Is Workplace Discrimination Really Discrimination – Part 3

We now know that for a company to have sales, there must be trust between the seller and the buyer. We also know what constitutes trust and that intimacy is required (Part 1). We then got to the point where the person that will make us look the best, is the person we want to be the most intimate with and finally we worked out that, by and large, this person takes the form of the ‘Ultimate Male Specimen’ (Part 2).

With that in mind, let’s finally discuss whether there is a place for ‘appropriate discrimination’ in the workplace.


If profits are all dependent on intimacy, you have to put yourself in the decision makers position. Ask yourself this simple question, ‘would you send a sheep to negotiate with a pack of wolves?’ My guess is many different variations of NO. You would send the biggest bad ass you could find (i.e. The Ultimate Man). However, don’t forget that every time you don’t send a sheep to the negotiation you are discriminating against all sheep.

Now if we apply this internally to an organisation, many of us are stereotyped by management as a certain kind of worker based on our skills and personalities. As such, just like the sheep, many of us will be ‘discriminated’ against which is of course wrong.


However, if sales are a function of trust, trust is a function of intimacy, and intimacy is indeed a function of our skills and personality traits, then why shouldn’t we be excluded from doing certain things if management does not think we can make the sale. After all, its their butt and not yours on the line if sales targets are not met. As such, in this case, I think there is definitely a place for ‘appropriate discrimination.’

Fortunately, unlike the sheep, you can do something about this. Let’s have a look at a scenario.

Your Company Has Many Foreign Clients

Communication is a large part of intimacy. As such, if your company has many foreign clients and you can’t speak said ‘foreign’ language, you may feel yourself unfairly discriminated against. To this person, I say that you may be missing what is truly important to the ‘sale.’

Yes, just because someone can speak Chinese, they might be able to speak directly to the client and therefore have a perceived advantage at gaining their trust. However, if they can’t generate intimacy whilst discussing high risk fund investment, they’re still just as useless to your manager as the person that can’t speak Chinese.


Instead of worrying that your career progression is being blocked, try focusing your efforts to identify what is the key defining factor to the ‘sale.’ It could be the best returns on the client’s assets. It could be the piece of mind that their funds will be safe with your bank. It could be the access to the lowest interest rates. Whatever it is, you should be looking to undercover it. If you manage this, it may not matter what language you speak as this was not the key factor to gaining someone’s trust.

On the flip side, if it is something that is non negotiable (i.e. the monthly management meeting is conducted in a foreign language), then you may be forced to accept that your career pathway is probably quite limited. However, you should not let this stop you from succeeding. Companies are so big and diverse these days that there is more than likely an available career path for you that you will be attracted to.


This may not be immediately clear to you; which is why communication is once again, very important. You need to be having regular career discussions (note: every week may be too often – try every 3 or 6 months) with your manager or mentor to ensure you can map out a career path that both of you are happy with. As I alluded to in ‘Getting the Most Out of a Career Discussion,’ management can only act upon the information you give them. They are not mind readers and you will definitely get more out of it if you do your homework before going to a meeting.

Remember management respond best when you present them with a problem and also include a possible solution. This is where intimacy is developed and trust is gained. Do this often enough and hopefully you will find that you are no longer subjected to ‘appropriate discrimination.’



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