hiring a manager with strong religious beliefs about women submitting to men

A reader writes:

My company recently hired a new shipping manager. When they announced his name, my heart fell to realize it was an acquaintance of mine from a previous job. At the same time, I was very relieved that I hadn’t been involved in the hiring process, because I would have had a hard time being objective with it.

My last job before this was within a few miles of a highly conservative bible college/seminary. We hired lots and lots of their students. Probably 25 of 40 part-time workers on that shift were from that college. Nobody ever put any sort of restrictions on them having impromptu prayer groups or devotions in the break room, or discriminated against them in any way. Far from it, usually it was the seminary students lodging complaints that they had overheard someone say a swear word or that someone’s rock radio station is profane and they shouldn’t have to hear it. (Instead of music, some of them would blare recorded sermons and lectures on their portable speakers while working.) Overall, they were mostly nice, clean-cut, hard-working kids, but my point is they were very open about their main beliefs.

One of those core beliefs specific to this particular college and branch of Christianity is that wives need to submit to their husbands in everything, because women are the weaker sex and need guidance and spiritual leadership. At least a dozen coworkers I knew from that college got married while in school, and some of the new wives worked until kids came along but none worked outside the home after. After graduating, some students stayed on as supervisors while they looked for a church to pastor. The new shipping manager at my current company had been had been one of them.

At my old company, female warehouse employees did get hired, but their training and opportunities always lagged significantly behind their male counterparts. The warehouse I used to work at opened in the 90’s and their first female assistant supervisor was hired in 2020. She was an external hire and remains the only woman supervisor in a 24/7 facility with a total of 11 warehouse supervisors that constantly turn over. (I finally walked away after six years of being told I wasn’t quite supervisor material. Once in this new location, my career took off and I’m in my third management role here. I was proud to hire and promote women for warehouse work and glad to leave that environment behind.)

If I had been involved in hiring this round, I would have been really worried about putting someone who believes men and women are not equal in charge of a department and expecting them to manage fairly, just based on my personal knowledge of their beliefs. Are there even any fair, legal questions that could be asked to determine if this would be a problem?

It’s good practice to ask all management candidates about their experiences working with and managing people who are different from them. It matters for all of them, not just people you already have concerns about — because while the people you used to work with wore their biases on their sleeves, a lot of other candidates will come with biases too. So it’s smart to always probe into how potential managers operate with people who aren’t just like them.

Some ways to do it are with questions like:
•  Can you tell us about a time when you worked to make sure your team was a place where everyone could thrive, particularly women and people of color? Possible follow-up: How did you check to ensure those efforts were working?
  Can you tell us about a time you navigated difficult dynamics around race, gender, or other identities in your work? Possible follow-up: What do you think were some of the root causes of those dynamics?
•  How do you think about equity and bias around things like race and gender when hiring or developing people? Possible follow-up: How have you known when your efforts to foster equity were working or not?
•  In your work as a manager, how do you approach learning about equity and inclusion issues? Follow-ups: What’s something you’re working on learning? What strategies are you using?

(If anyone reading this is thinking, “I wouldn’t have anything good to answer those questions with”: That’s a flag that you need to start thinking about it, particularly if you’re managing people or want to manage people.)

Ideally you’d also have a diverse group of people involved in hiring so that you can observe whether candidates treat people with similar respect regardless of race, gender, disability, and other potential differences.

But also, in this specific situation with your new shipping manager: You had worked with him previously and had firsthand knowledge of how he operated then. That’s fair game to consider when you’re hiring and to share with others in the hiring process. “He’s a member of religion X” isn’t something you can legally consider in hiring, but “he treated men differently than women, wouldn’t promote women regardless of their skills, and made the two women on the team feel shut out of decision-making” certainly is.

And of course, not all biases will come out in interviews, so you also need your company to be committed to equity once people are hired — like implementing systematized ways of looking at who’s hired/promoted/listened to/given opportunities/paid more, having safe processes for people to report concerns and ensuring they’re addressed in meaningful ways, and having leadership that’s willing to tackle things that are uncomfortable (for themselves and/or people around them).

{ 237 comments… read them below }

  1. Robin*

    I guess my other question would be: do you trust your organization to be able to get this guy to follow the rules? It sounds like he’s already been hired, and I would still suggest mentioning it to people whose job it is to know about this, but now it’s up to them to hold him accountable and be a fair and equitable manager. If you don’t, then that’s an important data point to have.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      I want to know how your organization will handle it if (when) it turns out that he doesn’t treat women well. Will they even notice or will there always be an excuse?

    2. andy*

      He will follow the rules. And he will be completely absolutely confident he is following the rules and that he is not discriminating. He will feel genuinely offended over anyone thinking he could be sexist.

      He will still make sexist value judgements especially in unclear situations. Because that is where sexism happens the most – when managers make guesses based on impartial information.

    3. Some words*

      This situation is just full of ick because a company is pretty much forced to wait until enough subtle violations become undeniable and actionable, even though it seems inevitable. How many prospects damaged before that happens?

      But maybe he’s decided to break with the religions’ teachings on how inferior women are. One can hope.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Even people who are working on their internalized biases still have them to a degree. Unfortunately it is highly unlikely that he has done a complete 180 on them in the meantime.

        1. Alternative Person*

          Yeah, there’s a guy at my job who upon being brought up for his treatment of me by our department manager last year swore up and down he wasn’t sexist, he’s done all the EDI trainings, all the unconscious bias trainings, the whole shebang.

          At the start of this year, a skip level manager told me I would not be receiving the feedback passed to him from that guy because it was misogynistic.

          I’m fortunate this guy is a peer, if he was a manager I would be seeking out of that department at minimum.

          1. Zweisatz*

            Yeah anything that’s coming from somebody else (instead of the person wanting to change themself) I don’t see succeeding. Could be 1 or 5 trainings, it usually doesn’t matter.

        1. Anon 4 now*

          I grew up as one of the people like this. More and more of us are pulling our heads out of our nethers about quite a bit. Please give people a chance to show their rears before you write them off. Change can be incredibly difficult, but so can staying in a narrow-minded organization once the blinders come off.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Thank you! Hugs!
            I hope you and all who are like you come far and fast to join us. :)

      2. HearTwoFour*

        This is what I was thinking, too. How many victims will there be until this guy commits an offense that is too big too ignore?
        I hope the LW is able to keep an eye on who leaves this department, and who is then hired into this department under this guy. (Under his eye…)

        1. FrenemyOfThePeople*

          From my experience, I’d say his victimization and behavior will be of the very subtle hard to quantify type, which is super difficult to complain about because it’s so amorphous. If I were LW, I’d definitely bring this to the attention of HR and leadership in a “Hey, this may NOT be a problem, but it also MAY be a problem with this guy and I wanted to give you a heads up based on my experience….” If they’re halfway decent leaders, they’ll want to know and they’ll help keep him in line.

    4. DataSci*

      It’s probably me – as a queer woman I don’t want to wait to be burned – but I cannot imagine a case where someone is able to put deeply-held bigotry aside to the extent that they’re able to be an equitable manager. Systematic biases are hard enough to overcome for those of us who WANT to and make an effort that I can’t imagine someone able to put their beliefs down for eight hours a day, advocating for all their team members, and then after work go right back to believing that one of their direct reports is hell-bound because of her marriage and three others are horrible sinners for speaking up in a meeting. It may be possible, but I’d want direct evidence from a prior position, rather than taking their word for it.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        ^^ This. I’m supposed to believe the guy who has been inculcated since birth to believe I’m inferior because I’m a female and a non-Christian is going to somehow check those beliefs at the door?

        I see a direct line between hiring these sorts of candidates and setting yourself up for lawsuits later.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          A friend of mine did say that she did once know a guy like this and he was a surprisingly a great team member — but that she would NEVER have wanted to report to him or for him to have had any control over her advancement, or what assignments she got.

    5. DJ Abbott*

      Absolutely, this whole thing scares me. I could rant for a while about religion being used to oppress us, but you all know…

  2. lilsheba*

    We have a director who comes from a culture of women being second class citizens and it comes out in the workplace with him. He consistently ignores what women have to say even when they know better than him about something, and always listens to men, even when it affects customers. Someone like that is a big fat no from me, I do not believe they could manage fairly.

    1. mreasy*

      That’s awful. I live in NYC and work in a liberal media industry. Still, plenty of men behave exactly the way you describe above! It truly doesn’t take coming from a background or religion where that’s an above board belief…unfortunately.

      1. Not That Kind of Doctor*

        Agreed! My (thankfully) outgoing department manager has a long track record of being completely dismissive if concerns were raised by the women on staff – who by the way outnumber the men by more than double. Yet, when one of the men raised the same concern, or backed up a colleague by saying, “yeah, that issue is A Thing” then suddenly it was something that needed immediate attention and problem solving. It has been an exhausting 8 years of gaslighting and I am so thankful his replacement is a woman who experienced his behavior first hand and was vocal about it not being right!

        1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

          My manager acts the same way as your outgoing one – unfortunately, however, there are ZERO non-female reports in my department and the other department he oversees is all-male. So we have a “boys club” atmosphere on the one side and a “girls are so dramatic and emotional” attitude over on my end of things. . . And while the boys club is the fun and flash, my (understaffed) team is the one raking in the numbers that justify our departments’ joint budget and continued existence at the institution. . .

          But any time our (all-female) team raise very real concerns and offer reasonable solutions, our manager tells us that he doesn’t have time for “drama” and we need to understand that “while the work is hard, it’s important”.

    2. Well...*

      My work is very international. Both myself and most of my coworkers have lived in multiple countries, and I have worked with many people (both women and men) who come from cultures of women being second class citizens (a complicated statement in and of itself with many axes by which to evaluate equality).

      I will say, hands down, the most difficult people for me to deal with are sexists that know how to say the right thing to sneak under the radar, and then subtly undermine EDI efforts with “yes this is a problem, but we can’t solve it because of xyz” or who pat themselves on the back openly for doing the bare minimum (“our department is so great though!”). People who move to different countries are usually more open to learning how to get by in the country they are in. They also bring a very valuable perspective to EDI efforts. I’ve seen many men from countries known for troubled women’s rights records be real drivers for change and inclusivity.

      Now this doesn’t seem to apply to LW’s question (and apologies if it’s off-topic), but my hackles raised with the wording in this particular comment. Just because someone comes from a culture that you deem to be sexist doesn’t mean the individual is sexist. And there’s sometimes a bunch of colonialism to unpack when you start judging other people’s cultures.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        He consistently ignores what women have to say even when they know better than him about something, and always listens to men

        . . . and yet that sounds an awful lot like sexism.

        I mean, I guess it might be based on something else?

        1. Caliente Papillon*

          Sure, misogyny? Yeesh. I mean honestly, whether it’s called X or Y if the action is the same then who cares what’s it’s called specifically?

        2. Well...*

          yes, in this example it’s sexist, but I’m worried more about whether that’s meant to be generalized to people in general from different cultures. If it’s not, fine, but in my experience people from there cultures who are sexist aren’t the biggest problem with sexism right here and now.

          1. Student*

            Respectfully, I strongly disagree. I’ve lived with and worked with people who think I am inferior solely because I’m a woman, and that is what their religion and culture teach them about women.

            When a culture (religious or not) teaches people that women are inherently second-class citizens who can’t be trusted to do any real work, think any meaningful thoughts, or be treated as human beings, it is incredibly corrosive and very difficult to work around, with, or under. It’s impossible to fairly work under someone who holds those beliefs, because they do not regard you as fully, equally human like them. They regard you as property, as an imbecile, as a shrew, as a succubus, or at best as a cute talking pet. It’s a horror to deal with directly. It’s draining. It’s constant. Even when it’s not actively happening, it’s always in the back of your mind in every interaction. You can set yourself up to waste a lot of effort trying to convince them you’re just as human and valid and useful as they are, when they will never be persuaded and you will never get the validation/ recognition you’re hoping for.

            I don’t much like people who are sneakier or subtler about their sexism. That’s still draining and still hurts women. But I’ve found you can usually still get something done. You can learn skills, you can make meaningful work contributions, you can get partial credit for your accomplishments. You can position yourself so that your next career move is better. Purely because they haven’t adopted a mindset and belief system that you aren’t fully human, they will sometimes treat you like a human.

      2. hatorade*

        Except the LW said the person has overlooked/ignored input from women so not sure what you’re on about?

        1. Well...*

          I’m on about whether the first statement implies the second, and if the “big fat no” is meant to cover people from certain cultures in the future because of OPs experience with this one example.

          But yeah, it’s admittedly off-topic. I just see this kind of thing a lot since moving to the UK (those people are so primitive and sexist, not like us, lol) that when people start trying to blame cultural differences I get suspicious

          1. amoeba*

            Interestingly enough, my first interpretation of the comment was something like a very conservative/religious part of the US! I agree that if it’s about other countries/religions, this can quickly derail into racism/bias (unfortunately definitely something that gets instrumentalised by the far right where I’m from. As in “Those Arabic/Muslim men with their lack of respect for women are a threat for our western values”. Of course always by people who are deeply sexist themselves.)
            So yeah, I agree with your point. Depends on the context, for sure.

          2. Random Dice*

            Why are you defending someone who has a solid track record of overt sexism, based on an imaginary OTHER person who might not be sexist?

            That’s some messed up water-carrying you’re doing, to deny the reality this woman is facing.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I had a meeting with someone like that and our PM, bless him, spoke up about it. While that’s not entirely ideal (the sexism shouldn’t happen), I encourage others to call it out. Name it then and there. “So like JANE SAID…” I don’t have meetings with that person often but the message seemed to have gotten through. Shame it had to come from another man for him to get it, though.

      1. SarahP*

        One of the teams I work with has the best atmosphere, and people will regularly use the word “amplify” when they restate someone’s idea in another way, and go out of their way to credit ideas to who came up with it. Often it is a senior person helping to restate a more junior person’s point in a way that is, perhaps a bit clearer, but also just ensure the point is heard by those that may not pay attention.

        It is a woman-friendly team, but also just human-friendly. Places where women can thrive as easily as men tend to be generally good environments.

    4. nobadcats*

      At an old, old job, we had a mid-level exec like this and his first snowfall, he called to say he wouldn’t be in because his “wife didn’t shovel out his car.” His heavily pregnant wife. He would come to me the receptionist/switchboard operator to make coffee for him or order his lunch, neither of which were my job. Dude, I can’t leave the board and you have an assistant!

      1. Phryne*

        That (the shovelling) is extra weird (and icky) because these sexist types usually see the heavy labour (shovelling snow, yard work, DIY) as their manly man’s job, which a feeble and technically incompetent woman could obviously not manage without them…

  3. Voodoo Priestess*

    I would love a follow up on this situation.

    I have definitely noticed a difference in how women were treated under previous male managers who were (openly) part of a conservative religion that believed women were subservient to men. Because it was part of their religion, leadership was afraid to address it. I really appreciate the differentiation between religious beliefs (which we can actually ignore) and treatment of employees, which shouldn’t be ignored.

  4. Book lover*

    Question for Alison: The LW didn’t ask, but would it be worth it for them to speak up about their concerns in this situation? Or better to just keep an eye on hiring and promotion patterns under this new employee and speak up later?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Personally, I’d speak up. It’s better for them to have an eye out for problems, since that way they’re likely to spot them sooner if they happen (and more likely to recognize it for what it is).

    2. Jmac*

      You don’t need to be objective if you know first-hand that someone is bad at the job they’re applying for. You can speak to this person’s practice of holding women’s careers back, his religion doesn’t need to come into the discussion.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Right, and I’d argue that this is still being objective: you are reporting facts, not interpretations. That’s objectivity. Being “objective” doesn’t mean being uncritical!

        1. Writer Claire*

          * Being “objective” doesn’t mean being uncritical! *

          I need to remember this phrase. Thank you!

          1. BubbleTea*

            This is a lesson the BBC would do well to internalise too. Impartial does not mean all views must be equally platformed.

    3. Observer*

      I think they should speak up. But not about his religious belief. The real problem is that the company he left has a pattern of not being fair to women. Keep in mind that what the OP describes goes well beyond the shipping manager.

      If I were the OP, I would (hopefully) approach whoever I thought could be useful in watching this situation and say something like “OldCompany had a really bad track record on equitable treatment of women when it comes to things like hiring and promotions. NewGuy seems to be very comfortable, possibly even approving, of that pattern.”

      That gets to the pattern of behavior, which is the real problem. And points up the real possibility that New Guy might buy into or try to perpetuate the pattern in this workplace, without getting side tracked by religion or making any accusations.

      1. Darsynia*

        I like this, because it frames the issue as a ‘previous workplace’ problem more than a ‘specific person’ issue, and also implies that there’s some gentle redirection that might be necessary. It presents a problem, sure, but the problem might sound manageable and not personal, which protects the LW from some of the negativity that this conversation necessitates.

  5. Loulou*

    Was something edited out of the original letter? Alison’s answer mentions that “he treated men differently than women, wouldn’t promote women regardless of their skills, and made the two women on the team feel shut out of decision-making” but I didn’t think OP said anything about how this person was as a coworker. Or were those examples of things they could say if that were the case?

      1. Pyjamas*

        I couldn’t tell if the new hire was personally responsible for the lagging promotions of women or if his main sin was working for a company with a toxic culture and attending a fundamentalist college. Lots of people don’t follow everything their religion teaches them (eg many Catholic women have used birth control). Moreover, OP said they would have a hard time being objective — isn’t that a red flag on OP?

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Not a red flag on OP, because the things they would have a hard time being objective about are things that are worth bringing up. OP is (like many folks) conflating religious beliefs with how those beliefs might guide a person’s treatment of other people. OP doesn’t have to be “objective” about something they have personal knowledge of. Instead, they have to be transparent about their thought processes.

        2. LilPinkSock*

          Honestly, I’d have hard time remaining objective if I knew my company were considering such a problematic candidate. If a possible new colleague, especially one with people-management responsibilities, has previously demonstrated an inability/unwillingness to work with certain genders, orientations, or races–why should I be expected to remain unobjective about that?

          If not tolerating bigotry at work is a red flag, then sign me up, I guess.

          1. allathian*

            I was about to post something very similar. I have zero tolerance and very little patience for bigots of any stripe, and I’m doing my best to eliminate any bigotry in my own thinking. The only exception is bigots, I don’t really care why they exhibit such behavior, I’m judging them as assholes regardless.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              I used to have a sign on my college dorm room door which said:

              “I have no tolerance for intolerance”

              I loved the seeming incongruity of that saying and that sign sparked some pretty interesting discussions. Some were insightful, deep conversations about bias, values, how and when to hold boundaries against evil and harmful behaviors while allowing for differences of opinion. (Apparently, there’s a whole sociological and philosophical thing around “the paradox of tolerance”)

              But others were of the “some obnoxious guy who thinks he’s smarter and more insightful than he really is is going to teach a girl a lesson” variety, trying to convince me that it was hypocritical and that I needed to tolerate all opinions and behavior, including obnoxious or abhorrent ones. (I don’t know why, but it was always a guy … usually one who also liked to elbow his way into discussions by saying “just to play devil’s advocate here …” or “but it’s a slippery slope”)

        3. Michelle Smith*

          Why? I’d have a hard time not taking into account my personal prior knowledge about someone in the hiring process too. That’s a normal human response. It’s why when I applied to work somewhere a former coworker of mine was now working, they replaced her on the interview team, to eliminate bias. I’m sure they asked her what it would be like to work with me, but they didn’t have her interviewing me because we knew each other. I would be appalled if someone thought that should be a red flag against her.

        4. constant_craving*

          The thing is that OP is thinking they need to ignore known information in order to be objective, which isn’t the case. Having prior knowledge isn’t something that should be excluded from consideration in the hiring process. Not a red flag because it’s based on a faulty premise.

          1. TootsNYC*

            after all, if that prior knowledge was, “this person was really good at their job and a pleasure to work with,” we’d all think that should be part of the hiring decision–no?

          2. amoeba*

            Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s unobjective/biased to take information into account that you actually have, even though it’s from a previous job! I mean, if that was a completely different guy that LW had never worked with who just happened to be from the same college – sure, give them the benefit of the doubt (I’d still keep my eyes open, but he might turn out to be perfectly nice and professional!)
            But she has already worked with him and observed the problematic behaviour first-hand. Should she be open to the possibility that he might possibly have changed? Sure, but I don’t think she’s required (or it would make sense for her) to ignore everything she’s learned before…

        5. Eldritch Office Worker*

          The only flag I see is OP being so overly conscientious that she thinks she needs to pretend she doesn’t know this information to stay objective. We see over and over in this column how environments can warp norms (We just had a repost of “I bit my coworker!) and knowing that this person used to work in this environment is absolutely pertinent to whether or not he will be able to effectively manage a team.

          Now having worked in a toxic place doesn’t mean this guy will absolutely carry those behaviors over to his new role, but it’s absolutely good background information for the people above him to have. They need to give him a little extra scrutiny, and if the women on his team were to complain they need to be prepared to take those complaints seriously.

  6. L-squared*

    In practice, I’m wondering how this works. If you say “he treats women and men differently because he belongs to this religion”, isn’t that itself looked at as religious discrimination?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I think you need to re-read Alison’s response more closely.

      The pertinent thing isn’t why he’s treating people differently. The pertinent thing is that he’s doing it.

      As a manager, your main job is generally to deal with the “what” and leave the “why” up to the employee to manage.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, it’s much better to say “he treats women and men differently and we need to deal with this because the company will be legally liable for sex discrimination.”

      2. Susannah*

        The point is it doesn’t matter if it’s due to his religion or just general glass bowl-ness. It’s illegal to discriminate. There’s probably no reason for LW to bring up religion at all, but I also don’t; see a problem with LW saying he denied women promotions at the previous job, after telling people his religion saw women as lesser.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No. The law does not allow you to accept discrimination as a religious accommodation; you do not have to accept illegal behavior that could get you sued, regardless of whether it stems from religious motives. He can work there while being a member of religion X, but he cannot engage in discriminatory behavior while he does.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        See, for another example of this, last week’s letter about the employee who wouldn’t use people’s correct pronouns. It doesn’t matter that he has a religious reason for it; he can believe what he wants but the employer can’t allow him to illegally harass or discriminate.

    3. Almost Empty Nester*

      It’s straight up discrimination if women and men are treated differently in the workplace. Doesn’t matter what justification is given.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I’m not quite sure what you mean but he doesn’t get a pass to treat women less-than to avoid discriminating against his religion. He doesn’t get to discriminate against them for their sex.

      If you mean “isn’t this a form of religions discrimination”, then, I guess no, since it’s *based within* his religion, not against it.

    5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I’m not 100% clear on your question. If the LW assumes that he treats men and women differently, that is religious discrimination. If he does treat men and women differently, it is not a defense that it is because of his religious beliefs, so it’s not religious discrimination.

      1. Susannah*

        LW is not making an assumption of how he will behave based on his religion. LW has observed his discriminatory behavior up close and personal – and says he sees his discrimination as justified *because* it’s an element of his religion.

        It absolutely is NOT religious discrimination for LW to believe he treats mean and women differently. LW first of all has already seen it – and the point here is that it’s against the law to harass or discriminate no matter what justifications you come up with for your behavior.

        Also, LW is free to believe what s/he wants about his religion, as long as LW doesn’t harass him or discriminate against him in the workplace.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, I think you could see it as religious discrimination if you’d never met the guy but assumed he had to be a misogynist because of his religion. But this is not what’s happening here.

    6. Miss Fisher*

      I think this goes along the same lines of the question last week about the individual who would ignore pronouns due to religion.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it matters what you do and say. You can believe anything you like if it doesn’t interfere with your actions and stays in your own head.

        I had a colleague several jobs back who believed women should be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. He was quite at liberty to believe that but when he used it to try and get me to do what he said (despite us being in the same level of seniority), we had a problem and I complained to the company’s HR.

        1. Jaybeetee*

          I believe that Alison has stated before that it comes down to “reasonable accommodations.” Setting aside a prayer space or whatever might be a reasonable religious accommodation. Expecting female employees to accept a manager treating them as second-class citizens is not a reasonable religious accommodation. One person’s rights stop where another person’s rights begin.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Yes, another good example is men who do not shake hands with women for religious reasons. A reasonable accommodation is: those men do not shake hands with anyone at work. Shaking hands with men and not with women is sex discrimination. By not shaking hands with anyone, they are abiding by their religious beliefs and treating men and women the same.

            1. DataSci*

              Sure, but how do you square that with “women should never be in charge of men?” You can’t say that as an accommodation nobody should ever be in charge of anyone else. Do you just have to hire the guy and wait until he puts his beliefs into practice rather than trusting common sense that it’s going to happen?

              1. Former Young Lady*

                Well, that’s just it. In that circumstance, you don’t hire the person because their approach to management would be incompatible with management needs.

                To make it a bit starker, suppose my religion tells me your religion (or lack thereof) makes you an inherently dishonorable, immoral person. Suppose I have applied to replace your current manager, whose direct reports have access to valuable company assets and highly sensitive data.

                Is it religious discrimination for me to fire you when I get the job? Yes.

                Is it religious discrimination for the hiring committee to pass me over for a candidate who can work effectively with a diverse team? No. That’s an essential job qualification. My bigotry is the disqualifier; the rationale for my bigotry is not relevant.

              2. Hlao-roo*

                I gave an example of a religious reasonable accommodation in contrast with a religious belief that cannot be reasonably accommodated. I can see how I replied to Jaybeetee wasn’t completely clear.

                Prayer space: reasonable
                Women are second-class citizens: unreasonable, illegal
                Not shaking hands with anyone: reasonable
                Shaking hands only with men: unreasonable, illegal
                Women can’t be managers: unreasonable, illegal

          2. Susannah*

            I would think setting aside a prayer space could be iffy, as it establishes a religion in the workplace – which could be very uncomfortable for other employees.

            If I worked with, say, a Muslim who prayed numerous times a day, I wouldn’t have a problem with that individual going to a private space to pray. But having prayer circles out in the open? Or playing overtly religious music and sermons on an audio player I can hear? Nope.

            1. UKDancer*

              Every large company I’ve worked in has had a prayer and reflection room. Muslims use it for their daily prayers and others are welcome to use it if they want for prayer, meditation and other things. When I was processing a difficult bereavement I went there a couple of times to gather my thoughts.

              I’ve never worked anywhere with people wanting to pray in the open or play sermons or religious music as by the standards of the companies I’ve worked in within the UK, that would be very weird and intrusive. You do your religious stuff in private and don’t bother others or go on about it in the workplace.

            2. BubbleTea*

              The point of the prayer space is to provide the private space you’re talking about without them having to leave the building. Just like having a space for pumping isn’t encouraging people to take their clothes off at work.

            3. constant_craving*

              It doesn’t establish religion unless employees are mandated to use the prayer space. It just provides a space for people to observe their own practices.

              1. Nina*

                It would be an issue if you made it known that it was only for people of one religion and not another, or if the company provided furniture or equipment suitable for one religion but not another, but a plain room with chairs and cubbies for people to keep their own necessary religious equipment wouldn’t be an issue?
                (Question – I live in a country with very few Muslim people – if a Muslim coworker was using such a room for prayers, would it be a problem for someone of another religion to use the room for their own equally quiet/decorous religious observance at the same time or is that bad? e.g. Catholic coworker sitting quietly in a chair saying a rosary at sub-audible levels vs. Muslim coworker praying in their way also at sub-audible level if that’s a thing?)

                1. UKDancer*

                  I don’t know. In our company it’s first come first served and if you’re using it you flip the “engaged” sign on the door so nobody bothers you. The Muslims at my office tend to go there at lunchtime and then towards the end of the day because prayer times are set. I guess if you want it when they’re in you wait until they’ve finished.

        2. I should really pick a name*

          Generally, the point at which you know that they believe that is the point at which the problems begin.

    7. Czhorat*

      Because your religion doesn’t exempt you from the rules of either your job or society as a whole.

      If his religion said he had to abstain from eating or handling meat products you could hire him to supervise an electronic warehouse. If his religion said no handling of meat products and you were looking to hire a butcher then it wouldn’t be religious discrimination; there’s no accommodation in which he could perform the key function of the job.

      Likewise, if his religion says “women are not to be treated equally to men” then he cannot work in any supervisory or customer service occupation unless he is willing to set aside his religious beliefs.

      I do not believe in judging religious beliefs in general, but if they are objectively harmful to society or cause you to mistreat others than they *should* be judged. Treating women as second-class citizens is wrong, whether that stems from religion or any other source. If that is your religious belief, your religion is harmful.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Also, nothing is stopping this candidate from seeking out a workplace that is 100% male (if one exists).

        1. Dust Bunny*

          And even if one doesn’t exist, that doesn’t obligate any workplace to hire him. Nobody owes him a job in spite of his harmful views.

    8. Spero*

      You as an employer are able to not hire someone for a position if their religion’s discriminatory practices make them unable to fulfill the core functions of the role for which you are hiring. In this case, it is a core job function to supervise staff of all genders, and this person is unwilling to do so – the employer is not required to accommodate that behavior regardless of its religion or not. I have worked for several agencies in an area with two well known schools of this type and interviewed a lot of their grads. I typically ask in a straightforward manner what they would do in x situation that we do at our job, which I know their religion would not allow. Ex we provide gender affirming medications to trans folk, would you have an issue processing that request? If so I can’t hire you. We are providing y service to a sex worker to be able to work safely, if you object I can’t hire you. We provide housing assistance to queer couples and they are recorded as partners or married (depending on their situation) in our system. Would you object to accurately recording a same sex marriage? Would you work with a dating couple (of any sex) living together before marriage and treat them as a valid household (knowing their religion would not approve of living together without marriage)? I have worked with grads of that program to develop a list of things to look out for with their graduates and I HAVE had interviewees object to being not hired due to refusing the tasks but it’s never caused a concern with legal. And I have hired both male and female grads of the program who are willing and able to do the job and worked well with them for years without issue – but it’s like 5% of those I interviewed from that school vs 25% of general population.

      1. Antigone Funn*

        ^^^ This seems like the way to go, right here. It gets right to the heart of whether they can do the job or not, without any judgement about why.

    9. Rainy*

      So do you think it would be okay for someone in your workplace to mistreat you and then say it’s because of their religion?

      1. Appletini*

        There are indeed Christians who cite “the curse upon the children of Ham, son of Noah” ( Genesis 9:20–27) as a reason to maltreat Black people, who are supposedly descended from Ham. Not least as a Black woman I wouldn’t want my workplace to grant them such a religious accomodation.

        1. Rainy*

          Exactly. It seemed to me that the original commenter (top of thread) feels that it’s important to accommodate someone’s religious beliefs about discriminating against others–but I’d bet that only applies when they’re not a member of the targeted group.

  7. Miss Fisher*

    This is the same type of individual who would not be able to be alone in a room with a women, (like a certain former US VP) which causes female employees to miss opportunities for assignments, knowledge and even that valuable face time. I would want the females below this person to know they can go you or HR or another valued member of higher rank when they notice discrepancies. However, how do you let the workers know to look out and report it without sounding gossipy.

    1. Dances with Flax*

      While I do NOT agree with that certain Veep’s political views, I think it’s curious that no one has pointed out that perhaps he doesn’t WANT to have dinner with anyone but his wife! Even in Washington DC, you know, there really ARE men who love their wives and WANT to stay faithful to them. And they don’t have to be religious fanatics to feel that way! When did we start to conflate love and fidelity with being a religious nutcase? And WHY are we doing that?

      1. Lunita*

        Where did the dinner part come from? From what I remember of this former VP, the issue about being alone had to do with one one one meetings or that sort of thing, which should not be an issue for a man who sees a women employee as just that- an employee in a professional setting-rather than someone to lead him astray. Most people are not conflating love and fidelity with religious fanaticism.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        But meeting with women has nothing to do with love and fidelity; that’s the point. You can love your wife and still attend business meetings; there is no conflict at all between the two. Nobody is suggesting he shouldn’t love his wife or stay faithful to her, but having a working lunch with a woman has nothing at all to do with that and honestly, if he cannot trust himself to speak to a woman in private in case it would cause him to be unfaithful…well, I would consider that an indication he doesn’t particularly love his wife and one could argue he is already unfaithful in his heart if the only reason he is remaining faithful is because he has no opportunities to do otherwise.

        I do not think this is the case. I think it’s more performative. Not “I hate my wife so much that I know if I had access to any other woman, I would prefer them to her so I must keep them at arm’s length,” so much as “look at me being so faithful that I don’t even speak to any other woman.” But…it really gives the opposite impression. It makes it look like the person doesn’t trust themselves.

        And honestly, it doesn’t matter what he wants, if he is going to do the job. Lots of people don’t want to have business lunches. Lots of people don’t want to do many parts of their job. But it’s the job. It’s what he’s being paid to do, not something he is doing for fun. Most people would rather be having lunch with their husband or wife than having a working lunch with their colleagues. That’s why they are being paid, to give up the time with their loved ones and instead spend it on work.

      3. Director of Sales*

        YOU are the one conflating “love and fidelity” with being a religious nutcase – I love my husband and we have a closed relationship. Being in a room alone or *GASP* going out to dinner with someone of the opposite gender has nothing to do with my love or fidelity and only a religious nutcase would think it did.

  8. Snarky Monkey*

    As a woman and a Christian, it frustrates me endlessly when scripture is used to hurt or subjugate others. The context of “submission” is between husbands and wives, not men and women. It’s a relational and spiritual concept rooted in the intimacy of marriage. It has absolutely nothing to do with women as workers, employees, managers, etc.

    I think Alison’s questions are a great way to root out this distorted thinking.

    1. Avocado Toast*

      I was thinking the same thing. It’s bad theology to apply this broadly to men and women!

    2. learnedthehardway*

      It’s also mirrored in scripture by the requirement for men to love their wives more than they love themselves, and to be willing to sacrifice everything – even their lives – for their wives. Basically, the man is supposed to put his own needs below his wife’s, and to be such an example of selflessness and service to his family, that his wife holds him in high respect.

      It’s also the wife’s CHOICE to respect/obey her husband. Scripture addresses the wife directly, it doesn’t tell anyone to enforce this.

      1. Avocado Toast*

        Yes!! Such good points. It doesn’t even tell the HUSBAND to enforce this, let alone outside forces. It drives me bonkers when people use these verses as a tool to police women while conveniently omitting the verses right after.

        1. Former Young Lady*


          If he believes her place is behind him, that includes when there’s a dangerous projectile headed in their direction.

          It’s always the guys who accuse us Mainliners of “Cafeteria Christianity” who cherry-pick scripture like this. You don’t get the privileges without the responsibilities, Brad.

        1. Tuesday*

          Super feminist to imply that women aren’t capable of making their own decisions! You can think they’re bad decisions, but removing women’s agency is not the flex you think it is.

          1. Lucky Meas*

            “It’s a woman’s choice to obey her husband”… I can’t make this sentence make sense…

            1. Tuesday*

              It sure is a woman’s choice to practice her faith however she wants, yeah. As far as I know they’re not enforcing obedience through hypnosis or anything.

              1. kalli*

                Social pressure, nonexistent. Threats to income, life, nonexistent. Functional access to workplaces and independent incomes, totally equitable and this letter is a myth.

                Got it.

                1. Tuesday*

                  So by that logic, no Christian woman should ever be held accountable for their own problematic views because they’re all being held prisoner? I think lots of Christian women have jobs and no immediate threats to their life (???) and are freely choosing the lifestyle they lead.

                2. Lucky Meas*

                  Tuesday, no one is saying they shouldn’t be held accountable for it–in fact often women are the ones enforcing the rules of the patriarchy on other women. But can you say that someone freely and independently chooses to be subservient when they grew up in a belief system that teaches them that, when they live in a community that enforces that, when they are cut off financially and culturally from methods of gaining their own independence… like, what other choice can they make?

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Approaching this through interpreting scripture isn’t really a useful lens.

      At the end of the day “good” and “bad” theology amounts to how much it matches with the observer’s personal interpretation. People can take the same passages and go in wildly different directions with them.

      I think we can be satisfied that discriminating against women is unacceptable without having to rely on whether or not scripture actually says to do it.

      1. Dinwar*

        The other issue is, this raises the issue of religious discrimination. Okay, sure, his religion says women should be subservient. As a non-member, why do I care? An argument from scripture presupposes that the religion in question is relevant to the discussion, which (since only a handful of religions use the term) re-enforces the notion that the dominant religious groups are the only ones that matter. This is not a debate he gets to have.

      2. Avocado Toast*

        I don’t think any of us are arguing otherwise? We’re expressing frustration that an aspect of our faith is often used out of context to justify misogyny. It happens a lot. We can’t have a conversation with this guy to try and correct him, but we can commiserate about the fact that this happens and it sucks.

        And I disagree with your definition of good and bad theology. I can read Pride and Prejudice and decide that it’s about aliens, but that’s not a good reading of the text. Even among verses that are difficult to interpret, some interpretations are more correct than others. Deciding what you want the Bible to say in advance and cherrypicking verses to support that idea is objectively bad theology.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I’m saying it’s a distraction that’s not really relevant to the issue.

    4. bunniferous*

      I won’t name it but I bet I could name the seminary, the church and the pastor within 2 guesses.

    5. Temperance*

      It’s not just that context. Some denominations lean on how Jesus supposedly only had male apostles to fight against ordaining women, or allowing women to teach men. There’s a lot of stuff in there like that.

    6. a trans person*

      I mean, you do you, especially in the context of any intimate relationships you have, including with any deities. But as a complete outsider to your religion, this sounds just as sexist and queerphobic to me, perhaps a bit less harmful because you want to impose it on fewer other people (but not none). If you’re going for “oh obviously the real interpretation is completely harmless and unobjectionable,” I have to tell you, I still disagree.

      1. Elle*

        This. This seems to pop up whenever religious conservatism comes up, this protest that “they’re not even being good Christians, the actual meaning of [whatever scripture] is [insert liberal interpretation here].” I don’t really ever say anything because I can tell they mean well but it’s so frustrating because even the people who would probably at least claim to defend queer and trans colleagues when given the chance are just not getting that their faith is not relevant period. Whatever it means to the people who find meaning in it, however they’ve made their peace with the belief one person in a relationship should have authority over the other because of the shape and function of that person’s genitals, that’s an inherently sexist belief and is also obviously not one that acknowledges the existence of queer people. Shrug. I’m not trying to ruffle feathers but this is the reality for queer and trans people and I hope it’s a perspective folks are willing to do a little thinking on.

    7. Cee S*

      Ditto. As a woman and a Christian, using the scriptures to justify anti-society behaviors bothers me.

      This behavior reminds me of a Christian group I met at college. The group quoted this and that passages to explain how others were wrong, then the pastor told them that they were wrong to weaponize the bible. There are many people like to use the bible to see how they’re superior than others.

  9. Anon for this one*

    This sort of thing always deeply frustrates me. A guy who says “I don’t believe women should ever be managers” wouldn’t get past a phone screen. But if he says “Because of my religion, I don’t believe women should ever be managers” we have to give him a free pass until he actually starts discriminating?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      The only part that matter is the “I don’t believe women should ever be managers” part. It doesn’t matter what their justification is.

    2. Almost Empty Nester*

      Then you don’t hire him BECAUSE he has stated that he will discriminate against women in the workplace. Doesn’t matter why he would do it, just that he’s clearly stated that he will. And that’s an illegal thing to do.

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      well, you’d follow up and ask “We have many women working here, and the law and our corporate values require us to treat them equally. Do you think you could follow that requirement?”

      1. irene adler*

        Maybe even expound on the “treat them equally” part by adding: “This includes equal consideration for promotions, opportunity for training, scheduling, raises, equal pay, interactions with manager (i.e. YOU), etc.”

      2. Gritter*

        To be honest I think that’s far too polite. It implies a request. I’d go with something like:

        “We have many women working here, and the law and our corporate values require us to treat them equally. To be considered for this role we would insist on your adherence to this principle.”

        It should be a statement, not a question. If he has an issue with this then he can back out.

      3. Susannah*

        I wouldn’t bother asking that – I would not hire someone who states outright that he does not think women can do certain jobs. You’re setting up your female employees for harassment or worse.

    4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      No, if he expresses that he intends to treat women differently or would have problems treating women as equals, they don’t have to give him a free pass, they could decline to hire him. He probably didn’t say that, though, if he has any sense.

    5. Jaybeetee*

      It doesn’t so much sound like a “free pass” in this case, as it didn’t even come up in the interview. And LW who is aware of this person’s background, wasn’t part of the screening process.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      No, see the question from L-squared directly above your comment. Anyone who says “I don’t believe women should ever be managers,” regardless of whatever qualifying statements they say around that should not get past the phone screen.

      If the only thing you (the hiring manager) know about a person is that they are a member of religion X, you cannot refuse to hire a person based on that. Also, you shouldn’t (can’t?) probe only candidates of religion X to try to sus out whether they will be sexist/racist/otherwise bigoted–you should be trying to determine that for all the candidates you are interviewing.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      No we don’t have to give him a pass. That first sentence is disqualifying, regardless of what rationale it comes with.

      Simply saying the word religion doesn’t suddenly make discrimination legal (in theory anyway).

    8. Chairman of the Bored*

      You just refuse to hire him because he is a sexist.

      You can ignore that he justifies his sexism with “because Poseidon said so”.

    9. Dinwar*

      “But if he says “Because of my religion, I don’t believe women should ever be managers” we have to give him a free pass until he actually starts discriminating?”

      Not a free pass, but no, we’re not allowed to consider his religious views.

      The reason is, as managers we police behavior not belief. It’s entirely possible to believe something is wrong, even viciously wrong, but still follow or even enforce the rules because that’s what the company demands. I’ve worked with people who thought women shouldn’t be in leadership positions, but who were professional when working under female team leads and project managers, doing their job as well as they would for anyone else.

      You can be sure I keep an eye on such people–the statement itself is inherently problematic, contributing to a hostile work environment, so it’s justified–but as long as they act professional and do their job, they stay on the projects.

      1. Siege*

        It’s management like this that kept me working drive through in my first job at a fast-food restaurant. Girls are better at talking to customers and men are better at the hard work of cooking – never mind that I don’t like people and don’t like engaging with them. Management would always promise to review the roles “later” and move me into other roles – and cross-training was also a prerequisite for becoming a shift leader and points north on the org chart. Strangely, it never happened, despite being one of the best, if not the best, worker at that store.

        If someone overtly tells you that they’re going to discriminate, you have no real way of knowing whether they are in fact not discriminating just because you don’t see them block a promotion. Discrimination takes a lot more form than just overt action, and in my experience, working with someone who will overtly discriminate makes people who have a latent tendency to discriminate feel more bold about discrimination, so you get situations like the one I had at that job. It was juuuust subtle enough to be plausible but juuuuust overt enough to be clear to the people who experienced it that it was sex-based discrimination. So you ignore the part where they say (if they are dumb enough to openly make the statement you quoted) that they have a religious reason for their behavior, and you focus on the part where they say that they’re going to discriminate, and you refuse to hire them. We have enough trouble rooting out sexist and racist behavior as a society without tolerating people we KNOW will choose discrimination.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes this idea that someone can say they hold discriminatory beliefs, but that you can’t do anything about it in the workplace until they ~act~ on it is just so patently false it’s concerning that the commenter above believes that, and I think they’re not as committed to preventing discrimination in the workplace as they say they are. Saying those words out loud is a choice they made, and that can have consequences for them!

          1. Dinwar*

            Gee, thanks for making this personal…..

            You’ll note in another comment that I said that saying the comment out loud contributed to a hostile work environment. Last time I checked, that’s an action that a manager can deal with, and in fact is legally obliged to address. If someone was making comments like that I ABSOLUTELY would shut it down–and have. I also have given what I believe is actionable advice for how to combat these biases in case upper management fights you (and in general they’re good ideas).

            I’m not surprised you’ve ignored these; I’ve found that most people who accuse me of being discriminatory maintain such delusions because they willfully ignore context, and that most internet arguments consist more of “Gotcha!” attempts than honest discussion. Actually dealing with real people is hard; it’s much easier to deal with strawmen.

            The issue is, the current management hasn’t seen that behavior. The LW is basing their assessment off past behavior. And people do change. It’s an issue that one should be concerned with, yes, but management is obliged to wait until there is evidence to support it. Think about it from the manager’s standpoint–they’ve got nothing but hearsay. Do YOU want YOUR job on the line because someone said you once said something? I certainly don’t! Do you want to be held responsible for every off-hand comment you’ve ever made, even ones you no longer believe in? Again, I do not.

            I think too many people have a visceral reaction to certain things and stop thinking about them after the “Ick, get away from me!” phase. A manager is supposed to look at the bigger picture. Absolutely yes, if he makes sexist comments at work, shut that crap down. Encourage women to build a support network and mentor/mentee relationships and take other actions to actively fight against conscious and unconscious biases. But firing an employee because someone said they hold icky beliefs? I’m sorry, but you just can’t do that.

            1. BubbleTea*

              So if someone was open about being a white supremacist, you’d be okay with them supervising Black and Brown employees as long as they weren’t openly racist at work? You’d trust that their decisions and actions would be totally uninfluenced by their beliefs, as long as they didn’t actually use the n-word out loud? That is naive, and it’s setting the company up for a lawsuit.

            2. Starbuck*

              “The issue is, the current management hasn’t seen that behavior. The LW is basing their assessment off past behavior. And people do change. It’s an issue that one should be concerned with, yes, but management is obliged to wait until there is evidence to support it. ”

              You’re wrong again, though – management is not ~obligated~ to wait. That’s your personal feeling, not a fact. That’s what I’m saying – you’d be making a choice not to act there, stop pretending you’re somehow constrained – by what, the law? You’re not! The LW’s experience of his behavior in a previous workplace is enough evidence, and they can act on it.

            3. Fikly*

              Pro tip: If you start a statement with “I’m sorry but” generally whatever comes out next is not wrong.

              You are very defensive, likely because some part of you knows you have no defense.

              A statement of belief that women should not be managers is a statement of intent. You do not need to wait for the matching behavior. This is what microagressions come from. Managers like you cause tremendous harm in the workplace. If you feel personally attacked by this, well, consider why. And then think of all of the employees you have managed who have suffered financially and emotionally because of your inaction.

            4. Lucky Meas*

              I remember from the religion vs. trans and private tour for conservative politician threads that you are very tolerant of intolerance.

              Here you characterize the candidate’s history of bigoted statements and perpetuating systemic sexism as “but that was in the past, people do change” and “do you want to be held responsible for every off-hand comment you’ve ever made?” That’s very generous towards someone whose actions you admit are harmful! The women this guy discriminated against will feel the effects on their self esteem, on their professional career, on their salary history for years to come. But the guy gets a pass because you sympathize with him?

              Women would not have to build a support network to overcome sexism if we stopped hiring people who say and act in sexist ways. If people hold “icky beliefs” that are also illegal (discriminating against protected classes!) then yes fire them!

      2. Starbuck*

        “we’re not allowed to consider his religious views.”

        You actually are allowed to consider and act on someone who says “I don’t believe women should ever be managers”, regardless of if there’s a religious reason for it or not. You’re flat wrong here! You can act on someone voicing a belief like that in the workplace. If they said it out loud to someone they work with, it’s relevant and actionable!

        1. Critical Rolls*

          Yeah, it’s *blah blah blah* women shouldn’t be managers *blah blah blah*. I don’t give a tin sh*t what brackets a statement like that, it’s actionable because it’s a declaration of intent to discriminate.

    10. Ace in the Hole*

      I don’t think that’s the issue. If he says “I don’t believe women should ever be managers,” regardless of the reason or his religion, he should be rejected. That’s not religious discrimination. You don’t have to wait for someone to break the law – if someone says in an interview that they intend to break it, that’s more than enough reason to reject the candidate!

      The problem comes in when you know he practices a religion that teaches women should not have equal rights… but he DOESN’T say anything discriminatory in the interview. When he talks a good game in the interview but you have strong reason to be suspicious because of his religious affiliation. Rejecting an applicant simply for being a member of a particular religion (and what you think that might mean about their conduct/views/morals) is illegal.

      Basically: imagine you never found out about his religion. Would there still be enough red flags to reject him? If yes, you’re in the clear. If no, rejecting the candidate is probably religious discrimination.

    11. Julia*

      I suspect he didn’t actually say that. The LW is aware of this because of their previous employment.

    12. Starbuck*

      “if he says “Because of my religion, I don’t believe women should ever be managers” we have to give him a free pass”

      Um, no? If he actually said that or did that, he doesn’t get a pass. If you’re only at the point of *assuming* that’s how he’d act based on the church he goes to, no, you can’t act on that – but if he’s voiced that belief or you can give examples of how he’s put that belief into practice, you don’t need to give a pass on that.

    13. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I really don’t mean this as a dig on you, but this kind of interpretation is why I will never work somewhere without a competent HR department again.

      I understand why you think it works that way – but it doesn’t! And it’s so important that there are people in positions of authority who know the nuance of how this actually works so that people who are blatantly discriminatory don’t end up with power.

    14. Nina*

      Religion X is widely known for its discrimination against women and queer people, and this discrimination is usually enforced by all members of the religion.
      If a candidate says: I am a member of Religion X
      you can’t do anything
      If a candidate says: I am a member of Religion X which teaches that women are subservient to men
      you can and should ask whether they believe that too, since they brought it up, and go from there
      If a candidate says: I am a member of Religion X and I believe that women are subservient to men
      darn tooting you can refuse to hire them
      If a candidate says: I believe that women are subservient to men
      darn tooting you can refuse to hire them

      Religion X is a smokescreen. “I believe women are subservient to men” is the issue.

    15. Random Dice*

      Warehousing tends to lean very male-manager, even though line workers (pick, pack, QA especially) range in gender. I don’t think the question would even come up, especially not if so many come from Liberty U or whatever.

  10. Snarky Monkey*

    As a Christian, it frustrates me endlessly when scripture is used to hurt or subjugate others. The reference to “submission” is intended to be between husbands and wives; it’s a relational and spiritual concept intended for the intimacy of marriage. There is no such thing as women are supposed to submit to men in the Bible. It just doesn’t exist, and Alison’s questions should do a good job of tripping anyone up who believes that.

    1. Nina*

      As a Christian, it frustrates me endlessly when other Christians say things about other people’s incorrect theology as if that’s an answer to a secular question. Most people do not believe in the supremacy of Scripture as an authority and that is absolutely fine and good.
      It’s not relevant that their theology is cooked! It just is not! Unless the person is applying to work at a seminary or similar (they aren’t), orthodoxy and orthopraxy are not hiring criteria. “Can you behave in a way that will let us avoid getting sued” is a hiring criterion, and what the person actually has to believe to allow them to or prevent them from behaving in that way is irrelevant.

  11. LB33*

    It sounds like he might have these beliefs but there’s no indication that he would treat women on his team differently, or that he has when he worked with LW years before.

    I’m not religious by any stretch, but it is possible to set aside one’s beliefs in other contexts. Absolutely keep an eye on this guy though to see if he can actually do that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      At the warehouse where he was a supervisor, women’s “training and opportunities always lagged significantly behind their male counterparts. “

      1. Observer*

        The thing is that it seems to be a pattern that goes well beyond this guy though. He wasn’t the one keeping the OP from being promoted, nor was he the one who wouldn’t promote ANY women or hire almost any woman in a supervisory position.

        Still an issue worth bringing up – we all know how experience in one company (especially if it’s the fist full time job), can warp someone’s norms.

        1. Coverage Associate*

          Totally not an expert, but I think just like an employer’s Glassdoor reviews are fair game for an applicant to ask about in an interview, what interviewers know about the applicant’s current employer is fair game. For example, I am now at a very large employer with all sorts of technological and staff supports. When I interview at smaller places, they ask about how comfortable I would be doing some things myself that I now have staff to handle. I don’t interview applicants much, but I think you can frame questions like, “We understand your current employer emphasizes x,y,z as corporate values (or has practices x,y,z). We emphasize equal opportunity for all genders, etc here. Can you describe how you would act on that corporate value in the position?”

        2. ADidgeridooForYou*

          I really don’t love this. Even if he wasn’t directly responsible for OP being promoted, we know he was a manager and at least was in somewhat of a position to advocate for the promotion and uplifting of women. Heck, even if he didn’t promote directly, why wasn’t he doing anything to help ensure that women’s training didn’t lag behind men’s? Also, while I agree that experience in a company can warp one’s norms, that’s not an acceptable line of reasoning when it comes to things like racism, sexism, or homophobia.

          I guess I’m not sure why some people are trying so hard to find reasons to defend this guy. Marginalized communities have struggled for decades to achieve equal work status (and still haven’t achieved it), and it doesn’t help to make excuses for people who have shown pretty strong evidence that they’re not on the side of those marginalized people.

        3. Kevin Sours*

          Guy who has discriminatory personal views about women was part of a company culture that discriminated against women is … not a solid starting point for a hire.

      2. Lab Boss*

        I know the letters are sometimes edited for content- was this guy a supervisor at the previous warehouse? LW says he was an acquaintance but I couldn’t tell from the letter if she knew him as a supervisor who was part of the pattern of holding women back or just as a fellow employee.

        If he wasn’t a supervisor then and is just moving into supervision (at a new company) now, how can OP assume he’d discriminate just on the basis of sharing a religion with previous supervisors who discriminated?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          He was a supervisor at the previous company. The letter says: “After graduating, some students stayed on as supervisors while they looked for a church to pastor. The new shipping manager at my current company had been had been one of them.”

          1. Lab Boss*

            Ah, thanks- I missed “as supervisors” and thought LW was just saying he’d worked past graduation, not that he’d been a supervisor.

        2. Aurora Borealis*

          Serious question here as a manager- does the OP know that the reason that women were not promoted was because they were women, or was it because they lacked skills or somehow didn’t perform up to par and then were outperformed by others for the promotion? Supervisors don’t know the ins and outs of every dept and why people were promoted vs. not promoted. I’m wondering if the OP just assumed it was a gender thing because of the religion involved or if the OP had some knowledge besides that to come to that conclusion.

          1. Engineer*

            So you think, somehow, magically, *only* the women were consistently lacking in skills or not meeting performance metrics?

            Hmm, I wonder how such a situation would come to pass where one group of people are consistently held back from opportunities? Could it be… discrimination???

            1. Aurora Borealis*

              Snark is not the best answer to a serious question. Lesson learned, I will not ask questions again. Thank you for the teaching moment, I received your message and understand.

          2. ADidgeridooForYou*

            Again, I said this above, but can we please not do this. People so often love to pull the “well maybe they just don’t have the skills” line when they see a marginalized group expressing concerns about discrimination. It’s been done for decades and is one of the major reasons why women, POC, and other marginalized groups have lost out on so many opportunities to cis white men. Do we honestly believe that the ONLY people who had the skills to be a manager in the past X number of years just happened to be men, and that they all just happened to be able to set aside their (clearly documented) belief in women’s inferiority to objectively determine this? Do we honestly think that so many cis white men are CEOs and politicians ONLY because they’re “just better at it?”

            Sorry, I don’t mean to get snappy; it’s just incredibly frustrating to be on the end of the “well you probably just don’t perform up to par while your white/male colleagues do” despite working harder to be taken seriously and have your accomplishments noticed.

            1. Distracted Librarian*

              Thank you. This argument is exhausting and reads as people bending over backward to excuse ongoing patterns of discrimination. It’s very easy for bigots to hurt the careers of groups they see as inferior, sometimes even unintentionally. For example, sexists have difficulty envisioning women in leadership roles, even if they believe that some (the mythical “some”) women can be capable leaders (but, you know, not this particular woman for this particular role). If my manager doesn’t see me as “leadership material,” they aren’t going to mentor me or give me stretch assignments or send me to leadership training–no matter how capable I may be.

            2. Oh please.*

              and futhermore, in the exact letter we just read, LW had their career take off as soon as they moved to work for a new company that didn’t exhibit this pattern of only valuing the contributions of men, so it seems pretty disingenuous to argue that maybe she just sucks at her job. If she lacked skills and aptitudes, her lack of success would have followed her to the new company.

          3. Book lover*

            The LW says that the first female supervisor was promoted in 2020. The warehouses opened in the 1990s.

            It is absolutely not possible that it took 30 years for a qualified woman to appear. So, yes, we do know that this discrepancy is caused by discrimination.

            1. Aurora Borealis*

              Thank you, I read too quickly and didn’t do the actual math. You are right and it makes total sense to me now. I appreciate you pointing out the length of time.

      3. LB33*

        I took that as more of an institutional thing since LW mentioned it’s been like that since the 90s. But yeah as a manager he’s part of the institution I suppose

    2. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      Re read the letter. The OP says that he treated women and men differently

      1. Ammonite*

        Can you quote which parts you are reading? I’m genuinely asking. What I see in the letter is that LW knows Fred (I’m calling the new supervisor Fred) is one of the students who stayed on while looking for a church to pastor and that the company discriminated in promotions. I didn’t read where LW observed Fred personally giving more opportunities to men than women. If I missed that part, please let me know! I just see more conclusions being drawn than behaviors being observed.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          He stayed on as a manager, though, and there is apparently no indication that he attempted to equalize treatment of women vs. men.

          If he’d stayed on as a warehouse grunt, I wouldn’t expect him to have been able to change the culture, but he was a manager and apparently cruised through on the existing status quo, which, yeah, I’d want to ask him some very hard questions about that before I even considered hiring him.

          I really don’t feel like the women at the OP’s current place of employment should have to shoulder the risk on this hire, which is basically what you’re pushing by digging in on this.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            If he said, “I worked there but they had a really bad track record with how they treated women so I got out as soon as I could support myself with some other job,” I’d reconsider.

            1. Coverage Associate*

              Yes, this is why it would have been good for the interviewers at OP’s company to ask this person as an applicant how he would handle the different company cultures. Sometimes the discrimination is precisely why someone is looking for a new job, but they may not say that in the opening, “So why did you apply here?” question. So when you know there are cultural differences between the 2 companies, you ask about how the applicant will adjust.

  12. learnedthehardway*

    One thing to consider is whether THIS individual made decisions about excluding women or displayed biases. Yes, he is a member of a denomination that treats women very differently from men. And in an employer that clearly had a similar culture, it was a problem generally that women were not treated equally.

    But how much was that the individual, vs the company culture?

    It would be worth a heads-up to HR or his manager to be aware of these issues, but I would do so more with the aim of ensuring they give training and support to help this new employee acclimatize to the culture of the new company, and that they keep an eye out to ensure he is coached as a manager to respect diversity, equity & inclusion.

    1. Pyjamas*

      Exactly! Watch for the behavior and address problems promptly. And the interview questions Alison suggested in her respobse should be asked of all potential hires, religious or not.

  13. DomaneSL5*

    I am a little confused. Is this new hire and your manager from the same school? So now the manager and the (new hire) shipping manager are from this former workplace of yours? If I am reading this right, I do think that ups the level to where you need to say something.

    1. Siege*

      They’re the same person. The new hire is a supervisor from the previous job that OP has worked with before.

  14. Ancient Llama*

    Thanks for publishing this Q&A. As I read the interview questions (been a manager a decade ago, would do again if needed but prefer technical) I was thinking “even as a non-mgr but sr role I should want to be able to answer these” and then I got to your “(If anyone…” and thought “yippee, I got one right!” Now I just need to work on all the others.
    Challenge accepted.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Do you have any advice for someone looking to move into a senior role over the next few years? I was sitting here and could only really produce “Don’t be a sexist/bigoted jerk” out of my brain, which isn’t helpful in terms of actually doing things like conflict management, and a lot of what Allison’s said about advocating for your team for things like pay discrepancies, assignment discrepancies, and supporting employees in using the benefits the workplace gives them like time off and flex time.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think when my company asks questions about diversity and inclusion we look for people who have done things to support their staff and build an inclusive environment. I’ve had good examples from people who have mentored individuals from minority groups, helped their BAME staff with their CVs, run talks about inclusion and reasonable adjustments, gone to schools in poorer areas to speak about careers in teapot painting to encourage a more diverse future staff makeup, adjusted staffing rotas to help people have religious holidays off more helpfully.

        I’ve also had people who have dealt with an environment which wasn’t supportive or inclusive to develop a better culture or challenge bullying or inappropriate behaviour.

    2. Friyay*

      I also wonder how wide-spread questions with this level of specificity are (and the answers that are expected) because this seems to be a very white-collar/office environment/social services/education/etc. approach? From what I know of my friends and family that work in blue collar jobs (shipping, factories, manufacturing) questions like this don’t come up for even for supervisors beyond maybe a very basic “how would you be inclusive in your management style?” and then an answer of “treat everyone the same” is totally acceptable! But, maybe times are changing (which would be great)? So I guess my point is, your mileage may vary on how much you need to prepare for questions like this..>?

      1. Siege*

        “Treating everyone the same” isn’t inclusive. I used to work at an Amazon wre house, and I talked with the leader of a union push in Minnesota (strangely overshadowed by the union efforts in Bessemer and NY!) where a lot of the employees are Somali. As a white English-speaking American from birth, I was aware of labor laws and also aware that Amazon was just doing the bare minimum state law requires. In Minnesota, Amazon got away with a lot worse because the state law is worse and because they didn’t have a lot of employees who knew their rights or had the skills they needed to learn what their rights were. Treating everyone like they had my access to knowledge and societal power was not inclusive at all.

      2. Fikly*

        Yeah, treating everyone the same falls under the fallacy that equal and fair are the same thing. They aren’t, and what you want is fair, not equal.

        The example I often use is parking spots reserved for those with handicap permits. If access was equal, anyone could park in them. That clearly prevents fair access to the building the parking is in front of. Instead, you have unequal access to the spots (only those with permits can use them) but this gives fair access to the building, because those who cannot access the building from a greater distance away now have access.

  15. Checkert*

    I’d also be intrigued if there was at least one woman in the room when he was interviewed and whether he was able to pretend during the interview? That could be another way to put people in situations where they are interacting with diverse populations immediately during the interview.

    1. Random Dice*

      I mean… evangelicals aren’t wandering around punching people. They’ll be polite to women, that’s actually really important to the culture. The issues are from the implicit bias that leaks out.

  16. Kate*

    “If anyone reading this is thinking, “I wouldn’t have anything good to answer those questions with”: That’s a flag that you need to start thinking about it, particularly if you’re managing people or want to manage people.”

    Has anyone got any good resources for working on these questions?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Are you currently a manager? The last two mostly/only apply to people who are managers, so if you’re not a manager, focus on the first two. The first place I would start is with some introspection. For example, taking the first question:

      Can you tell us about a time when you worked to make sure your team was a place where everyone could thrive, particularly women and people of color?

      Do you work on a team with people of different genders and/or races? If you do, evaluate your behaviors. Do you treat people the same, regardless of gender/race? Is there anything you can do to improve the culture of the team? This can be as simple as making sure the new person, who happens to be a woman, is included in the lunch invitation.

      If your company has any employee resource groups, it could also be a good idea to join or attend some meetings to see what work is already being done to make your company more inclusive. This way you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you can employ the ideas/strategies from the ERG on your team.

      1. Kate*

        Yeah I’ve been a manager for 20 years and I am managing people right now!

        I have some answers but they’re not as strong as they could be

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I’m not a manager, so I have limited insight on the last two, but one thing I liked at a previous company I worked for was that they very vocal about their initiatives around hiring. Two things they emphasized were:

          1 – when you’re writing a job description, think about what you actually need for the role, not just the qualifications the last person in the role had. For example, it’s easy to say “I’m hiring another [job title]. John, our previous [job title] had a bachelor’s degree, so I’ll put down ‘bachelor’s degree required.'” It’s more work to think critically if the role really requires a degree vs strong writing and critical thinking skills (or whatever else may apply), but the latter opens up your candidate pool to people without degrees.

          2 – making sure they had a diverse candidate pool, and then choosing the best candidate out of that pool. If only white men apply for the job posting, then you’re going to hire a white man every time. So you could consider recruiting from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and women’s colleges (if you’re looking for entry-level candidates), or professional groups for your industry that are for women or racial/ethnic minorities (for example, I’m in engineering and there’s a Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineering, Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers).

          1. Temperance*

            Re #2: Community Colleges, too. People who attend Community Colleges tend to be from underprivileged backgrounds more often than private 4-year schools.

          2. CommanderBanana*

            Also, are people only hiring people who look like them? At my last (horrible org), the org became less and less diverse because the only people getting promoted looked like the (new white, male) CEO, and as the women/BIPOC staff started getting passed over for advancement, they left, and somehow the only candidates getting promotions were guys who looked like the CEO.

          3. Tech Tigress*

            Regarding your second point: The head of my undergrad computer science department was not allowed to look at the applications for a new professor before the administration had determined there was an acceptable minimum amount of diversity (women, people of color, etc). It seemed to work well, the next professor they hired was a woman and, from my impression of her during the interviews, was brilliant (I was sadly unable to take a class from her as I graduated before she started teaching there).

  17. hi there*

    I just copied those sample questions to save for later, on either side of the interview – thank you, Alison!

  18. Allornone*

    Alison’s questions made me very happy to be working for the organization that I work for. As 98% of the youth we serve are minorities, diversity and inclusion are really engrained within our culture, and our staff, even the leadership team, is a healthy mix of races and genders. After seeing so many examples of DEI done wrong on this site, I love working for a place where it’s sincere and done very right.

  19. Dinwar*

    If you’re this worried already, I’d get a notebook and document, document, document. Keep your ear to the ground for complaints from women and encourage them to do so as well. Encourage any men you know to actively include women in the discussions wherever possible–ie, take active steps to ensure that this manager realizes that this how the company works and he can either buy in or bow out.

    I would also start a group for professional development among women. Doesn’t have to be super formal; it can be something as simple as a group taking coffee breaks together, or meeting after work once a month. But formal is better in this case, because it shows the company is actively buying into this concept.

  20. misty*

    It seems there have been a number of letters where the LW is worried about being objective when in reality, they have important information about someone’s work history.

    Why is this so prevalent? It seems to me to be mostly women with those concerns, wondering what others see/think?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Because of eons of social conditioning that we are not allowed to make waves, must be the peacekeepers, and put men’s feelings first.

      I’m nearly 50 and I still find myself sometimes trying to pacify a situation that actually calls for action.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I can think of a few reasons, but a big one is that coming to your manager/manager’s manager with information like this can be a really risky move. Sadly there are a number of people who would say “what are you talking about, Bob’s a great guy, he’d never do that” and then suspicion would be placed on YOU as the gossip/horrible woman doing her best to ruin Bob’s life. There’s another group of people who misunderstand how the religious protections hiring rules work and will stick their fingers in their ears and say “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” and still treat you with suspicion because you are ‘biased against religion’. Then if you come to your manager with this information and it turns out that Bob is either a) really good at hiding his misbehavior (sadly common) or b) has made an active and determined effort at changing his behavior (sadly rare), then you can still be looked at as causing trouble because see, despite all those terrible things you said, Bob has been a good person! Clearly you, our existing valued employee are wrong /s.

    3. Lunar Caustic*

      Women are habitually disbelieved by default about everything. You get used to having to compile a file cabinet full of evidence for everything you want to say.

    4. Betty*

      I think that sometimes people think “objective” means “treat a job candidate as a blank slate, even though I have direct personal experience with them.” If the issue was that based on their experience with different people from University X, a letter write didn’t think the company should hire a stranger who went there… that wouldn’t be objective. But “when I worked with Bob, he had the following issues managing women” is objective.

      (To your point about gender– I think women tend to get gaslit about anything involving their feelings and opinions being “subjective” or “irrational”– even though feelings are the rational result of objective experiences. The fact that you dislike Bob *because of* his misogynist management doesn’t make it untrue that his management practices harm women.)

      1. Coverage Associate*

        Yes, it can be very hard, or even impossible, to summarize discriminatory behavior in a way that someone who hasn’t experienced discrimination will take seriously. For example, here there are objective facts. In x years, no women reporting to this man were promoted, and people are still making excuses like, “maybe the women weren’t hard workers.” And, yeah, I have been on non diverse teams even where we made efforts to be more diverse. Which is why you can ask about these things, rather than writing applicants off.

        So here there are key objective facts, but when things are only slightly different, minorities get ignored/gaslit. For example, what if instead of no women getting promoted, only one woman, who OP happened to know was single, had been promoted. So she summarizes, “He struggled with managing women so that they did well.” Then the response too often is, “but this woman under him got promoted.” And if it was a collection of facts, like women rarely got promoted, and complained about unfair approval for time off, and the men insisted on lifting things when the women could handle it, too many people would have a response to every example, without even knowing anything about this guy or the other workplace. And then OP gets labeled “too sensitive” and accused of “playing the gender card.”

    5. BlondeSpiders*

      I’ve got a theory.

      I’m sure we all know people who discriminate, favor, and harass while wrapping themselves up in the 1st amendment as a shield. So many of the responses in this section are people worried about stepping on the religion thing. This is because many people (men mostly, sorry) are ready to pull that card when you call them on their discriminator or illegal behavior.

      Because we know people who introduce their biases under the guise of “my sincere religious belief,” you know they are spoiling for a showdown. I completely understand why someone looking ti end discriminatory actions would want to tread carefully.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      And because we don’t want to risk our jobs, or at least political capital at work, by blowing whistles.

    7. Fikly*

      Because people who are actively trying to not discriminate tend to be more ethical in general? And people who are actively trying to not discriminate are more likely to be those who have experienced it personally, so women and other marginalized groups.

    8. Lucky Meas*

      Also let’s not forget that most letters to advice columns come from women, and the vast majority of commenters are women too. So let’s not ignore the bias in our sample.

  21. Puzzlehead2219*

    The easiest way for me to think about this is: there are thoughts and there are behaviors. I can think anything I want. I can’t say or do anything I want if I my goal is to keep a job.
    Same applies here.
    Interviews are used to make judgments on behaviors by posing hypothetical situations to candidates. If a candidate says they would treat someone differently based on that person’s sex, age, race, etc. it doesn’t matter why, they probably aren’t going to work out.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is really excellent framing. I have one higher up here who is adamantly against “being the thought police”, and I am consistently looking over her shoulder to make sure she’s not excusing behaviors under the pretense of them being thought based. I think part of OP’s hesitation, or concern about not being objective, is along the same lines. On one hand, the caution is good, we should think things through before we make accusations. On the other hand, behaviors impact people, and we shouldn’t be so cautious that goes unchecked.

        1. amoeba*

          Also, like – if it were really only your thoughts, then… no one would know about them, surely? I mean, I can privately think whatever I like about my coworkers, but as soon as I open my mouth and say it out loud, it’s not my private thoughts anymore!

  22. JustMe*

    Workers can have differing viewpoints, but they cannot use them to treat their subordinates differently. I have never been involved in hiring someone like this, but I have occasionally been in situations where a trusted colleague or friend asked about my previous experience with the person. In those instances, I have never hesitated to say what issues I had with the person’s *behavior* in any prior positions. If you have experienced issues with this person before based on their management style, you can definitely mention your concerns about them in a discreet way to your manager.

  23. Gone Girl*

    +1 to Alison’s recommendations about vetting everyone. I had a coworker-turned-manager who, at surface-level appeared very progressive, but literally told me during my exit interview (after we had butted heads for the previous 6 months) that he “seemed to always have trouble working with women” and couldn’t figure out why, lol

  24. Dubious*

    Can you tell us about a time when you worked to make sure your team was a place where everyone could thrive, particularly women and people of color?

    I’d suggest rephrasing this to something like, “Can you tell us about a time when you worked to make sure your team was a place where everyone had the same kind of opportunities for development in their field, promotions, and raises, particularly women and people of color?”

    Someone who thinks women are inferior to men and are all happiest in the kitchen and having men tell them what to do will likely believe that what women (and POC) need to “thrive” will be different (less) than what men need. For example, the kind of thinking that since women just aren’t as smart/capable as men there’s no need to send them to conferences or give them special projects that would boost them in the eyes of leadership and line them up for advancement.

    1. Elle*

      I LOVE this tweak. So many managers who discriminate genuinely believe that the biased choices they’re making are in the employee’s best interest.

    2. anna*

      But it’s not just about opportunities for development, etc. It’s about much more than that–whose voices get elevated, who makes decisions, who has influence.

      If someone thinks what women need to thrive is different than what men need, that’s going to come out in their answer. I’d rather leave it broader.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I’m happy where I am in my career and have no interest in a promotion to management. But I’m very glad to work in an environment where my concerns and ideas are taken seriously and my professional competence is valued, and where I’m not ignored simply because I’m a fat, middle-aged woman.

        1. Builder Bob*

          How would you construct a question that gets directly at all people’s concerns and ideas being taken seriously?

      2. Builder Bob*

        I like being specific. “Thriving” is sort of fuzzy and not easily measurable. It’s easy to say that each member of the team is thriving while treating them differently bc that could mean something different for each person, and doesn’t necessarily mean either opportunities for development or elevating someone’s voice! Giving the specificity of “same kind of opportunities for development” means that if they give men stretch assignments as development opportunities vs giving women seminars on uncovering their values as development opportunities.

    3. Random Dice*

      He’s the type to threaten to sue for discrimination against white male Christians.

  25. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    One concern that I’d have with the new employee is that some extremely conservative Christians believe that a woman should not hold a position in which she has any power over any man (Google the website “Biblical Gender Roles” for examples of this way of thinking.) If this man believes that then he’s likely to see the LW’s interest in, say, promotions to positions of greater authority as blasphemous, ungodly and unnatural – and if the LW currently holds such a position then he’ll have a problem with that as well. Hopefully he ‘s not THAT far gone, however!

    1. nora*

      I was raised in a religion like this. Doctrinally speaking, the subservience was limited to family structure and the religious realms. For example, women church members were not permitted to teach young men at church (after age 12 or so?) but no one would blink at that same individual being a high school math teacher.

      This didn’t mean folks didn’t hold unconscious biases, though. Just that a man wouldn’t have religious grounds to object to working with/for women.

  26. SB*

    A senior manager where I work is incredibly sexist & does not bother trying to hide it. He has been with the company since before it incorporated & has been friends with the owner & CEO for decades. They do not change until someone forces them to change & unfortunately for the women where you work, this will not happen until enough of them are discriminated against to make it worth the company’s while to take action. Companies tend not to bother until the spectre of multiple expensive lawsuits raise their heads & by then it is far too late.

  27. nora*

    I was raised in a religion such as this (in fact, I wonder if the LW’s area is the institution I was unsuccessfully strongarmed into attending).

    The men in the church I was closest to, including but not limited to family members, did not have strong objections to women being in the workforce, or the *idea* of women bosses; subservience was doctrinally limited to family structure and spiritual realms (the spiritual wellbeing and direction of wives and children fell to the men at the head of that family). So I never heard anything of the “I refuse to work for/with a woman” ilk spoken aloud. And, I doubt they privately held those feelings, either.

    However! Because fundamentalist Christians are not intrinsically motivated to fight against sexist and misogynist biases and feelings, I do think it is more of a challenge for individuals holding these religious beliefs (men and women alike) to not act in ways that are sexist without realizing it, or thinking their sexist ideas are more benign and acceptable than they ought to be. And just like Alison said, it is the *actions themselves* and not the motivation for them that is important. I have met some pretty sexist bullies in my professional life from a variety of faiths and lack thereof, and a whole lot of kind (albeit a bit condescending) fundamentalist Christian men. Anecdotally, I have had more professional struggles with religious women than with men.

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