Could HR solve...? 9 to 5

15 Jul 2021 By Elizabeth Howlett

Her boss’s sexist views mean a manager is directly overlooked for promotion

The problem

Violet Newstead is the senior office supervisor for Consolidated Companies, with 12 years’ service. Despite her being extremely knowledgeable, her notoriously sexist boss, Franklin Hart Jr, overlooks her for multiple promotions because he fears male clients wouldn’t want to deal with a woman. Newstead and other members of the team confront him about his behaviour. But how should Hart have handled development opportunities for his female staff?

The solution

It’s hard to imagine this situation would occur in the workplace today, but Jacqui Gavin, culture, inclusion and belonging manager at Britishvolt, points out there has been an increase in women being overlooked professionally during the pandemic. 

“If you have the skill sets and drive, then you deserve to be acknowledged,” she says. “This kind of treatment damages morale.” 

This is what Hart’s treatment has done to Newstead and her colleagues, says Gavin, who advises a culture change from the top down. “The workplace is not just about equality, diversity and inclusion – it’s about a culture of inclusion and belonging,” she explains.

She adds that there’s no doubt I&D training would have helped change Hart’s views on women in the workplace, and having awareness of inclusion and diversity would remove some of his ingrained biases. However, without Newstead and her colleagues taking extreme measures to enforce inclusive policies such as flexible working, she suspects it would end up in court. 

“A case like this is likely to end up at an employment tribunal, because Newstead and her team would eventually feel so overlooked, undervalued and emotional, that it’s inevitable,” Gavin says.

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