Leadership

10 Steps to Overcome Promotion Discrimination (+ Examples of Promotion Discrimination)

Examples of Promotion Discrimination

You’re a high performer, but for some reason, you’re still not getting promoted.

Sounds familiar? If so, promotion discrimination can be to blame. 

Promotion discrimination is being denied a promotion based on reasons that are illegal. And sometimes you may not even realize it’s happening.  

In this article, we’ll share 10 steps to dealing with unfair promotions in the workplace. And examples of promotion discrimination. 

What is Promotion Discrimination? 

Promotion discrimination occurs when someone is passed over for a promotion based on factors such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, disability, religion, and other protected characteristics. 

It involves the unfair treatment of workers during the promotion process. We’ll discuss examples of promotion discrimination later on in this article. 

5 Examples of Promotion Discrimination in the Workplace 

Promotion discrimination can manifest in multiple ways and is often subtle.

Here are some examples of promotion discrimination in the workplace. 

1. Gender Discrimination Example

An example of promotion discrimination based on gender is when a single mother is passed up for a promotion because her boss believes she has “too many kids” and not enough support to become a manager. 

2. Age Discrimination Example

An example of promotion discrimination due to age is when a 60-year-old high-performing and well-deserving worker is denied a promotion because the company fears that due to their age, they may not understand the newest technology trends.   

3. Pregnancy Discrimination Example

Pregnancy promotion discrimination can be seen when a qualified pregnant worker is denied a promotion upon return from maternity leave, as their supervisor assumes they aren’t available for long hours due to having a newborn. 

4. Racial Discrimination Example

An example of promotion discrimination due to race is when a high-performing Indian employee is passed up on a promotion for a less qualified Caucasian woman because management fears they may not ‘fit in’ with the all-white leadership team, given his accent and long last name. 

5. Disability Discrimination 

An example of promotion discrimination based on disability is when a company refuses to promote a qualified disabled worker out of fear of the costs associated with making future accommodations for the worker in their new role. 

How to Determine If You Are Experiencing Promotion Discrimination

Determining whether or not you’re experiencing promotion discrimination starts with self-awareness.

Take an honest look at yourself and your recent performance at work.

Are there other factors that can explain your missed promotion? Be honest.

Have you received any performance feedback from your manager? 

Was the feedback specific enough for you to actually apply?

Your first step before jumping to discrimination should be to rule out any other reasons that justify why you weren’t promoted.

What To Do if You’re Experiencing Promotion Discrimination

Experiencing promotion discrimination at work can be frustrating.

If you find yourself facing this situation, it’s important to take steps to address the issue and protect your rights. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do if you’re experiencing promotion discrimination at work:

1. Document Your Experiences 

Start by documenting all instances of discrimination you have experienced or witnessed.

Include dates, times, locations, individuals involved, and a detailed description of what happened.

Gathering evidence will be crucial if you decide to make a formal complaint later on.

2. Know Your Company Policies

Familiarize yourself with your company’s policies on discrimination, harassment, and promotion processes.

Know your rights and the process for reporting issues.

3. Get Help

Talk to a trusted coworker, friend, or family member about the situation to get emotional support. 

Sometimes, talking through your experiences with someone else can validate your feelings or help you see the situation differently. 

4. Talk to HR 

Set up a meeting with your HR contact to share your concerns. Bring your documentation with you to present a clear case. 

HR should be discreet with your complaint and conduct a fair investigation.

5. File a Formal Complaint 

If you don’t see any action or resolution from HR within a reasonable timeframe, or if HR is problematic too, consider going above them and filing a formal complaint with your company’s management. 

Go through the proper channels and follow the process outlined in your company’s policies.

As a word of caution, consider launching a passive job search in case things don’t work out with your company. 

6. Contact an Employment Attorney

If the discrimination escalates, getting legal advice from an employment attorney might be a good next step.

They can guide you on your rights, potential legal options, and the best course of action to take.

7. Connect with Employee Resource Groups 

Many companies have employee resources groups that focus on workplace discrimination and can offer valuable support, guidance, and assistance during tough times.

8. Keep Things Professional

Regardless of how you feel about the situation, keep things professional until your company completes their investigation and reach their decision.

The last thing you want is to give them reasons to deny your promotion request. Trust me, they’ll be looking for one. 

Avoid office gossip or trash talking your company on social, as this could affect your credibility and brand.

9. Consider Mediation 

In some cases, mediation can be a good way to resolve workplace issues.

A neutral mediator can facilitate conversations and work toward finding a win-win resolution.

10. Keep Your Options Open 

Last but not least, consider whether it’s even worth the effort to fight for a promotion.

If you suspect promotion discrimination, ask yourself if the workplace culture is even one you’d like to continue working in. 

As mentioned earlier, a job search can open doors to new opportunities where your diversity is valued.  

If you’re successful in getting promoted, keep in mind that you can leverage that promotion for a job offer externally. 

Again, keep your options open and always prioritize your peace

Next Steps 

Promotion discrimination can be soul crushing. Especially if you’re a hard worker trying to break generational curses

Hopefully this article gave you an understanding of how to handle it and examples of employment discrimination to look out for. 

To help your career journey, head to our Free Career Center and download our free Leadership Readiness Quiz. The quiz will help determine if you’re ready for the next level.

You can also download our Promotion Request Checklist to help you with asking for a promotion at work.

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Over To You

Have you ever experienced an unfair promotion at work?

Let us know your experience in the comments section on social @netwerkmovement. 

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