Sexist comments at workplace have never been cool!

by Kylee Stone Mar 29,2016

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Workplace cultures may differ for different industries, but all these workplaces have one common prerequisite for their employees and that is professional behavior. Maintaining appropriate behavior at work is important for every employee. But some people do not realize the importance of it and behave inappropriately.

One instance of inappropriate behavior is making gender-biased or sexist comments at the workplace.

These types of comments never help anyone; instead they lower the self-esteem of employees and decrease employee productivity. They also really impact employee engagement.

We come across various articles on feminism and gender equality daily. We like and share them across social media; but do we truly understand the importance of gender equality? Sexist comments and jokes are often not addressed as issues of focus in the workplace. They are always pushed aside and termed as secondary problems.

In our research on this issue, we came across various articles where many employees have shared their experiences. Here goes the experience of Hannah and Maya posted on Bustle – Full article here

Hannah, 21

“Hannah, whose first post-college job was at one of the top private banking institutions in the world, says “When I started, I was the ONLY female in my regional office of 30 bankers. … I would say that 99 percent of the time, I felt that I was treated no differently than the guys at my level, except for the fact that sometimes I would walk in on a room of the bankers maybe talking about women or making an inappropriate joke.”

Maya, 23

“I had a boss come on to me and make inappropriate compliments about my physique. He tried to take me on dates and would let me off work earlier than my coworkers without my request. I was so uncomfortable because he was considerably older than me and the person to whom I reported at the end of the day”

Sexist comments, jokes, and problems are not just limited to women; there are many men who face this problem too. But usually, these problems go unreported. What can we do about this problem? This is not an issue that can be completely solved but here’s what you can do to deal with sexist comments and situations where you find yourself trapped.

Form a complaint board

As we said in our previous article on how to deal with inappropriate jokes, a complaint board is necessary for any organization. Encourage your employees to come to you with any problems or harassment they face at the workplace. Make sure that the identity of the employee who complains is anonymous till you find out what exactly happened in the situation.

Promote/Create awareness about this problem in your organization

Talk to your employees about this issue and communicate with them about the workplace harassment policy in your country. Also, make them realize that it is a serious issue and that any kind of sexist and inappropriate behavior will be taken serious action. Awareness of a problem or an issue usually solves at least half of the problem. Not only will employees police themselves, but other employees will have no issue asking other employees to be careful or respectful.

Use support services

If you cannot do the promoting part yourself, look for support services or a counselor and ask them to talk to the employees in your organization. There are many employee assistance program providers online who can help you out there.

Talk to a friend

If you are facing harassment at your workplace, do not be afraid to share what you are going through with a friend or colleague. Be brave and speak up about the problem with a friend and ask for help. This friend need not necessarily be a colleague from work. Talk about it and this gives you the strength to face it. Do not forget to believe in yourself!

Engagedly is a performance management software with elements of employee engagement.

To know more, request a demo!

Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

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