Tackling Reverse Sexism in the Workplace

June 23, 2017

Our HR Assistant, Simon Underwood, has a wide range of work experience from male dominated businesses to HR180, where the team is predominantly female, so who better to look into the matter of reverse sexism in the workplace – reverse sexism defined in this case where men are the object of sexist remarks. It can be a hidden problem, so let’s take a look at what it is and how we might tackle it.

By Simon Underwood

Reverse Sexism Men in Workplace

It does exist, it can be offensive and most of all it’s not fair! I realise that I’m ranting like Rachel shouting at Ross in Friends the one that ends ‘It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy and it is a big deal!’ (More on this later!)

How to explain ‘reverse sexism’

The following terms or phrases can be heard in many workplaces across the land:

  • mansplaining
  • he’s done a man-look
  • inability to multitask
  • female designated roles and dress codes (although both sexes could claim they are equally hamstrung by this! Take a look at the news story out this week, about 20 year old male call centre worker Joey Barge who wore a dress to work due to the heatwave as he was sent home for wearing smart navy shorts!)

But flip these statements on their heads (relate them to female staff) and are we still comfortable using them?

I have worked in female and male dominated environments over the years and see the benefits and disadvantages of both. In general I would say that when it comes to sexual discrimination, both environments are as bad as each other. However, there are some social differences: if a female colleague calls a male junior colleague a pet name it’s considered endearing and when the roles are reversed it’s considered creepy.

Some types of gender discrimination and how to tackle

The following examples apply equally to men, women or non gender specific people.

What are some of the examples of discrimination in the workplace?

  • Direct Discrimination: Discrimination against gender or perceived gender.
  • Indirect Discrimination: Job only available to certain body types i.e. height/weight.
  • Harassment: Unwanted personal contact.
  • Victimisation: Bullying or unfair treatment of an employee that has raised a complaint.


How can I prevent discrimination in the workplace?

  • Have a workplace policy – you can do this yourself or use an outsourced HR company to put one together for you.
  • Train supervisors and managers – involve them in developing the policy an helping their staff in getting to grips with the policy.
  • Educate the workforce – really take this bit seriously! This means letting everyone know what the policy is, how to raise an issue and what will happen after that.
  • Respect differences in the team – the art of this is recognising that there are differences, that everyone is an individual.
  • Respond properly and promptly to any issues or complaints – keep records and, if you need to, ask the experts! Take advice from someone who knows about employment law such as an outsourced HR company.
  • Review your policy regularly – is it fit for purpose and current? Things change, so make sure it is up to date.


To see Rachel’s rant take a look at this clip from The One with The Jellyfish – Friends S4 E1 (this link takes you outside HR180 world, just so you know!) If you think a chat with an HR180 superhero might help get you on the right track for any people management issue, book a free assessment of your needs with one of our highly experienced HR Partners. See the contact details below and please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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.

Why not join our mailing list...




  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.