We've Come a Long Way Part II
I got some interesting feedback from last week's blog post.
Here is from a millennial woman:
"Many people probably assume that yes, we have come a long way since the good ole days and things like that don't happen anymore because of the prevalence of lawsuits and its just not accepted anymore. Well they are wrong! I know that from my personal experience, sexual harassment is still running rampant in businesses. And not just office settings either. I worked a lot in restaurants in college and let me tell you, it was the worst there. Between the illegal immigrants and the macho man managers they made woman feel like objects. In one restaurant I worked at, the hostesses were required to wear tight dresses or skirts because the manager just wanted some eye candy. One girl wore pants and was told she needed to go shopping for some "prettier" clothes and she got fired when she refused. My manager at the same restaurant even said I had a nice body. Excuse me? This same guy would screen the hell out of applicants. If you were a little over weight or not good looking enough by his standards, he would just say sorry we are not hiring. He was sick. I could write a whole book on the things I saw and things that were said to me. It is still a serious issue. And at another firm, the superintendent of the building would make lewd comments to me all the time, after complaining several times it eased up, but it was extremely uncomfortable to go to work very day."
To my shock, I was recently in a business meeting with another woman and her boss. He told us a story in an effort to "break the ice" it seemed that he was in a meeting earlier that day and was the only man. He said, "imagine being me, I don't know much about pearls, diamonds and flowers so it was pretty uncomfortable." And then said "I told 'em 'you girls can figure out the holiday party on your own. That's woman's work.' " I am sitting there thinking, "did this guy just say this out loud? In 2011?"
I did hear from a man that stated that women need to be watchful regarding their dress and that with the fashion trends becoming less conservative, women are showing a lot more than just designer labels. OK, that is fair. A woman in a revealing, see through and low cut, tight fitting blouse and short skirt, and not much else in terms of fabric is a distraction to men. And other women that may not choose to dress that way. I am hearing more and more organizations implementing dress codes. Maybe not a bad idea if people don't know what is acceptable due to their history and upbringing, then we need to coach them.
I was later told that this particular organization has a pretty entrenched 'good ole boys club' which in and of itself is sort of derogatory now that I think about it, but it's what was said to me. There, women perceive they are held back, and not given the same opportunities. And it is a pretty major national organization.
I have been working the last decade in really evolved organizations. Women are valued and are in leadership positions, and I had not been exposed to this type of talk as if it were an every day fact. The men were professional and treated one another with respect. Call me naive, but I guess I have been lucky and thought we had outgrown this thinking.
I do not want the Millennial's currently in and entering our workforce today to need to worry about this. It is distracting and takes away from the work. What happens out side of the workforce is not the issue, it is what is being said, and how it is said, and the non-verbals that are difficult. Recently the US Government announced the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell era and it has been removed from policy. How many years was this in controversy before real change occurred?
I want better for all of our young leaders, to be able to use their gifts in environments where they can learn, grow and make a difference. They need to be held accountable, yes, and let's find ways that actually work with them, not command and control. Get them involved in the learning process, let them contribute, figure things out for themselves, and be rewarded for high performance. And let's keep the workplace professional people, ok?