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is it protected to share at my firm’s “brave dialog” on menopause? — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

My firm is proposing a workshop to have “brave conversations” with colleagues about menopause. There isn’t a skilled facilitating this; it’s an open dialogue. The message about it says will probably be “a protected area that’s inclusive and supportive” and “a casual dialogue amongst friends.”

My firm is closely selling Range, Fairness, and Inclusion (DEI) proper now, but it surely’s by low-cost initiatives, like workshops, worker coaching, and the like. They haven’t taken concrete steps like pay transparency or robust HR assist for these with DEI wants, and I’ve seen fairly a couple of older colleagues pressured out in the previous few months.

Presumably, something one says on this discussion board could possibly be shared, i.e. if I had been to go and share that I concern menopause is affecting my vitality ranges and reminiscence, and that occurred to be overheard by a extra senior supervisor, may it subconsciously affect that supervisor’s resolution on whether or not to decide on me to guide difficult initiatives in future? And, possibly I’m being paranoid right here, however might one thing like this get me added to the listing of who to chop within the subsequent spherical of layoffs?

I’m a lady in my 50s, and I do suppose that discussing menopause and age and gender discrimination is efficacious, however that is setting off alarm bells for me. What do you suppose?

You’re not being paranoid.

Even at an organization with a greater observe document on fairness wants, I’d be involved about sharing in a discussion board like this. Unconscious bias is a factor; folks can discriminate in opposition to you with out even being conscious that they’re doing it — even very well-intentioned folks — and it’s not unreasonable to fret that when you share a priority about your vitality ranges or reminiscence, that might unconsciously issue into somebody’s choices about what initiatives and alternatives you’re given, whether or not to advertise you, and so forth.

That stated, these kinds of discussions are vital to have! Work is only a actually, actually sophisticated place to have them.

Then add in that your organization doesn’t actually appear all that dedicated to the rules it’s giving lip service to — and the truth that a bunch of older coworkers seem to have been pressured out lately — and this isn’t a protected place to share.

Organizations can’t simply announce an area is protected! They should truly do the work to make sure it’s one. It doesn’t sound like they’ve achieved that. (Frankly, I’d argue work isn’t well-equipped to supply protected areas anyway. Protected areas require a considerable amount of unanimity, and sooner or later “inclusive” and “protected” find yourself at odds with one another.)

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