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Smoking With Your Boss Can Get You Promoted, But Only if You're a Man

Research finds that while male employees who share a cigarette with their managers are more likely to get bumped up, the same does not apply for women.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Smoking with your boss can get you promoted if you're a man
Photo by Sajjad Zabihi / Unsplash

Office smoke breaks can be not just that much-needed mental shutdown you need for every few hours of the gruesome grind but also pretty solid social lubricants that urge you to make conversation with your co-workers, even if it’s just to borrow their lighter. But according to new research, your daily nicotine fix could lead to more than just bad breath. Turns out, smoking with your boss can get you promoted. But only if you’re a man.


According to a research paper released on Monday, December 9, by the National Bureau of Economic Research, men have yet another advantage over women in terms of pay and promotion, when they share cigarettes with their male managers. Using data from an undisclosed large financial institution, the study found that when male employees smoke with their male managers, they are more likely to get promoted faster than they would if they were working under a female executive manager. At the same time, female employees end up progressing at a regular pace regardless of what their senior’s gender is. They are also often held back because of the lack of female representation in executive roles.

Women are mainly disadvantaged due to the ‘old boys’ club’ theory, which observes that a group in power (here, men) use that power to continue to benefit just themselves, making it a system that is not only unfair but also inefficient. This is mainly attributed to the tendency managers have of favouring proteges who are more similar to themselves, as well as the fact that men get the chance to interact with their male seniors in spaces like locker-rooms or male membership clubs.

While momentum for gender equality at the workplace is gaining steam around the world, this study proves that it might be the small acts that we need to watch out for that might be making it even tougher for women to move up the ladder, and that our promotions should go hand-in-hand with our active promotion of pay parity.

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