title and job description. He’s a great employee and is willing to take on more work, but I’m concerned that creating a new position for him and not for the other two women in the group might be construed as sexist—especially since one of the women is out on maternity leave. I’m afraid that without the promotion, the male analyst will leave. But I’m also worried that if I promote him and not the others, I’ll get hit with a discrimination complaint. I know a quick fix would be to just promote all three of my employees, but I don’t have the budget to give everyone a raise, so I need to be selective. What should I do?

To read my answer, click here: Is it Sexist to Promote a Male Employee over Two Females

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

GreenDoor September 12, 2019 at 4:48 pm

Excellent advice. I work in government so we have to be very mindful not to be discriminatory in our hiring practices. This is exactly what we do – even when a manager has somoneone in mind, it’s still posted with multiple rounds of interviews before a decision is made. Many times the “ideal” person ended up not being so ideal once other qualified people were interviewed. John should not be thinking he’s entitled to the position just because it was his idea. Nor should you create a promotion just to keep him – especially if you can’t give a similar raise/title change to the other two.

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Kathy September 12, 2019 at 10:53 pm

What if the person asking this question were to reframe by imagining that a top woman asked for a well deserved promotion to a not-yet-existent position, and might quit if she didn’t get it, but there was concern about her two male peers who were also excellent but hadn’t asked? Flipping the gender often helps to reveal a sexist bias, if any.

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Lauren September 16, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Give title increases to all 3, tell the women that male coworker asked for a promotion, but you realized all 3 are performing at that next level. You can’t do anything with salary at the moment, but do double check to confirm each of the women are paid as much as the man. Don’t promote him just because he asked. Realize he has one foot out the door now. Save the other 2. Get them title increases and if they are underpaid, tell them that and that you are correcting the situation. The guy will leave no matter what, but the women could be solidified loyal employees for a few more years with these actions.

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