Sexism is still alive and well
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine. This commentary is a response to Warren Thayer’s column, “Honoring Women,” in the April issue of Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer.
My mother taught me that while you can do whatever you decide to do, never let people see you sweat and, for God’s sake, don’t cry in business. E-V-E-R. So that’s the advice I followed — and still do. But because there’s always been a lack of advice on how to deal with workplace sexism, I researched for a book on the topic.
To avoid bias, I crowdsourced feedback from “successful” women, promising confidentiality. It was immediately clear that if you’ve climbed the ladder, you experienced at least one eyebrow-raising sexism experience. Stories conclude with, “can you BELIEVE he did that?” Nine times out of 10, the women didn’t dare complain — stories of groping, taunting, solicitations from married men and overt promotion pass-overs were all locked away.
Almost every time I share my research with a male colleague, I hear, “That doesn’t really happen anymore.” I would counter with story after story — including my own — and they’re always shocked. Which is exactly why we need to talk about it more. It’s not out of sight, out of mind. It’s just out of sight.
Face it. There are “cool women” and “those women.” When a man decides a woman in the room is “cool,” he may indulge in locker room conversations and behaviors. But if the woman takes issue, she becomes “one of those” and frozen out of the inner circle.
All women deal with being left out of important meetings in a club (cough, of the gentlemen’s variety), on a golf course, into happy hour. Bro-bonding and boardroom decisions are made and the lady exec gets “filled in” the next day.
I’ve had a boss stick a finger in my face and tell me to sit in a corner and only speak when he told me to. I’ve had my salary cut 40 percent and told not to tell anyone. I’ve had SVPs compare my hair to a famous porn star (in front of a room full of people). Sorry, none of these things would happen to a man — and they shouldn’t happen to anyone.
Yet, sadly, when a woman with an axe to grind tells lies and invents an incident, more havoc can be wrecked on culture, trust and overarching company ethics than five men combined. Such incidents knock women backward and hurt our credibility.
Enlightened men could (and should) help change the world for women; there are women so mired in insecurity and a hunger to rule that they leave dead bodies in their wake.
To change the status quo we must talk about the status quo — openly, non-judgmentally and with an eye to genuine progress. Men and women need to take ownership of their roles in this problem and be part of the solution.
- Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer May 2018 – Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer
- Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer April 2018 – Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer
- Honoring Women – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are companies succeeding in reducing sexism in the workplace or is it still unsafe for women to openly report issues without personal repercussions? What’s holding back open discussions among both genders?