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'we need to employ a male partner'. Help me respond please

(44 Posts)
SeriousWispaHabit Thu 18-Oct-12 22:17:59

I hope you can all help me. I am a long time lurked on this board and I am now posting because I am so angry I could cry. But I won't because I'm going to go into a meeting in the morning and be completely calm and rational instead ...

I am a GP partner in a large practice. We had an important meeting tonight discussing various things. The senior partner brought up the subject of us advertising for an additional partner to join us. Views are mixed on this and we each had our say. He feels strongly that we need a full time extra partner who is '100% committed and does full hours etc... A man, definitely'
I am full time.
I put in a lot of hours, I work in the evenings at home looking at stuff, I take on extra responsibility all the time. I have 2 small children but I have never taken time off for them being sick. I do late evening surgeries at short notice etc.
I challenged this at the meeting and there was a bit of eye rolling and it was all swept under the carpet a bit. A couple of the other partners looked a bit embarrassed and I don't think it reflects the general attitude.

Not sure exactly why I am posting or what I am asking really. I am just really really pissed off that his attitude is that a man will be somehow better or more committed than a woman and I want to challenge this.

kim147 Thu 18-Oct-12 22:23:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

baddancingdad Thu 18-Oct-12 22:26:58

Is he approachable? Can you explain to him how what he said was unacceptable and was insulting to you?

If it's a large practice is there a policy or procedure you can refer to? It's a shame that this guy's senior as it makes it difficult to complain.

You're definitely right to be upset imo.

Lottapianos Thu 18-Oct-12 22:28:52

I am utterly livid on your behalf! How insulting. And isn't that actually Illegal? Surely you can't exclude women from a process that should be open to any suitable candidate just because of one person's prejudice? That twit needs to be very careful.

blueshoes Thu 18-Oct-12 22:36:25

It is sexual discrimination as there is no reason a female cannot do the job as well as a male partner. If this gets out, your practice could potentially be sued by a female candidate who did not get the job.

What a dinosaur. Well done on you for challenging that. I understand your frustration. It is a slight on you too for not recognising you are '100% committed' in the way he described. Git.

Hopefully, he will be more careful the next time he thinks of saying anything of this ilk.

SeriousWispaHabit Thu 18-Oct-12 22:40:03

The shared anger is helping, thanks!

There is nowhere to complain to and I don't really want to. We are a partnership, so self employed and managing a large practice. I am quite new. He is generally really nice and I don't think he really realises what he has said or how insulting it was to imply that a male would be preferable. If we do get another partner it will all be done properly and above board and women will get just as much chance to apply and be considered but it just really bothers me that he has this attitude underneath the surface. I feel like I've gone from really liking him and him being someone I respect a lot to the complete opposite. Especially hard as I've always felt he was very supportive of me working full time with a young family and now I'm not sure what he thinks.

blueshoes Thu 18-Oct-12 22:47:49

Serious, I have worked in various partnership structures (law firm) that are very male dominated at the partnership level. We are talking about 15% female representation.

I doubt if I would find many, if any, male partner who did not think that way. They would not say it out loud outside the company of 'friends' but I have not doubt they think it. If they did in my presence, it would be slip of the tongue. Many have wives that don't work, so why should they understand when they see no other template.

Does that partner's wife work?

Jojoba1986 Thu 18-Oct-12 22:48:30

I'm assuming that this partner would be a GP who saw patients? Just out of interest, what's the ratio of male/female GPs there at the moment? Could it be that the motive for hiring a man would be to ensure there were enough male doctors to see patients who specifically wanted a man, IYSWIM?!

joanofarchitrave Thu 18-Oct-12 22:48:50

I think you need to take this up with him, whatever happens about recruitment, along the lines of 'When you spoke last night, what I heard was that you consider that I am not committed enough despite working full time hours. Was that what you meant to say?' Because, really, I don't see what else he can really have meant. And I think you deserve to hear his attempt at explanation.

What do you want as the outcome? In your shoes I would want an assurance that he would recuse himself from the recruitment process; perhaps even that you as a practice would consider outsourcing much of the recruitment to ensure fair dealing/legal compliance. But that might not be what you want.

In a way, it doesn't matter what his prejudices are, provided they don't impact on your work, or the employment/work of others, or of course the care of your patients. But the trouble with prejudices is that they do have an impact. Already in this post you have been justifying yourself and explaining how many hours you work and how you have never taken time off for your children. We don't employ you! You don't owe us anything and you are still feeling that you have to put a case to us because what this man's prejudice has done is undermine you. My manager does take time off for her children when they are ill; so does her partner. She is the best boss I have ever had, and a superb clinician and people manager. Nobody is at work 24 hours a day and there is more to work than having your arse on a chair. Don't you DARE let him force you to rethink your own identity.

tribpot Thu 18-Oct-12 22:50:54

If you think he may not have meant it to be precisely as offensive as it came out, I would explain to him privately why his comments are completely unacceptable. For his own good as much as anything.

I find the eyerolling and carpet sweeping actually worse than him stating a view which, whilst bollocks, is at least an honest opinion. The eyerolling means you're not meant to be having an opinion.

I would let him know how disappointed you are and be frank with him.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Thu 18-Oct-12 22:56:05

I think you should explain to this shit-for-brains that he's probably just cost himself a packet in increased employer's liability premiums... and this person is a doctor. i thought they were meant to be clever. Not very reassuring.

MMMarmite Thu 18-Oct-12 23:41:12

I'm furious on your behalf Serious. It's extra horrible when this kind of thing comes from someone you previously respected.

Was the eye-rolling at the original comment, or at the fact that you challenged it?

I don't have any useful advice, sorry.

WorriedBetty Thu 18-Oct-12 23:45:19

um have you rolled two statements together? I can see that gender balance is important in General Practice.. was it more like 'we need someone committed.and we are short of male doctors'?

\on the other hand it might not exactly be sexism, but the old 'I have someone in mind and I can't help being a f**king idiot and trying to twist every sentence to look like my pal.. oh yeah, someone who wouldn't mind a small office (my pal is a short arse) or 'someone who can help manage alternative therapies (my pal who really needs a break smoked weed all the time at med school). or 'we need a male wellness co-ordinator' (my pal is a nutter flashy-eyed vitamin pill popper who likes examining testicles and is bald because 'it makes him look like a giant baby more sensitive)

sashh Fri 19-Oct-12 02:10:27

Send an email / memo (do they still exist?)

Re: Illegal Discrimination

Dear partners,

I was quite shocked at the meeting (date) that it was considered acceptable to discuss recruiting a new partner without adhering to antidiscrimination legislation.

On a personal note I found it insulting that my contribution to this practice is considered inferior because I am a woman.

The reruitment policies and procedures clearly need reviewing to ensure we comply with current legislation at all stages of recruitement including initial discussions.

saffronwblue Fri 19-Oct-12 02:19:14

Great email sashh. There are two issues here- the blatant disregard for legislation (opening them up to risk of being sued) and the insult to your own professionalism. Try to keep them separate as you deal with this.
I can understand your anger. My former boss once said to me "With all due respect (never a good opening) Colleague X is so great because she does not have young children and is not always having to dash home for some drama or other." I am still angry when I think about all the hours I put in there and all the times I compromised my family in order to appear professional. And I never dashed home for a drama. Sorry to hijack.

HazleNutt Fri 19-Oct-12 06:43:57

I'd take the topic up and say that you have concerns. As the senior partner said that you need someone committed and that definitely has to be a man, there obviously must be a problem with hours and commitment of the female GPs, so let's discuss them. I'd like to see him explaining that.

joanofarchitrave Fri 19-Oct-12 06:52:01

Memos! I mis-spent many hours of my life learning how to type them and then typing them, and then copying them 48 times to send to different departments ('and put the initials of the recipient on the top right corner using this pen, and here are the internal envelopes').

I wouldn't put anything in writing just yet tbh. I failed to talk to a man who used the word 'nigger' in a practice meeting and put stuff in writing instead - our relationship failed to recover. I still think he was in the wrong but I should have gone and talked to him (to be fair to me, he was my boss and the senior GP in the practice which did make it feel a bit tricky).

WidowWadman Fri 19-Oct-12 06:56:44

I think joan is right about talking instead of writing. But what a tool.

BikeRunSki Fri 19-Oct-12 08:27:14

I agree with all the comments above, (I am a civil engineer, which is a very male dominated profession), but are men under represented amongst your partners?

blueshoes Fri 19-Oct-12 08:58:40

I think amongst fellow partners, a word is always better than putting anything confrontational in writing. It is common sense that you escalate things gradually and not go all out guns blaring unless you have some personal exit strategy in mind.

Putting things in writing is also potentially subject to discovery in litigation. For example, if a female candidate that does not get picked for the role sues for sexual discrimination, that email/letter may have to be disclosed to the court and could stitch the practice up legally.

Ciske Fri 19-Oct-12 09:08:59

I would say leave your personal feelings out of this, and just say you are worried about his comments that only a man can be fully committed, as this can leave the firm open to legal problems. And also, because it's not backed up by the facts (refer to yourself) and that this could mean that excellent candidates will be passed over on the wrong basis. Put it in writing if that's easier, then keep the email plus his response somewhere safe. You need to challenge this, if only for moral reasons, but unless you have evidence they are actively rejecting women on the basis of gender, you might not have that much to go on.

The response in the meeting indicates there might be more people feeling like this, so if they all speak up, attitudes like this will no longer be seen as 'normal' and have a better chance to die out, as they should.

tribpot Fri 19-Oct-12 12:14:42

blueshoes - the trouble is, it's not the OP who's stitched the practice up legally, it's the senior partner.

blueshoes Fri 19-Oct-12 18:50:55

tribpot, I get what you are saying but this is a partnership, and the OP is not an employee, she is a partner.

Her actions in putting things in writing have legal consequences if the firm is sued for sexual discrimination. In other words, it comes out of her pocket too, if the firm loses. Hence I am urging caution not to put the firm in a worse off legal position by putting things in writing from the get go.

solidgoldbrass Sun 21-Oct-12 02:09:06

Point out to him that he's risking lawsuits for sex discrimination. Then laugh at him and say 'I'm sure you didn't mean it, I've never thought of you as a woman-hating arsehole before...'

CelineMcBean Sun 21-Oct-12 02:58:32

I would stick to verbal comment only at the moment along the lines of: "I feel very strongly that we need to recruit the best possible candidate based on ability and merit. Sex should not be a factor in that decision, not least because it leaves us vulnerable from a legal perspective. Sex discrimination is potentially extremely costly as well as damaging to our reputation and of course none of us want that."

I might also be tempted to throw in "in light of some of the comments made around recruitment it might be prudent to get someone in to help with the recruitment process and check we have followed all the necessary legal requirements?".

I would not make this personal and would avoid all references to anything that implies you feel the statement made reflects badly on how you are perceived. This is because some people will mark you down as an attention-seeker or worse, hysterical. Let's face it, people who eye roll at sex discrimination are probably not the most sympathetic to what the more sensible among us can see to be the bleeding obvious.

Do register your concerns for the practice but do not make this a personal battle. It will not help your cause at all and will probably create more issues. Your objective is to change people's mind sets. Do it calmly and with a sound rationale they can understand. Pick your battles - if people start treating you badly or discriminating against you directly tackle it then.

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