I have been railing about workplace discrimination against single people (and adults who have no children) for quite some time. Now and then, a story on the topic will pop up in the media. Just about any story that raises awareness about the issue is one worth publishing. The most recent entry is, so far, the best I’ve ever read.
In “The Single Girl’s Second Shift,” just published in Marie Claire, Ayana Byrd really did her due diligence. She talked to a number of single women who felt that they had been treated unfairly in the workplace because of their single status. She found some relevant survey results. She referred to federal laws. She gave a nod to some companies creating workplace arrangements that better accommodate single workers. She recounted what one fed-up single employee did – a strategy that actually worked. And, okay, so she also talked to me.
Here are a few highlights:
I want to add just one word of caution to this story. Sometimes single people, or adults with no children, who voice their concerns to their coworkers and bosses get backlash instead of justice. Most people think they are fair-minded and do not practice any sort of discrimination. Suggesting something different can be threatening to them, and some of them respond by further insulting and stigmatizing the person who has already been targeted by the unfair treatment. (In stories people have told me, “You’re just bitter,” is a common reaction.)
That’s one of the reasons I think that stories in the media, and other writings that raise awareness about singlism and singlism’s cousin, are so important. They make these matters part of the public dialog and not something specific to just a few individual workers here or there.
Discriminatory practices in the workplace are not personal. They are institutional. And they are wrong.