Our thanks to Mike for this. Louisa Symington-Mills answers questions on work and business for Telegraph Women. A woman sent in the following question:
Last week, I found out that I’d achieved my dream promotion – one I’d been pursuing for ages. But then someone at work told me that I’d only got it because I’m female, and my company was just trying to reach a diversity target. I’m absolutely gutted – and to make things worse, apparently this is common knowledge. I feel like a complete fraud – what should I do?
Ms Symington-Mills’s utterly shameless response includes these gems, I’ve added a few comments:
Gender diversity targets are now a reality for many businesses, and – I’m sorry to say this in view of your personal experience – rightly so. Doing nothing isn’t an option. [It IS an option, and a damned sensible one, too.]
We’re in 2016, and the number of women on the boards of the largest 250 companies floated on the UK stock market still stands at less than 20 per cent. [Given the causal link between increasing female representation on boards and corporate financial performance decline, it would be utter madness to increase the proportion of women even further. So that’s precisely what the government is bullying major companies to do. FTSE350 companies are being bullied to ‘voluntarily’ reach a target of one-third of their board directors being female by 2020, under the threat of gender quotas legislation, if they don’t meet the target.]
Encouraging [bullying] companies to seek better a gender balance voluntarily [voluntarily – hahahahahahahaha!!! ‘Hand me over your wallet voluntarily, or I’ll knife you in the stomach. Thank you, very kind!’] across all levels of their organisation, [other than the lowest levels, obviously] using targets, should in theory be the most sustainable way to reach the ultimate goal of gender parity at work… [even though the ultimate goal is feminist-inspired and therefore, by definition, STOOOOOOOOOPID.]
Even if the fact that you’re a woman became relevant to the assessor making the promotion decision, that doesn’t automatically mean that your performance, skills and business contribution weren’t relevant… [Not ‘relevant’? Could the bar to female advancement in the workplace be any lower?]
Even if your gender was indeed relevant to the promotion, I cannot imagine why anyone in possession of such a fact would feel compelled to share it with you, or indeed anyone else, if they were filled only with good intentions. [‘Your employer should delude you as to your abilities, and pretend you got the promotion on merit. Then you’ll feel less anxious, won’t you? That’s far more important than gaining self-knowledge, and building competence and resilience.’]
If this is a deliberate attempt on the part of the person that shared this information to derail you as you move onwards and upwards, don’t let that happen. Even if your initial assumption, that you’re a victim of tokenism, is correct – and I think it’s unlikely you’ll ever know for sure either way – you need to find a way to move on and banish the doubt.
So my advice to you is quite straightforward to write, but hard to implement: you need to dispel this comment from your mind, and own the promotion you fought for and have achieved. [‘You need to ignore the stark reality that you got a promotion rather than the man who deserved it more than you, on the sole grounds that he has a penis, and you have a vagina. What could be wrong with that? Now run along, you silly thing!’]