Comstock's magazine 0319 - March 2019 - Page 37

teracted with women in his office. Incon- venient, perhaps, but such self-reflection and raised consciousness were overdue and a much-needed course correction. I wouldn’t mind if a few more leaders be- came more conscious during their inter- actions with their female colleagues. Does that mean, as my friend assert- ed, that the #MeToo movement ended the days of overt sexism in the work- place? No. I can think of at least three instances in which I witnessed or expe- rienced sexism in the last year, includ- ing one time when a client of mine told me to “smile for me, honey.” So I asked about a dozen of my female friends and associates in Sacramento if they had recently experienced overt sexism, and unfortunately, received a plethora of ex- amples. Here are just a few... A LADY AND A HOUSEWIFE One woman who is the executive direc- tor of a local association recalled a se- nior management team meeting she was in with her boss and two colleagues (all men). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss professional development plans, and her boss said to the group, “Think about what you want to accomplish this year. Steve is pursuing his certificate in association management, and Susan … well, she’s getting married, so she might decide to take a cooking class.” THE BEAUTIFUL MAN TO MY RIGHT During a recent board meeting for a high-profile nonprofit in downtown Sacramento, a female board member spoke up about a topic she felt passion- ately about. The man sitting next to her waited for her to finish her thoughts before saying, “This beautiful woman to my right makes an excellent point”… and then repeated her thought in his own words. LOOKING THE PART Another friend of mine works for a local startup as head of logistics and opera- tions. She is also actively involved in her EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN SEXISM IN YOUR WORKPLACE, THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT ISN’T HAPPENING — AND THAT WOMEN AREN’T FEELING ITS IMPACTS. community, spending up to 20 hours a week volunteering for a local sports or- ganization. After spending a weekend hauling sports equipment from loca- tion to location, she walked into work on Monday morning and was asked by her (male) boss, “So, do you ever paint your nails?” PRETTY BUT NOT PERFECT After performing outstanding work in her role as the leader of a local nonprofit, another friend of mine walked confi- dently into her performance evaluation at the end of the year. Her male boss praised her work and acknowledged she had done exceptionally well in the pre- vious fiscal year. She was then surprised to see she had been awarded 99.9 per- cent of the total year-end bonus avail- able. Her boss explained the decision by saying, “I docked your bonus 0.1 percent because I don’t want you to think you’re perfect. But don’t worry, I’ll buy you something nice.” And to be clear, this list omits the one story that involves language too crass to print. Sexism still happens — both overtly and subtly. So, here’s what we (and male colleagues in par- ticular) can do to help combat it in the workplace: • Trust your gut: If you have a feeling that a comment was inappropriate or sexist, it probably was. • Speak up: Hear something inappro- priate in a board meeting? Respect- fully call it out and set the tone for what’s appropriate in the office. • Pull people aside: Follow up with a sidebar conversation, addressing it in a timely manner. • Don’t let it become a pattern: One comment may be an accident but two or three may be a pattern. Get HR involved if you’re dealing with a repeat offender. • Be proactive: Facilitate conversations proactively in the workplace about how to create a better organizational culture. • Lead by example: A boss who makes sexist comments allows for a culture of sexism to spread. Be better. Even if you haven’t seen sexism in your workplace, that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening — and that women aren’t feeling its impacts. This is why we must continue to discuss harass- ment openly. We must also continue the conversation about bias and sexism, not only focusing on the extreme cases of sexual assault hyped in the media, but also the subtle (and not so subtle) ways women are marginalized every day in the workplace. n Jessica Kriegel, Ph.D., is an organiza- tional development consultant and an expert on generational issues. For more, visit Have you experienced sexism in the workplace? TWEET US @COMSTOCKSMAG March 2019 | 39