I have been working for you for nearly seven years now, since I was 19 in fact. I remember my first day. It was the first of June 2010 and as you were short staffed I was thrown in the deep end. Thrown into a farming community of mainly men with decades of farming experience who saw a very short young girl behind the counter who was meant to advise them on animal medicines, hardware and feed.
Challenge accepted!! And I loved it!!
Soon enough, the customers saw that I knew what I was talking about. Some took longer than others but I proved that I could do it and I earned their trust.
A year later, the managers position came up in the store and I applied for the job. What did I have to lose? After blowing HR away at the interview, I had the phonecall to tell me that I didn’t get the job because I was too young, and lacked experience. Which to me, was fair enough, as I was only twenty at the time. You gave the job to a man in his 30’s who had no experience with farming or retail. But I thought, fair enough, I’m still young enough to gain the qualifications I need to one day get promoted.
Soon after my new manager started, I began to notice that the cashing up never made any sense and I was no stranger to cashing up, as I had done it every day during my first year at your company. But he figured out that I knew something was wrong and he started giving me a hard time. He would find something wrong with everything and anything. I was going home every day in tears. I tried telling the area manager and HR about what was happening.
“It’s Just sour grapes” they said
“You’re just jealous that he got the job and you didn’t” they said.
Four more months went by until you realized he had stolen thousands of pounds in cash from the store. But not once did anyone apologize to me, not once.
Soon enough, you found another manager, but this time you didn’t advertise the job, you found someone internally and he had plenty of experience within the company. Which I thought was great.
But little did you know that I had taken on board what you said to me three years ago about my lack of qualifications and experience and by now I had completed all my NVQ’s in retail, management, customer service and warehousing as well as my key skills- these were all completed as level two and level three. I enjoyed doing them so much, I also signed up with the Open University to do a degree in business management and accounting. I also qualified as a Nominated Store Keeper for pesticides, and SQP to supply and prescribe animal medicines and had developed a “How To” handbook for new staff, because I remembered how hard it was for me in those first few months here.
But when I raised the question as to why, after all that, I was still being paid minimum wage and yet another, new member of staff (who was a man) and had only been there for six months had been given a pay rise. You told me it was because I lacked a qualification about applying pesticides, and you didn’t think I would be able to pass it.
Challenge accepted, and guess what? I passed!!
But still I was on minimum wage.
Soon after, a job was circulated via email that would involve going to university every six weeks and essentially gaining the equivalent to a foundation degree in agriculture and a pay rise. But I didn’t get that email, it was deleted off the computer at work, because my manager thought it was a waste of time. Luckily, I hear from another person working at another store. I called HR and told them I was interested. Soon enough, I was invited to an interview which involved a presentation, research and two hours of travelling. I spent hours on the presentation as I was determined to impress you all. And I got the job. But so did the six months guy, but he didn’t even have to attend an interview or give a presentation.
I passed the course with flying colours as well as continuing with my OU degree. But still no pay rise, and I didn’t even get the title that came with the job I had tried so hard for, well apart from a letter from you sying that my pay would be increased to the living wage, but this was not a reflection on my performance. Six month guy got a company car and a promotion.
During my time with your company, we became short staffed again, and I looked on as all the men in the store went for lunch together, while I manned the fort alone. I also watched the manager throw application forms of female applicants in the bin, because two women working together would talk too much.
During my last appraisal, I wasn’t praised for the fact I did all the paperwork, earned impressive sales, would be in at 6am to open the gates for delivery drivers (because my manager refused to) without even getting overtime for it, had passed every single qualification possible and worked every single weekend. No, I was marked down as having poor time keeping because I had taken two days of unpaid leave to take care of my Grandmother- who had vascular dementia, so my dad (her full time carer) could go on holiday. You also told me that the OU wasn’t a real university and I wouldn’t get a real degree. I was crushed. I had carried on and had tried to improve myself for seven years, just to be told this.
Now, I have come to a point where I dont know how I’m meant to carry on in such a male dominated environment. I love my job, as in what I do, but I hate the company I work for.
How would I be a good example to my daughter if I stayed?
And why am I STILL on minimum wage?
a frustrated, disrespected
Female member of staff.