Taylor Swift's Lessons All Women Can Learn On Handling Sexism At Work
When is unwanted physical contact ever OK in the workplace?Never. Then why is it tolerated? Why is that although women might feel uncomfortable by a touch, a word or an innuendo at work, we might hesitate to speak out?Is it the “Good Girl Syndrome” where we think we should be polite, perfect, and please everyone? I know that I have been guilty of that.In one job I had, it was a very informal environment where jokes and innuendos were part of daily operations. As I look back, I question, were they funny and in jest? No, they weren’t.[bctt tweet=“The recent Taylor Swift lawsuit reminds us to #speakout against sexual harassment at work.” username=“takeleadwomen”]They were off-color comments that made me feel uncomfortable. When I decided to leave the company because I finally admitted to myself that this was not the culture I wanted to be part of, I did say something.How stupid was I to let it go on for several months? Stupid yes, alone no. Was my silence confirmation that this was ok? In retrospect, I believe that company thought it was and that jest like that was business as usual.According to the EEOC, “Harassment is a form of employment discrimination.” The site also states, “Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex.”Webster defines harassment as “to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.”The question becomes, when is it harassment and when is it fun? According to expert Jonathan A. Segal at SHRM.org: “It doesn’t matter if something was supposed to be funny. Jokes of a harassing nature can be as invidious as direct slurs. Moreover, there is plenty of room for humor at work that doesn’t involve making fun of someone’s race, gender or religion. People who can’t understand this probably should not joke at all.”So, what can you do if you feel you are being harassed? Speak up, don’t keep it quiet and let the culprit continue the bad behavior. The culprit might not even realize that this is inappropriate and might think you are welcoming this conduct by keeping silent. Depending on the relationship, you can take a light approach and in a joke, explain your discomfort. There are times that you just have to take that direct approach and spell it out specifically why you do not appreciate that kind of attention. Worst case scenario, go to your HR representative. Yes, you risk secretly being called the “B” word and looked at as rigid with no sense of humor, but it is much better than feeling uncomfortable and mistreated.[bctt tweet=“What can you do if you feel you are being harassed? #SpeakUp, don’t keep it quiet” username=“takeleadwomen”]Taylor Swift spoke out loud and clear for all women and men that there is no place for this type of behavior. Swift went to her management and told them about the incident and the management went to the radio station management. The perpetrator sued Swift, who countersued for $1 and won.This was the greatest dollar that Swift has ever earned. In my opinion, David Mueller, the DJ that initiated the lawsuit against the singer, did not learn his lesson. Still joking, Mueller said he is thinking of giving Swift a Sacagawea dollar because the Native American is a prominent female.Mueller doesn’t realize, that even though Swift is a celebrity, she is also a working woman and this is her life too.