How to Deal with Sexism in the Workplace

Sexism is definitely not a topic that I thought I would still need to write about in 2016, but here we are…

Apparently, some men (and women) out there still have not got the message that this type of behaviour is not ok. This includes calling someone sweetheart or any other variation, making inappropriate comments or jokes. Not to mention passing someone over for tasks or promotions because of their gender as well as a huge range of other things that I shouldn’t need to point out.

So if you’ve been on the receiving end of this, then I’ve put together a handy guide to help you deal with the situation. Hopefully, without being called emotional or being asked if you’re suffering from PMS.

Just say no

The first one is simplest, requires the least amount of effort and should knock stupid comments on the head. When someone says something sexist or makes a sexist joke, just tell them straight; “that’s not appropriate”. Generally, the person you say it to will be so shocked that you actually called them on it, they won’t do it again.

Try a private chat

Sit the person down and explain calmly and rationally that their behaviour has no place in the workplace. The person may not even know they’re doing, so this is the ideal way to bring it to their attention without embarrassing them in front of everyone. The chances are they will apologise and start watching what they say from now on.

If they don’t however, and instead get angry, defensive or aggressive,  you know you tried to approach the situation civilly and now you can take further more serious action.

Talk to a superior or HR

That’s what they’re there for, to help you deal with disputes. They’ll make sure everything is done by the book. If the person behaving inappropriately is your superior then you’ll need to go even higher up. Possibly look into making a formal complaint against the individual through your company.

Legal action

This should always be a last resort, it can be costly and disrupt your whole life. However, if you have gone through all the other steps and nothing has changed or things have become worse, then do not hesitate to take this final step. Just make sure that you have kept a journal or log of all the instances.

I dearly hope that most of you have wonderfully work environments. However, for those of you that do suffer from sexism, I hope you found this article helpful.