my company has a “Men’s Forum,” employee responds to feedback by saying her former boss loved her, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My organization has a “Men’s Forum”

My organization recently sent out an email announcing its annual “Men’s Forum” and I immediately felt icky about it. To me, it feels different than a women’s forum or an ERG for minorities because it focuses on a group that, historically, is not marginalized. For context, I work in finance which has a history of “the good old boys club.” The email even mentions “men and their allies” which also feels wrong to me.

Ick, yes. What is the event’s mission? Unless it’s to be an ally to women and other marginalized groups in your field or office, what exactly is the need it’s responding to? Affinity groups exist to help demographics that have been systemically marginalized and kept out of spaces controlled by the dominant group. The point is to level the playing field in places where it’s unbalanced and good lord, that’s not men in finance.

If this “Men’s Forum” exists to provide special networking or development opportunities to men, it’s hard to see it as anything other than a hostile response to similar efforts for women and people of color.

Read an update to this letter here

2. When I give my employee feedback, she tells me her previous boss loved her

I started a new job a few months ago, as a manager to a small team. I was brought on by my current boss, who I’ve worked with in a previous role for years. His advice to me was that the team needs help stepping up as a major business strategy change just happened, and this team is struggling to adapt.

I joined and was pleased to see most of the team was actually totally fine with the changes and adapting fine. With one notable exception, Jane. Jane’s work is subpar but worse, she doesn’t take feedback and has been a bit of a bully to her peers outside of our org.

The problem is I’ve given her this feedback, and she often responds with the following:
– The previous boss said she was great.
– It’s not fair of me to give her feedback that her work is not up to par.
– (Such and such other employee) said they thought the work was fine.

I feel bad that she feels like I’m out to get her, but it is my responsibility to give her feedback on the quality of her work and how her behavior affects others. Is there some good way to handle that her previous bosses may have been pleased with her performance, but that’s not the case with me as the organization has changed? I don’t want to be unfair but I also feel totally stuck.

Yeah, you’ve got to address it head-on … because right now she’s dismissing your feedback and telling you why she doesn’t need to pay attention to it. The next time it happens, say something like, “I understand that was the case in the past. The needs of the role have changed since then, and what I need now is ____. I need to see that you’re taking this feedback seriously and incorporating it into your work.” And if she still pushes back and/or you don’t see changes, then the next conversation is, “I’m concerned that you’re hanging on to feedback you’ve received in the past and not hearing what I’m telling you now. The issues I’m raising are serious ones, and I need to see you make the changes we’ve discussed. If you don’t do that, your job would be in jeopardy so it’s important to take this seriously.” That’s also the stage where you should move to a formal improvement plan, including letting her go at the end of it if she can’t make the changes you need.

Ultimately, though, it’s up to her to hear what you’re saying. Your responsibility is to be as clear and direct as possible, and to make sure you’re not softening the message out of a desire to be nice. (Remind yourself that it’s far nicer to give her a chance to hear what she needs to change to avoid being fired.) From there, it’s up to her to decide whether she’s going to take you seriously. Remember, too, that your job isn’t to convince her to agree with you, but to be clear about the bar for her job and what the consequences are if she won’t meet that bar. (It’s preferable if she agrees! But you need to move forward regardless.)

Read an update to this letter

3. My boss wants me to give up my seniority if I’m promoted

I’ve been working for the same nonprofit for 22 years in a variety of roles. Currently I’m in a leadership position and report directly to the executive director. The director is new in the last two years and has made significant changes — some great and some questionable (in my view). They have a leadership style that can be quite controlling and, due to this, I am eager to get off the leadership team and have a bit of distance. I’m currently looking for other work but there is an option for me to move positions within the organization into a role that I would love. I’m considering this.

My question is around the conditions laid out to me by the director. They are suggesting that since I’ve worked there so long, it would be detrimental to the organization to have me keep my seniority. If I take the new position, I would have to formally resign from my current position and essentially apply for the new role (even though I’m guaranteed it) so that my 22 years is wiped out. The new position would also be a one-year term, although I’m told the intention is to keep it after that. I don’t see much protection for me as an employee if they decide to end the role. In my area, employees of more than 10 years must be given severance of at least eight weeks if let go. If I can negotiate terms that state eight weeks severance if let go, is that enough? Should I be questioning other aspects of this?

It sounds awfully sketchy. They’re saying it’s “detrimental” to the organization to give you the benefits that they offered you in exchange for your long tenure, and they’re trying to get you to do something that disadvantages you and advantages them. Are there other benefits besides severance you’d be giving up too, like the amount of vacation you get? There’s no reason you should have give up any of that.

And you definitely shouldn’t have to formally resign in order to be considered for a new role; that is some real BS. If they want you to apply, fine — but there’s exactly zero reason why you’d need to formally resign meanwhile, and it would put you in a much more precarious position.

Definitely say you’re not comfortable resigning without a new role and that you’d need severance codified in a written agreement if you give up tenure-linked benefits … but I’d strongly question the whole thing.

4. Calling students “clients” when transitioning out of teaching

I have a question about transitioning to a new field. How do I include job specifics on my resume that aren’t relevant to the new industry? I am trying to move out of teaching into nonprofit program coordination. I want the new potential employers to see me as more than “just” a teacher. I have some impressive accomplishments as a teacher that I can put a number on (I was the leadership coach for the senior class and we got to 100% graduation; I took over the standardized test prep program and rose pass rates from 17% to 76%) but they’re all so … teacher-y. A job coach who specializes in teacher transitions advised turning it all into corporate speak (“measurable performance improvements for 200 clients”), but it sounds so phony to me! Is it disingenuous to use this kind of language? I am confident I can do the work I am applying for, I just have a hard time explaining how in a snappy bullet point. Is there anything else I can do to stand out and show off for a job I haven’t done yet?

I would find it odd to see a teacher referring to students as “clients.” And if a hiring manager doesn’t understand that’s what “clients” means in this context and asks about it in the interview, it will be awkward to explain that you really mean students. It’s feels too much like trying to dress up what you did into something else. And there’s no need to do that anyway, because your accomplishments are impressive and stand on their own. You don’t need to be coy with the language.

That said, can you get additional details in there? If I were a hiring manager outside of your field, I’d want to know more about how you did those things so I could better understand the skills you used that might translate into our work. You can’t put a lengthy explanation on your resume, of course, but adding even one explanatory line of context to each of those achievements could give hiring managers outside of your field a better sense of what you might bring to theirs.

5. Can my boss legally pay me through PayPal?

Nearly a year ago, I was brought on to work at a startup as a contract writer. Originally I was being paid though a payroll service with direct deposit. However, there was always at least a week or two delay when getting paid.

At some point, my boss claimed this payroll service was too complicated to use for his contractors and he would be switching to PayPal. I was fine with this, until I realized that PayPal takes a significant fee. I am charged this fee. They take it out of my wages. I asked if it was possible to switch back to the payroll service, but he claimed it was not.

Is this legal? I’m tempted to try again and ask if he would be willing to mail a check or brainstorm other ideas. This is really only the tip of the iceberg with this company and I’m already looking for other options.

Some states have laws restricting the fees that employees can be charged for using payroll cards, but I haven’t been able to find anything addressing PayPal specifically.

But PayPal would be terrible to use for payroll, given the fees, the fact that it won’t create a record of your payroll deductions (for things like taxes and insurance), and the occasional reports of PayPal freezing someone’s money in their account. (They’re also not governed by the same regulations that protect you at a bank, so if nothing else make sure you’re moving your money to your bank account right away every time you’re paid.) It’s also just … sketchy. Legitimate businesses don’t generally pay through PayPal, let alone pass Paypal fees on to their employees.

But I’m wondering if your boss is even deducting payroll taxes as he’s legally required to do. You mentioned being a contractor,  but you sound very much like an employee. It’s not up to your boss how to categorize you; under federal law, you need to meet certain criteria to be eligible to be paid as a contractor (i.e., with no taxes taken out). If he’s treating you like an employee but paying you like a contractor, he’s violating the law and you’re going to end up with a big tax bill at the end of the year. (If I’m wrong about what’s going on and you do in fact meet the legal definition for a contractor, then there’s nothing terribly wrong with what he’s doing — but you should ask to be made whole for the fees you’re being charged.)

Read an update to this letter

{ 535 comments… read them below }

  1. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – It sounds to me like the executive director is taking your decision to not report to them personally. Which, well, it is – you don’t like their leadership. (I’m not saying your opinion is wrong. Just that it’s pretty clear that the Exec. Director isn’t taking it well, or is just as controlling as you feel they are, or both).

    Definitely DO NOT resign to take another role with the organization. There would be no requirement on the part of the organization to rehire you. And don’t get talked into giving up your seniority. It’s not detrimental to the organization for you to retain it – that ‘s nonsense. Also, don’t accept a term contract with the vague promise that the role will be made permanent in the future. It sounds like it definitely would not, and that you might easily find that the role is axed.

    In your shoes, I would remain in your current role until you find another one – with another organization.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Yes to all this. I’m not saying this isn’t all totally above board, and just a function of organisational bureaucracy, but if it wasn’t, it would certainly be a convenient way of getting rid of someone who’s clearly not a nodding dog yes-person, and probably expensive. CYA.

      1. RedinSC*

        Honestly, it doesn’t feel at all above board to me, though. I agree, DO NOT resign. Keep your job, and continue looking for a new position, out side of this organization.

        1. Antilles*

          I can’t think of a legitimate reason behind this given that OP has been there for decades – if there was some weird bureaucratic quirk or company policy or etc about “seniority only applies to your specific department”, OP would likely already know about it. So that just leaves either (a) trying to get rid of an employee without paying the eight weeks of severance, (b) manipulating OP into accepting a lower salary on the “rehire”, or (c) screwing OP out of accumulated vacation and other associated perks of seniority.

          1. Venus*

            I’m wondering if OP is interested in a job that would otherwise be much cheaper to fill (lower salary and benefits) and the organization doesn’t want to spend a lot of extra money. For me, that seems reasonable.

            There is a weird vibe about the resignation. That part of the response is worrisome.

            1. Evelyn Carnahan*

              That’s my thought, especially if it’s a one-year contract position. Those kinds of positions are relatively common in my field (although I think they’re becoming less common!), and they’re really a way to get work out people new to the field while paying poverty wages and not offering the benefits of a full-time position. I could see LW3’s boss seeing LW3 in this position without resigning as detrimental because it would set a precedent of giving people benefits. To be clear, I do not agree with that. But I’ve worked in enough toxic nonprofits to follow the thinking.

              1. quill*

                Yeah, it’s sketchy enough that I’m wondering if they’re trying to save on some benefit OP would accrue within the next, say, five years? I can’t see any other point to this rigamarole unless they are trying to get OP to quit.

            2. Missing the good old days*

              Agreed — very sketchy and sounds like the exec director wants to push her out. Even if the new role pays less, there’s no reason to resign. Normally, people with experience should be VALUED. And if, to your point, the desired role pays less –the OP could express her willingness to take a pay cut to the max for that role (in necessary) — but there’s no reason to resign to do that.

              Resigning just puts too much at risk– seniority for other roles within the org. accrued benefits (sick time, vacation time, other… ) and the risk of losing her job completely. And think twice about giving up a full-time job with benefits for a contract position with (assumably) none.

        2. HigherEdAdminista*

          No part of it feels above board. I would wager money that if LW resigns, something will interfere with the new position: either it won’t be able to be filled for Reasons or ‘aw shucks, a better candidate put themselves forward… sorry LW! It’s been nice working with you.’

          It really looks like a ploy by the director to get rid of you without having to fire you.

        3. Momma Bear*

          I agree. I would pass on this because it sounds really sketchy and a good way for the promotion to vanish and OP be out of a job. To *resign* for a promotion? No. Or for OP to get the promotion for one year and be out after that. Stay where you are and look for something else.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        That would be my worry – the LW resigns, “something” happens to the new position and they’re left with no seniority, no job, and no UI because it was a voluntary resignation.

        Best case – they get the new job, it’s extended past a year, and the LW loses all accrued perks of seniority (vacation, for example), which is still pretty dodgy.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          If the new position does materialise at all… I think the chances of it extending beyond the year are slim to none.

      3. Felis alwayshungryis*

        (I don’t think it’s above board either, but I was hedging my bets in case there are some organisational vagaries of which I’m ignorant.)

    2. Casper Lives*

      I’m wondering if the company pays other benefits based on seniority. Alison mentions vacation but there’s also pay scale, pension, 401k vesting, etc. The resignation is a way to avoid severance, unemployment, or finding a reason to let OP go.

      OP don’t do it! I agree with Learned’s last sentence – ramp up that job search.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          “My question is around the conditions laid out to me by the director.”
          Op does what director instructs. The following happens:
          Hiring manager, HR, everyone else in the company:
          OP resigned and now wants to apply for a new job. How strange.
          OP resigned, but now wants to apply for a short-term/contract position. How strange.
          From resigning, nothing good will happen (to OP).
          This is awful.

    3. Observer*

      In your shoes, I would remain in your current role until you find another one – with another organization.

      I was coming to say pretty much this.

      Just that it’s pretty clear that the Exec. Director isn’t taking it well, or is just as controlling as you feel they are, or both

      It’s got to be either #2 or #3. Because what the boss is proposing is a huge problem, and the way it’s being presented is, as you put it, “nonsense”. So, regardless of the reason he’s doing it, he’s shady and possibly incompetent.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      The so-called offer you’re getting completely disrespects your 22 years of expertise. Who in their right mind tells an experienced leader that they can stick around if they resign their current role, give up all their seniority, and take their chances that the new role they’re applying for will extend beyond a year? No one!

      Working for nonprofits for decades myself, you may be like me in that commitment to the mission and to one’s colleagues are big factors that can make one question a decision to leave. Don’t let the executive director’s insulting approach distract you from your current job search. Instead, I hope it reinforces your decision to find another role where your impressive experience is appreciated. Good luck!

      1. Jora Malli*

        A leader who will say out loud that an employee with a successful 22 year track record at the company is “detrimental” to the business is basically a Bond villain. OP, your boss may as well have been sitting in an armchair under a dormant volcano when they told you that.

        I agree with everyone else, this director is being really, worryingly shifty here, and I think you should decline the new job and keep looking.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Is OP “detrimental” to the org or “detrimental” to Exec’s position and status? I’d bet that there’s something about OP that threatens Exec and Exec wants OP out in a way that doesn’t dirty *their* hands.

          1. quill*

            Exec might be thinking that seniority and its benefits are detrimental because the company could save money by not paying them, but TBH this is so sketchy that it seems personal.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Yes, it sounds like the organization is trying to get rid of the LW without having to pay out any accrued benefits from her years of working there. Having her resign to take another position within the same org sounds sketchy. LW could resign Friday and discover on Monday that somehow the new role has vanished or never existed on paper.

    6. Esmeralda*

      Don’t do it. What’s going to happen to your vesting for retirement? Health insurance? PTO? Sick leave?

      1. LoosingSeniority*

        Hi all- thanks so much for the responses. I’ve been feeling like this is too much for the organisation to expect of me. I will say though that, my pay rate and PTO will stay the same- this has been verbally agreed to and I won’t sign anything that doesn’t include that in writing. In this way, I believe the ED thinks they are being supportive since they could hire for this new position from the outside and pay considerably less with half the PTO. Health benefits would also remain the same. My biggest concern is, am I being edged out of the org? The one year term is a real concern to me. The loss of seniority (since I would keep benefits, pay, and PTO the same) is mostly a concern because 22 years offers protection from being ‘re-structured’ out of the organisation.

        1. MsM*

          I think if the ED just wanted to hire outside the org, or at least see what their options are before committing to you, they’d post the position at the salary range they think is reasonable and see what kind of response they get. This very much feels designed to push you out – if not directly by pulling the position out from under you as soon as your resign, then at least to make you feel disincentivized to stay – and I think you should put your foot down about this condition being a non-starter and go ahead and look elsewhere.

        2. wildcat*

          It absolutely feels like you’re being pushed out. Keep your current role and ramp up your job search and leave while in that position. The new role will also affect what role you take at another org as they wont know the internal decisions that resulted in what could be seen as a demotion. Do not resign! Do not take a role only funded for 1 year. Find another role elsewhere. This all sounds sketchy!

          1. Six Degrees of Separation*

            Please listen to wildcat. Nothing good can come out of those terms. Definitely sounds like you are being edged out.

        3. MK*

          Here’s the thing OP: it would be perfectly reasonable for the director to say that the compensation for the new role is X, and if you want to move into that role, you will have to accept the compensation it carries. The organization isn’t obligated to keep paying you the salary of another role, just because you have been with them for decades. If she is concerned about the bugdet, she could just fix the salary and let you make your decision
          What she is proposing is…off.

          1. KayDeeAye*

            Exactly. Lower pay is only to be expected. Loss of seniority is…I’m going to say that it’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. Something is very fishy here.

        4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Is it a one year, contract position?
          Because yes, yes you are. They are asking you to resign with a 12 month resignation period.

        5. Observer*

          My biggest concern is, am I being edged out of the org? ~~~Snip ~~~ because 22 years offers protection from being ‘re-structured’ out of the organisation.

          Pull out all the clauses and asides and give a look at those two pieces of the sentence. Tell me how your boss can claim that you are NOT being pushed out. What do you think he means “detrimental to the organization”? He means “detrimental to our ability to dump you like a rotten fish.”

        6. Evelyn Carnahan*

          I think the ED is trying to push you out. Making you resign to take a different position that has a 1 year contract is basically making you give 12 months notice, assuming that the ED does choose to rehire you for that position. It seems like you and the ED have butted heads a bit, and they see this as an easy way to get rid of a “difficult” employee. People, especially in nonprofits, move out of leadership positions all the time without having to give up the protections they’ve earned through seniority. This is extremely sketch. Keep your current job and look for a new position at a different organization!

        7. Nervous Nellie*

          I’m wondering how long it would take after you resign for TPTB to decide to offer you the job (assuming that they offer it to you). You wouldn’t be getting a salary during that time. You might have to get COBRA. You would be sitting at home, waiting for the phone to ring. Does your company have a three-month probation period? If so, they would be in a position to let you go within three months of your taking the new job without giving you any reason except to say that it just wasn’t working out.

        8. Esmeralda*

          No. Verbal agreement is worth the paper it’s written on. And frankly, if you’re in the US, even agreements on paper aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, unless we’re talking unionized jobs.

          Do not do it. If you think you’ll get pushed out or given crummy assgts or whatever if you don’t agree, vague them with, hmm, let me think about that. Or, oh yes, I have to look that over, I’ll get it on my to-do list. (But actually, put it on your to-don’t list…)

          1. Kevin Sours*

            An actual, honest to god, contract of employment is. But most places are allergic to the word contract and your written “employment agreement” is explicitly not a contract of employment.

        9. Kevin Sours*

          “mostly a concern because 22 years offers protection from being ‘re-structured’ out of the organization”
          If that’s the only thing to change by you giving up your seniority, ask yourself why TPTB perceive you keeping it as “detrimental to the organization”. My thought is that they think that because your seniority prevents them from doing something they view as to the organization’s benefit that will be very detrimental to you.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            In reference to TPTB–I’m not sure that it’s more than the ED doing this. It’s possible that board members or other high-ranking folks are unaware that the ED is setting this up.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        They can’t un-vest her for retirement benefits that are already vested and accrued. It might start her over in terms of say, matching for the upcoming time period, but not for the stuff that is already vested.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Which makes me think…OP, is there anything you are soon to be eligible for? Like if you stayed for 25 years you’d get x? It may not be likely in your line of work, but if there’s a pension or any kind of retirement benefit that kicks in after x years, take a good look at the fine print on that.

            1. Amaranth*

              Also, if they are doing restructuring, there might be some kind of benefit being planned that hasn’t been announced. For instance, OP could go through these steps, lose seniority, then find that they will be implementing a bonus schedule based on the same.

    7. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Anything a company has to pay out to employees, the tax office or whatever, is detrimental to the company’s bottom line, but companies need to understand that the bottom line is not all there is to doing business. Retaining excellent employees, fostering loyalty, abiding by the laws of the country are all important, not just because failure to do all that will lead to bad business outcomes, but because there are real people involved, who deserve to be treated well.

    8. Sloanicota*

      #3 was an interesting one to me. There are certainly some nonprofits that, because they don’t usually offer great salaries but worry about retention, offer some pretty impressive seniority benefits – things like six weeks of paid vacation, a four-day workweek after X years, sabbaticals etc (not common but it does happen). And I’ve been more-junior staff at nonprofits and have struggled because the others on my team were gone so much and had all these cushy perks that I was picking up a lot of slack. If OP’s new department doesn’t benefit from the experience they have from their tenure, I could almost see the directors not wanting to bring in someone who had such different benefits from the rest of the team. However, I think the thing to do is to decline to offer OP that transfer, not ask them to surrender their benefits.

    9. OhNoYouDidn't*

      Yes. Don’t do it. It sounds to me like it’s “detrimental” to the company to keep paying you the benefits that come with seniority. She is looking for a way to either rehire you at much lower costs or to replace you for a lower cost alternative to save the agency money. It’s a pile of crapola. Is there nobody above her you could go to and ask about all of this?

      1. nelliebelle1197*

        I cannot figure out what the detriment is – OP is keeping her insurance, time off, salary? She is still going have over 20 years with the org. What on earth is the benefit?

        1. Sloanicote*

          If the company offers payout for vacation, OP may have accrued a lot that’s “on the books” – they may have also been grandfathered into a more expensive insurance, retirement, even pension plan. In my old office long term employees had six weeks of leave which had become an annoyance to the new ED. OP should definitely not surrender these benefits just to take a lateral role.

          1. Momma Bear*

            I once worked for a company that got bought out and we had to align our benefits with the new parent company. Many people lost 2 weeks of PTO because of the cap. This does feel very much like resetting the clock on *something*.

    10. Dragon_Dreamer*

      The bent metal fastener tried this with me, only instead of letting me resign, they fired me. (They claimed a customer overheard me being rude yo another customer on the phone. On a day I didn’t even work.) They then told me during the firing that I was completely rehireable, because my sales numbers were so good. (Among the top 3 in the company!)

      They also stated that they were eager to rehire me. The caveat? It would be a different store 2 hours away (that was low performing), federal minimum wage (I’d been making $12/hr), and 20 hours a week (I had been full time.) Oh, and of course total loss of my 10.5 years of seniority with the promise that I would NEVER be management. And the same sales goals, of course!

      They actually tried to fight my UI claim, saying that they’d offered me a new job and I’d refused. It did not work. 9.9

    11. Kes*

      Just because they feel that what you have is detrimental to them, doesn’t mean you have to accept changes that could be detrimental to you instead.
      This situation seems very sketchy. I wouldn’t accept these terms – who knows where you’ll be left in a year, if you do – I’d stay where you are while looking for another job elsewhere.

    12. Hills to Die On*

      I would leave this company so fast. Do not take this new job. Do not remain in your old job. Run far away from this boss and the whole organization.

    13. WFH with Cat*

      100% agreed

      My sense is that the new ED is ready to push OP out of the job entirely, and the proposed one-year role will either never materialize or not be renewed beyond a year. It would almost certainly be better to find a new role at another org.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        The “offer” of another position in the organization may be a fig leaf / CYI move the new ED is using as cover with board members or people in the community who know and value OP.

        Like instead of firing OP outright, which might lead to ED getting pushback or being thought less of, having their judgement questioned by important stakeholders, ED can frame it as “OP chose to make a move to new position, but then that program didn’t take off so they moved on.” without revealing that they are the one who sent the new position down the drain.

        I’ve seen fallout before when a manager let go of a LT employee, one that other manager new was a good performer who had successfully played a variety of roles with managers across the company. Heard from another VP “wait, hang on, Chelsea got riffed yesterday? Chelsea!??! Who the heck was the idiot who fired Chelsea?” and within 6 months, the “idiot who fired Chelsea” was himself let go. ED may be trying to avoid similar judgement.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          argh “knew” not “new”

          Homophones are my typing nemeses. And to illustrate the point, I just started to type
          “knew” knot “new”
          before catching that error LOL!

    14. Hats Are Great*

      Giving up your seniority without getting significant concessions in return *while remaining at the same employer* wouldn’t be a legally-enforceable bargain (/contract) in most states — both parties must get something of value to them for a contact (written or oral) to be enforceable.

    15. Petty Betty*

      All of this. The new director is being shady, in my opinion. If you want to be out from under the director’s direct supervision in a hurry, consult with an employment lawyer to nail down the best deal or see about some kind of severance package so you can walk away (and have time to job hunt easier), but don’t give up your seniority, benefits, etc. just to get away. This person is already willing to cut your bennies and seniority for spurious reasons (to save money? Spite? Both?), what’s stopping this person from reneging on any oral agreement and firing you after you’ve changed roles?

    16. GreenDoor*

      This resign-then-reapply and give up your seniority sounds sketchy. Some questions to ask: Would reapplying mean you no longer apply for benefits? Do you get some kind pension that would be affected by your years of service being wiped clean? Do they pay any other employee benefits based on years of service? Will you lose vacation time? How will this affect your ability to get promoted – will you be viewed as “entry level” as if your 22 years never existed? How would this affect your retirement plans (where I work, you qualify to retire if your age plus your years of service equal a certain number).

      I’m super skeptical of the reapplying part – it’s took easy for them to say “Oops, we founds someone else. Oh and we also don’t want to hire you back for the position you just left.” Ask a LOT of questions before you make a decision!

    17. beach read*

      OP3 I cannot think of any possible reason you would need to lose your seniority with this scenario.
      So many issues/problems could come up, all that are mentioned here and more that could come up that no one would have ever thought of. I wouldn’t count on problems/issues that come up being ‘fixed’ either.
      Best of luck to you.

  2. Ashkela*

    I will say that I worked for a decently large transcription firm for several years and was paid through PayPal the entire time. However, I was a contractor and already aware that I was responsible for paying my taxes. I also didn’t have to eat any fees (or else the fees were factored in to what would show me I was going to be paid when I checked the company website). I was able to filter my weekly payments on my PayPal accounting to use for income verification when I was applying for certain aid situations, as well as unemployment at the start of the pandemic (when my main hustle went from being a side hustle for thousands to everyone being home and poof, no more work and 100x the number of people trying to get them).

    1. Red 5*

      I’ve done this kind of side hustle 1099 work that was paid through Paypal too, I think the major problem here is that this kind of thing only works in a 1099 situation where there are no payroll deductions but also when the boss is doing the payments correctly.

      There are a lot of settings on Paypal and some of them come with fees and some don’t. Sometimes they’re dependent on the payer, sometimes the receiver. And they change semi regularly. They’re difficult to parse outside of the typical “I’m just paying for my ebay purchase” style transactions unless you’re a power user like the transcript company you mentioned, who does all of their payments to all of their contractors that way and probably has an entire system set up in partnership with Paypal because of the volume.

      But the amount of issues there are with Paypal like the ones Alison mentioned means that it’s just a giant red flag all around in this situation. I wouldn’t accept being paid through Paypal for any job at this point in my life, not even a side hustle. I’ve had years of trouble with them and I’m done with their mess.

    2. Eliza*

      Yeah, I’ve also been paid by PayPal for contract work in the past, but I’d look askance at any client that expected me to pay the fees instead of including them in the payment.

      1. McThrill*

        This. I get the majority of my income paid to me through PayPal, but have never once been responsible for any fees on using PayPal for business – a legit business with a decent boss will have no problem paying those fees for you, if they refuse you should definitely be looking for other work.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I agree OP shouldn’t have to deal with this, but for the record (as someone who just struggled through their freelance taxes) I believe OP could deduct these fees on their schedule C. But still, she shouldn’t have to accept them!

        2. OP 5*

          Agreed. I expected the response I got: Legal, but sketchy. I think I will talk to other contractors and see if we can ask that the fees are covered. I’m definitely a contractor, unfortunately.

          Ultimately, this job came with a lot of promises that haven’t been met and I’m already applying to other opportunities. It’s a shame, because it seemed like an awesome job. It is not.

          Also, my boss claimed he gave me a previously agreed upon pay-bump because of the PayPal fees, despite the fact that we agreed to the pay raise BEFORE he even switched to PayPal payments. I get that he has a bottom line, but the disrespect for my time and money is more than I can stand.

          Thanks to the comment section! Love reading all the takes.

      2. Claire*

        In many states it’s illegal for contractors to charge their clients for payment processing fees. (The contractor can, of course, just raise their rates to cover their true cost of doing business.)

        1. EPLawyer*

          What is the cite for the law that this is illegal? Granted, I don’t do employment law, but contractors can negotiate to have their fees covered (freedom of contract).

          1. Allison K*

            I can’t speak to the legality but it is against PayPal’s ToS to charge a payer the fees. Most freelancers I know raise their rates to cover fees when we’re being paid via PayPal by a single person or a small business that may not have the accounting savvy to deal with the fees.

            1. EPLawyer*

              That’s PayPal’s TOS. that is not a law. Which the payor would not be charged fees by PAYPAL. LW would be negotiating with her employer to have the fees covered. PayPal has nothing to do with that arrangment.

      3. Anon for This*

        That’s technically illegal in some countries, including the US. But this relationship turns the typical situation Paypal is used for on its head… usually it’s used by sellers, and the onus is on the seller receiving payment to make sure the desired fees are included in the payment they receive. Not by businesses running payroll!

      1. Howard Bannister*

        The fact they were paying through their regular payroll, I think.

        From the link Allison posted above, the three-factor test–item two:

        1. Behavioral facts — Does the employer control where and how the worker does her job?
        2. Financial facts — Are the business aspects of the worker’s job (such as how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.) controlled by the employer?
        3. Type of relationship — Are there written contracts or employee-type benefits?

        So she was in their payroll system and getting paid regularly. That seems like something that would raise some red flags in #2.

  3. Chad*

    I don’t see anything wrong with the Men’s Forum. Men aren’t always the dominant group across all industries and we need to normalize an affinity group for them just like we have for women. I have no issues with a Men’s Forum for male nurses just like I don’t have an issue for a Men’s Forum for finance bros.

    The ick factor is just a function of sexist attitudes against men.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Totally! Men deserve a safe space to talk about how hard it is being paid better and what it’s like to fail up and the burden of manhood in general. /s

      Male nurses don’t make less than female ones or have their authority doubted. Male finance bros rarely get propositioned for sex or sneered at in the halls.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      The LW literally said they’re in a historically male-dominated profession, so saying “not all industries” is useless and irrelevant. Also, men in female-dominated areas are typically not marginalized the way women in male-dominated ones are.

    3. Mf*

      Men already have an affinity group and have for basically all of Western history. It’s called “the Patriarchy.”

    4. Sue Wilson*

      Minority doesn’t inherently mean marginalized Chad. And there’s research to suggest that even when men are in the minority in a profession they are not marginalized. Affinity groups are specifically about being marginalized. But thanks for writing a comment that really demonstrates why this strikes OP as tasteless.

  4. Sue Wilson*

    #1: For the record, if there is a “women’s forum,” I don’t think there is any way your company could not have and similarly advertise a “men’s forum,” if someone wanted one. All sex discrimination statutes (in the US) that affect most companies are pretty clear they are not about helping marginalized classes specifically, but about making sure all classes are treated similarly regardless of inherent inequality of the sociopolitical atmosphere companies actually work under, which means that that treatment is not equitable even if it is similar.

    So the question you have to ask is what is it actually about? It says “allies” so allied in what?. Do I think it’s likely to be a forum for a) making sure men are allowed emotionally healthy boundaries with work, b) detoxing shitty male social dynamics occurs, and c) exposing and eliminating intersectionary oppressions within the male class? No. But it could be, and you should make sure.

    1. coffee*

      Yeah, you COULD do a men’s group that was actually helpful for men in terms of dealing with toxic masculinity etc., but I feel like any such group would be really, really clear about its aims, and probably also meet more than once a year. :(

      It’s a pity because I think that kind of supportive group could be really useful but I think the LW’s fears are probably correct.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Agreed. It could be, for example, a men’s mental health support forum.

        But it almost certainly isn’t, and that’s infuriating.

        1. Lyonite*

          Or a place to discuss things like prostate cancer screenings, etc. But I agree, that seems very unlikely.

          1. quill*

            Yeah if it were about health care it would probably be a Men’s Health Forum or something similar. It feels like it was drummed up just because there’s a women’s group.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Unless maybe it got labeled Men’s Forum to get guys who don’t want to talk about “icky health stuff” to show up?

              (Health care adjacent – it never ceases to amaze me how hard it can be to get a certain segment of the male population to show up for healthcare issues, especially their own.)

              1. A Feast of Fools*

                It’s the line “and their allies” that tips off this is a retaliation group, not a legitimate support group.

                1. Vio*

                  I would love it to be otherwise, but I agree. That line alone makes it quite clear that this is intended to be a very obvious retaliation. I get that some people can feel challenged by a group that excludes them, we’ve seen some similar responses to “Black Lives Matter” and not all of them were intended to be racist, some are just naïve.
                  Women aren’t exactly a minority in population but it’s appalling that they are still a minority in many professions and that there’s still a massive wage gap between men and women in so many businesses. It’s perfectly reasonable that there be groups advocating for equal treatment and we men shouldn’t feel threatened by this. Some men do genuinely misunderstand these groups though and believe them to be seeking superiority rather than equality. It doesn’t help that some companies genuinely do overcompensate by deliberately hiring underqualified minorities over qualified ‘majorities’ (is there a more appropriate word here?). I suspect this overcompensation doesn’t happen nearly as often as some people seem to think.
                  A mans group that exists to address concerns about a perceived prejudice and educate men on the reasons why these groups are important would be an excellent compromise. Sadly it’s pretty clear this isn’t the case here though

        2. Forrest*

          Why do you think it “almost certainly isn’t”? That was my first thought and so I was looking in the letter for any evidence that it WASN’T that, and there isn’t any. LW is purely judging this on the name “men’s forum” and “men and their allies”, without having done any further research. It’s totally possible that it’s exactly that.

          I understand the kneejerk reaction to think that any kind of men’s group or men’s network is just a reactionary kickback against women’s groups, but genuinely, that is a kneejerk reaction and part of the assumption that stops men from getting the benefit of them. LW should look at the actual agenda or their work to see what purpose they are trying to serve. If they are just a bunch of mardy losers feeling aggrieved about the existence of a “women’s forum”, fair enough. But you shouldn’t just see the name “men’s forum” and assume that men have NO gendered issues to discuss. Patriarchy harms men too!

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            I can’t speak for General von Klinkerhoffen of course, but my reason for feeling doubtful about this organisation is that it is in a male dominated industry, where just a general mental health group would be predominently male anyway and would likely focus a lot on the male perspective/male needs, so I don’t really see a need for a specific one just for men. I think this is why specific women’s groups are often needed and why I could see a need for a male group in a female dominated industry like childcare or nursing where some of the men might feel that say a mental health group was “touchy-feely women’s stuff” or something. In a male dominated industry though, I think if there were a concern about something like male mental health or societal pressures on men, it would make more sense to have a mental health group and discuss mental health in general, looking at how it affects both genders or maybe a work-life balance group if there is concern about men feeling they are defined solely by their careers.

            1. Green great dragon*

              Mental health is one area where even in an overall male-dominated field you might find fewer men speaking up in a mixed group so I can see the point of a men’s group discussing that. Parenting issues is another one that’s been mentioned. Some other men’s health and social issues – moving into retirement is an example where the issues can affect any gender but men tend to struggle a lot more so it might be something a men’s forum acts on, in the same way a women’s forum might push for the company to make confidence building training available to all. (Is that a terrible example? I hope you know what I’m getting at.) We’ve got one that does some stuff around men’s health on international men’s day, and I think some men and some women are on both the men’s and the women’s group.

              But it could be a load of men who think women’s groups are unfair and who want everything and a cherry on top. I’d love to hear back on this one – can you go, LW, as an ally and see what happens? Or do you know a man who wants to go and who could report back?

            2. Cercis*

              I can attest that if even one male is in attendance, even at a “women’s forum”, in a male dominated field he will end up gathering 90% (or more) of the attention. I saw it happen at a Women in Tree Care forum at TCI Expo this year.

          2. CoveredinBees*

            Honestly, because it is finance. A field that is heavily male dominated and thoroughly marinated in aggressive, toxic masculinity.

          3. Rolly*

            “Why do you think it “almost certainly isn’t”?”

            Centuries or millennia of men trying to build exclusive spaces for themselves to perpetuate patriarchy.

          4. Batgirl*

            I mean it might be because names are supposed to be descriptive? A men’s mental health group, or a work life balance group for working fathers, would probably be reflected in the name. Women’s groups with no additional description were traditionally founded to make those women feel less alone in the profession and like they belonged in the field. A group that is named similarly for men, in a male dominated field is badly named at best, butthurt and hostile at worst.

          5. Observer*

            Why do you think it “almost certainly isn’t”? That was my first thought and so I was looking in the letter for any evidence that it WASN’T that, and there isn’t any

            Really? So you missed the bit about “allies”? Like men need “allies”? Not so likely. ESPECIALLY if what you are trying to deal with are things like men’s mental health and toxic masculinity which is much more about what men (unwittingly) do than what women do to men.

            Then there is the fact that there is nothing about the aims of the group, which is actually quite telling.

            And that doesn’t even get to the core issue of the history of these types of groups.

            1. Darsynia*

              Yeah, honestly, my answer to this question is something along the lines of, ‘Because generally unless there’s some kind of groupthink going on, there would be someone speaking up about how this looks for the company in general and for the members in particular, given the assumptions that can be made.’ I just feel like the best possible intentions being employed here would mean the group would have a different name and focus, because someone would have spoken up to say it looks bad on its face.

              Companies tend to want to prevent bad impressions if they can– unless they don’t see the situation as having any negative connotations.

              TL;DR: that it made it to an announcement at all tells me that it’s probably exactly what it sounds like

            2. quill*

              The allies wording is quite strange to me. That’s what makes it feel like it’s probably pushback.

              Much like a “straight pride parade” or “white heritage month” the attitude seems to be, to quote birdsrightsactivist, “I am feel uncomfortable when we are not about me?”

          6. Rose*

            It’s not a knee jerk reaction. There was a company email announcing this event. If no details or information beyond the title are shared, for any event, the best thing to do is assume that it’s exactly what it sounds like. I’d it’s not, the person who sent the email was wrong not to add context.

            If you work in an industry that has historically been dominated by one group, and you announce a forum specifically for that group, and is currently dominated by that same group, the onus is on you to explain what the topic will be/why it’s necessary for the dominant group to meet alone.

            Sure, check things out more before you move to any action, but announcing a mens forum in finance with no additional context is either very poorly thought out or exactly what it sounds like.

        3. Pocono Charlie*

          =Agreed. It could be, for example, a men’s mental health support forum.

          But it almost certainly isn’t, and that’s infuriating.=

          Making such broad statements without fact is as insulting as any patently sexist tripe that can be assigned to women. If you have facts to back up your assertions, then let’s hear them. Broad-brush efforts to marginalize one group makes you no better than the biased people you claim to denousce. Do better.

          1. Forrest*

            This is not “marginalising” men. I agree that people should find out the purpose and mission of the group rather than just dismissing it on the name, but it’s not possible for men to be “marginalised” by gender because it takes a hell of lot more cultural resources to marginalise a group than a comment on the internet.

          2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            This is a false equivalency. A man having his feelings hurt is not the same as women making 2 5% less money or losing big assignments because of the assumption that she’s just going to leave to have babies. Marginalization is a cultural phenomenon that harms women, not just getting your feelings hurt.

          3. Not A Manager*

            “…as insulting as any patently sexist tripe that can be assigned to women”

            Is it? Is it though? Can you think of ANY patently sexist tripe regularly directed at women that would be more insulting than assuming that a group called a “men’s forum” for “men and their allies” isn’t actually a mental health forum? Because if you can’t, then I don’t think one needs to take your opinion very seriously.

          4. Critical Rolls*

            The idea of marginalizing men in the finance industry as it currently exists is a hilarious exercise in bad faith.

          5. Boof*

            Sorry, but my perception is the loudest groups for “mens rights” are actually just complaining about women’s rights / loss of privilege, and are not focused on topics that disproportionately impact men in a thoughtful or constructive fashion that strives for gender equality.
            It’d be great if that stopped being the case tho and lw should get details before judging, but the knee jerk response is based on much social experience.

          6. Rose*

            Sure, not assigning the most generous interpretation to a situation where people could have easily shared their intentions but didn’t is as offensive as anything else that has ever happened in this world, and is an attempt to marginalize a group. 100% makes sense.

        4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          These lines are where I was initially hoping that forum would go, health related topics that are very different for men than women. And if it’s mental health related, then I can definitely see the topic of allies being relavent to the topic.

          But even here I think it’s important to also have those groups for women, and not just turn it into the kvetching corner about how the patriarchal system is loosing its grip.

      2. amoeba*

        My boyfriend’s company apparently has a “men’s network” that seems to focus mostly on stuff like navigating parental leave/work life balance for fathers. He’s not a member but I see the point and if that’s actually what they promote, great! Sadly, yeah, this post does not sound like that.

        1. Willis*

          I suppose the OP could ask what the topic areas would be for the forum (maybe she’s interested in being an ally?) but I feel like she’d already know if forums related to health, benefits, etc. for particular groups were a thing her company does. And of course if they’re not, asking for more info may look like she’s trying to push back on it…which may or may not be something she wants to do.

        2. Anonym*

          Yeah, this is an area that is beneficial and is men-specific. I also work in finance, and there’s tremendous pressure on men not to take family leave (as well as initiatives within my company trying to change that – we offer reasonably good leave that’s underused).

          While I share OP’s initial unease, it makes the most sense to figure out what the group’s purpose actually is before jumping to conclusions. There’s no need to speculate if info is available. If it’s some sort of “men are being oppressed in finance” thing, raise the alarms ASAP.

        3. Nancy*

          Yep, there are men’s forums that are great and useful. Others are mental health forum or an overall men’s health forum. We have a men’s health forum and a women’s health forum where I work.

          OP, just ask what it is for rather than assume.

      3. Harper the Other One*

        Yes, my husband is a minister in a faith that has women clergy(who are actually rapidly increasing, to the point where his age group is about 60/40 women to men.) In our region there is a “young male ministers” group and their agendas for get-togethers include talking about paternal and family caregiving leave policies; balancing career and home life when congregants expect men to be free for extensive after-hours/on-call support; and handling mental health and stress when congregations are less likely to be understanding about it when it’s a man who’s struggling. It’s very clear that their purpose is relating to issues that are specific to men in their field, and the women’s groups are actually very supportive of their work as a result.

        1. Chinook*

          In my faith group, we have both a women’s group and men’s group (which are not in anyway related) where local council’s of both genders have purposes that stretch from complaining about how rough they have it to being actively involved in the community and supporting each other through all ages and stages. I have seen, from the outside, how these men’s groups really give the guys a chance to just be themselves without society’s pressures (including the toxic masculinity the OP is worried will be the focus of their meetings) or to talk about issues that they feel would have to put on a brave face for when in mixed company. There is a reason “tool shed” men’s groups have started becoming a thing for male retirees.

          Plus, if you want the toxic male culture to change, the men need a space to privately correct each other’s behaviour before it becomes an HR issue. An animal kingdom example would be senior bachelor elephants who take in teenage male elephants and then whack them over the head when they misbehave so they learn not to do it around the females.

          Do not underestimate the effectiveness of group discussions on appropriate behaviour where it is safe to ask the “stupid questions” in a judgement free environment. How else will the finance bros learn what is wrong in a way that doesn’t make them feel defensive (and potentially cause them to create a bigger problem while they attempt to save face.) Isn’t the goal to have them be better colleagues and not simply punish them for poor behaviour? These groups have the potential to do just that.

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I have seen a group like this for men in my female dominated field, but it wasn’t called a “Men’s Forum”. The organizers called is a “Toxic Masculinity Detox” group. I’m not sure of too much that went on in it, but I heard it was really good for helping men come up with scripts when folks judged them for doing “women’s work”, dealing with the emotional issues around making less than their partners, helping those who wanted to become the stay at home parents deal with the social judgement, etc.. It probably helped that the organizers were a cis-man, a trans-man, and a gay man, so there was a good spectrum of masculinity represented because I could see it going very, very wrong with the wrong leaders.

    2. Well...*

      My experience with this nonsense was a men in physics club, specifically as a reaction to women in physics and part of a sustained harassment campaign that led to every. Women. In. That. Year. Dropping out of the PhD program without a degree.

      The faculty defended their BS with similar arguments to yours, and those men’s careers were largely unscathed.

      Excuse me if I don’t have patience for this nonsense. It seems like deliberately looking the other way and allowing insidious and destructive behavior to spread.

      1. This is a name, I guess*

        Men in Physics Club!? So, just Physics Club? *eyeroll* (My partner is an engineer and experienced something similar.)

        (My uni has a really well-known mid-career female physicist who is a considered a rock star scholar and a great mentor. I often used to run into her grad students while dating and in student government, and the kinds of men who worked with her were always super cool. A lot of STEM nerds do not like having a female advisor, but those who choose actively choose female advisors are usually good dudes.)

      2. Hazel*

        I had a friend in college who was the only woman at the (~ 4,000 student) school pursuing a physics major. She felt so harassed and unsupported that, in her senior year, she changed her major to math and took all math classes that year in order to graduate on time.

        I experienced garden variety sexism there, and I remember being disappointed and surprised that it was “still” happening in the mid-’80s at a respected liberal arts college. These days, I am still disappointed, but not surprised.

      3. I'm Just Here*

        ITA, it’s nonsense, just like the knee-jerk all lives matter reaction to black lives matter. It just erases the very real issues that all lives don’t have.

    3. Asenath*

      The “allies” language is a bit odd, but I always assumed that an “X’s” group was a group of X, that is, people who had something in common and who wanted to meet regularly with other people with the same thing in common. I don’t see any reason why some men wouldn’t organize a group for themselves, as members of many other groups do. I wouldn’t worry about what they discussed since I think it’s not my business, since I’m not one of them.

      1. TechWorker*

        The allies language might just be ‘standard’ for all groups of this type (certainly is for ones at my company).

        1. Wintermute*

          This was my take on it, it’s a way to be LESS exclusive and it’s probably just their boilerplate text for such groups to make it clear they are not exclusionary.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Doesn’t it imply that the LW could join the group as an ally? Then report back to us.

            1. Wintermute*

              I read it that way, yes, and in any reasonably-run company they’re not going to exclude anyone from a group like that.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah, if all the c-suite are men and they all attend, and they discuss how best to get noticed for promotion, you might change your mind?

        My friend’s son is a lawyer and he joined a lawyers’ rugby club, because he plays rugby. Turns out the changing rooms are an excellent place for low-key networking. My friend got all defensive when I said how icky that was. I had to point out that her son’s GF would not have access to those networking opportunities for her to get the point.

      3. I'm Just Here*

        The problem is that if you are the majority, every time you meet about anything you are meeting with people like you. It can definitely be dog-whilstleish, like it is here.

        What are men’s allies anyway? People who don’t hate men? Meaningless phrase.

      4. Critical Rolls*

        Work-related groups need to have a legitimate work-related purpose. An unspecified “men’s forum” in the finance industry does not meet that criteria, as men are tremendously over represented and advantaged in that field. It’s definitely the business of others if this is an exercise in exclusion.

      5. ferrina*

        I’d consider myself (female) an ally because I’ve studied masculinity and actually taught workshops on how masculinity impacts men and male teenager’s views of themselves and interactions with the world. If this group is defined as looking into how being male impacts your experience of the industry and company, that could be useful.

        I have a relative who’s a member of the “White Caucus” at their work and it’s used as a reflection space. They talk about White Culture and how White Culture is reflected (and imposed) on their workplace and what they can do about that.

        When done right, it allows the dominant culture to become more self aware that of their own culture, realize that “status quo” is not the same thing as “normal” and identify how they are perpetuating or changing the culture. (That said, I know that’s not usually how it’s done. But I’d be tempted to join the forum to try to sway it in that direction).

    4. Wintermute*

      That’s where I come down on this as well, discrimination laws are very clear, you can’t say “you can have a forum for one branch of a protected category, but not the other.” Given there are activists who are looking for a reason, they’re probably trying to avoid giving them one.

      Even if it is dedicated for the same purposes are other affinity groups, they can’t say “you can’t do this because you’re a man” that would be incredibly explicit discrimination.

        1. Wintermute*

          by “activists” I mean conservative activists that are looking for a reason to sue companies for discrimination against men. They would absolutely do something like this, hoping the company tells them they can’t have a group and filing a suit for gender discrimination.

          In this case “they” is the company, the company cannot lawfully say one type of a protected category can have a group and the other can’t, that would be textbook discrimination. In fact saying you couldn’t have affinity groups at all may or may not be legal but would certainly be pretty suspect.

          a protected category is a term of law– it means gender, gender conformity (as of last year), orientation, race, skin color, national origin, etc. These are all equally protected.

            1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

              Gender is a protected category, so if men are discriminated against in a particular workplace because of their gender, they can sue.

            2. Wintermute*

              “gender” is protected, that means men and women. That’s the entire point of this. In employment law treatment must be EQUAL, not equitable in light of larger societal issues, equal. You can’t pay men more than women, but you also cannot pay women more than men even if you’re doing it to make up for historical pay discrepancies, both are equally illegal.

            3. wittyrepartee*

              Actually, a lot of early rulings were about men being kept from doing things, rather than women. It was a wedge to create precedent for later rulings about women. For instance: men not being allowed to buy alcohol at certain times, or men having to pay more for car insurance.

              1. Observer*

                RBG used this tactic quite successfully as a lawyer. I think one landmark case she won was about survivor’s benefits on Social Security.

              2. SnappinTerrapin*

                My parents married when Mom was 19 and Dad was 20. Legally, she was an adult and could decide for herself whether to marry. Dad, on the other hand, had to have his father’s written consent to marry before attaining the age of 21. There was a patchwork of laws that developed over several centuries that sometimes favored one gender, and sometimes the other. They may have made sense in the particular context in which they were adopted, but it developed into a system that lacked any internal consistency. Instead, it arbitrarily used gender for a proxy for individual assessment of needs and abilities in order to “protect” people in a variety of legal contexts.

                There used to be a statute in Alabama that allowed married women over 18 to buy alcohol, as they were “full adults,” but married or not, a man couldn’t buy alcohol before turning 21. Women could enter into business contracts, as well as marriages, at 18, but men weren’t “adults” until they were 21.

                The common law practices of dower and curtesy, for another example, were designed to protect widowed person’s economic interests, but used very different mechanisms to address a common situation. The British economy from several centuries ago is, obviously, very different from the modern US economy, but the ancient common law doctrines still applied when I was a young adult. Whatever merit there may have been to the ancient practices when they were adopted, it makes more sense in today’s society to treat similarly situated men and women equally.

          1. Observer*

            You could be right. Still gross, although I certainly would not blame the company for this.

          2. logicbutton*

            Wouldn’t that also mean that an employer with, for example, a Black employee network would also have to have a white employee network? Since race is a protected class. I can’t imagine anyone worth working for would do that.

            1. Wintermute*

              that is correct, if you prohibited them you’d be saying “you can’t have a group because of your skin color” and that’s the essence of discrimination.

              The reason it doesn’t happen is because, as you point out, most people have more self-awareness around race topics and most workplaces are sensitive to such things. Also nowhere I’ve worked had affinity groups by skin color, they had some by culture (hispanic/latino, etc) and some by minority status, and minority status as a whole is slightly different.

            2. Nina*

              If the Black employee network was explicitly run by the company, yes. If it was a group organized and given momentum by Black employees wanting it, and just advertised in the company newsletter and used a company conference room, then no – the company would fulfil its obligation to equality by being open to allowing a white employee network to use newsletter space and a conference room if such a network arose. There’s no requirement to actually set one up.

      1. TiredAmoeba*

        I strongly suspect this is the case. Someone is insisting that men have to be allowed to have their group too. This group will either become a good source of information for the men in the organization talking about mental health and other positive topics that have been mentioned. Or it will be a bunch of guys sitting around gloating that that have a space to complain all about those pesky women who don’t know their place. And that crows was going to do it anyway, they just feel validated that they get to have an official “group” too.

    5. Nelliebelle1197*

      I cannot reply to your reply to Chad above, but thank you and Amen for that one.

      1. addiez*

        So I’m a woman in finance… but I’ve often wondered about this question and perhaps I’ve just thought about it wrong. But our employee resource groups are a HUGE networking and promotional opportunity that are specifically designed for minorities – women, POC, etc. But we’ve also branched out, so we have some alumni groups, working parents, etc. I have felt bad for men without kids as there’s not an opportunity for them to get involved in the same way.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Is membership *limited* to people within that group, or can anyone attend? I’m a member of several employee resource groups at my company even though I only am in the named group of one (hetero white woman in the LGBTQ+, African American, and Women groups).

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Meant to add — our ERG explicitly state that anyone is welcome and encouraged to attend; every email or meeting invite for an event states that, and it’s part of each ERG’s charter.

        2. Critical Rolls*

          The thing to remember is that men without kids in the finance industry have always had access to a wide variety of networking routes, from golf games to working lunches to after work drinks… many of which have been less available or unavailable to the people now benefiting from the groups you mentioned. None of those older networking avenues have closed. Those guys still get opportunities others are shut out of, although it’s hopefully less deliberate than it was.

          1. ferrina*

            But the current methods generally continue to benefit the same people. Creating new avenues and new networks isn’t a bad thing, as long as it’s not just adding advantage to those that already have it.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I worked for a year in corporate finance with almost all men. Here are the issues they could address in a men’s group:

      * Why business meetings at Hooter’s are a bad idea, even if the wings are good.
      * Why working every night – and requiring your subordinates to work – until 9 or 10 p.m. is a bad idea, even if you personally went to boarding school at the age of four and aren’t bothered at the idea of not seeing your own children and even if you have a wife at home taking care of all the details.
      * Why asking the admin – who is in theory the admin for the entire group – to make your haircut and doctor appointments and to take your car for service is a bad idea.
      * Why requiring the most junior members of the team to pay for Friday bagels for not only the entire finance group but also for anyone who ever worked in the finance group is a bad idea.
      * Why inviting your team to a night baseball game instead of an afternoon workday one is a bad idea.
      * Why suggesting that junior team members, who have met their deadlines and are not leaving work undone, should not walk out the door at 6 p.m. is a bad idea.
      * Why creating a climate where gay team members have to lie about their partner and talk about the partner as a “she” is a bad idea.

      I’m sure I could come up with more but I have tried to block that year out of my memories.

      1. Chinook*

        I know that you may not have meant it that way, but this is exactly where a well run men’s group would be useful. If you had men in leadership who would bring up these topics to those underneath them in a meeting, they could discuss why these are all bad ideas in an atmosphere that leads the information to be internalized instead of putting someone of the self-defense (like RebelwithMouseyHair did with her friend). But, to do that well, you need the listeners to have space to change their minds. Will it work on ever “bro”? Of course not. The key is that it will work on the guys who are feeling pressured to “go with the flow” but now see that leadership is serious and have a legit reason to do things differently from how they once were.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          I had this same reaction. Although I think Texan might have meant it both sarcastically AND seriously. A well moderated men’s affinity group could be an awesome thing if it was a safe space to talk about toxic masculinity, insecurities, and what supporting women and POC would look like. Well. Moderated.

    7. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’m a white male, and I’m old enough to retire if I decide to. I’ve never worked anywhere that there were disparities in pay on account of gender or race, in the public or private sector. I am aware that other workplaces have those issues; it just hasn’t been my own experience.

      When an employer organizes affinity groups, I think it’s an effort on their part to manage the narrative and ensure that any issues are managed to their own satisfaction, which may or may not lead to actually addressing the employees’ concerns. Obviously, if I were a member of another demographic group, my attitudes would be informed by different experiences, so I’m aware that I might see this differently if I were not an older white male.

      Having said that, my current attitude is that I would be disinclined to join an employer-sponsored affinity group because of my doubt that it would serve my needs, whatever they might be in a given workplace. Then again, I’m also somewhat skeptical of privately organized affinity groups, because I have a cynical view of human nature. All too often, groups are organized ostensibly for one purpose, but people in the group have an agenda that may not coincide with the interests of the broader group. If I gave examples, it would probably derail by triggering a variety of biases.

      I am not condemning people for voluntarily associating with others with whom they may share some common interest, although I occasionally wonder which interests they actually share. I try very hard to limit my judgments to what interests they actually pursue, and what means they employ to pursue those interests.

      After all, voluntary associations (formal or informal) CAN do a lot of good, both for the group and for the rest of society. So much depends on the motives and the goals, as well as the means employed, in each case.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        “I’ve never worked anywhere that there were disparities in pay on account of gender or race, in the public or private sector.”

        How do you know this? Have you always worked in HR with access to all salaries and done deep analysis of pay scales and where people are at on those scales? If so, hats off to you, but if not, I consider it disingenuous to claim this.

        1. RagingADHD*

          There are sectors – public service and some union controlled industries, for example- where salaries are strictly tiered and tied to seniority rather than subjective reviews or negotiation. Sometimes salaries are a matter of public record.

  5. learnedthehardway*

    Unless the “men’s forum” is there to support men who are being discriminated against and systematically denied career opportunities, professional development, and equal pay for equal work, based on their gender, then it is very hard to see how this is anything but an overt, deliberate attempt to recreate the old boys’ club.

    I think the issue should be brought up to HR.

    1. Wendy*

      I could see someone tying to be “fair” (and missing the point) by making a men’s forum and a women’s forum, with identical meetings and activities but at separate times, kind of like splitting up the boys and the girls for the “your changing body” unit in health class. That doesn’t mean it WOULD be fair, mind you, but I could see someone trying it.

      1. Hermione Stranger*

        Honestly, it would be hilarious if it IS “your changing body” but for, like, people who are about to retire. “Your feet probably hurt all the time. You should probably get orthotics. But mostly they’ll probably still hurt.”

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          “Parts that you didn’t know could hurt will”, “Cuts and bruises will take 3x longer to heal”, “One bad night sleep might wreck you for a week”
          I needed this group 5 years ago!

        2. Elizabeth West*


          “You almost certainly WILL need reading glasses. There are many styles available to fit your aesthetic. Plan on having many pairs in different places because you will lose them.”

    2. Asenath*

      There are reasons to organize a group around a particular segment of society that has nothing to do with being oppressed – the most common one is to share interests. It is also rather unfair to say that some groups of people can organize, and others can’t.

      1. metadata minion*

        Affinity groups in the workplace are almost exclusively in response to marginalization within the workplace. If men want to meet to talk about “men’s” interests (what would those be? most stereotypical men’s hobbies are also shared by people of other genders), they are capable of doing that on their own without an employer-sponsored group.

        1. Asenath*

          Perhaps there shouldn’t be affinity groups in the workplace at all, since the people who might join one can certainly join during their private lives and without employer involvement. I may be more likely to see that as a solution because I’m not sure I’ve even encountered one outside of post-secondary education. But I’m not much of a joiner and have never participated in such a group, even during my education, so I am having difficulty seeing the problems people have with them. I’d say either everyone gets one in the workplace, or no one does, on the grounds they serve a personal need best met outside the organization.

          1. Nameless in Customer Service*

            The thing is, one’s demographics affect one’s employment and career opportunities. People such as women, POC, with disabilities and so on face such issues as microaggressions, fewer career opportunities, and isolation from others with similar experiences. That’s (one reason) why affinity groups are appropriate for the workplace for demographic groups who face such issues.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I share interests with men! For example, I’d love to be able for people to listen to me rather than waiting for a guy to say the same thing and then hearing what a great idea Joe had.

      3. Observer*

        There are reasons to organize a group around a particular segment of society that has nothing to do with being oppressed – the most common one is to share interests

        And what general interests to men have that women don’t? There ARE some specific areas where it makes sense to have specific men’s groups – others have mentioned a number of those. But IN GENERAL? What? Men don’t face discrimination JUST because they are men. In an industry like finance they also don’t face isolation JUST because they are men. So what is this common interest that they have – and the they need “allies” for?

      4. X*

        Yes because the world has historically been “fair” to those who actually need these groups, right.

      5. JX*

        I feel this way as well. It’s seemed not quite right that I can join and promote a women’s group, but men can’t do the same. Absolutely I don’t favor the good old boy networks, but when does the attempt to balance past wrongs become oppression?

        For the last few years in the workplace, I actually feel that men, especially straight white men, are the ones being marginalized. Hiring, awards, key nominations – it’s like there’s a priority checklist based on race, gender, sexual orientation and secondly work competency. I want every single person to have equal opportunities. I love our diverse workforce, rich with cultural nuances. When can people just be people, workers based on merit, and current generation stop paying for past wrongs?

        1. A Feast of Fools*

          “…straight white men are the ones being marginalized.”

          Hmmmm… Here are some stats that say you’re wrong:

          * Six S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies had Black CEOs in 2021 (1.2% of F500 companies); 40 had Asian American CEOs (8%), and Latinx/Hispanic executives led 20 (4%).

          * Black people make up about 13.4% of the country, only six were CEOs in 2021, up from five in 2020.

          * In 2021, 6.9% of companies were led by female CEOs, and 15.1% had female CFOs. Within the 682 companies in the study, people of color held 73 CFO positions—an all-time high representation of 11% [Crist Kolder Associates study of 682 S&P 500 & Fortune 500 companies.]

          * 30% of all S&P 500 directors in 2021 were women.

          * Women CEOs make $0.90 to every male CEO’s $1.00

          Please fill us in on how straight white men are being marginalized.

        2. ---*

          Yikes on bikes. Historically under-represented, marginalized, exploited groups receiving deserved recognition is nowhere near “oppression” of white men, unless you believe that white men should always be centered.

          I’d also suggest you ask yourself why you assume those non-dominant groups don’t have the work competency required to get awards. That is deeply troubling reasoning, rife with prejudice.

          Finally, as to your statement on ostensible merit and colorblindness: why can’t that happen? Because it’s not the world we live in; people aren’t judged or rewarded or hired “just as people” or workers, and the fact that recognizing this reads to you as punitive is disturbing.

        3. Nina*

          > I love our diverse workforce, rich with cultural nuances.

          My company has the issue that 80% of staff think it’s a diverse workplace (they did a survey).

          80% of staff are also white, male, straight, Anglophone, and under 40. I’m not sure where they think the diversity is – some of them are from different countries? some of them are atheists?

        4. New Jack Karyn*

          “When can people just be people, workers based on merit, and current generation stop paying for past wrongs?”

          When the wrongs are actually in the past.

      6. Erin*

        +1 to this. There are gazillions of affinity groups at the world-wide tech giant that I work for. The group with the most members is the Puppers Group. Everyone in the group unites over a shared love of dogs. Side note: the photos = the one chat you do not have on mute

        I don’t care if Men have their own affinity group or forum. I also don’t have an overwhelming need to control the subject matter of a Men’s group, and force men to talk about prostate exams or anything else that isn’t of interest to the members. If that’s the case, will women be forced to discuss Pap smears in the Women’s group? If so, I’m definitely declining that meeting invite.

    3. G*

      I’ve worked somewhere with a men’s and allies forum and it was great. It meet regularly primarily about mental health issues, they had a great session for allies about how to speak to the men in your lives about their mental health and recently a guest speaker on fertility issues from the male perspective. It does have a very clear and publicised mission statement about getting men to open up and talk and share more about their mental health.

      1. Observer*

        It does have a very clear and publicised mission statement about getting men to open up and talk and share more about their mental health.

        I think that that’s the key to this conversation.

        1. QuickerBooks*

          That’s the whole problem with the original post. It offers almost zero details about this group or its self-professed mission statement. So it functions as a nearly perfect Rorschach test in which everyone can see whatever evidence of bad faith, enlightenment, optimism, pessimism, progressiveness, or reactionary politics they want to see.

          1. L-squared*

            This is 100% true. For every person who wants to assume the worst, the lack of any other details gives them enough evidence to just think its this insidious.

            For everyone giving them the benefit of the doubt, the lack of details gives them enough to say that is fine.

            But as someone else mentioned, she could ask. Or just go. They can’t stop her from going. Or just asking for what will be discussed is perfectly valid. But as of now its just getting upset without any real details on whether or not there is something to be upset about

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Yep. I mentioned the group at one of my old jobs that was specifically focused on addressing toxic masculinity for men working in a field that is traditionally worked by women. The organizers were very explicit with their mission and focus and the group included all men (cis/trans). It can be done right, but it has to be well planned and enforced.

  6. Princess Xena*

    #4 OP – I would go further and note that calling your students your clients is misleading – you don’t exactly have a client relationship with your students. You’re teaching them, sure, but arguably your clients are their parents and/or the school itself. The students are one step removed from a captive audience. That shouldn’t downplay your accomplishments any, but it’s different enough from the normal client/contractor relationship that I would be hesitant to frame it that way. It would be almost similar to a quality control or internal efficiency post. But Alison is as usual entirely correct in that the best way to make your resume less ‘teachery’ is to focus more on the how you managed accomplishments, not on the school language.

    1. Sleepy cat*

      At a push you could call them learners. But the people who read your resume will know that they would have been students.

      1. John Smith*

        Nah, stick with students. Personally, I hate job titles that needlessly dress up the role or relationship between one party and another. “Officer” (as in, for example, customer service officer) is one. Unless your job holds a statutory function and you’re appointed, you’re not an officer. Local authorities referring to residents as clients or customers is another example. Same in the health profession – I’m a patient, not a client, customer or service user (one reason I left nursing, sorry, “health practitioning” long ago when this nonsense started). And I see other professions doing the same, changing well known and easily understood job titles to “practitioner”.

        If a person has an issue or lack of understanding about your job role or the relationships involved, you can educate them. There’s no need to change names.

        1. Sanskritchers*

          Agreed. The more you try to use obscure terminology, the worse you look when someone asks (or Googles), “What does customer service officer mean?” and finds out, “Oh, it’s just a regular old customer service representative.” Now you’ve been brought down a peg in their eyes, plus it looks like you were intentionally obfuscating as well, which makes that person wonder why you would do that. So don’t.

        2. Batgirl*

          I rolled my eyes so hard the first time I got a council press release calling the tax payers “customers”. It was supposed to make them look so businesslike and efficient, but it just made them look like arseholes who didn’t understand their duty of care was to everyone in the area, of all ages and incomes and not just to a few people who cough up some cash. Its not like an individual can shop elsewhere if they don’t like their local services.

      2. Antilles*

        Personally, if I read a resume which used “learner” instead of “student”, I’d be rolling my eyes pretty hard. It would come across like you’re trying to pretentiously puff up your resume with a thesaurus.

        1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

          I work in healthcare education, and we use “students” and “learners” pretty interchangeably. Although that may also be because some of our learners are not technically students; they’re medical residents.

      3. Teacher to Nonprofits*

        Thanks for your feedback — I agree. I need to remember that even though some of my work is unknown to the outside world, it’s not worth changing the apsects people DO understand!

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, I agree. A private tutor might be able to call their students clients, because in those cases, the students have more say in whether or not they’re willing or able to work with a particular tutor. Obviously this is more true of adult students/clients who are paying the tutor, than of children/teenagers whose parents are paying. But even so, in many cases kids would have more influence in who their parents pay to teach them (no sense in paying for a tutor your kid can’t or refuses to work with), than they have in a school environment.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        As a teacher leader myself, I would call them students but also urge you to focus on how you led faculty members to create these programs and results.

        1. Chinook*

          That was my thought too. 100% graduation rate is not just based on academics but also socio-economic factors (i.e. non of the kids needed a second job to support themselves or their families), a lack of teen pregnancies in that group of students, as well as working a with a group where their peers with sever learning disabilities have already been screened out. A teacher can accomplish a lot but can not take sole credit (or blame) for the success of a group of students.

          In the last case, I taught a group of students who had a classmate who, in grade 7, had the functioning intellect of a 4 year old (he had a full-time aide who was working on life skills such as caring for a teenage body and understanding basic signs when classmates worked on core curriculum. He still took option classes like drama and home ec, where his classmates showed compassion and care for him and saw how different people require different expectations without judgement). He was fully integrated in the class and would probably go through their graduation ceremonies in grade 12 as he is one of their peers, but the graduation rate for that year would not be 100%, no matter how hard any teacher worked.

    3. 653-CXK*

      “Clients” to me sounds like you’re at the courthouse in front of the judge, explaining why the person in handcuffs next to you shouldn’t be charged with what they did. Where I work, we often call people who are enrolled in our program “program members” or “participants.”

      1. Kate*

        That’s a weird take. Clients is used in lots of industries other than law (and most law isn’t criminal law). I work in insurance and we have clients.

      2. ecnaseener*

        This is a good point — LW, the advice would be bad even if you were trying to break into the corporate world, but you’re not. I wouldn’t put much stock in anything else this job coach tells you, especially about using corporate-speak in the nonprofit world.

    4. Love to WFH*

      I once had a teacher as me for advice on adjusting his resume to apply for a job in IT. As I recall, his resume was very hard for me to understand. The terminology used was something I’d NEVER seen before. I don’t mean the word “students” but there was a lot of education jargon.

      Many specialities have jargon! It is normal and efficient, but it needs to go in order to be intelligible to an outsider.

      It’s possible that your resume might have some of that going on. But, yes, don’t change “students” to “clients”.

      1. Batgirl*

        Ooh yes. The education field has a lot of initialisms for example, which could certainly die an easy death. A word like “students” that everybody can understand and relate to on some level? Those should stay as they are in the interests of plain English.

      2. Smithy*

        This right here!

        I think that when making a career switch, it’s noticing the jargon and also making sure you really get some to understand your accomplishments. If you do something impressive, being able to show the baseline to where you are now (the case of the 17% to 76%) or how you compare to other schools in your region or with similar students. Like, getting 100% graduation rate if you were at 95% graduation rate before – what was that 5%?

        It’s not to say that people in other fields are dumb, but that we may just really have no clue why what someone has done is impressive without a little more help.

    5. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I agree with the advice to stick to “students.” However, I wonder if the LW is transitioning into a social work field where the people being served are often called “clients,” and that’s part of the reason the coach is suggesting that. Doesn’t change the advice in my opinion but if this were the case, it makes the wording change a little less disingenuous than if the LW were switching to a different field unrelated to the service field.

    6. "Clients" is Confusing Here*

      Agreed, calling students something like “clients” is baffling for reasons I see a few folks have already outlined (like how students pre-college can’t really choose who is doing the teaching). The advice reeks of a similar attitude to what my own education-related field is going through right now, corporatizing language for the sake of doing so because it’s “professional”.

      I guess I’m not qualified to comment on whether the rest of the world actually cares about this enough to warrant a change, but I definitely know that within a sector that’s driven by additional factors beyond profit, everyone below “Director”-level seems to express… well, let’s say it just gives a negative impression when someone values things like using the correct business jargon over other details like whether a given process is working (these two traits overlapping seems to be a pattern anywhere I’m able to look).

      Now, to be clear, I agree that many concepts can be generalized to a point where standardizing language makes sense. If the topic were talking about students as “clients” in the context of, say, attending a multidisciplinary workshop on broad strategies to facilitate some aspect of doing work, I could see that making sense. I would also advocate that someone trying to bring those concepts back to the workplace be able to translate though, because trying to morph everything into corporate business-speak reads as trying to prioritize profits and bottom lines over any non-profit-related goals of the past like successfully teaching people (which, in places where that’s been the thing, is sometimes why the employees work there).

      Basically, if there’s a function to generalizing language across lots of fields, then I think I could see it making sense. Otherwise, I agree that doing so is more deceptive than descriptive, and also caution that there exists a segment of the population which will read framing everything in terms of capitalistic transaction (even in sectors where we mostly agree that doesn’t make sense, like how the US has public education, where the financial transaction is deliberately not directly connected to the individuals getting the education… sorta, it’s messy, but it’s definitely not as direct as a store or something) as a negative.

  7. my 8th name*

    #2 you mention that she is a bully to peers outside of the org? What does that means and why do you know that? Because if my boss began providing feedback on my behavior outside of work, I might feel picked on unnecessarily (unless it was particularly egregious behavior that could have negative consequences for the company).

    In response to your question, it may be helpful to articulate that she’s falling behind her peers and how specifically she need to improve to keep up with their work product. That way it may come off as less personal/subjective in her eyes.

    Good luck!

    1. TechWorker*

      I think/hope it’s using ‘org’ to mean something like ‘department’, Eg the peers in question are still colleagues working for the same company, just in a different area.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Or are from a partner agency, another stakeholder group, community group that provides direct services, etc.. Having worked in non-profits my mind wend to another agency that we worked closely with like, say, March of Dimes works closely with state health departments for newborn screening

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah, I took it to mean during work activities, not solely with people who work for the same employer.

    2. GLK*

      I work on a daily basis with counterparts that do similar work at other organizations (and at least in my industry (non-profit/advocacy), this is extremely common). It would absolutely be within my boss’s purview to give feedback on how I interact with those colleagues. I do not at all see how something like how one interacts with counterparts at other organizations is “behavior outside of work” — seems pretty squarely within what you’d expect a supervisor to give feedback on, just like you’d give feedback about negative interactions with clients or vendors.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes me too. I work with people from outside the company both suppliers but also people in other companies we work closely with on joint projects. My company makes teacups so we work with a company making plates for example. It’s quite acceptable for my boss to ask the partner company for feedback on me as they see me on a day to day basis. Equally I’ve been approached for feedback on people in partner companies.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        If I’m at work and my interactions with people outside the organization are causing problems for the company then it is ABSOLUTELY within the scope of the bosses responsibilities to talk to me about how my interactions affect the whole team and possibly my job.

      3. TheRain'sSmallHands*

        I spent some of my career in Vendor Relations or Vendor Management. When you spend as much time on the phone working with your “partners” – you can certainly be bullying someone outside your organization. And sometimes being really hard on vendors is appropriate. And sometimes it really isn’t. I also saw cases where the vendor staff would bully customer employees – much more rare because that’s a much bigger no no.

    3. Myrin*

      “outside of the org” doesn’t mean “outside of work”. I read that as Jane needing to interact with people in Jane-like positions at other companies whereby her behaviour falls squarely under her manager’s purview.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I read that as “she tries to push around the outside council and her equivalent at our partner organization” rather than “she is mean to her friends.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Very seldom do I come across someone who bullies people outside of their group. That doesn’t mean they aren’t bullies, it just means they know when to put a lid on it. So it jumps out at me that OP knows this woman bullies people outside of their organization. UH, she represents your organization, is that what the organization wants, to look like a bunch of bullies?

      So basically OP you have an employee who cannot take feedback and has a rep as a bully to those outside your group. These are two dismissible offenses each on their own. Currently she is throwing up imaginary hurdles to prevent you from effectively leading her. I predict left unchecked she will eventually use some bullying tactics with YOU if you do not put your foot down HARD. I’d consider starting to put things in writing and have her sign that she has received and read them.

      Your letter reads like you are trying to protect her from her own folly. Please make it a life habit/work habit to notice when people are causing their own problems and refuse to protect them from themselves.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        So basically OP you have an employee who cannot take feedback and has a rep as a bully to those outside your group. These are two dismissible offenses each on their own.

        This was my take on it too.

      2. Nom nom*

        So basically OP you have an employee who cannot take feedback and has a rep as a bully to those outside your group. These are two dismissible offenses each on their own.

        I’ve been a manager for a long time, and I’ve had a mix of good, adequate, bad and absolutely shocking managers. A majority of managers deliver feedback that is unreasonable, subjective, nonsensical, badly explained, inconsistent, or otherwise unactionable. Someone pushing back on a manager’s feedback should never be a firable offence.

        As for bullying, we need to use this word very carefully. Pushing back against unreasonable, nonsensical or otherwise unactionable requests does not constitute bullying, nor does being disrespectful or rude by itself. It is Not Good At All to be disrespectful or rude in any situation, but context is critical. (For instance, a guy I used to work with, Dave, was almost put on a PIP because his manager thought he was “bullying” a client. The client kicked up an enormous stink when they heard about it, because Dave was actually reiterating a quite famous movie scene to him, at the client’s request, because Dave was well-known for his brilliant impression of the main actor. Literally everyone else in the office was aware of this. Funnily enough, the bully in this situation was actually Dave’s manager.)

        Currently she is throwing up imaginary hurdles to prevent you from effectively leading her. I predict left unchecked she will eventually use some bullying tactics with YOU if you do not put your foot down HARD. I’d consider starting to put things in writing and have her sign that she has received and read them.

        I’m sorry, but no. Upwards bullying is almost always complete and total nonsense, especially in this case, where OP2 has been hand-picked by a boss they have an established relationship with to shake things up. It is more likely that Jane doesn’t understand OP2’s feedback, or thinks it is unreasonable or otherwise unactionable.

        I would actually recommend that OP2 has a facilitated conversation with Jane and HR, as most of this sounds like teething issues and miscommunication, rather than major or unsolvable problems. If Jane has been a rock star before, she can be again, but adequate time and support is required. I also doubt that Jane is the only team member experiencing confusion or other issues with the shake up.

    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      If these people are not part of the organisation but she’s working with them, she absolutely has to be professional at all times, because she represents the organisation. Anyone who knows only her and no other organisation member will assume the entire organisation is like her. So it’s totally the boss’s business.

    6. Observer*

      you mention that she is a bully to peers outside of the org? ~~~snip~~ Because if my boss began providing feedback on my behavior outside of work, I might feel picked on unnecessarily (unless it was particularly egregious behavior that could have negative consequences for the company).

      If these are professional peers, it’s almost certainly an issue that could have negative consequences for the company. And it’s probably NOT outside of work. These are almost certainly people she needs to deal with as part of her job.

    7. Heffalump*

      OP2’s position could be phrased as “there’s a new sheriff in town.” Whether it’s appropriate to put it so bluntly is another discussion.

    8. Op#2*

      Hiya – yes another commenter got it. I run a department (org) and she’s been disrespectful and rude to colleagues in a work context that don’t work with me directly.

  8. Sleepy cat*

    #2 So she has a terrible attitude problem and thinks this is an appropriate way to respond to feedback?

    Say what Alison said, but go into this expecting to end up firing her. Because you will probably have to.

    1. John Smith*

      It sounds like it, but first check whether the feedback is actually fair. My manager comes up with all sorts of feedback that consist mainly of his own warped perceptions rather than facts or anything remotely close to reality. It’s exhausting having to consistently prove he is wrong on so many of his perceptions which he takes to be reality.

      1. JSPA*

        That’s a strange take, and out of line with a) our site directive that we take each OP’s words as the best view we have, of the situation and
        b) the fact that one’s organization and one’s boss get to define the needs of the job. Not, of course, to include anything illegal or immoral or against the literal rules of a certification! But your choice at that point is, “whistleblower.” When you are the boss, you get to choose how to proceed. That’s what being in charge means. Corporations are not democracies; discussions with your boss are not a debate between equals on the merits.

        1. John Smith*

          Where I am coming from is that I’m a Jane, except I pushed back against feedback from my manager simply because that feedback was completely wrong, even though my manager insisted it to be true. It got to the point of a disciplinary hearing for insubordination which was dropped when I produced plenty of evidence showing the feedback was unfair, inaccurate and just downright wrong (including being abusive to colleagues when I had not been – said colleagues being witnesses to this). No action taken against the manager, btw.
          I’m not saying that the OP is like my manager in any way. Only that a manager should satisfy themselves that they are in the right before insisting their feedback is followed.

          1. Snow Globe*

            Defending yourself against feedback by showing your actual results and disputing inaccurate statements from your manager makes sense. Claiming your performance is fine because a previous manager was happy with it does not make much sense, and leads me to think the problem is Jane.

            1. John Smith*

              Not always. I recall one new manager in a call centre who, in the first performance review with his new staff, gave everyone low ratings even though their previous performance was comparable to their current (high) performance. The reason for it was so he could make it look like he improved the team. Some argued against him or tried to fulfill his impossible feedback requirements, most of us left. But I don’t want to have an off topic discussion. All I’m trying to point out is that the Janes of this world might have a point.

              1. Observer*

                Except that you are making up stuff from whole cloth. Nothing that the OP says REMOTELY compares to what you are describing.

          2. tessa*

            Then you aren’t a Jane, John.

            Because the letter is about a Jane who is pushing back against legitimate feedback.

            That isn’t you, according to you. According to you, you pushed back against feedback that you say wasn’t legitimate.

            See the difference?

            1. John Smith*

              What I was trying to say is to make sure the feedback is legitimate. If it is, fair enough. But my manager thought his feedback was legitimate. So did his manager and that manager’s manager. Maybe I’m just jaded by having a series of very poor managers…

              1. Beany*

                But since the OP is the one providing the feedback to Jane, and we’re taking them at their word, we HAVE to assume the feedback is legitimate for this letter.

                If Jane had written in, or OP’s own boss, then “check that the feedback is legitimate” is appropriate advice. To OP, it’s not.

                1. Myrin*

                  Yeah, the more I’m reading of this conversation (there was only the top comment when I commented this morning my time), the less I understand it – nothing in the letter indicates that “Jane’s work is subpar […], she doesn’t take feedback and has been a bit of a bully” is anything other than an observation by OP herself and presumably not something she’s pulled out of her behind just for the fun of it. What exactly is left there to be checked?

              2. tessa*

                So, three of your managers disagree with your self-assessment. You assert they are wrong and you are right.

                Presumably, then, you expect the readership here to believe you. As such, shouldn’t you show that same courtesy to the LW?

                Because frankly, I’m inclined to question your self-assessment, given three different people at different levels have the exact same critique of you.

                But I won’t question things as stated, because doing so violates the spirit of the situation and railroads it into all kinds of irrelevant rabit holes. So, let’s go with what the LW says, and comment from there.

                @LW: I think you have been great at being straightforward with Jane. I second what Alison says, i.e. stay direct, be prepared to put Jane on a PIP, and also be prepare to possibly move forward from there. Even managing reliable and dedicated employees is tough sometimes. Good luck!

                1. John Smith*

                  First, I’d like to extend the same sentiments to the LW as you do. But hear this. I’ve had three bad managers. I’ve had the same criticism:. Maybe it’s you and not your managers. Three people can’t be wrong. And then when I have laid out all the examples, all the circumstances I have been through, have provided the evidence, have been through disciplinary hearings subsequently abandoned because the evidence simply wasn’t there…those same people say “oh my, you really have had three bad managers and it’s not you at all that has been the problem”. Try having a manager that blames you for not reminding them that they had an appointment when:

                  A:. You’re not their PA. you’re not required to remind them, nor are you otherwise involved in their diary or had any involvement, knowledge or requirement of such in the circumstances of this appointment.
                  B:. They never asked you to remind them of the appointment.
                  C:. They never told you they had an appointment to begin with. The first you heard about it, or anything whatsoever to do with it, is when you were reprimanded for failing to remind them.

                  But you’re put on an improvement plan for failing to tell them and for arguing back “how can I do something I know nothing about?”

                  Tell me. Who has the problem here? Me, or the manager?

                  That is exactly the kind of thing I’ve had with my past three managers. And that is a very minor and miniscule example. Other examples include serious breaches of legislation.

                  Like I said at the start, sometimes Janes aren’t always the problem. And sometimes, I wonder why I bloody well bother.

          3. Yep*

            I pushed back against feedback from my manager simply because that feedback was completely wrong, even though my manager insisted it to be true. It got to the point of a disciplinary hearing for insubordination which was dropped when I produced plenty of evidence showing the feedback was unfair, inaccurate and just downright wrong (including being abusive to colleagues when I had not been – said colleagues being witnesses to this). No action taken against the manager, btw.

            I am so sorry that you went through that, John Smith, but am so glad that it worked out well for you in the end! That gives me hope. Disgusting that your manager got away with this, though!

            And I agree that “a manager should satisfy themselves that they are in the right before insisting their feedback is followed”, too.

      2. Myrin*

        I don’t quite understand what you’re saying (or maybe I’m misreading you!), but… OP is the manager who is providing feedback.
        She wrote in saying Jane exhibits problems which she herself witnessed and took note of.
        If OP has the same kind of warped perceptions as your manager, she is not going to re-examine them because she has already determined they’re problems, enough so that she’s written in to Alison.
        (And, just my two cents, but OP sounds level-headed and compassionate – I don’t see any reason to assume she has skewed perceptions regarding this one employee, especially seeing how she’s already determined that the warning her own boss gave her was actually wrong and the apparent struggling team was adapting just fine. That reads like someone who is realistic and actually good at managing.)

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I don’t think you do subpar work nor do you bully outsiders. So OP’s setting is different.

      4. Observer*

        It sounds like it, but first check whether the feedback is actually fair.

        The rule of thumb here is that we take the OP at their word, unless there is explicit reason to believe otherwise. Someone’s person experience that was different that what an OP describes doesn’t begin to qualify.

        Also, Jane is actually NOT providing any facts that would support her contention that she’s actually doing well.

      5. Yep*


        My first thought reading OP2’s letter was: what is the actual problem with Jane’s work, other than something vague about it being “subpar”? What about her work is subpar? Is it an actual problem? If the “problem” is to do with new procedures, has she been given adequate time, support and training to make whatever changes are apparently required?

        Just because a manager says something is so, doesn’t actually make it true.

        1. tessa*

          Okay, but the forum rules are to accept letters at their word and go from there – which is exactly what Alison does.

          It’s not complicated.

        2. Elsajeni*

          The OP didn’t give details about exactly what is subpar about Jane’s work because that wasn’t the problem they needed help with. Their question isn’t “Jane’s work has the following list of issues — is that bad enough to describe as subpar?”, but rather “Given that Jane’s work is subpar, how do I get her to take that feedback seriously?” We’re never going to get the full detail of everything mentioned in every letter — for one thing, every “short answer” question would be 5000 words long — hence the commenting rule about taking letter-writers at their word.

        3. Op#2*

          Fair callout! I don’t know how to link comments but I provided some (intentionally redacted) examples. I do think it’s a good question that should be allowed!

      6. Nameless in Customer Service*

        first check whether the feedback is actually fair.

        FWIW, I thought this was a useful reminder. Even the fairest-minded people can sometimes need a moment to disentangle “this person is being annoying” from “this person is doing a bad job”.

        1. Nom nom*

          People should not have to let their managers walk all over them. Managers are humans, too, and are subjective and imperfect. Their feedback can be wrong, unreasonable, nonsensical, unactionable, or poorly explained. Managers also need to remember that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

          Now, Jane could be totally useless and unsalvageable, but I suspect there is more to it, even if it is unintentional on OP2’s part. A problem like this usually indicates a personality issue rather than a real performance issue, bullying, unrealistic/uncommunicated expectations, and/or poor training and support.

          It could be as simple as OP2 being brought in to shake things up, OP2 making a whole bunch of changes that the team may or may not agree with, and that Jane is the member of the team who is the most visible when it comes to talking or asking about the changes. The team member who is considering a rock star, and/or is senior, will often fill this role. This will often create a personality clash of sorts, and it is unlikely that only one team member is either questioning the changes being made, or finding them difficult or confusing.

      7. Op#2*

        Hey – I don’t know how to link comments but I provided some examples below. Basically this chain is my worst nightmare and I hope that’s NOT what’s happening. I try really hard to ground my feedback in things that are more objective, like meeting our style guides or following protocol. I do appreciate hearing from someone who can color in why she’s having the reaction she’s having though!

    2. Yep*

      Say what Alison said, but go into this expecting to end up firing her. Because you will probably have to.

      To anyone that is a manager, or ever will be a manager, do NOT take this advice. This is pure Set Up To Fail Syndrome, where nothing the employee does will ever satisfy you, because you have permitted yourself to form an unconscious bias that will become set in stone. This is the sign of a manager who is not only incompetent, but actively damaging.

      The employee could be the most competent and talented person on your team, or in the whole company, and it will not save them from your terrible management, or lack of ethics or morals.

      1. Sleepy cat*

        I said this based on the attitude Jane is demonstrating. Someone who thinks that is an ok way to behave is highly unlikely to be salvageable.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        But even the most talented and rock star employee has to work in and with the team, and has to accept changes. Jane could have been a rock star in the past – but she’s not meeting expectations now. And beyond not meeting expectations, she’s making excuses and acting out and causing problems. That batch of behaviors is why we are saying Jane may not be salvageable as an employee here.

    3. Banana*

      I had a #2. She transferred from another team that handled similar work, but where her role was defined a lot more narrowly. We discussed the differences in the interview and she felt like she could adapt. She had a skill set I needed, and I hired her even though I had a nagging feeling it was a mistake. She was terrible – she was not interested in branching out, she butted heads with the only other person with her unusual skill set and I had to coach them both multiple times on working together, I heard over and over and over how her old team did things differently, she was one of the most stubborn human beings I’d ever encountered, and I should have fired her. But her old boss (who did not love her but let her walk all over him) had given her warm performance reviews and never bothered the document a single issue with her, and he happened to be short handed, so HR made him take her back “where she had a record of being successful.” She still works for us.

    4. Op#2*

      Yep – it just feels like the upside down! I’d never think to respond to a boss’s critical feedback with “my previous boss said it’s good!”

      1. linger*

        It does invite the response “… And that’s part of why they’re your former boss”,
        but you really can’t say that (as, even if true, it would be inappropriate to share it).

  9. StellaBella*

    #3 do not do this as it is likely to affect any retirement or pension you have. Also, it may affect your vacation too.

  10. csj*

    LW1. Without knowing the aims of the mens day the fierce negativity is quite staggering. The most likely things on the agenda will be. How behaviour thought normal is actually received, how to navigate HR re paternal leave or long term sick leave, mens historic reluctance to go to a doctor, male specific medical screenings such as prostate cancer, mens mental health (suicide rates for men are way higher than womens). I could go on.

    If it is a networking course or suchlike then that is pretty off. But my experience is more like those things I’ve listed.

    1. Michel*

      Agree. My work has a men’s forum which was explicitly formed as an awareness group for men’s physical and mental health issues. A few individual men had run some of these events in conjunction with the women’s forum and decided there was enough of a need to start a full group.

      1. Emi*

        And Men’s Health Month is in June so it could be organized around something like that, depending on when AAM got the letter.

    2. madeupname*

      Very much this – any male focussed activity in out D&I spaces are focussed on mental and physical health and support, rather than work topics (prostate and testicular cancer, mental health and the value of talking, awareness of things such as cholesterol levels, exercise, weight and so on).

      1. UKDancer*

        Same for us. Lots of time on mental health and spotting when people are having problems. Usually stuff on prostate and testicular cancer too.

        Also raising awareness of paternity and shared parental leave.

        I don’t think any of this is s bad thing.

    3. Keller*

      Finance is not an industry that is known for their progressive attitudes towards gender norms, so I think you’re being really overly generous in your assumptions about the agenda.

      1. Forrest*

        Actually, I would disagree with that — with the caveat that I’m in the UK and it might be different here. The more conservative industries in my experience are extremely good at throwing money at glossy high-profile EDI stuff like having a float in Pride, staff networks, internships for global majority candidates, women’s networking events and so on– having a men’s forum to talk earnestly about improving men’s take-up of paternity leave and mental health is exactly the kind of thing they’d do. You go to any big EDI-related conference and there’s tons of representation from the big banks, finance, consulting, supermarkets, the arms industry, etc.

        Whether or not it results in any measurable improvement is quite another matter, but having the time and resources to throw at this kind of stuff is extremely The Finance Industry, in my experience.

        1. Keller*

          Paying lip service to progressive causes to maintain positive public relations is not the same as having progressive attitudes towards gender norms. If you think that corporate PR pandering actually reflects the values inside the company, you are very naive.

          1. Forrest*

            that was exactly my point, except that I am including well-meaning staff networks as corporate lip service rather than genuine culture change.

            1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

              And who hasn’t worked in a company where the well meaning women’s staff network, or the well-meaning queer staff network or POC staff network is really just corporate lip service rather than actual culture change. The people in those groups are wanting change, that doesn’t mean they’ll get it at a corporate level. But they can still help one another and get change from the bottom up.

              The spouse is a middle aged straight white guy in a company filled with middle age straight white guys who sits on their DI council. If there were women, POC, queer people or other marginalized groups he could make room for, he would – but there is room for him. And he can use his white guy superpowers to make sure others get heard. He has a feminist wife, a minority kid, and a queer kid living in his house – over 30 years he’s gotten pretty good at “shut up and listen, then amplify” as well as just noticing.

              And if what is happening is that these guys are coaching each other to deal with men’s issues – including coaching each other on dealing with marginalized groups (“hey, there is this new analyst and they are non-binary and this is the first trans person I’ve had to deal with and I don’t know what I should do…..I get confused and misgender them, how big a deal is that really? Is HR going to fire me for it? I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around they/them”) they need a safe space to do that. Just like I need a save space to say “I really wish Steve would drop the word “babe” from his vocabulary – how do I get that to stop? Can I trust HR around here?”

              My 1980s feminist says “ick” – my 2020 self says “maybe….” as well as “they sort of need to let it happen because not allowing a men’s group is discriminatory.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If the program is going to cover those type of topics then it can be open to all, as those topics are relevant to a wide variety of people.

      1. L-squared*

        Why does it have to be open to all though? Like if guys would feel more comfortable talking about their mental health or physical health around other guys, that shouldn’t be a problem. Men have different stigmas around mental heath, different physical health concerns, etc where it would be totally valid for them to have a space to discuss those things.

      2. Bluesboy*

        As a man in finance, I think that the most likely reason for this forum existing is that one or more dinosaurs played the ‘it’s not fair, why do they get one and we don’t’ card, and the company felt under pressure to comply to not be accused of sexism. Honestly, I think it’s probably a disgrace and will lead to male-only networking going on and women being specifically excluded.

        I would just quibble slightly with your point though IF we assume for a moment that the intentions for the organisers are genuinely good, and they want to deal with things like testicular cancer, mental health and paternity leave.

        We know that healthcare has traditionally sidelined women. I mean, symptoms that show up in men are likely to be prioritised while symptoms that show up more frequently in women get ignored, for example. I wouldn’t have an objection to mental health, for example, being divided into male/female – because if you put them together, often you’ll find that the female perspective is neglected. So a men’s health forum, with a corresponding women’s health forum, in my opinion is not a terrible idea, and potentially better than a ‘mixed’ forum which in reality deals almost exclusively with male issues.

        That said, as a general rule, in finance…yeah. It’s a sexist industry. Even if the topics on the agenda are genuinely well thought out and valid, I would want to make sure that there were no additional networking possibilities for the men that women are excluded from.

      3. Worldwalker*

        I can see men being less willing to discuss testicular cancer or mental health in a mixed group.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes our company does an event for International Men’s Day around testicular Cancer. It’s always over subscribed. There are a lot of men worrying about what a lump on one of their nuts might mean but who don’t want female colleagues to hear them ask.

          1. Bluesboy*

            I think it’s fantastic that your company does that, but I do think there’s a difference between a one-off event with a clearly defined objective like this and a ‘men’s forum’ that could, in the absence of a clearly defined agenda, turn into male-only networking.

            Honestly, I’d rather see the company organise clearly defined one-off events with specific topics, but with a way for people to submit requests for the topics that they would like to see addressed. That way you can have testicular cancer and paternity leave events etc without any issue of women being excluded from events that would be interesting to both men and women.

      4. Green great dragon*

        And they can be. Our affinity groups put on a range of talks which are of particular interest to their own members, but which are open to all, and I’ve attended some great ones put on by affinity groups for characteristics I do not have.

      5. Observer*

        If the program is going to cover those type of topics then it can be open to all, as those topics are relevant to a wide variety of people.

        Not really. Sure, these issues do affect men AND women. But they affect them differently enough that it does make sense to have separate groups. Both so that you can make sure to focus on the areas that are most important to a given group and to make it easier and more practical for people to speak out about their questions and issues.

      6. anonymath*

        It says the group is open to “allies”. I think this brings up a good point about “membership” in these groups; I did not initially join the Black Employees Resource Group at my company because I’m not Black, but their programming was really good this spring, and I realized I need to join to be on the mailing list to learn about the events. Do I go to every event? No. Are there discussions I’m not a part of? Absolutely. That’s fine.

        Any ERG can be great or problematic. Women’s ERGs that focus mainly on what women are doing wrong and how they could change themselves are super problematic to me; there are all sorts of ways that ERGs can diverge from what I think they should do. Employees make them what they are. There are many ways in which the men’s group could be terrible (I went to an engineering school, I saw this firsthand) and many ways in which it could be good. So OP, be an ally and find out! You can always leave the group.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      I’m curious why you’d assume what the most likely things on the agenda would be.
      Is there are reason that you think these positive assumptions are any more likely than the negative assumptions? It sounds like you’ve experienced a group like you’ve described, but the LW hasn’t provided enough information to say what’s happening at their company is the same thing.

      It makes sense to let the LW know that positive men’s forums DO exist , but I don’t think there’s any way to know if the one that they’re referring to is a positive or a negative one.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        And to be clear, I also think there’s a problem with assuming it’s going to be negative with no information.

        1. Rose*

          There really isn’t though. People are assuming that it’s exactly what it sounds like, because the organizers don’t seem to have shared any details to the contrary. We know what a women’s forum or a Black/AA forum or an Asian American forum mean. If you’re going to announce a men’s forum that has a very different meaning, like you’re specifically going to address physical health issues, you need to specify that. People are assuming this event title means what it sounds like and are making judgements from there.

      2. Wintermute*

        I don’t think assumptions of positivity are any more or less warranted than assumptions of negativity. A lot of people are sharing their own experiences with how such things look at their own workplace here, and the majority of those are quite positive.

    6. CCC*

      Yeah, my husband works in manufacturing, and there are definitely things going on fit squarely in the category of “ways the patriarchy hurts men.” There’s plenty going on that also hurts women, to be sure, but a men’s group would likely be helpful. There’s the “good old boys club” there and then there’s this subgroup of men who do stuff like push back against mandatory overtime so they can pick up their kids, (attempt to) take parental leave, don’t curse/shout, etc. that get pushed out. For them, I think networking might be appropriate, because their careers are being hurt by being men who don’t participate in toxic masculinity.

    7. Critical Rolls*

      The negativity is the product of a LOT of lived experiences, including those from within this historically very toxic-masculinity-heavy industry. The onus is really on the men’s forum to publicize a good-faith agenda, which they have apparently failed to do.

    8. Rose*

      If this a forum for mens health, a very specific topic, it seems like a pretty huge miss not to specify that in the email announcing the event.

      Is it really sooo staggering and hurtful that people aren’t thinking up their own best-case-scenario agendas when the person announcing the event didn’t include one? People are literally assuming that some thing is what it sounds like. And it sounds pretty stupid.

  11. Roeslein*

    I’m a woman, admittedly not in a heavily male-dominated industry like finance, but in my company a men’s forum would make sense (we already have a women’s ERG). While men are the majority at c-suite level, every level below that is >50%-70% female and we had a couple of junior intakes recently that were 80-100% female (other types of diversity were already being considered, and there are now efforts to aim for a more diverse intake also from a gender standpoint) and that has sometimes created issues for junior men (for example, young women going out as a group at the weekend and not inviting the one guy in their cohort). Also, the men at c-suite level mostly have housewives and don’t necessarily tend to be role models for the kind of lifestyle young men these days want, so it’s good for guys to see and have an opportunity to discuss other options like e.g. taking longer paternity leave and being more involved as a father; although some senior men have been very open about making these choices (and being successful / getting promoted after making them) in a more informal way.

    1. Mercie*

      I’ve worked in companies like that. The c-suite was just the 24/7 Men’s forum/old boy’s club.

      1. Not Today, Friends*

        Yep. And they will absolutely make sure that the junior men are taken care of.

  12. HL*

    I’d be very curious to hear more about what the “Men’s Forum” is about and I’m not sure the response is right here. Toxic masculinity is A Thing, and while it clearly impacts women in different, worse, ways, it certainly impacts men as well. If it’s a forum to discuss that kind of issue (AND it doesn’t exclude women from participating) that seems OK, no? Seems like it would be OK to have a specific forum to address how TM impacts men, what we can do about it, etc.

  13. Heather*

    I don’t think a men’s forum is inherently bad, it would depend on what it was for. In my job (also male dominated) we have a men’s officer as well as a women’s officer as part of the gender group. The former looks at specific male related issues such as some physical health problems (like cancers) awareness, mental health stuff, etc.

    At the same time I can definitely see that some ‘men’s forums’ could be code for excluding women from opportunities. But I don’t think it’s fair to assume that from the get go, without finding out what it’s actually about.

    1. Rose*

      All these comments are acting like OP is making all of these huge assumptions. The question is about an email sent out to inform people about the event. If a company in an extremely male dominated industry sends out an email announcing a mens forum, they need to have the smidgen of common sense it takes to share an agenda/topics when you tell people about a meeting.

  14. Forrest*

    My experience of “men’s forums” and similar is that they either fade very quickly, or they start focussing on men’s issues where the gender binary and the expectations of toxic masculinity make things harder for me– mental health, emotional expression, sexual assault, the experiences of queer men, disabled men, men of colour etc. It obviously depends on who is facilitating and what kind of focus they are taking, but in my experience, they don’t replicate or extend the patriarchy– if they try to do that, everyone quickly loses interest because duh, there’s no need.

    If they do try and tackle genuine men’s issues, they pretty often stay balanced on a knife-edge, of trying to do good stuff vs simply providing a space for privileged men to reproduce privilege– but to be honest, that’s true of pretty much every staff women’s group I’ve seen too, which nearly always end up focussed on the “lean-in” networking opportunities for the most privileged women rather than eg. asking what sort of working conditions the cleaners have.

    1. Well...*

      I seriously doubt your claim that organizations that lift up men are doomed to fail because men lose interest in them.

      1. Forrest*

        It was certainly the pattern in the students’ union and staff groups I’ve seen– it was pretty common when I was a student (late 90s to 00s) for students’ unions to set up Men’s Reps because someone felt it wasn’t “fair” to have women’s reps. But since they were still in a liberation-politics setting, they either pivoted pretty quickly to discovering some genuine men’s issues or they just faded out. None of them became hotbeds of toxic masculinity because those needs were already served elsewhere on campus. If you wanted to do men-only or men-dominated networking, you looked … literally everywhere else.

        I’m not saying the groups fade out because men don’t want networking and mentoring opportunities– they fade out because it takes a TON of energy and work to keep that kind of thing going, and people are only willing to put the work in if they serve a need which is unmet elsewhere.

        1. WS*

          Same in my experience – the groups either faded out because they offered nothing different to non-gender-segregated groups, or they found something to actually organise around, often men’s mental health.

        2. ecnaseener*

          I don’t doubt there were hotbeds of toxic masculinity elsewhere on campus, but I’m guessing LW’s company doesn’t have Greek life.

          1. Batgirl*

            I doubt Forrest is talking about Greek societies and American campuses – student unions are a very different kettle of fish.

            1. ecnaseener*

              I know a student union isn’t a frat, I’m saying the reason the men didn’t need another boys’ club at school is because frats already exist.

              1. Batgirl*

                Yeah but they exist in a different country? Student Unions are the UK social groups at universities. Frats aren’t a thing here.

      2. Wintermute*

        I think the implication is that if it’s started for political reasons, it fades because “we want to have this just to have it because THEY have it” doesn’t give it much of a real reason to exist. But if it starts to focus on actual issues and give people a reason to show up, then it transcends being a reactionary political statement and turns into something useful that gets traction.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          reminds me of a forum where there was a very active thread called “the quiet introvert thread”.
          Someone then created a “noisy extrovert thread” but you know what, the extroverts were quite happy being their noisy selves on all the other threads and didn’t feel a need for that thread. I would bump the thread up occasionally with a snarky “rather quiet in here innit” just to wind them up (mostly just after making one of my many contributions to the introvert thread, which happens to be the place where I realised I actually was an introvert).

          1. Well...*

            Eyeroll. I’m sick of introverts pretending they experience oppression on the same scale as gender and racial oppression. If you think your friends are too noisy, get other friends? You can’t have a personality type that is simultaneously more refined and oppressed. That’s not how social perceptions of refinement and oppression intersect.

            1. Dwight*

              Does it have to be at the same level as gender and racial oppression to get support, and to recognize that they struggle and to work to help themselves? Geeze. You want to make that argument for crying out loud, you could compare women’s struggles and American racial minorities with people suffering in third world countries.

            2. Critical Rolls*

              That’s a pretty uncharitable take. I read the comment that if you can do a thing anywhere (such as be an extrovert or be a man talking to other men in finance) you don’t really need and probably won’t use a specific forum for it.

              1. Wintermute*

                That was exactly how I read this. If you form a group as a reaction, to say “wait I want one too!” unless you have an actual use in mind for it no one’s going to care, they’ll just roll their eyes and go “sure, whatever” and no one will be very engaged, because being useful isn’t the point the point was to make a group just to have one.

            3. New Jack Karyn*

              “Eyeroll. I’m sick of introverts pretending they experience oppression on the same scale as gender and racial oppression.”

              No one did that.

  15. Well...*

    SMH at all the comments here and in the wider world advocating for men’s forums on the basis of equality (and also, weirdly, legality?) and deliberately missing the point.

    1. Cat Tree*

      Yes, it’s very much a vibe of “why isn’t there a white history month?”

      In my org, allies are encouraged to join EBRGs. So to all those other commenters who are supportive of a men’s group – would women be welcome to join? If not, it only serves to reinforce and formalize the existing Old Boys Clubs.

    2. Yaz*

      +1. I think if this group were about paternity leave or health concerns, the intro email would’ve specified that.

      1. Batgirl*

        To general applause! When men parent equally, equality in the workplace and with domestic tasks level out for women too. Everybody gets a choice instead of a prescribed role. Why would this aim be buried, hidden from description and left up to assumption?

    3. Shiba Dad*

      OP stated that the email mentioned “men and their allies”. That reads like a middle finger to “wokeness”.

      1. Filosofickle*

        That’s the part that grabs me too. Lots of theories upthread about how it might mean something benign but the middle finger theory feels more true to me.

    4. Evelyn Carnahan*

      Especially when it’s specified that the LW works in finance. Do finance bros need a space where they can discuss and unlearn toxic masculinity? Absolutely. Is it at all likely that this is what this group is for? Not at all.

      1. Anononon*

        Seriously. Anyone who’s ever worked in finance knows what a sham this likely is. I worked for a company who did the exact same thing, and the men’s group’s main agenda was getting their unnecessary cocktail hours to be chargeable to the company.

    5. ….actually*

      Yes. This comment section is usually rife with the kind of people who think contrarianism should be an Olympic sport, but it gets particularly gross around social justice issues.

    6. ….actually*

      Yes. This comment section is usually rife with the kind of people who think contrarianism should be an Olympic sport, but it gets particularly gross around social justice issu

    7. Nameless in Customer Service*

      Yes, indeed. There’s a societal context here that many commenters are purposefully eliding. I’m beginning to wonder what a discussion of a Straight Pride Parade would look like, or White History Month as Cat Tree mentioned.

    8. Dwight*

      It’s crazy how much disdain there is for men’s mental health. Suicide rates are nearly 4 times as high for men as they are for women. Men are taught that showing vulnerability shows weakness. Accessible therapy is sparse at best, and affordable for most. Groups like this have to be “supervised” by a female, otherwise it’s assumed they will only spend the time drinking and conniving about to thwart the feminist movement. When told that we can’t have these groups on the basis of gender discrimination, pointing out that women have their own groups too is taken mockingly that we only want it based on equality.

      I think it is you who missed the point.

      1. Jacey*

        Dwight, I agree with you that men’s mental health and the harm done to men by toxic masculinity generally are under-discussed subjects in the culture at large. And a disappointing number of people don’t consider or refuse to accept the very real ways in which masculine identity intersects with various axes of oppression (like how racialized men are punished for performing masculinity in ways white men are encouraged to, or how trans and GNC men are often ignored or even silenced in queer spaces).

        But, we have no indication that this Men’s Forum is designed to address any of that. It can also be argued that, since whoever is advertising this group penned the phrase “men and their allies,” the leaders of the group are NOT terribly well-informed on issues of gender justice. If they were, they would have been in such spaces long enough to realize that an ally is a person in the oppressor group who uses their resources to work towards ending their own privilege. But in a patriarchy like ours, the harm masculinity does is not the responsibility of non-male people. A woman or non-binary person can’t be an ally of men, because that person does not have gender privilege relative to men. White men and cis men and hetero men can be allies to men facing harm due to their masculinity IN COMBINATION with marginalizations those allies don’t face. But I doubt something just called the “Men’s Forum” is referring to that kind of intersectional allyship.

        You’re getting pushback here not because you dared to speak of the ways in which men are hurt by masculinity, but because you’re asking people who are ALSO hurt by masculinity and punished for a lack of maleness every day of their lives to help men solve a problem they created for themselves and seem totally unaware of why that’s distasteful.

        1. Dwight*

          I’m not really getting pushback in any meaningful way. I’m just getting name-called and insulted by the above person which kind of just proves my point. While I appreciate your demeanor, I have no idea why your going on about all those marginalized groups. No one’s asking them to fix anything. They’re getting massive amounts of support, and there’s a concerted effort to bring them to the forefront. That’s completely separate from a men’s forum where we can focus on issues that pertain to men, and yes, toxic masculinity is in there as well.

          1. Daisy Gamgee*

            “Massive amounts of support” might be somewhat of an overstatement, reminiscent of how once women make up 30% of a group they’re perceived as taking over. Links to follow.

            1. Daisy Gamgee*






          2. New Jack Karyn*

            If the forum was about men’s mental health, or how toxic masculinity hurts men, or encouraging men to have a health work-life balance (including accessing parental leave), then the email would have said so. Unless OP excluded that information, I do not take it as a given that this group will actually target those issues.

          3. Jacey*

            Okay. So. This is going to be my last comment on this thread, not because I’m offended by your take, but because our background information on the subject at hand differs so widely that the conversation won’t be productive right now. (Also I don’t wanna take us further off topic from the OP’s question!)

            But because it seems like you’re genuinely trying to understand what’s happening here, I’ll sign off by encouraging you to look at or listen to resources by non-male people explaining how systemic sexism works and how they are harmed by it.

      2. Well...*

        You know men’s suicide rates are inflated by MURDER SUICIDES, right? Where usually a woman dies.

        Also “females?” You’re showing your dehumanization.

    9. Unkempt Flatware*

      I thought it was just my friend Megan, submitting over and over again in different names, who also scoffs at Black Chambers of Commerce because, “there are no such things as White Chambers of Commerce”………………..

      And then I die.

  16. Testerbert*

    In order…

    LW1: This really does depend on what exactly the Men’s Forum is for. If it is being created so HR/an exec can pat themselves on the back for being ‘equal’, ick. If it is being created so some execs can create a good ol’boys networking group on the company dime (while also being able to keep out those who may have cooties because it’s a group for manly men), double ick. If it is actually meant to provide an environment for focused discussions on men’s health (both physical & mental) and to help signpost and guide people wanting to access tailored resources or advice around things like paternity leave etc, there’s no ick at all. If it is the latter, whoever is in charge of communications NEEDS to make it clear what the purpose is, because it doesn’t *look* good from a first glance.

    LW3: Nope nope nope. If seniority has *any* perks attached to it, such as increased holiday allowances, you don’t give those up. They *may* have meant giving up seniority in a “Your position in the org chart will be that of a new starter”, but I strongly doubt it based on their expectation for you to resign to apply for the new role. It smells of them wanting to get rid of you without actually dismissing you. It’d be shockingly simple for them to insist on you resigning and then going “Oops, you didn’t get the other role, too bad so sad”, especially if the ‘guarantee’ you have of the position doesn’t actually carry any weight.

    LW5: Omega Nope. It may be strictly legal, but I’m seeing enough red flags to furnish a military parade. They’ve pivoted to a solution which just to happens to carry ‘fees’ which they ‘deduct’ from your pay, and then claim they can’t go back to the old system. I smell a rat. Insist on receiving your full contracted wage without any ‘fee’ deductions. If they chose to use a method which costs *them* more to use, *they* should carry the cost, not you.

    1. Worldwalker*

      The fees are assessed by PayPal, not the sender.

      I have a PayPal business account for, of course, my small business. When someone buys something from me online, the amount I receive is minus the PayPal fees. (about 3%) When I send a payment off to the guy who mows the lawn and plows the snow for the place in Maine, I don’t pay anything, and since his account is a personal one, neither does he.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The fees are assessed by PayPal, yes, but the company is still effectively cutting the LW’s pay by 3%. Even if those fees are tax-deductible, an X dollar tax deduction isn’t a refundable tax for that amount, and they’d be waiting months for whatever fraction of X was taken out of each paycheck.

        1. Wintermute*

          fees are one thing, I would be WAY MORE worried about the fact paypal is notorious for, and under investigation by several state attorneys general for, freezing accounts without much (if any) cause and even seizing balances and refusing to release them unless forced by legal settlement.

    2. OP 5*

      Agreed! Already thinking about pleading my case with other contractors, but also looking for work elsewhere.

  17. JSPA*

    #2, “this conversation isn’t about your worth as a human being. It’s also not a debate between colleagues about the merits of proposed changes. The changes are here. I am your boss. Jobs change.

    If you intend to continue in this job, as it now is, you need to take direction on doing the job, as it now is. I need you to take a minute, in silence. Set aside past feedback. Prepare yourself to fully take in and process, without argument, my directions, as your current boss, on your job as it now is.”

    The tone has to be collaborative‐‐you’re hoping to solve the problem–but firm.

    Then wait a full minute. If she insists on speaking, do a “talk to the hand, and even combine it with looking at your watch. Yes, it’s a but theatrical, but you clearly need something to mark, “that was then, this is now, we’re starting fresh.”

    And then…do describe it as you would, to someone new. Rules on bullying and collegiality guidelines included, but without reference to, “Last Tuesday with accounts receivable.” Give a legit chance to truly start afresh.

    It is 100% possible that old boss was actively rewarding problem behavior, treating bullying as effectiveness, etc. Letting go of the attitude that brought you praise–especially if it’s the main thing that brought you praise–isn’t easy!

    1. Colette*

      I disagree with this. First of all, a minute of silence is a weird choice, and “talk to the hand” is both rude and widely out of date.

      1. JSPA*

        My read is that having the problem person quit would not be the worst outcome. This is, therefore, intentionally very, very, very direct. It offers the employee an opportunity to quit–which is cheaper and faster than having to fire her, if she’s not willing to make a dramatic change.

        If she turns things around, in response to this? Then, as a win for both OP and the employee, there’s no documentation in the record, as there would be with a PIP. (We’ve had some such letters.)

        As for holding up a hand to say, “stop” or “not now”–the phrase “talk to the hand” is dated and pop culture, but holding up one’s hand in that gesture has existed for…centuries? Millenia?

        This isn’t meant to be comfortable. OP has tried most of that, and Alison has covered the remainder. It’s meant to be startling–it’s the last ditch thing you do, to see if change is possible, before moving on to a firing process. Basically, a “time out,” but for adults. To borrow from Captain Awkward, this is awkward because it’s returning awkwardness to the person who started it–the report who’s basically saying, “you’re not the boss of me, because I liked the feedback from my old boss better, so yeah, I’ll just keep doing it the old way.”

        With the exception of (say) Cheap Ass Rolls OP, people who read this blog are, by and large, not people who need this sort of handling. They’re already professional enough to separate “feedback” from “worth.” They already have at least some minimal ability to step back, and reconsider context. They already understand that “regulate your attitude” and “retool your style and process if the new boss tells you to” are normal parts of corporate culture.

        When you manage people who’ve never considered any of the above, and don’t even have a context for trying to do so…people who have no concept that they themselves are responsible for how they perceive the reality of “how being at work, works”….then going deep, to tell them that it’s on them to control their attitude, is always going to come across as strange. Just because it’s strange to need to have to do it.

        Sure, you can instead assume they already get all of that stuff (despite mounting evidence that, no, they don’t). You can assume they are just being butt-headed and uncomprehending for the fun of it (despite it not seeming like fun at all). You can tell them no more than they’d need, if they had comprehension, and were just being stubborn. (Same message for every person, regardless of needs. That’s one definition of fairness.) Then you can cut them loose, when they (still) don’t get it.

        That’s the standard way. It works, if you ignore the collateral damage.

        But you lose a lot of good people who have social comprehension problems, not “being a butt on purpose” problems.

    2. Ana Gram*

      I’m not sure staring at each other (or the wall or whatever) for a minute would be valuable. I would probably just sit there and think about how uncomfortable it was and how bizarre my boss is.

      I understand the idea behind starting fresh but it’s not really helpful in this scenario. With a new employee, you likely wouldn’t provide feedback until something had proven to be a problem but with this employee, you already know the issues you’re trying to correct. I do like how direct your statements were, however.

    3. Op#2*

      I think the old boss let Jane talk her way out of negative feedback. But I like some of your language and may use it. “The truth is the job changed, you may very well have been performing before, but you aren’t now.”

  18. Irish Teacher.*

    As a teacher (who admittedly has not applied for any jobs outside of the field apart from studenty jobs before I qualified), I wonder if it might be worth thinking about ways in which you benefited the school apart from teaching too, like did you mentor any student teacher or newly qualified teachers? Did you create any initiatives (I’m in Ireland, so examples might be different in other countries, but things like starting a club, introducing a new subject, working on policy documents, like the discipline policy, serving on any committees, leading any parents’ groups, developing any curricula)? Did you have any middle management role or serve as a head of department?

    I agree with all those who say I would not describe students as clients. While they ARE most emphatically the people were are serving, they don’t usually have the option of taking their business elsewhere. It is often parents who choose the school (and I believe in some places, even parents have little choice unless they want to go private) and anyway, choices are often made on things like what subjects are on offer, how close the school is, where siblings go or where their friends are going rather than how good the teachers are. Also, if you are teaching kids or teens, they generally aren’t best placed to evaluate the skills of those teaching them. A client who is displeased will likely take their business elsewhere. A student who is displeased often cannot and is likely to be displeased because the teacher was strict rather than because he or she didn’t meet their needs anyway, so I don’t think it’s quite the same.

    Your achievements are massively impressive but again, I agree with Alison that I would put an extra line saying something like “improved pass rate from 17% to 76% by…” and maybe also “over x number of years.” We don’t have those exams in Ireland, so I do not know how you would improve success, but just looking at the numbers, I think I might wonder whether it was your work or if the demographics of the school changed or the structure of the exam was changed to make it easier/lower the criteria for passing or something else happened like the economy of the area improved and therefore less students had to take part-time jobs. So I would say something to clarify that it was a specific initiative or work on your part.

    That sounds like I am nit-picking your achievement, doesn’t it? I’m not. I am really impressed. I am just thinking of what might not be obvious to those outside teaching.

    1. After 33 years ...*

      LW #4: As a university professor, most of the times we hear students referred to as “clients” involve non-teaching administrative / financial / PR people trying to inform us about “how to serve the customer better” – without knowing much about teaching. Most of us do not refer to our students as anything but students. University students can choose to study at a different institution after starting school, so many do have options.
      Focusing on outcomes (such as pass rates) is good, but statistics can be deceiving (as Irish Teacher notes).
      Communication problems can exist between teachers and non-teachers, in part due to some significant differences in roles and organizational structures, but people looking at your resume will know that you were a teacher. IMO, it’s better not to try to describe teaching as anything else.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Right — if you’re a teacher or advisor or tutor, the students are not clients. They’re students.

        I always laugh when someone tries the “satisfy the customer” line re students, or when students/their parents try it. Honey, you don’t understand what I’m selling. It’s not a grade. You’re paying for my expertise and knowledge. You’re paying to benefit from my advice about X subject and Y skills. It’s up to you how you use what you bought.
        (Climbs down from soapbox)

      2. Teacher to Nonprofits*

        I deeply cringe at thinking of students as clients, too. That’s why the advice I got felt so off-putting! The commenters and Alison all seem to be in agreement that ducking from the teaching students part of my work is essentially meaningless; it IS my job! I need to be more strategic on the details, not the jargon.

    2. Teacher to Nonprofits*

      Thank you for your advice, and I will absolutely make some changes based on what you have said. I was in charge of the test prep team when we raised the pass rates, so I will emphasize the work I did with the staff on that front.

  19. Turingtested*

    LW #2: Business changes can be difficult. In my experience 1/3 of people embrace change; 1/3 adapt well enough to continue in their role; and 1/3 can’t adapt well enough to continue.

    It’s tough. When my employer underwent major changes most people in the last category figured it out and moved on of their own volition. There was one hold out who was openly bitter and angry for about 6 months too long before being let go. Seems like a similar situation, her old boss loved her and she didn’t take feedback well.

    She did a lot of damage to morale. I don’t want to be preachy but think about her impact on others: she’s a bully; she’s hostile to feedback; it sounds rough.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I almost wonder if the former boss and Jane were the “I don’t want to adapt holdouts” after the change. I would loop in the new leadership that brought you in to help orchestrate and implement the changes and find out what the process is for managing Jane out – because at this point that seems like the most likely outcome.

      And may I recommend answering all her “but past manager loved my performance” comments with “they very well may have, but the needs of the role have changed since then and this is what I need you to do now.” Just a quick acknowledgment and then pivot back to the corrective actions you are discussing now.

    2. Op#2*

      I needed to hear this one. Thinking about the harm to morale is painful but unfortunately very real.

  20. Asenath*

    #3 – There is no way I would resign from a position to take another one – a term position, not even a permanent one! – in the same organization with no seniority (and presumably greatly reduced benefits as a result). You could be out of a job entirely in a year. I’d stay put in my current, senior, position, and start looking outside the organization. You not only are having problems with this person’s management style, he’s made you a terrible offer that puts you in a very vulnerable position. That makes me think he could be looking for a way to get rid of you.

  21. Falling Diphthong*

    Since I’ve worked there so long, it would be detrimental to the organization to have me keep my seniority.
    These two things really don’t tie together in any sort of logical cause-effect way, other than the director being shady as all get-out.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      yeah, I mean, anything you have to pay out is detrimental to the bottom line. Why not staff the place solely with volunteers? Why give anyone any time off at all?
      OP you are being treated very shabbily and need to find something else, because it won’t get better.

      1. OhNoYouDidn't*

        Agreed. I wrote above, I think this director is looking at the bottom line. She wants a cheaper alternative.

      2. Elenna*

        Yes, that was my first thought too – technically paying anyone is detrimental (in a pure money sense) so are they just going to ask everyone to stop drawing pay now? No, because that makes no sense and there’s no reason people would agree to give up benefits that they have earned.
        Similarly, OP’s benefits may be detrimental to the bottom line, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense to ask OP to just give them up for no reason.

    2. KRM*

      That reads like “they don’t want to pay me what I’m worth and they also resent my vacation and benefits”. OP should definitely not sign anything, and should look for a new job while keeping the old on as-is (as long as possible, sounds like they might “restructure” and let her go if she doesn’t take what they offer).

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        “That reads like “they don’t want to pay me what I’m worth and they also resent my vacation and benefits”.


    3. Random Bystander*

      Agreed–I have never heard of seniority applying to anything other than the tenure at the *company* (ie, when someone transfers to a completely different department/position, they retain the seniority from the time in the first position when they move into the second one).

      I’d be wondering if there were bottom-line issues like the entire company is in financial trouble if I heard such suggestions were made to a very senior employee.

    4. Wintermute*

      yeah, I’m sure it’s “detrimental to the organization” for me to take time off too, but A) part of the cost of doing business and B) it’s MORE detrimental to me to give it up!

    5. Observer*

      Since I’ve worked there so long, it would be detrimental to the organization to have me keep my seniority.
      These two things really don’t tie together in any sort of logical cause-effect way

      Well, it is detrimental to the organization’s ability to fire the OP.

  22. Delta Delta*

    #2 I think this is a great place to create very clear metrics and goals so that the employee knows exactly what’s expected. When she says that her old boss loves her in response to metric-based feedback, the answer is that both can be true. Fergus could have thought she was the bees’ pajamas AND she needs to hit the weekly rice sculpture target. If she’s unwilling to hear it, then maybe she has to go

    #3 Like Cher, the org cannot turn back time. Absolutely do not resign and give up your seniority for all the reasons everyone else said.

  23. urguncle*

    Having worked in multiple male-dominated industries, the people who aren’t in those industries commenting really have no idea.
    A “men’s group” in my current org would be the entire organization minus myself. Every meeting where I am unable to attend is the men’s group. Every meeting until August of last year was a men’s group. If we were to expand it to the entire engineering team, a men’s group would be the entire team minus 4 people. The “Men in Leadership” for the technical teams would be the entire technical leadership team.
    If we were to do this at a previous job, the “men’s group” would be 95% of the organization. 190 men. The women’s group had to fight to have a restroom in our building on campus, and then again for that restroom to have sanitary napkin disposal.

    1. Casper Lives*

      That’s what I’m thinking. Finance is a male-dominated, conservative industry. I’m skeptical of the need for a men’s group in such a place. Parental leave and mental health? It’s most of the workforce so it’ll be focused on anyway.

      It could be a legit group but there’s good reasons to be skeptical.

    2. Lora*

      This. Nowhere I have ever worked even had a Men’s Group, unless you counted the group who organized the golf outings, which definitely didn’t think of itself as a Men’s Group. We had so many Stevens that they could have had a Stephen/Steve/Stephan/Stefan’s Group all by themselves, though.

      We also mostly didn’t have a Women’s Group, unless you counted all five women in the organization getting together for the occasional lunch/dinner. A local professional society tried to have a Women’s Group with programming that wouldn’t exclude anyone or make men feel bad about themselves, and basically they have seminars on the power of positive thinking and “how to lead without actually having a leadership title or salary but all the responsibilities”. It’s…yeah. Not helpful and left some of us who attended acutely embarrassed.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        We don’t have a women’s group, and rarely have woman-related gatherings….because in a male dominated industry and in a role that is also male dominated within the industry, the roughly one person per department who ISN’T a man may or may not have a thing in common with any other women here. There’s just so few of us across the company. The heaviest concentration is in the stereotypical support roles, but there’s just little socialization between that area and the rest of us.

        And for comparison, this IS in an industry where one of the industry-related networking groups advertises a Men’s Only activity for networking. On top of the golf, sporting clays, and similarly related networking activities. This was especially maddening as then specific Men’s Only activity was the least stereotypically gendered activity.

        Given all of this? My only thoughts (and they’re VERY biased by my experience and I admit it) is “nope”, at least for my own industry.

    3. Nina*

      Same here. We have a women’s group, because the women’s group is (I just counted) 80 people.

      In a company of over 1000. I’m in a technical role. In my department (my entire department, the largest department in the company), any meeting I don’t attend is ‘the men’s group’. Any meeting of the senior leadership team is ‘the men’s group’.

      When the new building was built for my department, it took three months to get the clear glass window directly above the commode in the women’s bathroom (=the bathroom that is there only because building code requires it, and is also the accessible bathroom, and the bathroom the site manager uses for shitting because it’s cleaner) changed out for a frosted window.

  24. Claire*

    Actually, a men’s affinity group would be an important part of DEI work IF the work of the group is to learn about systemic patriarchy and how men have internalized that; how patriarchy and toxic masculinity are influencing the company culture; how to be better allies to women and non-binary folks; etc. The group should hold itself accountable to the women’s affinity group. The work of undoing patriarchy is men’s to do. (Though the fact that this company said “and their allies” makes me think they are getting all this wrong.)

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Working in finance, there’s a very high chance this is more along the lines of the Men’s rights group from Parks and Rec than some group that is sincere about dismantling the patriarchy. And I agree, men should be doing that work, but I don’t think this is what is going on here as usually those types of groups are upfront about the purpose of the group.

    2. Web Crawler*

      That’s what my company has, and I’m in finance too. Except they named it the “Men As Allies” group, and the purpose is pretty explicit.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      The “Toxic Masculinity Detox” group at an old job was very much along those lines. It probably isn’t coincidental that a trans-man and a gay man were involved in the organizing

  25. Lab Boss*

    The only way I can make LW#3’s director make sense, is if what he means by “detrimental to have you keep your seniority” is something like the company has a seniority-based pay scale or other benefits with a strong correlation between seniority and finances. 22 years is a long time, and under a system like that the LW is probably one of their more expensive employees. It DOES make some sense to say that the LW’s value in the position is overshadowed by how much she costs the company. But even if that’s it… that’s when you have a tough conversation with the employee about how changing to this other job would come with a compensation change, not some cute little end-around that just happens to strip the employee of a bunch of benefits and protections.

    1. Interviewer*

      I was coming here to say this. Maybe the new department doesn’t have enough of a budget to sustain a highly-tenured employee with the most benefits, and this was the rabbit your director pulled out of his hat to make it work. But you’re still employed by the same company. Does your handbook or contract mention rehire terms? For example, at my company if you are rehired within a certain timeframe, several of my company’s benefits allows you to restart as if you were never gone – no waiting period, no changes, same tenured levels, etc. All of that is spelled out in the official plan documents or the employee handbook. Might be worth checking before ever considering this offer.

      OP, understand they are trying to remove everything about your employment history in giving this role to you, pushing you to employment terms as a brand-new employee for a short-term hire. Why would they want to do that? It doesn’t seem to benefit you at all – only them.

  26. Biscotti*

    #3 Your boss has shown you they are shady, believe that. You have already let them know you want a new job, its time to start looking outside the company, don’t get blind sighted. That said, my husband has worked at companies where if you leave a leadership role you need to quit and come back as non management. The company’s have all been set up as two separate entities where management actually works for one company and everyone else works for another but all umbrellaed under one company so unless you were in higher HR or Tax Accounting you would never know they were separate entities. There were also major differences in benefits, time off, and bonuses between the two, ask about differences before you resign.

  27. This is a name, I guess*

    #1 – I feel like there’s a specific type of men’s group that’s not icky. People have mentioned starting one at my organization, and I (a queer woman) am totally supportive of it. To put it completely glibly, we want to offer a space where men can process their toxic masculinity together so they can be better allies to everyone.

    We’re a social services agency, and many of our staff have dedicated their lives to providing necessary services for people with obstacles to stability. We’re a female-dominated workplace, and I’ve found that many of our kind, gentle male employees especially worry about taking up too much space to discuss their own issues, especially given the challenges that people we support face.

    For example, we were having a staff-only Diversity and Inclusion discussion about neurodivergence, and one of our staff disclosed he was neurodivergent and attended special ed classes as a kid. He then apologized to me afterwards for making it all about him?!?! As if his perspective wasn’t valid! I think this is a (lovely) effect of social services: we have so many very gentle, soulful men who work for us (to work for us, men have to give up some basic tenets of toxic masculinity – “earning potential,” its attendant social status, and they do “women’s work”!) So many of them want to be good allies but don’t know how to do that without completely starving themselves of participation.

    And, one under-examined but incredibly important aspect of white male allyship is peer support – essentially helping other men process their toxic masculinity and learn to be vulnerable. I’m totally happy to have other men do that emotional labor instead of me! I would so much rather have men call each other in! Ya know, instead of taking up so much space in feminist circles, political circles, etc.

    Of course, there are few caveats in this situation:
    1) There’s a direct connection to our mission and to our service delivery, which is different than in most corporate environments.
    2) A specific type of man tends to work in our industry.
    3) Staff have already discussed actively avoiding any direct career development in the group (though, I’d honestly be fine with light career development activities, because men like this make excellent leaders and we’re a female dominated industry, so I don’t think very light mentorship would harm women’s/nb folks’ career paths.)
    4) It would have to be a structured discussion group of sorts so that it didn’t devolve into bro-time or whatever.
    5) Our leadership is mostly female, with a few men who are just the most gentle souls.

    FWIW, my partner is a trans woman who didn’t transition until her late 20s, and she previously worked in incredibly macho environments. She loves, loves, loves the idea of men’s groups exactly like this because she knows firsthand how so many men need support like this and how so many of them lack pro-social support from other men. I’ve seen lives transformed from peer-to-peer support like this, and so has she. Of course, people could seek out these opportunities elsewhere, but men just aren’t encouraged to seek emotional and psychological support in the same way that women are.

  28. Precious Wentletrap*

    #3: This happens a lot–and happened to me–at companies that are merged or bought. Guess what happens when you’re laid off in a year? Oh, sorry, your severance based on tenure (options, stocks, retirement, pension, vacation, etc) is only for THIS job, which we say you’ve officially had only six months. Bye!

    Start looking to leave now while you’re in charge.

  29. BA*

    LW3 – I’ll join the choir and sing from the rooftops… PLEASE DO NOT RESIGN! PLEASE DO NOT RESIGN! PLEASE DO NOT RESIGN!

    “Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” comes to mind here. While the seniority may not be applicable in the new role from an organizational leadership standpoint, it sure does apply when it comes to all of the other benefits that seniority is involved with… PTO, pay scale, payouts, vesting, etc. And if you give them the inch and resign, there’s so much opportunity for them to take the mile and just not have the new position materialize and/or to completely undermine what you’re due based on the two decades of service you’ve given the organization.

    If you do want to pursue this new role, get everything in writing FIRST. And only resign once the new role has been officially offered and accepted. That may give the organization the right optics for how the structure of the new role will be, BUT that should be a formality after the changes are agreed to formally.

    1. Generic Name*

      Honestly, I would play along with the resign scheme while looking for another job. Once a new job with a different company (don’t be surprised if you get a huge pay bump) lined up, offer letter signed, start date agreed on, THEN resign your current job. Don’t bother applying to the new job at the old company. The only person this scheme disadvantages is you.

  30. Dinwar*

    I disagree with Alison on #1.

    First, let’s be precise in language: If you’re going to have groups based on race, sex, sexual orientation, and the like, it is discrimination to tell a group “Oh, but not you. You don’t get one.” The fact that many people are perfectly fine with such discrimination is one reason why some men feel the need to form such a group.

    Second, there’s a lot of good this group could do. It’s pretty widely reported that there’s a mental health crisis among men, for example. White men account for more than 60% of all suicides, for another. There are also serious health issues that relate to men that are very under-discussed in our culture (there are a number of ways to get a lump on your testicles, for example, but the only one anyone who hasn’t gone through the experience knows of is cancer). It’s pretty widely known that we have no idea how often men suffer domestic abuse–about the only thing the data says is that it’s so under-reported that the data tell us nothing. There are also work-related issues that men face that deserve help, such as trying to find a work/life balance, dealing with toxic peers (“man up” is the only advice most of us have ever gotten), and the like.

    I’m not saying men have it worse. What I am saying is that there are clear, well-documented, objective reasons for cis men to have a support group. The knee-jerk reaction against men having support is one of the causes of these issues, in fact. (Somewhat ironically, groups that are toxic offer very little in terms of actual support, causing far more damage to the men not at the top of the social ladder.)

    To see an example of such an organization that’s not toxic, check out the website “Art of Manliness”. It’s more general-purpose than work-related, but it demonstrates that “group for men” and “toxic” are not synonyms. (I can’t whole-heartedly recommend it, as it leans pretty heavily Christian in ways I find obnoxious, but on the whole the good outweighs the bad.)

    All that said, if this specific group is toxic, it’s toxic and that’s an issue.

    1. Forrest*

      First, let’s be precise in language: If you’re going to have groups based on race, sex, sexual orientation, and the like, it is discrimination

      If you want to be precise in language, you shouldn’t use “discrimination” as if it’s automatically a bad thing. Discriminating against people in a way which contributes to measurably worse experiences and outcomes across a range of fields is bad. Simply discriminating– being able to tell the difference between one thing and another and treating them differently– is not bad.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Except that in the US we have laws against discrimination. Which was the point. You cannot discriminate on the basis of gender and that cuts both ways.

        1. Forrest*

          Hm, fair enough, I read it as a broader sense of “that’s discrimination and discrimination is BAD”, purely because of the “The fact that many people are perfectly fine with such discrimination is one reason why some men feel the need to form such a group”. If Dinwar meant “discrimination” purely in the way it’s used in equality legislation, then yes, it does protect both genders. I’d be surprised if that creates a requirement for a company to have a staff network for men if it has one for women, though.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          It does cut both ways, but it’s not about the name, but the effect. Functionally, in the US in Finance in particular, but also most workplaces, all forums are effectively “men’s forums” except those explicitly defined as otherwise. So in this context, if we’re looking at effect – adding an additional “men’s forum” – almost certainly is in effect discriminating against women, rather than balancing out the existence of a “women’s forum”.

      2. …actually*

        If you want to be precise in language, you understand the context in which words are used, and you don’t drag in out of context, unrelated uses of the word. That “discrimination” has a separate meaning when you’re talking about choosing a particular vintage of wine over another is, as you know perfectly well, irrelevant and imprecise in the context of affinity groups.

        1. Forrest*

          Dinwar said, “The fact that many people are perfectly fine with such discrimination is one reason why some men feel the need to form such a group.” To me, that’s very much a “discrimination against majority groups is just as bad as discriminating against minority groups” statement, which is what I took issue with. If what they meant that equality legislation is written so that discrimination in favour of minoritised groups is just as illegal as discrimination against minoritised groups, then yeah, fair enough and I withdraw the comment.

          1. Eyes Kiwami*

            Dimwar’s point was pretty clearly to the contrary, as stated further down the post: “I’m not saying men have it worse.”

      3. Dinwar*

        “If you want to be precise in language, you shouldn’t use “discrimination” as if it’s automatically a bad thing.”

        I agree here. The Air Force discriminated against me–I can’t be a fighter pilot because of my bad eyes and my height (I don’t physically fit in the standard cockpit). Discrimination on the bases of sex/gender is also allowable under certain conditions–for example, it’s perfectly legal for my company to not allow women who are pregnant, nursing, or who may become pregnant to work in certain areas due to the contamination. There is a physical issue, specifically that fetuses and infants can’t process the contaminants as well as adults, presenting an objective, measurable risk. Both of those are perfectly fine, legally and morally.

        But that’s not what we’re talking about. We are talking about disallowing work associations on the bases of sex/gender (with, let’s be honest, race and sexual orientation tossed in for good measure). Legally it’s a non-starter–as RosyGlasses says, it’s illegal. Morally I’d argue it’s on shaky ground as well. The idea of disallowing it is to remove certain resources from the group historically in power so that historically disadvantaged groups can catch up. However, this runs the risk of a motte-and-baile, where the ostensible justification acts as a smoke screen to hide what amounts to petty vindictiveness, a desire to harm rather than help. That’s not speculation; I’ve seen groups where this was the goal. “You hurt me, so I’ll hurt you” is not the mentality of an adult mature enough to handle workplace decisions. It stems from a mindset that views anyone’s advantage as necessarily coming at the expense of someone else, when the very foundational concept of business is mutual trade for mutual benefit, the win-win scenario.

        A more defensible situation would be to create an environment that actively tried to mitigate the issues that everyone is facing, with individual groups formed on the bases of having common problems to overcome. In other words: Instead of chopping down the tall poppies, fertilize all the poppies so they’re all tall.

        1. ---*

          Wow. “The ostensible justification acts as a smoke screen to hide what amounts to petty vindictiveness, a desire to harm rather than help. That’s not speculation; I’ve seen groups where this was the goal. “You hurt me, so I’ll hurt you” is not the mentality of an adult mature enough to handle workplace decisions.”

          These are some wild assumptions, but the fact that you view things this way explains why you think it is “discriminatory” not to allow men to have a group. Except you know, equity and non-harm isn’t tit for tat, no one serious about the topic suggests it is, and no good faith comment on this site has evinced that reasoning. It is, however, how you’re portraying it. And that’s all you.

          As for discrimination – men forming a group in and of itself is not about discrimination, legally speaking, because discrimination would look at outcomes. And you’d be hard pressed to show that in a male-dominated industry, men not having a group has caused systemic discrimination.

    2. Web Crawler*

      That’s what my company has, and I’m in finance too. Except they named it the “Men As Allies” group, and the purpose is pretty explicit.

    3. Batgirl*

      Men definitely need support navigating the ways the patriarchy expects them to behave. Definitely. Particularly since a big part of toxic masculinity is telling men they should not be seeking help or support. That said, if men with such concerns call it just a “men’s group” without any qualifiers as to their aims then you’re probably inviting the wolves to dine with the lambs, quite unintentionally.

    4. Nameless in Customer Service*

      “The knee-jerk reaction against men having support is one of the causes of these issues, in fact.”

      Isn’t this a rephrasing of “feminism is about hating men”? I do not think the dubious reaction to this concept is about Wanting Men To Go Unsupported And Alone Because Misandry but about the context of wider, sexist society and the structure of male-dominated industries such as finance.

      That said, I suppose this is at least better than cancelling the Women’s Group, which may well have been the other option suggested when founding the Men’s Group.

    5. Critical Rolls*

      I think the last sentence of your first paragraph is telling. People who belong to a dominant group, and react to a historically oppressed group trying to create support structures by saying THEY CAN’T HAVE ONE IF I DON’T GET ONE TOO are 100% the problem and shouldn’t get to throw an exclusion party.

      I said up-thread that work groups need a legitimate, explicit work purpose. In an industry like finance, a men’s forum needs to be clear and public about its aims if it doesn’t want to be viewed as reactionary nonsense from hyperprivileged [redacted]. This one has not done that.

  31. itma*

    “her previous bosses may have been pleased with her performance, but that’s not the case with me”

    I think that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say to her, honestly (coupled with clear explanations of what you expect her to improve, ofc).

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Or even “the past boss may have felt you were meeting the expectations of the role as it existed then, however the business and responsibilities of the role have changed, and this is what I need you to do to meet the current expectations of the role.” The point is that the role has changed, and you have to meet the role as it is now, not what it was in the past anymore – which Jane isn’t doing and using the remarks to deflect from what she isn’t doing (and this may also account for the bullying behaviors as well).

    2. El l*

      Consider taking the “I” out of all of this. If only to emphasize that – in an important way – it’s not up to LW, and more broadly there’s nothing personal here at all.

      It’s really not up to LW how things were versus how they are now. The organization has different needs now – and it’s LW’s job as a manager to execute that strategy, and Jane’s job to do her part following that. It’s a vast machine versus a personal grudge. “Oh, your work was good enough for [coworker x]? OK. Do they have significant strategic input, or are my boss? No? Then their assessment is irrelevant.”

      Sounds like with this level of defensiveness the story will end with Jane getting fired. But who can say.

  32. This is a name, I guess*

    OP #4, when I left academia, I got this same advice, too. Don’t listen to it! It’s another example of weird Gumption! Career Advice that circulates around former educators. I work in nonprofits, and I occasionally see it on resumes and it makes me cringe!

    I moved from academia to nonprofits. Nonprofits are generally very open to career changers, and I don’t think you’ll have too hard of a time transitioning from a classroom to a nonprofit environments. A few pieces of advice beyond the advice Allison gives for resumes:
    1) Remove teacher jargon (but still use “students”/”learners”) as much a possible.
    2) Play up your service experience on your resume because this is what nonprofit employers will want to see in addition to teaching because it will show that you can work collaboratively with peers, not just kiddos: did you run a sub-committee? were you a department head? curriculum lead? union volunteer? PTA liaison? This is where you can try to translate your experience to slightly more org/corporate-speak! How many committee members? How often did you meet? What did you accomplish?
    3) Use your cover letter to “translate” your teaching experience into how you will function in the role. A really good, specific cover letter is useful here.
    4) It might take awhile to get a nonprofit job, but it’s likely not your fault, so be patient. Nonprofit staff are often overworked and taught to be risk-averse, and as a result, can sometimes be overly conservative in hiring. It had almost direct transferable experience in my nonprofit area, and it took me a year to get a job because overworked managers will (I think, erroneously) prefer to hire mediocre or good enough staff with a small amount of direct experience instead training someone who will be truly excellent. However, if someone is so rigid and so overworked that they won’t provide you more than the bare minimum of training, then you probably don’t want to work there.

    The market has changed in the last few years, so I doubt it will take you as long as it took me. Managers can’t be as picky anymore.

    1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      +1 to the use of cover letters for career changers. Your cover letter is a great opportunity to explain how the accomplishments of your former career translate into skills you can apply in your new one. That of course doesn’t mean literally “translating” non-corporate work into corporate language — that’s totally daft advice and you’re right to be skeptical of it. It means explaining what you did to achieve those successes, so that people who aren’t in your previous field can understand the skills it demonstrates. For instance, the improvement you attained in standardized-test rates sounds amazing, but as someone who’s not in education, I can’t begin to imagine what you actually did to make that happen. Use the cover letter to help your prospective new employers understand those skills!

    2. Teacher to Nonprofits*

      Hello — I’m the writer of #4. Thank you for your great advice! I have been a department chair, run clubs, that sort of thing. I inlcude those aspects of the job, but I will definitely play up the acheivements. I think the hardest part for me has been that people outside of education don’t understand all we do (data analysis, collaboration, compliance tracking, communication, etc.), so it can be hard to try to get it all into bullet points that make sense. I definitely lean on my cover letter to fill those gaps, but I suppose I worry that in the mass of submissions that letter won’t get read until I’ve made it through the first culling.

      1. This is a name, I guess*

        I do program evaluation, and I received my training at my local university’s College of Education, so I know all about what happens behind the scenes. Also, my sister is a teacher (middle school math!). Most people who don’t work directly with teachers in their jobs think about teaching from the perspective of students, which totally makes sense to me. We spend a lot of time in school! So, that’s why you need to spell it out for people. Also, I’m in my 30s, and went to school before No Child Left Behind and email, so if it weren’t for my coursework and my sister, I wouldn’t know that teaching has a lot more administrative and evaluative functions than before. So, you need to educate people like me about your transferable skills.

        Focusing on leadership, analysis/evaluation, and compliance are all very useful for nonprofit program management roles. That is what people will want to see.

        Additionally, be sure to consider nonprofit roles broadly. You don’t need to work in education-focused nonprofits. You could work in disability nonprofits, employment services, etc. Teaching is relevant to all social services. Yes, even if you aren’t Special Ed! There are also evaluation jobs, quality assurance jobs, compliance jobs, etc. There’s also fundraising and communications, which pay better and many roles are very technical. They are also a good stepping stone into program jobs.

        For what it’s worth, you might need to take a pay cut, but in my experience, you can move up very quickly as a career switcher in nonprofits, if you are thoughtful and strategic about career moves. Because most nonprofits are small or medium sized, it’s pretty normal to job hop to get ahead without much penalty (most orgs don’t have a ton of room for growth). I’m at my second organization in my 5 year nonprofit career, and in my 3rd role, and I started at $45,000, then moved to $65,000/yr + OT and bonus, and I just got promoted to $90,000/yr + 2%-5% bonus (I’m in a medium-cost city in the midwest).

        I bring this up because I think people who spend a long time in careers like teaching, academia, government forget about upward mobility in non-tenure-based jobs. For example, my sister makes about $85k as a teacher (Northeast), but she’s run out of room on the ladder now that she’s at MA+60. She outearned me her entire career, and she earns a very decent wage, but she doesn’t have a lot of room for growth upward unless she goes admin (which she doesn’t want to do). On the other hand, even in nonprofits, I’m on track to earn way more as I grow. And, I can always go private sector or government. Teaching/government jobs often pay decently and have built in COLA raises and milestones raises, but you hit a ceiling in a way that you don’t in more “free market” jobs. There are benefits and drawbacks to both systems.

        Given that, don’t worry too much if your first job pays a little low. You really just need ONE ORG to hire you, and then you stick it out for a year, and you’re golden. Obviously, don’t work for free and don’t take a terrible job, but if you take a slight pay cut for a year, don’t fret. You aren’t locked into a step system for the rest of your career in the nonprofit field, and you can easily make it up in your next job if you’re savvy. And, you can get your next job in like 15-18mo.

        Good luck!

    3. Teacher to Nonprofits*

      Hello — I’m the writer of #4. Thank you for your great advice! I have been a department chair, run clubs, that sort of thing. I inlcude those aspects of the job on my resume, but I will definitely play up the acheivements. I think the hardest part for me has been that people outside of education don’t understand all we do (data analysis, collaboration, compliance tracking, communication, etc.), so it can be hard to try to get it all into bullet points that make sense. I definitely lean on my cover letter to fill those gaps, but I suppose I worry that in the mass of submissions that letter won’t get read until I’ve made it through the first culling.

  33. Sporty Yoda*

    I’ll preface this with the background that the only mens/womens forums I’m familiar with are those in Christian ministry spaces, where the women were lectured on sexual purity and the men were… presumably not (larger issues within the Church).
    In context, “men’s forum” gives me “men’s rights” vibes. Sure, it could very well be bringing up relevant topics (paternity leave, any mental health initiatives, and the annual “this is what counts as sexual assault; this is how to report it if you are a victim” HR talk) but since the field and likely company are already cis male dominated, it could very well veer into networking/advancing careers of participants. You don’t just go to a seminar, sit down, and hear the speakers; you interact and make small talk with your peers attending. “Why is Local Sports Team so disappointing” is different from “Did you hear, Wakeen is looking for another director of Llama/Alpaca relations”.
    Out of context, sure, men’s forums could be fine in theory; in context, I’m not sure that’s what the intent was.

    1. Jinni*

      Oh, the unintended impact is interesting. I appreciate this perspective. You’re right. No meeting is without small talk…

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      That’s interesting. All the churches I’ve been in encouraged all members to resist temptations (sexual and otherwise) and encouraged spiritual growth for all. Some topics were easier to discuss in gendered groups or age groups, but other topics were discussed in broader group.

      Over the years, I’ve noticed we all have mixed records on making the right choices, which is sort of the point of our faith. We acknowledge we all fall short and need Grace to overcome our tendency to choose what we know is wrong. An outsider, observing the fallibility of our members, might agree with you that we were “presumably not” taught right from wrong, since we are just as flawed as anyone else. If anything sets us apart, it’s the humility to recognize and admit our failings, and to seek forgiveness and try to correct ourselves.

      Then again, I believe that there are some who join a church because it’s a “social expectation,” without ever experiencing any change in their desire to put themselves first or to change their behavior.

      Tangential to the overarching topic, but to tie it back in: People are selfish. We are also adept at rationalizing the “general good” of getting what we want, and we are adept at deceiving ourselves with rationalizations that would fool an objective observer.

  34. doreen*

    OP3, do your years of service affect anything other than the requirement to pay you eight weeks of severance ?

    Also, your use of “seniority” makes me wonder if you work in a union environment ( even if you yourself are not a union member) and if that perhaps has something to do with the request that you resign from your current position ? I worked in government, not non-profits, but it was common for people to resign from one job to take another- but it was only when the classification of the jobs were very different , for example someone going from a civil service job to an appointed job or vice-versa, or an elected official resigning to take an appointed job. I suppose there could be similar requirements going between a non-union position and a union one. But absent either government bureaucracy or union bureaucracy, it doesn’t make any sense for them to require you to resign. Even getting out of paying you the severance is iffy – they might or might not have to pay it depending on the specific circumstances.

    1. Inigo Montoya.*

      This. I was just going to say you should check if seniority affects severance in some way. Talk to a lawyer before accepting this.

  35. Rolly*

    On #4 – students are not clients unless they are paying you directly/fairly directly for teaching they receive. So a paid training on Photoshop: could be called clients. Teaching as long-term private training/coaching for an adult: yes clients. Kids in public school primary or secondary school: no way. No way.

    Kids in a private primary or secondary school the parents pay for, or college students paying tuition: *maybe* but it’s an offensive distortion of what teaching is about.

    “measurable performance improvements for 200 clients” – that is terrible.

    1. Wintermute*

      I think this is a useful distinction to draw. It’s about the degree of accountability and the level of direct control they have. A teacher is only accountable to their students in aggregate through indirect mechanisms, clients have much more direct enforcement of accountability.

    2. Teacher to Nonprofits*

      I KNOW – I guess the problem then is how to phrase it without feeling pigeon-holed into “just” a teacher. I want the hiring managers to see how it translates, and for many I have encountered it is difficult to imagine that leap. I will try focusing on the *how*, so I will need to use my own imagination in how to phrased that without getting to teacher-jargon-specific

  36. David*

    #3 is already in danger and should start looking for work outside the organization. This smacks of a director trying to cut costs by getting rid of longtimers who have accrued more benefits and perks. It also makes it easier to restructure those benefits and perks for the whole organization when fewer people are eligible for them.

  37. I'm Just Here*

    I suspect the mens forum creator is an incel, as they truly believe men have it worse than women in society. The use of the term allies is a sign this may be the case, as you can help them fight societal oppression of men. True garbage.

    1. Wintermute*

      That’s a fairly extreme assumption. it’s likely the “allies” part is just boilerplate the company uses or is there for legal reasons. It’s not impossible this is an activist who is trying to bait the company into a lawsuit or just making a point of some kind but going from that to a violent extremist is pretty… out there.

        1. Wintermute*

          incels are violent extremists, they’ve killed people. Assuming someone is a terrorist because they want a men’s forum is… a pretty big leap.

      1. Clueless #26*

        “allies” is term used by LGBTQ+ and POC groups to describe supporters. There isn’t a lot of flexibility here. They are trying to commandeer a word used by marginalized communities. Point Blank. Either its purposeful or they’re unaware. Both are serous problems.

      1. Hey*

        You don’t know the person to justify making this comment. If they made assumptions, so have you.

        1. lizesq*

          Lol that’s the go-to phrase here when someone says something another commenter disagrees with. It’s so tired, makes it hard to read this comment section some days.

  38. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#2 — I would add just a couple of things to Alison’s excellent advice: start documenting all your interactions with Jane. Include dates and times of all your meetings, the specific feedback you’ve given her, and her response. Make sure you document all her performance issues. If you haven’t already, brief your own boss about the situation, on what issues you’re facing with Jane, and the steps you’ve taken. It’s probably time to loop in your HR team, too, if you have one. You’ll need all of this if/when you put Jane on a formal Performance Improvement Plan.

    If I sound pessimistic, it’s because the “Janes” I’ve known over the years rarely turn themselves around. They either leave, loudly announcing to the world what an awful ogre you are, or they have to be fired. And they fight dismissal every step of the way. (I made my career in higher education/state government.)

    Good luck, and send us an update.

    1. cardigarden*

      This. I’m 15 months into trying to sort out a Jane situation. This level of documentation is necessary and it’s so helpful to get your own managers aware and potentially involved early on.

    2. Wintermute*

      This is good advice and mirrors my own experiences. People have a choice when confronted with feedback, people who make the choice to make it antagonistic and start to argue, deny or rules lawyer it are choosing to take an antagonistic stance. It’s POSSIBLE a clear “this will risk your job if not corrected” can snap them out of it, but many invest a lot of their mental energy in the fact they think they’re “right” and don’t correct easily.

    3. Yep*

      If OP2 actually wants to fix this, they need to provide Jane with actual, solid examples of whatever the problems with her work are, and extremely clear guidance that can actually be actioned in terms of what supposedly needs to be done to correct those issues.

      If I sound pessimistic, it’s because the “Janes” I’ve known over the years rarely turn themselves around. They either leave, loudly announcing to the world what an awful ogre you are, or they have to be fired. And they fight dismissal every step of the way. (I made my career in higher education/state government.)

      This is a deeply unhelpful attitude to have. In my experience, 99.9% of employees want to fix whatever problems – actual or perceived – that their manager has with their performance. If employees are given guidance that actually makes sense about problems or issues that actually exist, and told exactly what needs to be done to create the requested change, they will do it.

      But I also know that the vast majority of managers who proclaim such issues fall into one of two categories: completely useless in terms of actually assisting the employee with their performance; or either exaggerating or fabricating performance issues due to some sort of completely different issue, be it personality driven, or feeling threatened or wanting to make a mark or whatever. There is also a third type: a manager who is convinced there is an issue or problem where none actually exists.

      If there truly are issues with Jane’s performance, OP2 actually needs to be a manager and provide guidance and support that make sense.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        If OP2 actually wants to fix this, they need to provide Jane with actual, solid examples of whatever the problems with her work are, and extremely clear guidance that can actually be actioned in terms of what supposedly needs to be done to correct those issues.

        There’s nothing to indicate that the OP hasn’t done that?

        1. Op#2*

          Yeah for context, I’ve delivered direct, in line feedback repeatedly (mostly ignored). And last few weeks I’ve had a feedback on feedback conversation, that went very poorly. She was extremely defensive and obstinate.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        “In my experience, 99.9% of employees want to fix whatever problems – actual or perceived – that their manager has with their performance.”

        Yes! Most people don’t want to change jobs, especially when they’ve been well-regarded there before hitting a bump in the road. The question is, how many people who have displayed Jane’s attitude to correction are ready to fix the problems their manager highlights to them?

    4. Op#2*

      I’ve been so delusionally optimistic Jane could turn it around but unfortunately I think you’re right. The attitude towards feedback is so deeply troubling.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Hi, OP#2 — I really sympathize. I’ve been there. The only things you can do are be really clear and explicit about your expectations and document every transaction.

        Have you looped in your own managers and your HR people? If you haven’t, I really recommend that you sit down with them now and brief them on the situation.

        I know it feels bad. When you’re the manager, you tell yourself that if you do everything right, the employee will turn around and start doing what’s needed. But you don’t have that power. Nobody does.

        My last piece of advice is, don’t drag this out. Be as explicit as possible with Jane, make sure she understands that her job is on the line, document everything, but set a date for letting her go if there’s no consistent improvement. If you let the situation drag on, it will spill over onto the rest of your team. Don’t do that to them.

        Good luck, and send us an update.

      2. Nom nom*

        An employee pushing back against a manager’s feedback is not a problem, nor is it a display of attitude that should trouble you. This is doubly so when this person has been previously told that they are doing really well.

        Give Jane examples of her work that have problems, and list all those problems out, along with reasons why they are causing problems. Give Jane examples of what her work should look like, along with a list of what is good/great about these pieces of work, as well as anything that could be improved and how. Do not compare apples to oranges, either. If she has done some work that you think is done well (even just part of it), give her that as an example as well, and list out what you think was done well and why.

        You could also take a sample of her work that was considered good or great under the previous manager, and list what aspects of it are still considered good by you. But then list what she needs to change, why it needs to change, and examples of what it should look like.

  39. I should really pick a name*

    Why not ask the person who sent out the email to tell you more about the forum?
    Their response could tell you a lot.

      1. Rooney*

        Sorry, nesting fail, that was supposed ro respond to the “must be an incel” comment.

        I agree, the LW should ask what the topics are. I’m not sure why that wasn’t the first move, frankly. Seems kind of obvious to me.

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          What if the response is, “don’t worry your pretty little head about it”?

          1. Coconutty*

            Um, then you cross that bridge when you get to it. Don’t create outrage before you even know whether or not there’s cause for it.

          2. RagingADHD*

            Then you would at least be dealing with one real thing that happened in the outside world, instead of trapped in your head with everything that *might* happen.

            Most of the time, the 1 real thing, good or bad, is a lot easier to cope with IRL than the 99 million bad things you could think of.

  40. Coach*

    You most certainly can use PayPal for payroll for a small business. As a PayPal employee who works on the merchant and small business side of operations I can tell you that literally millions of businesses use the service in legit ways.

    Sounds like this boss is using a personal account and sending money per-to-peer for “goods and services” so the “seller” (or employee in this scenario) pays the transaction fees. Like if you pay with your Amex at a gas station, the gas station is the recipient of the money and is also responsible for the credit card fees, the purchaser of gas is not. This boss is using PayPal goods and services payments inappropriately and he’s screwing you over.

    1. OP 5*

      Interesting! So what are my options here? I tried to figure out how to get around the fees, but couldn’t figure it out without doing Peer-to-Peer, which he said was illegal or something.

      1. COHikerGirl*

        Friends and Family doesn’t charge a fee but it would be illegal to use it to pay someone.

        I have used both personal and business to send money and I’m pretty sure I had the option of paying the fee or putting it on the person receiving the money on both. But someone does need to be paying the fee! Usually the company paying takes that on, as a cost of doing business. I do have some customers who add on a fee to their invoice for this. Since it reads like you’re contract, you could start doing that! If you added a fee that was higher than the fees PayPal charges, the owner might change his mind real quick about the fees portion!

    2. COHikerGirl*

      I’m an accountant and have used PayPal for paying contract workers (which is what the OP seems to be). The nice part of using PayPal is the company doesn’t need to send out 1099s…PayPal tracks that (it’s weird because it throws out the $600 threshold in the US but…I smiled and nodded and went with it! Paying via CC is the same). My company has always taken the fee upon themselves, not passing it to the worker (unless they had a payment fee on their invoice).

      There are also payroll systems that also pay contractors. Not sure how that would be complicated (as those usually take care of everything for you), but…sounds like the owner wanted to get rid of paying for the service (direct deposit, payroll services, etc all cost).

      Definitely sketchy on the owner’s part on that one! I cringed.

  41. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

    Having a men’s forum is not inherently a bad thing. If this company has other groups like a women’s forum, then that’s fair. Ideally, it would be better to do away with all the groups and just lump everyone together regardless of your gender, skin tone, or social status.

    1. no*

      Not everyone starts at the same place. Saying “do away with groups and lump everyone together” doesn’t acknowledge systemic racism, sexism, and all of the other systemic -isms that have historically pushed everyone other than white men down. True equity, equality, and justice come from acknowledging systemic oppression and barriers to education, health services, employment, etc. You can’t do that if you just “do away with labels” and put everyone at the same starting line. Try reading a book sometime.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Except is this a “White Mens’ group?” As a black man, I’m not welcome in plenty of spaces BECAUSE I’m a man, and I’m excluded from plenty of black mens’ spaces because I’m not a Dad and never will be. I don’t have anywhere to go, and I cannot complain about it. Imagine what that does to MY mental health.

          1. Coach*

            Sorry, user name fail. Had one saved on my phone and one saved on desktop. Your commented is nested under one of mine where I say not everyone starts at the same place.

            Are you advocating for a men’s forum because ad a black man you would like a group to be part of at work? I would think that a black men’s group or a group for black employees and allies would be preferable to a men’s forum. A men’s forum reeks of “why don’t we have a straight pride parade?” mentality.

            At my job we have plenty of DEI groups and employee resource group. I’m an ally member of our group that amplifies the experience of black employees and works tirelessly on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of black employees. I’m also member of a woman’s group. We do not have nor do we need a men’s group – it’s tech, men abound.

            1. Pyjamas*

              But Database Developer Dude specified a men’s group, not a Black men’s group, or a Black employee’s grip. Are you actually telling a Black man that his preferences don’t matter?

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Ideally, it would be better to do away with all the groups and just lump everyone together regardless of your gender, skin tone, or social status.

      This is an offshoot, unintentional or not, of the ‘I don’t see colour’ or ‘all people are equal so why does anyone need extra attention’ mindset which is acutely harmful for those of us in marginalised groups.

      For context I’m a woman, not white, disabled, mentally ill, LGBTQ and work in an incredibly white male dominated industry (IT in heavy engineering).

      Those who say that there’s no need for people like me to have a space where we can discuss work and career issues with people in our cohort since the majority of staff (the aforementioned white cis men) don’t have such a forum have missed the point. They DO have such a forum – it’s called the workplace. We’re just tired of being ignored, shouted over, told our concerns don’t matter, that we’re somehow discriminating against THEM if we try to say ‘hey we need you to stop saying X’ and just want one space where we are guaranteed to not be condescended to or face ‘notallmen’ or ‘all lives matter’ or similar.

      If in the distant utopia people are not marginalised then truly there won’t be a need to have separate spaces. But we are a long way off. Like light years distance.

  42. TiredAmoeba*

    I suspect that someone complained that men are being forgotten and downtrodden and demanded they be allowed their own forum because equality. So, from a strictly equality standpoint, I would let it be as long as their primary stance wasn’t tearing down others, which should apply to any group.

    1. ellatree*

      I mean I think the idea that men are being forgotten and downtrodden in the finance industry is worth pushing back on. If that is someone’s viewpoint, it’s a)grossly inaccurate and b) going to affect how they interact with women in their company (e.g. this woman only got her job as a diversity push, a man should have gotten it, etc etc). It’s not a harmless view.

      1. braindump*

        I agree. It’s one thing to think (if I were a white man) “equality for others means I’m actually getting fewer opportunities than a white man would 50 years ago, and that is a decline in what I expected in life”, it’s another for a workplace to allow that kind of inequality to happen.

  43. una*

    I do think that there are men’s specific issues a men’s group could legitimately target, even if an annual forum feels like a very weird format.

    That said, it seems unlikely in the context of the finance industry, which is known to be both male dominated and still rife with sexism.

    What’s really wild to me is how defensive some of the comments are at the suggestion that “this group with a tendency towards sexism might be doing something sexist”

    1. Paris Geller*

      Wild, but not unexpected. Happens every time an issue of sexism, definite or possible, is brought up in letters to Alison.

  44. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    I don’t understand the reasoning the boss is giving in #3. If OP stayed in their current position then they would still have to pay the benefits that she accrues. Unless it’s a severance type of thing, which still doesn’t make sense since if the OP stayed and then retired later they would still need to pay that out. And if paying 1 person what they are worth is detrimental to the company then that company is not doing well and is not going to stay open longer.

    I bet the real reason is that the boss just doesn’t like the OP or feels threatened that they have been there so long.

  45. AthenaC*

    #1 – We don’t have enough information to offer much definitive advice here, but I agree that the “men and their allies” language doesn’t sound great. Put it this way – I have yet to see “men and their allies” used in a GOOD way, so if this group is really about unique challenges men face re: mental health, risk of suicide, using paternity leave, this would be the FIRST time I’ve seen it using that specific “men and their allies” phrasing.

    I would like to see more groups for men in contexts where it makes sense – for example, my husband’s decision to be a SAHD over the last decade and a half has been really isolating. Any of the parenting groups where we’ve lived have been women only who won’t let him join because (and I quote) “my husband wouldn’t be comfortable with us including a man in our group.” The schools haven’t helped either – even though he’s listed as the primary parent / caretaker, he’s been told over the phone by at least one school nurse (another direct quote) “I want to talk to a REAL parent.”

    I’m sure that doesn’t apply to OP1’s specific situation, but am sharing the above anyway for anyone who might not be aware of specific situations and roles where it does legitimately suck to be a man.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Perhaps an odd suggestion: has your husband considered looking for gay dad groups?

      Also, that nurse is terrible.

      1. AthenaC*

        It’s been about a decade since he gave up looking, but I do remember he was specifically looking for “parent groups” (i.e. gender neutral) and all he was finding was SAHM groups that weren’t open to including men. I don’t think he went looking specifically for gay dad groups but I would think that if they were there, he would have found them. But I don’t know that for sure – as I mentioned, it’s been a few years and at this point my husband is done reaching out.

      2. STG*

        As a gay male, I wouldn’t suggest sending a straight dad to join a group for gay dads. I get the thought behind it but many conversations are had about straight people taking over gay spaces until they no longer represent their original purpose. This has occurred with gay bars, gay sports teams, gay book clubs, etc. I wouldn’t immediately assume that a straight person would be welcome.

    2. Observer*

      , he’s been told over the phone by at least one school nurse (another direct quote) “I want to talk to a REAL parent.”

      That is the most insane thing I’ve heard in a long time. Neither I nor my husband were SAHP, but for a number of years it made sense for my husband to be the primary contact for school emergencies, because he was within a few blocks of the children’s school. I cannot imagine the fury that would have rained down on the school if someone had implied (much less SAID) that he is not a “real” parent! My husband rarely gets huffy with the schools, but this would have sent him round the bend.

      1. AthenaC*

        Oh he was furious. As was I, because it meant I had to immediately drop my Very Important Breadwinning tasks and deal with the school.

    3. Very Anon*

      I’m a lawyer and I do a lot of work with families. I’ve heard from a lot of dads that dads’ groups are incredibly helpful. They give dads a space to talk to each other about parenting and about the challenges they have. They’re able to do this together in a way that doesn’t feel competitive with a mom-based group, and they’re able to talk about very specific dad challenges (like being told by a school nurse they’re not really a parent, etc). These can be incredibly good for dads to understand they’re not alone in what’s going on with them. I don’t know where you’re located, but your husband might even consider starting a dads’ group if there isn’t one around. Could be a good resource for a lot of people.

  46. Wendy*

    Regarding letter 1…

    What is the best solution to this problem that will not cause more problems?

    1. Wintermute*

      I don’t think there is one to be honest. if they have women’s groups they can’t legally bar men from having an equivalent group too, so they have to ban them all, and not just men’s and women’s but all other affinity groups too (which would be even worse, and not a great look) or allow them both.

    2. A Feast of Fools*

      Poking around on the internet I found advice for in-house lawyers and HR leadership to have specific criteria / goals / problems to solve at the heart of the groups. Things like this:

      * How will the proposed affinity group help its members achieve the company’s mission and goals?
      * How will the proposed affinity group increase inclusion and business development among the individuals in the group (as opposed to employees generally)?
      * Are other affinity groups or mechanisms already in place that serve the need addressed by the request?

      It would be difficult for a men’s group — one created to advance men in the workplace through mentoring and networking, and not a health or Working Fathers group — to stand up as legitimate when looked through the lens of those questions.

    3. nnn*

      I think the first step would be to find out the backstory. Informally ask someone who’s been around a while and is likely to give you a real answer, and ask from a place of curiosity (“I’ve never seen anything like that for a demographic that wasn’t marginalized within the company” – or, if true, “I’ve never seen a gender-based forum like that”). Tone and delivery should be the same as “What’s the deal with the alphanumeric sequences in the generic email addresses? Do they actually mean anything?” – some arcane bit of corporate memory that seems odd to newcomers but surely there’s a good reason.

  47. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    I want the OP to sneak into the men’s forum and see what its about! Or do some convert spy stuff and have a male friend wear a camera.

    If the “Men’s Forum” is just a health and wellness thing that would be ok. No different than a former employer who during breast cancer awareness month had a mobile screening center on-site that women could opt to go to during work hours.

    However, If this is more of a networking event then I think its a little iffy, unless they also have a woman forum too!

    1. Vinessa*

      The OP doesn’t have to “sneak” into the forum or do some kind of weird undercover bit. Presumably “men and their allies” means that anyone is allowed to attend (not to mention that only allowing men to attend would put them on very shaky legal ground), so the OP could just go and find out for themselves what the event is about.

    2. Dwight*

      presumably these forums don’t bar non men since they include “allies”, but would probably be boring to them.

  48. Klochoseoutrage*

    I apparently woke up and chose violence today because I’ve already fired off a response to a PAC fundraising to legislate what kids can and cannot learn and now I feel compelled to respond as I’m taken aback by the commentariat’s response on LW #1.

    If we shift the lens slightly and said okay, let’s have a ERG for white employees…doesn’t that feel kind of gross? I feel the same about a “Men’s Forum”. They don’t need a special forum to discuss men’s issues. They get the right of way / are the standard for everything. The baseline is men’s rights. ERGs should be focused on driving DEI and other ESG related issues forward.

    Men have plenty of informal outlets to discuss their agendas. Hell, they organize men-only trips to the golf course all the time and don’t even think to invite female colleagues. They have personal stances of never being alone with a woman. All of this hurts women and minorities because generally (and don’t come with that not-all-orgs bs) men hold most/all of the power. Women or minorities meeting alone does not result in promotions / raises / opportunities or even nearly the same advantages as men-only forums so I firmly disagree with the “what’s the harm” stance. It is harmful. This has been the status quo for hundreds of years and we shouldn’t be okay with it.

    1. Wintermute*

      The problem is the law, a company HAS to be okay with it, or at least tolerate it. If they allowed skin color affinity groups, the exact same would apply too.

      An employer could not prohibit them from doing this unless they want to ban all affinity groups, which would be even worse (and look very bad). There’s not much to do here except to make sure that you also have a robust women’s group that actively works for inclusion and opportunities and to speak up if you see discriminatory practices or ones taht appear facially neutral but have biased outcomes.

      1. Forrest*

        If they allowed skin color affinity groups, the exact same would apply too.

        Is this really true and is there any case law on that? I have never heard of a court upholding a White Employees group, and it seems like the kind of thing someone would definitely have litigated if they could.

        1. Wintermute*

          For the most part I’ve never encountered affinity groups limited by skin color, it’s just too fraught, usually they’re something like the “minority action network” and the difference is subtle but important.

          As to caselaw the best cite in all likelihood would be Meredith V Jefferson County School Board, The quote from Roberts, authoring the opinion, is unequivocal and clear: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Roberts re-stated this quote writing for the plurality in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 so it’s pretty settled law.

          Meredith also applied strict scrutiny to all race discrimination.

          General Dynamics vs Cline and O’connor v Consolidated Coin Caterers addressed discrimination between members of a protected class, but it was in the area of age, where under-40 is NOT a protected class, it nevertheless ruled that discrimination among members of the protected class was illegal. Since all people have a skin color, all people are members of a protected class, unlike age where you become magically inducted on the day of your 40th birthday.

          I am looking for a more direct cite but to be honest it seems that businesses have generally steered well clear of allowing any skin-color-based affinity groups at all instead focusing on cultures or minority status, and if any were created it wasn’t litigated at the federal level. I’m going to look through the EEOC as well but that’s substantially harder than supreme court cases.

        2. Wintermute*

          Oh and I forgot a HUGE one sorry– Moranski v. General Motors Corporation. If you allow other religions to have a group you MUST allow a Christian group despite them being the majority in the US.

  49. Hailrobonia*

    “Attention emplyees: the Mens’ Forum will meet in the back corner of the parking lot at 9:00 am”

    (locks door afterwards)

  50. K-roll*

    OP#4: Oh, dear! I agree with Allison that there is no need to dress up the language, because you should be so very proud of your accomplishments as a teacher – especially since you did these things concurrently with TEACHING ACTUAL STUDENTS. The “just a teacher” thing drives me bananas, especially when the attitude comes from …our best teachers! Do I need to go on about the skill sets you’ve developed AS AN ACTUAL TEACHER: meticulous planning, ability to think on your feet and adapt to quickly changing conditions, being professional under fire, etc. etc. How could these “teacher-y” things be anything other than an asset to any non-profit fortunate enough to hire you?!?

  51. K-roll*

    OP#4: Oh, dear! I agree with Allison that there is no need to dress up the language, because you should be so very proud of your accomplishments as a teacher – especially since you did these things concurrently with TEACHING ACTUAL STUDENTS. The “just a teacher” thing drives me bananas, especially when the attitude comes from …our best teachers! Do I need to go on about the skill sets you’ve developed AS AN ACTUAL TEACHER: meticulous planning, ability to think on your feet and adapt to quickly changing conditions, being professional under fire, etc. etc. How could these “teacher-y” things be anything other than an asset to any non-profit fortunate enough to hire you?!?

    1. Teacher to Nonprofits*

      Thank you for your kindness! It feels in hiring like many people appreciate that my job is hard and takes skill, but have difficulty seeing the through-line from my “industry” to theirs. I tend to get a decent amount of interest but no offers. I am going to keep plugging away until someone like you is my hiring manager!

    2. Delta Delta*

      And also, normal people fully understand that teachers teach (wait for it… wait for it…) students.

  52. Oakwood*

    #3 giving up seniority.

    Last hired; first fired.

    If or when layoffs come, they are setting up you to be let go first.

  53. New to the Office*

    For letter #4, y’all have no idea how hard it is to transition out of teaching. It took me years to transition and in the end, I got my current nonprofit job based mostly on the experience I got from hourly jobs after 15 years of teaching. I took out all jargon and explained my transferable skills in my cover letter (I’m sure I could’ve done better of course), but the sense I got was that people saw “teacher” and dismissed my resume. As more teachers are leaving the profession, I think we need a campaign like they did with the military. Teachers have an amazing skill set! Organizing large groups of people, collecting and analyzing data, event management (do you know how many details you have to keep track of and anticipate to pull off a field trip??), not to mention an entire career centered on communication. Alison, I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on how teachers can successfully transition out of the field!

    1. Teacher to Nonprofits*

      Maaaaan I have been trying for like 8 months and just keep spinning my wheels. I get a pretty solid return rate on interviews, but ultimately I think they just see “TEACHER”. I’ve been final round so many times, for jobs both entry level and middle management. But from what I’ve seen, they’d rather have someone inexperienced (even when there is a published, non-negotiable salary!). In one, an education nonprofit and they hired someone who literally his only other job title was “podcaster”. Another focused on civic activism hired someone who graduated college a week after I was rejected. It’s really frustrating!

      1. New to the Office*

        Oh man, even an educational nonprofit?? Oof. I didn’t want my comment to read as disheartening, but I’m definitely here to commiserate. I can’t help but feel like it’s more of the same disregard for teacher professionalism that we experience in the role as well.
        I do think that if you get someone one on the hiring team who was a teacher in the past (as was the case with my current job, I found out later), they actually understand the wild range of skills it takes to be a teacher. And hopefully, as we all jump ship on this bonkers education system, there will be more of us on hiring teams. :) Best of luck to you with the search!!

  54. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    OP#2, it is entirely possible that Jane’s previous manager was fine with her performance. Or maybe he was a poor manager. Or maybe due to the changes in business strategy the requirements of Jane’s position have changed. But the business strategy has changed, and Jane’s manager has changed. So she needs to adapt to these changes or she will not succeed in her position. This is kind of reminding me of my learning disabled stepson, whose teachers had never demanded anything from him. When he got a new teacher who actually expected him to do schoolwork and homework, and to make certain progress in reading, writing and math, he completely freaked out and had to repeat the year. Your situation is probably not that extreme, but Jane’s resistance to your feedback feels like that to me. She just went on the defensive, completely.

  55. tessa*

    So, three of your managers disagree with your self-assessment. You assert they are wrong and you are right.

    Presumably, then, you expect the readership here to believe you. As such, shouldn’t you show that same courtesy to the LW?

    Because frankly, I’m inclined to question your self-assessment, given three different people at different levels have the exact same critique of you.

    But I won’t question things as stated, because doing so violates the spirit of the situation and railroads it into all kinds of irrelevant rabit holes. So, let’s go with what the LW says, and comment from there.

    @LW: I think you have been great at being straightforward with Jane. I second what Alison says, i.e. stay direct, be prepared to put Jane on a PIP, and also be prepare to possibly move forward from there. Even managing reliable and dedicated employees is tough sometimes. Good luck!

    1. Anon thanx*

      Tell me you’ve never had a completely unreasonable, bullying manager without telling me that you’ve never had a completely unreasonable, bullying manager.

      This is an extremely unkind and unhelpful comment. Most people will have several bad managers in their careers, and most managers are bad.

      There is also no evidence that OP2 has told Jane, in a clear way, what the actual concerns with her performance are, or how OP2 expects Jane to fix them. What I do read in this letter is a personality conflict, and that OP2’s boss has brought them in to do their dirty work.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Well, there’s this quote from the letter:

        “Jane’s work is subpar but worse, she doesn’t take feedback and has been a bit of a bully to her peers outside of our org. The problem is I’ve given her this feedback, and she often responds with the following:”

      2. Op#2*

        Hey – thanks for the callout. Let me try to hide details but still provide examples:
        – she prepared a document that had notable flaws. I and others on the team provided notes that those flaws are not acceptable. They were unactioned until another person at her level grabbed the document right before it went out to fix them.
        – her documents often have things like spelling errors, continuity errors, and other somewhat obvious errors. When I ask her to fix them she argues with me that I am wrong.
        – when I’ve witnessed peers telling her something doesn’t make sense or has an error, she has a lengthy list of, seemingly irrelevant details, that say something clearly wrong is actually right. For instance, chapter 4 comes after chapter 5, but she thinks that makes more sense so she reversed them, and another book has that order, so it’s fine.

        I hope that helps, I know it’s hard to imagine based on the redacted examples!

        1. Nom nom*

          This is probably asking the obvious, but did Jane have truly adequate time to prepare the document, or is she carrying a workload that is too heavy? And are these documents new and being created from scratch, or is she amending existing documentation? Are these her errors, or existing errors?

          Did you ask her to correct the document? And does your team have a review or editing process? If so, it should be expected that spelling or even continuity errors will be caught during review, rather than expecting the writer to perform a full edit themselves.

  56. PNW Zebra*

    Re: #4 – I work at the intersection of adult education and tech and we use the term “learners” to refer to our students/users. But if someone was coming from an educational institution/school and used the term “students” no one would raise an eyebrow. The numbers are what’s important.

  57. JelloStapler*

    LW3- sketchy in so many ways but also length of service can impact eligibility for retirement in some sectors, so resigning may put that at risk.

  58. Tina Mouse*

    Manager wrote the letter to read, “Prepare to fire her” and you all picked it up. Nothing like, “I suggested she do X”, just “she is subpar and some people do not like her”

    Presumably Jane is not an idiot, and knows what happens when a boss lectures her on “subpar” generic inactionable problems with performance and also her lack of ladylike interactions. Of course she is pushing back! Manager is planning to fire her. That is the subtext. If she does not push back now, and document her objections to his empirical assertions, she has not chance against her new boss who indicates she is a “bully” but weirdly has never before been identified as a bully despite much previous interaction with the company.

    Woman as bully, man is hard-driving. She was a good employee and valuable colleague until New Boss came in. Strange that her entire personality would change.

    He really dislikes her. When you read his truly vague description, you responded Fired! not Mentor! or “work on actionable goals”. What in the letter made you respond that way? I think it was hater manager’s vague language.

    Assume OP is honest but do not ignore a post that has more red flags than an old-school Soviet parade.

    1. Observer*

      You have a pretty good imagination. But talking about facts – none of what you said is actually in the letter.

    2. Anon thanx*

      Tina Mouse, I completely agree with you. I find the lack of thought and analysis a lot of readers (and Alison) are giving OP2’s letter really concerning.

      I’ve seen this exact story play out before many times, and it too often ends with the Jane in the situation being unfairly robbed of their livelihood. However, I am pleased to see that more and more of these awful messes are ending with the crappy boss in the situation being disciplined, and sometimes demoted, with the Jane apologised to and left alone.

    3. New Jack Karyn*

      The role of the department changed due to a big overall change in company strategy. It’s not out of line to believe that Jane was good at the previous role, but isn’t getting up to speed in the newer aspects of her job. OP didn’t tell us exactly what she said to Jane, but there’s no reason to think she just said ‘subpar’ and left it at that.

      Try a search on this page for OP #2; they’ve left a few replies that expand on how they’ve interacted with Jane.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        And it sounds like one of the changes was from a far more passive boss, to a boss who while they don’t seem to be pushing for conflicts aren’t as willing to be pushed around as the prior boss was.

        But I do agree that is sounds as though even if Jane was a rockstar before, they aren’t being the rockstar now – and it sounds at least partially that Jane is acting out in response to the changes in the job (given how aggressively Jane is arguing about and pushing back on any and all work related corrections). The reason some of the corrections may be harder to anonymously describe for us commentators is that it sounds like a lot of the problem is Attitude, which are the sorts of problems that are also the worst morale suckers for the greater department as a whole.

  59. Teacher to Nonprofits*

    LW #4 here! I have read a lot of your suggestions (thank you) and I am working on some new bullet points. I want to be accurate AND relevant. If anyone has feedback for these specifically, I would appreciate the help! (these are from 3 different teaching positions, which is why there is some overlap in responsibilties and the tenses don’t all match)
    • Led the creation and execution of a site-wide training plan by creating a working group, communicating across teams to identify and prioritize needs, and developing customized training materials, resulting in raising pass rates from 17% to 76% in one year;
    • Project manager for creating social studies training curriculum for new fully-online high school program;
    • Managed multiple projects simultaneously with a team of 6, ensuring performance, quality, and cohesion;
    • Supported special needs population, requiring a high degree of compliance, data tracking, discretion, and collaboration;
    • Create and deliver presentations using multiple technology platforms, including Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) and Google Suite (Sheets, Slides, Docs, Drive);
    • Evaluate submissions from diverse population with specific learning needs against standardized rubrics and metrics;
    • Document various data points with extreme accuracy for strict compliance records;
    • Advisor for new teachers, including observing, coaching, and providing feedback on performance for 3 staff members.

    1. Observer*

      This is great stuff, especially if you are trying to get into the not-for-profit sector.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      For your first bullet point, I’d rearrange so the numbers are in the front. Something along the lines of:
      – Increased pass rates from 17% to 76% in one year by creating a working group, communicating across teams to identify and prioritize needs, and developing customized training materials.

      Best of luck with the career transition!

  60. H.C.*

    If nothing else, that “Men’s forum” would be perfect for that library new hire who only took the job for “THE MEN”.

    Joke aside, there are some legit reasons to hold events like these, my city does a Men’s Empowerment Forum of sorts that addresses specific needs (resources for single fathers, testicular & prostate cancer exam, criminal record expungement, workshops on communication & mental health, etc.)

  61. Koala dreams*

    It’s a problem in society that men don’t start support groups but instead wait for women to do the emotional labour of providing support, or worse, take over women’s support groups. So in itself, a men’s support group isn’t a bad idea.

    The question is if this type of support group belong in the workplace. Women’s group in workplaces exist to support women with workplace and career issues. The general idea is that historically, the public sphere belonged to men and the private sphere to women. The corresponding men’s group would exist to help men navigate social and family issues in the private sphere, just as the women’s group helps women navigate the public sphere.

    As for “allies”, this is standard language for these types of groups. It’s to signal that the groups are open for everyone as opposed to those other groups we read about with weird gate-keeping and endless debates about who is a real “X”. As with everything, it’s easy to change a name and difficult to actually be inclusive in practice.

  62. BananaSalamander*

    My company had a men’s conference after someone complained that we were going to have a women’s conference. Apparently the complainer told HR they either had to let him go to the women’s conference, hold a separate men’s conference, or face a lawsuit.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I’m so curious! What was the turnout? What kinds of panels or discussion groups did they have?

  63. n.m.*

    A community center near me has a “mens community forum” that is actually a support group for men with addiction—I think it’s supposed to be like, if a notification pops up in front of others, they shouldnt automatically know that you are dealing with addiction. I feel like if i were in that group i wouldnt like to share it with my coworkers, but idk.

  64. t-vex*

    #2, if she says “my former boss thought I was great” you can say “that’s great, it gives me confidence that you’ll be able to make these changes that I’ve asked for.” Turn her excuse into a reason for her to comply.

    1. Anon thanx*

      You could also try giving Jane some feedback that is able to be actioned, and telling her what the real issues are.

  65. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#5: For purposes of my response, I am going to assume that you are a contractor in the US and are correctly identified as a contractor, and receive a 1099 for compensation paid to you by clients/customers. I will also assume that you have a written contract with this client, and that you invoice this client for your professional fees. (We don’t have much info to go on about your contracting relationship, so I have to make a lot of assumptions.) Under the written contract, your client should have an obligation to pay you (as compensation for services rendered) the amount in the invoice within a certain time frame. What your client owes you is the total amount in the invoice — *not* that amount minus payment processing charges incurred because of your client’s choice of payment provider. Your client–not you–chose to use Paypal, so the Paypal processing charges should be paid by your client. Your client owes you the full amount of the compensation as agreed in the contract.

    1. OP 5*

      Thank you! I’m going to use a version of this when I have my next discussion with my employer.

  66. VegBabe*

    My last company had men’s forums: they were called “sales meetings” or “board meetings.”

  67. Purple Jello*

    Basically, it sounds like it would be “detrimental” if they had to keep the commitments they made to someone who has benefitted the organization by staying for the long term. If you lose your seniority, it’s detrimental to you. It’s cost of doing business for them to provide you those promised benefits of a long term employee. They should have been budgeted for. Whether it’s extra PTO, or being able to have first choice on taking PTO, the corner office, or the greatest parking spot, or even your pay rate. You are owed these things. Don’t willingly give them up so the new CEO benefits because you made it easier for them to budget, or to lay you off.

  68. PurpleStar*

    For LW 3 = For the love of cheese do not do this.

    Do not give up over 20 years of seniority for a one-year contract. This is their way of trying to pretty it up – but they want you out. I am currently HR but non-profit for decades. This is not an okay offer. Most organizations have an in-house transfer policy for internal candidates – and while there may be a new probation period to go with the new position, there is never a loss of seniority or benefits. Doesn’t matter if you are moving up, down or lateral – seniority and benefits are rewards for long employment with the organization.

    I just can’t fully express how horrific this “offer” is. Please just stay in your current position and use all of this site’s advice to find another job.

  69. Clueless #26*

    ironically if a finance company was sued for only having a women’s forum, such lawsuit would probably uncover unequal pay and a hostile work environment against women.

  70. Jonquil*

    OP3, I think your ED is trying to get you out of the company without paying your generous severance. I would turn it down and ramp up your job search.

  71. Nom nom*

    OP2, if you haven’t already, you need to give Jane examples of what her work should actually look like, versus examples of what it currently looks like (with any and all problems or issues noted throughout, and clear statements explaining why these things are problems or issues). You also need to look at the feedback that Jane was given by previous bosses, and compare it to your own.

    You also need to provide Jane with training, and with documentation that actually explains procedures and processes step-by-step, in plain English, that also covers off any contingencies. If you provide her with feedback and guidance, it needs to be specific and actionable, not vague and generic. Ensure that it does not contain inconsistencies.

    You also need to be honest with yourself. Is Jane’s work actually subpar, or does it do the job? For instance, is it not done or approached in the way you think it should be, but does it work for her and does the work get completed? If so, this is a personal preference of yours, not a job requirement. Is this actually a personality conflict, or that you just don’t like Jane? If so, you need to remove yourself from her management line.

    If Jane is pushing back on your guidance or feedback, why is she doing so? Usually if an employee is doing this, it’s that it doesn’t make sense to them in the way you’ve explained it, or that it’s inconsistent or otherwise unactionable. It can also be, of course, that the feedback provided is unreasonable or unfair and feels personal rather than professional. The manager is not always right, and new managers – especially those brought in to shake things up, as it appears you have been – will often either be wrong, or be perceived as wrong, by what they’re saying to their new team.

    You also need to ensure that Jane truly is the only team member experiencing confusion or difficulty. Odds are, she isn’t.

    1. Wintermute*

      I think a lot of people in this position have trouble with the fact that the goalposts have moved so far from what they’re used to, that could be a big motive for pushing back. “I’ve always excelled and now I’m told I’m not meeting their expectations” does feel jarring, and it can feel targeted because YOU haven’t changed, so why has the analysis of your work changed so much?

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