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Girlfriend made to feel uncomfortable at work

(6 Posts)
Bugeatsbread Tue 01-Nov-16 18:36:12

Looking for some opinions on a work matter regarding my gf.

She works in events. The team is small, she has one line manager just for her, and there are 3 other women at her level managed by an overall manager.

They occasionally have to work away on the lead up to events, and work meals are booked at a restaurant chosen by the aforementioned managers. I should make it clear that these meals are not mandatory, in some instances they would be as they include a debriefing meeting for the day but this is not currently the case. Back at the hotel these managers usually stay drinking at the hotel bar and are usually accompanied by a couple of the other women.

Now, when the event comes around they stay away for a couple of weeks to prep, hold the event, and then breakdown.
During this prep week my gf turned down one of the evening meals, she told her line manager that she instead wanted to go and clean up and rest in her hotel room as she had been doing a particularly messy job that day.

The next day her line manager pulled her aside and asked her if she was ill, she replied she was not. She re-explained why she decided not to attend the meal.
He then said that he'd like to give her some advice, that this advice was passed down to him in his years at the organisation under the overall manager of the team. He said her work performance is excellent and she'd done a good job, that one of the women my gf works with is especially good at this ("this" referring to the point he's about to make - not the work), that he doesn't agree with it ("it" again being the point he is preparing to get to), but it's just how things are.......and then proceeded to finally get to his point: she needs to attend after-work social meals/drinks because when the director for their department visits during the actual 3 day event the only time she is going to interact with him is during late night evening drinks, and not doing so would negatively impact her career progression and promotion chances.

Any thoughts on this? Is this "just the way it is?"
Call me old fashioned but I thought career progression was based upon the excellent job you are doing, and that your direct managers would communicate this performance further up the ladder and recommend you for promotion?

This has made her feel very uncomfortable and I was looking for some opinions on this and how best she might raise the issue?

Or are we blowing this out of proportion?

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Tue 01-Nov-16 19:11:13

I think the pertinent point is this: because when the director for their department visits during the actual 3 day event the only time she is going to interact with him is during late night evening drinks

My DP works away a lot and most of the important discussions he has had about his future have been over a few drinks with the directors after the work is finished.

I know he does work hard during the day while he's at a conference etc but in terms of internal promotions and getting some one to one time with influential people, the evenings are really important.

I suppose it depends how important her career is to your GF. If she is serious then she will have to put in some extra-curricular time on top of the normal working hours to make sure she gets noticed.

I don't know if you are implying that there is something sexist about the situation, that as a woman she is expected to fraternise with the directors and entertain them in order to be noticed? FWIW, this isn't the case for my (male) DP. He has been away with mainly men and it is always the same.
I find it a bit more uncomfortable knowing he is out socialising with women as well as men, (I'm not daft, I know how these things can go with a few drinks) but it is part and parcel of working away I think.

Obviously I don't know exactly the tone in which this was said to her, which I suspect could have come across a bit creepy if the guy telling her is not someone she would usually be happy to take advice from. But if she felt like it was said in a way that wasn't professional then I guess she could speak to HR about expectations. However, at face value it doesn't sound out of order to me.

Jeanne51 Fri 17-Feb-17 03:17:20

I think in this type of work people network when socialising. She could always try and get a different job.

notangelinajolie Fri 17-Feb-17 03:37:16

Yes, she should socialise afterwards. I had to travel for a job I had once and we worked, dined and drank together. You are very much a team when you work away and more often than not conversation at dinner or in the bar afterwards would turn to work. If a member of the team is missing their absence would be noticed.

KateDaniels2 Fri 17-Feb-17 04:17:52

I think its quite unfair and can impact people with children or carers quite alot.

However its how a lot of industrys work. The socialising when away is a big deal. Getting to speak to the people higher up does help your career.

If you are going for a promotion there is always going to be and advantage to the person who is well known and already liked. If both people are equal in experience and competency, it could be what tips the decision one way or another.

I worked in event management years ago and it was important.

ScarletForYa Fri 17-Feb-17 04:30:09

Argh! This is another ZOMBIE

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