woman sitting at table thinking with arrows above headAt some point in our lives, we’ll all hear something along the lines of, “it shouldn’t just be about money,” when it comes to choosing the right job. As they say, money doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness.

But, and we can be honest here, a great deal of people are in their current positions solely for the paycheck. Whether it be great or small, people work because they depend on that money to supply their needs. This is understandable.

But, the question of the day is when should one place boundaries on what he/she will do for money? To be specific, what an individual will tolerate for the sake of a paycheck?

I ask this after hearing about a friend’s situation; let’s call her Jane.

Jane interviewed with a local law firm and the hiring process took three months.

“Why did it take them so long to hire you?” I’d asked her. Jane admitted that she believed it was because of her race.

You see, the position Jane sought would require her to travel extensively and represent that particular firm to other firms. And for many reasons I won’t state, Jane was convinced that the hiring manager wasn’t too keen on having her as “the face” of the law firm.

This led me to think about possibly being in a position where you know the company—for whatever discriminatory reasons—didn’t truly want you to fill the role. How many of us, for the sake of receiving a paycheck, would work in that type of environment anyway?

For example, last month Bank of America was forced to pay $2.2 million in back wages and interest after being found guilty of discriminating against 1,147 black applicants who had applied (and were rejected) for entry-level teller and clerical jobs in Charlotte, N.C. location.

Not that they now need the money, but would any of the 1000+ “victims” ever consider working at BOA if now offered a position?

Another example comes from a story I recently wrote about Abercrombie & Fitch having to pay two Muslim women after a judge decided both were discriminated against for their traditional hijabs. Now that the company has openly stated that its employees can wear religious-related garments, would the former employee consider returning? Or would the other applicant try to work there again?

How do you decide between earning a salary and supporting yourself and keeping your dignity intact? For some, this may seem like an easy decision, but it’s not always so clear cut when, like many, you not only have to think about having an income for yourself, but others who depend on you.

Jane decided to work with the firm because, as she said, she knows her end goal and that law firm would just be a stepping stone to get her to where she needs to be. The hiring manager may not have wanted a face like Jane’s to represent the company, yet Jane took this as a challenge to show her and everyone else just what a “face” like hers can do.

For Jane, though not ideal, this situation didn’t take a shot at her dignity, and she’s comfortable with her decision.

What about you?

I believe it’s all about perspective. While no one wants to (or should be) discriminated against, if the individual views the situation as one that will ultimately benefit him/her, the person may feel more comfortable or unaffected by continuing to work for a company.

Have you ever felt like you were discriminated against during the hiring process? If so, did you choose salary, dignity or neither?

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