The silver ceiling
I have worked in Fortune 100 companies for the past 25 years, have over 35 years of work experience and have degrees from top schools, including an MBA. My current company has had a lot of mergers and reorganizations, and the bigger jobs go to those with more years at this particular company – which I don’t have. My reviews are positive, but I would rather contribute by having a bigger job that uses my broad skills at a higher level. Is it time to leave ambition behind, accept reality and just collect the good salary and benefits until the inevitable farewell party somewhere between 60 and 65?
It is never time to give up ambition if you are still ambitious and want to move up the corporate ladder. But age discrimination in the workplace is real and frustrating. The older we get, usually, the more competent and confident we feel and the more we are underestimated or seen as past our prime. You clearly still have a desire to move forward.
What do you do to show that you are looking for progress? Could you talk to someone in your organization about what a path to progress might look like and how best to position yourself for success? You could also go back to the job market. Are there senior positions at other companies that you would be a good fit for? There are systemic problems individual action will not change, but if you still want to strive for more, go for it.
An awkward affair
Until recently, my job was relatively stress-free and well-paid; my team works together easily. But not long ago, a young woman was hired by the lead partner and placed in the office next to mine. The two engage in an affair involving non-stop, high-decibel screeching, laughter, overly familiar conversations and behavior, and alcohol use.
My boss’s office is next door and like me he now keeps his door closed as we are often on the phone with salespeople and customers. When I bring up the noise, I explain that closed doors and Air Pods are not entirely effective and my productivity is being affected. I suggested working remotely, changing offices, or changing my schedule.
My boss vetoed those options and suggested industrial headphones and a felt tile between my office and the young lady’s. He does not address the underlying problem. If I don’t accept his solutions, I’m the problem. Are my only options to hope the affair burns out soon or to stop? And how would I explain this departure from the job?
Sometimes I can’t really tell if a letter is real or not and this is one of those times. It sounds annoying to have to listen to a senior co-worker blatantly having an office affair, but it certainly isn’t a reason to quit your job. I don’t understand why this behavior is allowed to go unchecked, but I assume yours is a small organization where there is sometimes little recourse to such things.
If your boss doesn’t agree with your very reasonable housing suggestions, you really need to figure out what you can live with. Find a good pair of headphones (I recommend Bose QC45, especially if your employer buys) and have your employer install the noise isolation and just do your best to get ahead. If you really can’t stand this bizarre situation, polish your resume and start looking for a job. When asked why you are leaving, you can indicate that you are looking for new challenges or a different company culture.
I have been working for my current organization for over 10 years. I recently submitted an expense report for a cab ride. A minimum gratuity of 5 percent is added to each ride based on my app settings.
My claim is processed in a hub in Asia, where my company has outsourced various functions. Someone came back to me to ask if the tip is mandatory, and when I answered no, I was told the tip would not be refunded. I explained that tipping is the norm here, but to no avail. I have checked our worldwide expense policy and it has no ban on gratuities and simply says all claims must be reasonable.
This is the first time that I have been denied reimbursement of the tip in an expense report. I’ve always seen my senior managers tip drivers and restaurant staff, and I’ve never seen them challenged. My employer is a profitable company. I’m a woman and part of a minority ethnic group and I can’t help but think of this as a micro-aggression, and I feel angry and unmotivated.
Aside from my feelings, I would like to know if I should challenge and escalate this situation or just accept it as it is a small amount and it is a waste of time to do anything productive.
— Anonymous, London
First of all, assuming you have the means, tip at least 20 percent for transportation and on most things, really. Now, if you travel for professional reasons, your employer must reimburse you for those expenses, including tips. Your company doesn’t prohibit tipping, so you can challenge it. On the one hand, why are you sweating 5 percent? On the other hand, if you travel a lot for work, these kinds of costs start to add up. I understand the principle of the matter. Fight the good fight, but don’t let it consume you.
Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write her down workfriend.†