In one of my jobs, I found myself pretty unhappy with my situation. Some of the other stories I’ve already shared had happened, I was feeling underappreciated, and passed over for things in favour for some of my male colleagues.
Things came to a head when I was told that I was expected to take on yet another product and team, and that the rest of the team would travel to onboard with the new product, but that there simply wasn’t budget to send me too. I would have to arrange my own calls with the product owner that I was taking over for, and figure it out myself.
So I took the weekend to gather my thoughts. I sat down and made a list of the things that I was unhappy with, instances where I felt like the wrong decision had been made, where I had been left out, etc. And I scheduled a meeting with my manager to discuss.
When people are this unhappy, often their managers only hear about it when they submit their resignation, but I wanted to give my manager a chance to fix things, so I sat down and told him what was going wrong, and what needed to change. The meeting elicited a number of promises that things would change, and that certain opportunities would be offered to me.
At this point, my manager could not have been more clear that I was unhappy, that I had a list of grievances, and that many of them were within his power to change. I had done the hard thing, I had laid out the problems.
It’s important that you know that this discussion happened shortly before our annual performance review cycle, where people would be offered raises and promotions based on performance. It’s also important that you know that while in this role, I never received less than an outstanding performance review. That’s not a brag, that’s literally the title of the rating I received, year after year. At the time of this conversation with my manager, despite my performance reviews and having grown my area of responsibility from one team to three, I was still on the same grade level.
It is a commonly repeated (disputed) fact that women simply don’t ask for raises and promotions, and that’s why we don’t get them. Well, performance review time came around, and I got a standard increase, and no promotion. So I asked. I asked my manager what about promotion, and pointed out that I was still on the same level and had been for 3 years.
His response: “Oh, I didn’t realise”.
After I had specifically sat down with him and outlined my feelings about my role. After I had made it clear that I wasn’t happy with the lack of support for my role and the way I was not being appreciated. He didn’t realise that I hadn’t been promoted at all in 3 years.
He didn’t realise because when he sat down to decide which employees to promote that year, I hadn’t even been on his radar.
He followed up with some indications that maybe next year he could look at it, for the next cycle, and that it would maybe possible to promote me two minor steps up the ladder (which would have been necessary for a more major promotion). I left the meeting dejected. I had asked. But been told “not possible til next year”.
A short time later, I found out that a male colleague also had not been promoted in that cycle, and had also expressed his displeasure at this.
So my manager went to HR to talk about whether or not budget and scope could be found for promotions…. for my male colleague.
My male colleague was promoted. And my manager received my resignation letter.
Women do ask. We just don’t get.