Did a promotion you really wanted end up going to someone else and you aren’t sure why you got passed over?
There’s a variety of explanations for not being promoted. Maybe the position was re-imagined and you weren’t seen as the right fit. Maybe you didn’t make your case strongly or clearly enough. (Did you come right out and ask, following up the conversation with a dynamite written pitch that reviewed your strengths and elaborated on your goals for the position?)
And, of course, in in some cases bias, unconscious or not, is to blame. According to a recent Lean In survey, promotion rates for women lag behind those of men, and the disparity is largest at the first step up to manager—for every 100 women promoted, 130 men are promoted.
Not nice numbers!
But there’s another possible explanation that’s important to be aware of.
It could be you weren’t promoted because you haven’t done enough to stand out from the pack.
You need to dazzle your boss, and that involves doing more than what you’ve been told to do even if you’re doing that super well. You should be generating big, bold, sometimes badass ideas, as well as working on key projects that drive profitability, fuel the success of your department and company, and get you noticed.
Fair enough, but it could be that those kinds of projects are going to others.
According to a new study by Joan C. Williams, a distinguished professor of law and founding director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law and Marina Multhaup, the research and policy fellow for the Center for WorkLife Law, women and people of color have significantly less access to this kind of career-promoting work than white men do.
Williams and Multhaup call this kind of activity “glamour work.” Examples they give are: “handling a project for a major client, the opportunity to build out a new team, or the chance to represent the company at an industry conference.” In other words, stuff that dazzles your boss.
So if you’re not being given this kind of “glamour work,” raise your hand. Come right out and ask for those projects and opportunities. And if that doesn’t do the trick or you can’t spot any currently on the horizon, create those projects. Ask yourself, “What‘s missing,” or “What problem could I solve here?” Then approach your boss and say you’d love to take it on.