I am the only female in my sales team. My male colleagues meet regularly for drinks and to share vital work information, but they never invite me. This gives them undue advantage over me. How do I raise this issue? How do I get them to stop sidelining me and accept me as a member of the team? Rita
Naturally, people tend to get along or associate with those who are like them. We like to spend time with those who share our beliefs, values, appearances and background. This is called affinity bias. In your case, there also seems to be gender bias, and these partialities might be applied to you either consciously or unconsciously.
You should devise ways of speaking out on these prejudices before your self-esteem gets damaged. Do not confront them directly. Seek to understand what other interests they share, apart from their gender. This will help you know whether their interests are acceptable to you.
How did you know about these informal get-togethers? Is this information public? Tread carefully lest you be accused of snooping, and lose trust of the “boys club”.
Approach one of your colleagues with whom you have a good rapport and say that you would like to join them in one of their informal gatherings. Watch his reaction and body language keenly since non-verbal communication cues are often more accurate. How do you relate with your peers while you’re at work? For example, during meetings with you managers, are you supportive of their ideas or are you always quick to disagree without providing practical alternatives? This does not mean that you should always endorse their ideas and ignore their incompetence.
In addition, take time to hone your sales skills so that you earn their respect. This will also endear you to the team. They have to value your contributions and input in the office space before they can invite you in their social space.
As a sales person, rejection shouldn’t bother you much since you get that a lot in your interaction with customers. Therefore, if they refuse to let you in, walk away with your head held up high and survey more options such as joining a professional network of sales professionals. This way, you may get insights from different industries, which can also give you a leg up in your profession.
Senior HR Manager,
Nation Media Group