By Helen Sanchez

Going to Chicago in February is not something one would likely choose! But, it was something to look forward to for me. I had won the Manager of the Year award across my company, and the ceremony was in Chicago. It was a brief trip with much activity condensed into an overnight stay. As the recipient of the award, I was able to meet with upper management for the company. 

I had been with the company many years, actually too many years, and always had outstanding performance reviews and managed teams that performed beyond goals. I met individually with the Vice President that my Manager reported to, and he started to discuss new opportunities for me in the company. He explained that one of the Recruiting Directors would be moving to another service in late Spring, and that job was mine. Promotion to a Director role was promised on a handshake in Chicago.

A few months had passed since my February 2017 trip, and as we all know, life has different plans for us than those we expect. In April of 2017, my husband unexpectedly and suddenly passed away. I was not surprised to see my immediate Manager at my husband’s wake. I was surprised however, to see the Vice President I spoke with in Chicago attending with her. I had written up things about my life with my husband for one of my children to read, including that we had been married for 47 years. Since few people ever guessed my age correctly, this figure gave both of them a better idea of age. Being married for 47 years puts you in your sixties at least. During the wake, the Vice President commented that I was married longer than he was born. It didn’t really seem important to me at the time.  

As I’m sure many of you expect, when the position promised to me during my trip to Chicago would have been available in late June, the scenario changed. The Director who was moving to a new service did move. However, the Vice President then moved another Director laterally into the opening. So, the position he promised me with a handshake was no longer available because he filled it with the lateral move. Of course, I followed up and inquired on multiple occasions what changed between February and June, other than more accurate knowledge of my age. He never responded to my inquiries and was out of the country on a business trip for some time. I never received any response.

My experience transpired while I was pursuing my degree in Women and Gender Studies, so it seemed logical for me to research and write my thesis on age discrimination in the workplace and how it impacts women. The stories I heard were unfortunate, and I found that many women are affected by age discrimination as expected. And women are often experiencing this discrimination at an earlier age than men.

Re-examining and writing about women’s experiences and my personal experience helped me put this women’s issue in perspective and use it as a catalyst for my next chapter. I decided then that I would use my many years of experience in recruiting and coaching to offer career counseling and coaching to women over 40. So, I started my firm, Tanagui LLC. Now I follow my passion and help women follow theirs.

You may also like

get started on your job search now

Download Tanagui's Free Job Search Tips & Career Planning Workbook

Take the first step towards a new career with our complimentary copy of our Job Search Tips and Career Planning Workbook