SHRM Connect: He Doesn't Like Working with Women

SHRM Connect is an online community where SHRM members can ask questions and get answers on a variety of HR topics. It’s a great place to network with other HR professionals and share solutions.  

The conversation topics range from “HR Department of One” to Employment Law, are always insightful, and deal with some of the most pressing issues that HR professionals face in the workplace today.

While some of the conversations take on a more serious tone, others will deliver a bit of comic relief, and on Fridays, I’ll be highlighting a conversation or two in hopes that you’ll take some time to visit. You may want to "lurk"… perhaps respond, but you’ll always learn something.  
It’s a great community and I highly recommend that you check it out.


This week’s highlighted conversations involve questions about discrimination.


Subject:  Discrimination

In the HR Department of One group, a poster asks for advice in the case of discriminatory comments received from a client:

I have a situation that has been brought to my attention and I need some advice. Earlier this week, a female and male colleague were on a conference call with a client who happened to be male. He requested to have his account transferred to a male because he doesn't like working with women. When she tried to continue in the conversation, the client was rude and derogatory again stating he didn't work with women and would only acknowledge her male counterpart from the remainder of the call.

They both brought the situation to senior management asking what would be the best way to handle the situation. The manager didn't get on the phone with the client and instead, dismissed their concerns and said just make the change. The issue at hand was not addressed and essentially was "brushed under the rug."

I was approached this morning by two separate employees that witnessed the interaction between the employees and client as well as the senior managements reaction, and have filed formal anonymous complaints with me. I know there is not much that can be done in regards to the rude client, past our senior management calling them and saying while we can move the account as requested, their actions and comments were inappropriate. I have instructed both not to talk about it in the office and if they hear anyone talking about it, to direct them to me and to do what they can to put a stop to the talking. I was not in the office the day it occurred so I have only second hand accounts. I can't let the behavior of the senior management slide but without betraying the two that came to me's confidence, I cannot go to the original two employees.

The two employees involved have yet to come to me to say anything so my question to you is what is the best way to handle this? Should I just go straight to senior management and discuss their behavior in the handling of the situation or could that cause retaliation to the original two even though they have yet to say anything.

Thank you in advance.

To read/respond to this conversation, please click here.


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Subject:  Affirmative Action or Discrimination

In the General HR area, a poster has a question about whether or not discrimination was involved in a hiring decision:

I am new to HR and I have a crazy question. For the last month, we have been talking over 2 final candidates for one of our openings. Since we work so closely, we have been openly discussing their experiences and what will be the most helpful in our department. Both applicants had clear background investigations but after that they are no longer equals.

Applicant #1 a 24-year-old black man: He is also new to HR, just starting his masters in HRM. His experience so far has been predominantly in the interview process of HR and posting jobs on social media, he also interviewed well but we only got feedback from 2 out of 3 references

Applicant #2 a 39 year old white woman: She is new to HR and finishing her masters in HRM, she fits everything we need as she has experience in conducting salary analysis, reviewing policies, understanding demographics (from her BS in marketing) and how to use that for minority recruiting, she interviewed well and all 3 of her references were solid.

We thought applicant #2 was going to be hired but, our HR manager is saying that due to affirmative action she hired applicant #1.
I thought affirmative action was designed, so that if applicants are equal, the opportunity is given to the minority.

Am I missing something because this feels like discrimination?


To read/respond to this conversation, please click here.


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