Can You Curtail Sexist Comments At Work?

No one wants to work in a hostile environment, and constant sexist comments can contribute to hostility. Employers must work to create an environment that is safe for all workers, and that includes educating everyone about sexual harassment and investigating and acting on reports of such behavior. But what can employees do to protect themselves?

One Forbes contributor says that employees who are experiencing mild sexist comments can often quash those comments with the right behaviors. Mostly, the writer suggests that individuals call out — in the most professional and least dramatic way possible — sexist comments. When the issue is off-hand remarks, it is possible that the person making them doesn’t truly realize they are causing offense.

One technique the Forbes writer suggested for calling out sexist comments might be used if someone makes a joke that is not obscene in nature but is derogatory to a specific gender. The writer suggests asking, innocently, for an explanation of the joke. “Oh,” you might say, “I don’t get that. What do you mean by that?” In having to explain the joke, the hope is that the person will realize the remarks were sexist and offensive.

Obviously, these tactics won’t work in every situation; they are mostly relevant to issues of sexism that are inadvertent. If you are experiencing more forceful sexism or harassment of any type, then dealing with it on your own could actually increase the problem. Understand how to report sexual harassment in your workplace, and seek legal assistance if your employer fails to respond to your complaint or if you feel retaliated against because of your complaint.

Source: Forbes, “Six Ways To Shut Down Sexist Comments At Work,” accessed Jan. 15, 2016