it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I wrote you a letter in early 2021 that you didn’t print because it didn’t really contain a question, so much as it was my attempt to figure out how to survive what I feared was a terrible and permanent vibe-shift at my job. (Unfortunately, I was right.) I worked at the same place as this letter-writer (who, by the way, is thriving) in very different capacities, but as lower-paid, highly competent problem-solvers we were dealing with some similar issues. Shortly before the pandemic, leadership shifted in several areas, and as people were brought in and the director became more comfortable with her new role, the atmosphere became increasingly tense and paranoid. For the sake of brevity, I will only say that THINGS GOT BAD.

Despite all the talk of the ‘great resignation,’ what I found in my job search was that a lot of places were still consolidating administrative positions within their organizations rather than hiring from the outside (which is how I had ended up with four jobs and one salary in an organization that loved to talk about equity and faculty parity, but rarely gave staff raises that were not in response to another job offer), so despite getting a lot of help from the site with revamping my resume and cover letter, it took me over a year to find another job so that I could finally leave. I started a new job at the end of October 2022, and it’s been a breath of fresh air! I have thoughtful colleagues, a supportive boss, and I no longer need to remind myself to unclench my jaw thirty times a day. I just had my mid-year review, and it was glowing.

As for my last employer, as far as I’ve heard, they hired three people to cover the work I was doing, and they’re still struggling to cover it all.

Thank you for providing me with a consistent voice of reason when I otherwise had none!”

2.  “I saved a promotion for a coworker using your advice and I wanted to write to say: thank you. I left my very toxic employer about a year ago and feel I can now share.

I was on a hiring committee and in the interviews, our top candidate, let’s call him Josh, mentioned he was told that he did not get the other internal role he interviewed for because he could not work Saturdays due to his religion (a branch of Judaism). We scored all the candidates (our system uses numbers to avoid bias) and made our recommendation to the hiring manager that Josh was our top choice.

Because I learned from your site that not working Saturdays was probably a reasonable accommodation for us to make, I mentioned this to my supervisor. She is the hiring manager who did not hire Josh for the other internal role. I told her what Josh said, that I did not think she said those exact words, but that I did not want “us” to get in trouble for suggesting we would not make a reasonable accommodation. And it was a good thing we were hiring him now because otherwise it could look like a pattern of discrimination since we already did not promote him once and we did not hire other candidates from the same religion.

Honestly, I said those things to protect my manager, whom I liked, and because it was the right thing to do. I did not know Josh other than to say hello to in the staff room; we worked in different departments. I had no idea what I had just set in motion!

The hiring manager for the current role Josh had applied for asked to meet with me. She said that because I made those comments to my manager, she wanted to give me a heads up that she had changed some of our numbers to make another candidate the top candidate! She did this because Sally, another person on the hiring committee, told her something about the interview, and you know, wink wink, we don’t want to have someone on our team who does not listen to managers. It was BS. Not only was Sally completely wrong about what she said, this was all just to avoid hiring someone who would make scheduling a bit harder!

It was one of those rare times that you think quickly, but only because I’ve read so many of your posts. I was reeling inside (illegal! anti-semitism! poor Josh! WTF!) but I made myself go all casual, adopted a disinterested tone, and said thanks for letting me know, I have no skin in this, I was just concerned that “we” might be accused of a pattern of discrimination. I also said, “It is your call, you are in charge, etc.” … like “you are the one discriminating and who will get in trouble for this.” And I left, not a care in the world! But really so angry and sad.

As I was debating what to do, write to you, go to HR (who I did not trust), I heard that Josh got the promotion! I like to think I scared her into doing the right thing. And maybe I should have trusted HR; after I left, I heard that HR was going to attend all interviews. I also learned later what a great guy Josh is and how much the full-time position meant to him and his family.”

3.  “Having just finished up a contract where I felt thoroughly out of my depth, I decided to be a lot choosier about what roles I’d apply for in future. I was approached about one that seemed a nice mixture of hands-on and management. I was honest about not having a ton of management experience but, given hypothetical situations, I applied what I’ve learned from reading Ask a Manager. They must have liked my answers, because I’m just finishing up my first week! Armed with my AAM knowledge, I’m already making a contribution and getting things done. After sticking it out at a role that was a bad fit, it was a real confidence boost to be offered the first job I applied for.”

{ 30 comments… read them below }

  1. English Rose*

    So many congratulations to everyone.
    LW#2, I literally gasped out loud when I got to the part about the hiring manager changing the scores. Well done for thinking so fast in what you said!

    1. Observer*

      Very much this.

      And I want to add THANK YOU!

      Thanks for stepping up to the plate. Given that the manager pulled you aside to give you a heads up, it seems pretty obvious that you were the main reason the organization wound up doing the right thing.

    2. M2RB*

      Same!!! Way to go, LW #2 – I am so glad you stepped up and said something. I hope Josh flourishes in his new role and that there is no lingering bias against him.

    3. Anon Again... Naturally*

      I about choked when I got to that point. At my organization changing the scores would be grounds for firing! LW2, congratulations on keeping your cool and doing the right thing.

      1. Observer*

        At my organization changing the scores would be grounds for firing!

        Yeah, that jumped out at me, too.

        OP, you helped no only Josh, but the organization. Because if anyone ever did an investigation and found out about this, they would have been nailed to the wall. There would be no way for them to argue that it wasn’t sheer discrimination.

        1. No name/OP #2*

          I’m pretty sure that changing the scores would be grounds for firing or would at least be a big deal at my org too! I’m so surprised she said it to me.

          I think it was to make me feel like an insider, one of the powerful, in-the-know folks or something. i.e. one of the mean girls.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            Yes, the wink, wink/nudge, nudge. You are one of US, not THEM.
            I’m picturing a metaphysical trust fall.
            She just turned around, dropped and you threw your hands in the air, waving like you just don’t care.
            Mad respect.

            1. No name/OP #2*

              Omg, I love this imagery!! I’m going to think of that every time I have to see that old manager (I still go to the old job as a user of their services) and sometimes see the leadership mean girls.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Way to go, LW #2! It’s sad that we may have to shame/scare people into doing the right thing sometimes (and the casual way you handled doing so was brilliant), but making the workplace fairer is such an important thing to do. You totally rock!

  2. Janice*

    I am confused about all the different people in #2 but am glad and impressed that you managed to pull all the right threads. What a relief for Josh!

    1. Cataclysm*

      After reading a few times, I think I’ve sorted it out. I’ve given some names to make it easier.
      LW reported to “Mary,” but was on the interview panel for a job under an entirely different manager, “Anne.” During the interview process, LW found out that their supervisor Mary had just rejected Josh for a different job and made the remark that it was a good thing that Anne was intending to hire him. Hiring manager Anne heard about that and revealed that actually, interview panelist Sally had sabotaged things and Josh was no longer the intended hire, but after the discrimination concern was called out, Anne reverted Josh to being top pick.

      1. Janice*

        Thanks, that helped!

        And it was Sally who said “you know, wink wink, we don’t want to have someone on our team who does not listen to managers”? She must be referring to Josh here but when didn’t he listen to managers? What was that about?

        1. Hlao-roo*

          In Sally’s mind, “I cannot work on Saturdays because of religious reasons” was twisted into “I am making an excuse to not work on Saturdays because I think I know better than the managers who scheduled the company to require coverage on Saturdays.” Sally thinks valid religious accommodations are a sign of “not listening to managers.”

        2. MM*

          No, Anne said that. She was attributing the excuse she was pretending to have for changing the scores to Sally.

        3. No name*

          Sorry, OP #2 here. Cataclysm got the people right, thanks!
          Sally, another person on the hiring committee, told Anne, the hiring manager, a story about Josh based on what he said in the interview. It fit some narrative excuse for not hiring him; that he does not listen to his managers.

          Honestly, Sally was a tattletale and I don’t use that word lightly for a work context. But that is what she did! She was a pot stirrer. She was impossible. A story for another time. All the people there were stories for another time!

  3. Expelliarmus*

    Great to hear that Josh got the promotion! I hope that his manager does not try anything else shady; considering how she was willing to fudge scores to make someone else the top candidate, I’m a bit leery.

  4. Goldenrod*

    LW #2 – “And maybe I should have trusted HR; after I left, I heard that HR was going to attend all interviews.”

    Nope! They are just in “covering their ass” mode, and I would not have trusted them to proactively do the right thing. You handled this PERFECTLY, this is just utter perfection.

    Congrats to you all!!! :)

    1. Observer*

      I’m sure that this new process is TOTALLY CYA.

      However, it sounds like part of their CYA is to prevent people from doing things this blatant because that’s a good way to lose big time both in court and with the DOL / EEOC. It just costs too much.

      This is the thing with *competent* HR. Even when they don’t care about the ethics of a situation, they generally can recognize when a situation makes them a sitting duck for a devastating settlement.

      1. Lisa*

        Agreed on it being CYA. HR’s primary function is to make sure the company doesn’t run afoul of the law. Sometimes HR is genuinely doing right ethically by employees, but also, sometimes following the law has the effect of doing the right thing.

  5. Falling Diphthong*

    I really appreciate #2 as an example of how reading here helped you come up with a script on the spot. (And with the tone to use while delivering this script.) I think the human thing to do in a strange situation is freeze, and practicing (including virtually) can help us overcome that freeze.

    1. Drago Cucina*

      I want to insert all the applause and award gifs and emojis for #2.

      I think I heard the collective gasp as we all read the portion about changing the scores and the wink, wink, nudge, nudge comment. Well done for the quick thinking and calm approach.

    2. AGD*

      This. I’m Jewish and just yesterday walked by some absolutely vile anti-Semitic graffiti, so this just made me feel so much better. Thank you for taking a stand. I hope that at some point I do something that helps a group you belong to, and/or pay it forward.

  6. cat in cardboard box*

    Congratulations to all LWs! These are all amazing and inspiring! Story #2 is just amazingly impressive though! Way to go!

  7. Bookworm*

    Thanks as always to the LWs for sharing. Especially nice to go into a holiday weekend with some happy news! :)

  8. It’s Suzy now*

    I don’t usually read the good news posts because I have more fun with the ones with questions. But I’m so so so glad I read #2 today. Horrifying story, but amazing work on the part of the letter writer.

  9. Greasy Grimy Gertie*

    #2 warms my heart. I used to be a reference librarian, and I eventually realized I could never practice my religion the way I wanted to, because 90% of libraries would never hire someone for the reference department if they can’t work Saturdays . Reading about someone get an accommodating to observe Shabbat is a delightful way to start the holiday.

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