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 the social media; but do we truly understand the importance of gender equality? Sexist comments and jokes are often not addressed as issues of focus at 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 requesting. 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

Like 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 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 the workplace harassment policy and 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 a issues usually solves at least half of the problem. Not only will employees police them selves, 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.

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