Everyday sexism rife in business

August 4, 2016

Rachel Bentley is Marketing Manager of HR180 Ltd, Leeds, Yorkshire, which provides HR Outsourcing and HR Consulting services across the UK.

The Gaffa held a letter in her hand and gasped in horror. “Fuming does NOT get close!” says Claire, dismayed.

Though the company which sent the letter in question will not be mentioned, here is an excerpt from the email Claire sent them.

“This morning I received a letter into my business addressed to my husband but at HR180.

“As my husband does not work in the business and never has done, I opened the letter having first discussed it with him.  Imagine my shock and outrage to discover that this letter seems to indicate that as the owner of HR180 my husband should be considering a full or partial exit.

“Given that both my husband and I are registered at Company’s House, myself as a Director and he as a Company Secretary – where is my letter – or did you merely assume that it must be the man who is clearly running the business as no woman would be capable?  I have not encountered such blatant sexism in a number of years and am shocked that it continues to exist.”

At the same time, I couldn’t help catching colleagues discussing a case – again no names – to say that a male member of staff in a company we work with has spoken inappropriately and made inappropriate comments to a female colleague. The most interesting, and scary, part of this for me was that he apparently said, in his defence, that he was just joking…

And that reminds me of a story in the Yorkshire Evening Post mid-July, with John McDonnell, Labour frontbencher and Shadow Chancellor, allegedly using a 4 letter word about those who are against Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader, saying his abusive language was, “just a joke.” Why is it when people are being rude or bullying they get away with saying – it was a joke!?

Not good enough!  

Though we will explain to our client’s errant staff member that something which he might take as a joke may well not be taken that way by other people, all too often something said in a truly nasty way is underwritten by the comment (puts on a tinny, whiney voice!) “I was only joking…” or that the comment was, “just banter!”

And there’s the rub – ANYONE who feels they have been discriminated against – be it due to gender, sexuality, skin colour, religion, age, disability…and the list goes on – must NOT feel like ‘party poopers’ because the so-called joke is on them and that makes them feel uncomfortable, nor should they just let things lie. By simply raising the issue with the perpetrator or the organisation they represent (be it in your own workplace or not) we can start to change unacceptable attitudes.

And if you don’t believe that everyday sexism is rife in the world then take a look at http://everydaysexism.com/.

We work with companies to create and embed policies, or help with specific problems, be it discrimination or the myriad of people issues. Call us for a chat through what challenges you are facing – our HR180 Heroes will help. 0113 287 8150.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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