CategoryDiversity

“You Should Smile More” — and Other $#!+ No One Says to Men at Work

I am a feminist … It’s taken me a really really long time to accept this truth about myself — and in some ways I still struggle with the label. But there is no doubt about it. I am.

First of all, I am a woman — and all women should be about the things that help women. Along those lines, I support women’s causes and their efforts. Pay equality. Changing our worldwide rape culture narrative. More flexible work scheduling that allows for healthier and realistic work-life balance.

I’m 100% down with less sexism in the world in general.

Much like racial prejudice, there are levels and nuances to sexism. Male privilege is as pervasive as White privilege. It seeps into our every day conversations so much that we barely notice it … It doesn’t make people racist or sexist, necessarily. But sometimes it causes hurt and confusion unintentionally.

If we truly want to make our working worlds more unified places, we have to start noticing it and changing it.

And I really believe we can!

So here are a few common low-key sexist phrases to start with:

“You should smile more” … I’m a smiler. I have a wide array of facial expressions. But that’s not the case for everyone. The last I checked, smiling is NOT in most job descriptions.  No one ever suggests men smile more. No one coaches men to be more likable. Stop doing it to women. Stop asking women to explain and justify the looks on their faces with stupid expressions like “resting bitch face” — unless we’re making “shriveled c*%& face” a thing too … Otherwise, just stop doing this. Focus on facts, not facial expressions. 

“That’s a nice dress” … If you like my outfit, I don’t mind a sincere compliment. But that’s not the case for everyone. The last I checked, styling is NOT in most job descriptions. Men are rarely complimented on their clothes and shoes and stuff like that. No one coaches men to dress up or dress down to be more effective in their jobs. Stop doing this. Focus on vision and mission, not fashion. 

“Go home and have a glass of wine” … I don’t drink wine. I drink rum — and I’m developing appreciation for vodka. But TV and movies have created this fantasy of women who soak themselves in bubble baths after a long day while sipping chardonnay with a lone tear of frustration rolling down their cheek. That is not the case for everyone. It’s great to encourage someone to take a break and regroup — but don’t negate that with icky gender stereotypes. Focus on encouraging, not directing or narrating. 

“Did you change your hair?” … My actual hair style hasn’t changed significantly since 1993. But, again, I personally don’t mind a sincere compliment. That’s not the case for everyone. Men don’t generally hear feedback when they get a haircut or shave or anything like that. Men’s physical appearance isn’t a hot topic at work. It shouldn’t be for women either. Focus on the coins, not the coifs. 

“You look tired”… In my mind, I wake up #flawless every day. In reality, I know this isn’t totally true. My grind means long days, short nights and occasional dark circles. It’s off-putting to point that out to anyone; there’s no appropriate or comfortable response for this. For women, this comment ties back to the illogical ideals on physical appearance and the “Stepford” complex imposed. Again, it’s great to encourage someone to take a break and regroup. Don’t use backhanded compliments to get there. Focus on supporting, not judging. 

“Boys will be boys. You know how it is” … The last I checked, child labor was still illegal. I don’t work with boys. Everyone is 18 and up. That means everyone at work is an adult. Childish behavior shouldn’t be encouraged or tolerated. We shouldn’t dismiss or excuse inappropriate, uncooperative, rude and unprofessional behavior from anyone based on their gender. Focus on correcting and coaching, not condoning. 

I’m not advocating a workplace without general observations or compliments.  However, I am suggesting we be mindful and considerate in the words we choose. I am suggesting we be authentic in and accountable for the energy we bring. I am suggesting we be conscious and inclusive and accommodating of people’s differences in a way that doesn’t create weirdness, resentment or burden. I’m suggesting we be more kind and human with our resources.

And I’m suggesting we stop saying $#!+ like this and other shady, low-key or blatantly obvious sexist stuff at work … or be prepared to start catching feminist clapback.

From PIC — I Don’t Talk About Race at Work

Although my lack of melanin often confuses people, I am Black. I was born and raised by lighter-hued parents in a predominantly Black neighborhood, surrounded by my family and friends who were a wide array of brown and I was/am influenced heavily by Black culture and history.

Being in Human Resources as a Black Woman has always felt like a privilege to me. I have the ability to make sure there is job opportunity and pay equity and fair treatment for people who look like me. When someone is mistreated because of their race or their gender or some other external thing that has nothing to do with their work, I have the ability to make it right. And I take that responsibility very very seriously.

However, I don’t talk about race issues at work …

       Read the rest of  “I Don’t Talk About Race Issues at Work” on Performance I Create

“I Un-Friend You” — That’s Not How Management Works!

I lost a few friends on Facebook in 2015. Apparently, folks didn’t like things I was posting so they un-friended me.

A few let me know they were un-friending me before they did it. I was called things like “feminazi” and “race-baiter” by people I’d known for years. People I liked. People I trusted. People I’d been there for …  And that really hurt.

Ultimately, I shook it off and moved forward. I have to be true to myself and my feelings and my point of view. I have a lot of friends who understanding, respect and appreciate that. So I’m glad those who couldn’t handle it made the choice to bow out. And if “taking me down a peg” on the way out made them feel better, that’s fine too.

While I was sorting through my feelings on this, it occurred to me that I’ve done the same thing to other people … People at work.

People who pointed out managers who were jerks. Who pointed out co-workers who were rude or taking advantage of their team. Who pointed out high premiums or limited coverage issues with our benefits. Who pointed our low or lagging wages. Who pointed out the lack of diversity. Who pointed out lack of opportunity for development.

I un-friended them.

I un-friended them because their views didn’t align with the company. I un-friended them because they had the audacity to be vocal about their unhappiness with the state of affairs. I un-friended them because they didn’t think what we wanted them to think.

I labeled these people as “complainers”, “troublemakers” and “problem children”. I avoided them in the hallways and break areas. I stopped taking their meetings and answering their calls and responding to their emails. Eventually, if they back-off or back down, I looked to remove them from the organization.

After my experiences being un-friended on Facebook last year, I realize my approach needs improvement.

Improvement by listening. Improvement by considering their point of view has some merit. Improvement by acknowledging they might be right.

Un-friending might work on Facebook. But in management? That’s not how any of this works!

Back To Blogging Basics

2016 is going to be a back to basics year on at The Buzz on HR.

When I started this blog almost 5 year ago, my dear friend about Jamie Gaymon gave me three pieces of advice that have always stuck with me:

  1. Write about what you’re passionate about … Writing isn’t easy. Most people dread it. If you’re lucky enough to like it and be good at it, choose to write about something you enjoy. Otherwise, you will burn out and resent the work involved in building, maintaining and growing a blog.
  2. Know your audience … When you write, you need to have an idea in your head of the person you’re talking to. Of course, you want anyone and everyone to read your work. You want people in all 4 corners of the world to read it and love it! Initially and immediately, that won’t be the case. So make sure you know who you are talking to — and what you’re talking about.
  3. Be consistent … Whether it is once a day or once a week or once a month, set a consistent schedule for when you will post new content. You can always add more if/when you want to — but reducing the schedule will hurt your following.

I’ve violated rule #3.

I’ve said over and over that stuff of life and other demands zapped my creativity and pulled me away from writing. It’s my truth.

It’s also my truth that my inconsistent posting and occasional hiatuses hurt my following and cost me opportunities. This is the year that I right the ship.

I’m going back to basics.

I’m going back to writing weekly posts directed at active managers, leaders and human resources professionals. I will sprinkle in humor and sarcasm and pop-culture references. I will share real stories from my escapades in the HR trenches but change the names to protect the innocent. I will connect my every day happenings with management lessons for practical wisdom.

But that’s not enough. That’s not all.

Because part of the reason I took those hiatuses was because I wanted to share other stuff but didn’t know how. Stuff about my faith and my frustrations and my fears. Stuff about my perspective on race and gender in our world at large and especially in the world of work. Different stuff. Uncomfortable stuff. Stuff of life stuff.

Now that I’m back, I’m going to share that stuff. I need to share that stuff. It is scary. I’m going to have to change my style, my approach and push myself. I’m going to have to trust the message will find its way to its audience and that it will resonate with anyone who chooses to read it. I’m going to have to trust my audience to both rebuild and grow with me.

I’m going back to basics. Will you go with me?

 

 

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