Ask L2: Can I win in the 'boys club?' Should I even try?
"I wanted to be considered for one of these roles and reached out to the Hiring Manager who abruptly said "no one in this team can take on either of these roles and succeed".
THE CLIFF NOTES
Should I try and fight for the position being one of the only women in a male-centered office?
You can’t win in a boys club that doesn’t consider you a viable candidate because you’re not one of the boys.
Disclaimer: Identities are kept confidential. The advice given here should be taken at your own risk. If you are having true mental or physical issues, please seek professional assistance.
There are two senior roles being recruited in our predominantly male team. Both roles already have men lined up ready to go despite going through the motions of recruiting internally and externally.
I wanted to be considered for one of these roles and reached out to the Hiring Manager who abruptly said "no one in this team can take on either of these roles and succeed". Of course not, we're not his "mates". I pointed out that the entire leadership team is male and 80% of the team are male and were there plans to include gender diversity in the team? Crickets. How do I approach this internal red tape with HR without getting fired?
Maybe I’m too black and white about these things, but the answer seems simple to me: you don’t. You can’t win in a boys club that doesn’t consider you a viable candidate because you’re not one of the boys. If you can’t win because the game rigged, don’t play. This isn’t the only job or company on the planet. That doesn’t mean you leave tomorrow without anything lined up. It just means that you start considering your options and looking for alternatives where diversity is actually valuable and considered vital to organizational success.
Let’s play your suggestion through to the conclusion though so you can see better why I’m not optimistic about organizational change. First off, you’re already concerned about retaliation from going to HR, which tells me that there isn’t a whole lot of transparence or trust within the company. Taking your concerns to HR should, in some ways, protect you, not expose you. If you’re confident that retaliation like termination is a possible outcome, then that is a culture of silence that isn’t likely to end in a positive outcome for anyone who has something they’re understandably concerned about.
Ignoring that, though, let’s say you do take your concerns to HR and they are receptive. You say that you feel that women are not given a fair shake on your very male-dominated team, and you feel that diversity considerations should be more critical in the decision making process. Good for you. HR agrees with you! Amazing! They tell you boss that he has to consider female and diverse candidates for all roles, and he does. Yay! All of those performative steps are exactly what you asked for, right? Except has it changed the hiring manager’s perspective on who should get the job? Or has it just added steps to what he was going to do anyway? Is he going along with it because he has to or because he thinks that is value to diverse voices on his time? Most likely the latter. You created steps, but the problem isn’t actually fixed. It’s unlikely to he will be removed for his short-sightedness, and the extra requirements aren’t going to all of a sudden make him understand why female and POC voices are invaluable on his team. If he doesn’t know that, it’s not your job to teach him. He clearly hasn’t seen it through the valuable work you have already done.
I wish I had a magic wand that made misogynists less… exactly that… but that’s just not the way these systems work. If the game is rigged against you, don’t play. Find a new game.