Imagine you’re a woman executive assistant. Then imagine the other 50 or so other assistants are all men. Would it not occur to you that maybe there’s some gender bias going on? And any time you mention it, no one can believe it. They think it’s all in your head, despite your having lost every job you’ve applied for at this company for the last 10 years to a man.
Now flip it. I’m a 52 year old gay male executive assistant, the last of my kind in the company I work for. We’re a global operation and I’m in a global position, knowing pretty much everyone in the different regions. There used to be 3 or 4 male assistants in New York. Now there’s only me and one fellow whose title is ‘research assistant,’ and my job has been eliminated.
I’m not paranoid, I’m just observant and honest. I know the odds are not good for me getting an open executive assistant position when I’m competing with women in an environment where this is considered a woman’s job. Yes, the company touts its diversity efforts. Yes, it’s LGBT-friendly and all that. But the diversity awareness seems to stop when it comes to hiring an executive assistant. I don’t necessarily blame people; I don’t think they’re even aware of what they’re doing. But I know from many years of experience that most men in corporate management assume their assistant will be/should be a woman. Some of it, frankly, is homophobia, conscious or unconscious. I was lucky when I started here that the man who hired me couldn’t care less that I was a gay man. I did a good job and that’s all that mattered.
But I won’t fool myself. I’m in my 50s, I’m a man in a position held overwhelmingly by women, and I’m gay. A diversity triple-header if any of them thought about it, but they don’t. More to follow in the coming days . . .