How to Deal When Your Boss Makes Rude Comments About Your Engagement Ring

boss makes rude comments about my engagement ring - advice from Corporette on how to dealOoh, here’s a great reader Q today: how to deal when your boss makes rude comments about your engagement ring. Here’s Reader C’s question:

I am recently engaged, and am having difficulty handling my boss’s reaction. Specifically, he makes “joking” comments about when I will be quitting now that I am engaged. He gave me a hard time for eating my sack lunch saying I “can obviously afford a $10 lunch given that ring.” He also asked me how much my ring was worth (it is a nice ring, but nothing extravagant, ~1.5 carats). I work at a Big 4 firm for reference and am a highly rated employee. Help! How should I handle this??

Wow… I have multiple angry emojis for your boss. We haven’t talked about diamond rings at work in a while, and I can’t wait to see what the readers say. (This has shades of some of our other discussions on sexism at work, including the offensive client who commented on how expensive a bag was, as well as our discussion on how to deal when you work with sexist pigs.)

For my $.02, I think that you need to take your boss aside and say something directly, because this goes beyond “razzing you like one of the boys in the office” or whatever it is HE thinks he’s doing. This is calling up stereotypes of women who quit as soon as they get married — the type who go to grad school for an “MRS.” SUPER fun stereotype, but it can be really harmful to the work environment as well as to your own career. Keep in mind, this is what he’s saying to your face — who knows what he’s saying behind your back? You might want to find another woman in your group to talk this out before approaching him, because she will hopefully know the different personalities at play.

Readers, what would your script with the boss look like? How would you handle it if your boss made rude comments about your engagement ring at work?

Picture via Stencil.how to deal when your boss makes rude comments about your engagement ring - image of a bride's ring finger

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Wear Makeup, Increase Your Salary?

Wear Makeup, Increase Your Salary?“How a Little Lipstick Could Add Thousands To Your Paycheck” — that’s the title of a recent Fortune article reporting on a new study. Anyone else feeling a little stabby? We thought we’d take a closer look at the research and discuss it here. Some questions to consider at the outset: Do you agree that “good grooming” affects your salary and career success? Do you think there are other correlations at play (e.g., women who make more have more money to spend on grooming, or successful women are more organized to remember to schedule things like regular haircuts and drycleaning)? 

So, the study: Last week, Fortune reported on some research about the effects of looking “put together” at work. Two sociologists found a new way of crunching data from a study that looked at how people’s ratings on attractiveness and grooming compared to their income levels. “Grooming” in this case meant how “put together” they looked, which included makeup for women. Their analysis revealed that for women, “grooming was actually more important than looks when it came to earnings.” Men’s grooming affected their salaries to a lesser extent, while men’s and women’s salaries got the same boost from being considered attractive. The sociologists found that “[A] well-groomed woman of average attractiveness makes about $6,000 more annually than an average-looking, averagely-groomed woman. She also makes about $4,000 more than her better-looking, but less put-together coworker.” Researchers saw this as a positive, concluding, “[t]he big takeaway here is that people can capture most of the attractiveness premium [through putting effort into their appearance]… It’s not just what you’re born with.”

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Offensive Clients: How to Deal

Offensive Clients: How to Deal When Your Client Suggests Your Bag Is Too Expensive | CorporetteHow do you deal with men at work making derisive comments about the expense of your bags, shoes, and clothes?  I’ve been thinking about this one ever since she sent it in. Reader O wonders…

After a recent exchange, I’ve been thinking about my preferred strategy for handling inappropriate/sexist comments from male colleagues/clients: making a joke that disarms the offender while sending a message about boundaries and respect. What are your thoughts on this strategy? Here’s my recent example:
Greeting the team pre-meeting, client looks at my shoulder and says “remind me when we’re done – I have a great Louis Vuitton story for you!! Don’t let me forget!!” Post-meeting (where per the usual I am the only woman in the room), client remembers & proceeds to tell this great “story” to me. And the team. “I’d never been in the store before and went to find a purse for my wife. I’m looking at this bag and can’t find the price anywhere, I finally find it – $2500! For a purse! I guess we know where those legal fees are going.” Another male team member seems particularly amused.
Me, looking at their wrists: “So, I see that you’re both wearing Rolexes. This is my Rolex.”

Like I said, I’ve been thinking about this since Reader O sent it in, and I can’t quite pin down my thoughts.  We’ve talked about sexist clients and sexist coworkers, but I’m not sure the advice there totally applies here.  Here’s what I know: I’m pissed on Reader O’s behalf.  But I’m also not sure she handled it well, considering this was a client.  More specifically:

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The Gentlemanly Limp Hand

Untitled, originally uploaded to Flickr by ginnerobot.Reader C has a great question about sexism disguised as gentlemanly behavior:

I am a woman in a male dominated field (architecture). Many times I am the only woman in a meeting. All of the guys shake hands upon introductions. When it’s my turn, they hesitate or give me a lame shake the tips of my fingers. This really bothers me. I don’t have any desire to talk football with the guys, but I think it’s rude not to offer the same courtesy. I don’t think this topic has come up before on Corporette. I would be interested to see what other women think and have experienced.

I haaaaaaaaaaaate that limp handshake. I really, really do. It’s always seemed based in notions of gentlemanly demeanor, as if our frail little hands might be crushed — or a forceful handshake might be too passionate. (Ladies, clutch your pearls — did you see that handshake he gave her?) (Pictured: Untitled, originally uploaded to Flickr by ginnerobot.)

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Oink Oink: When You Work with Sexist Pigs

what to do when you work with sexist pigs

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on what to do when you work with sexist pigs (although hopefully in 2017 the tide is turning!). You may also want to check out some of our more recent discussions on sexual harassment at work.

How DO you deal with misogyny in the workplace? Reader J writes about a less than stellar lunch with male coworkers, concluding that she basically works with sexist pigs…

My current workplace is relatively gender-balanced, and after a year of working here I haven’t really encountered any overt sexism. However, at a colleague’s small farewell lunch two weeks ago where I was just one of two women, I was unpleasantly surprised. Most of the men (five out of six) started discussing which women in the sales department they’d like to sleep with, joking about planting webcams in the women’s bathroom, responding to advice I suggested about a software problem with “Oh, but you’re a woman, so you don’t know anything about computers, am I right?” (It is a software I use daily and most of them use once or twice every two weeks.) It was a very unpleasant lunch, and I came away with the perception this was par for the course for my co-workers, as they didn’t indicate their conversation was in any way unusual.

I have had similar experiences at a previous workplace where I did an internship.

I am looking to leave my current company for unrelated reasons (there is an iron ceiling into management, and it’s not likely I’ll be able to move up unless someone dies or is fired). As I work in a fairly male-dominated sector I’m worried I will run into this more frequently at my next places of work and as I move up the career ladder.

What is the best way to respond to casual workplace sexism like this? I don’t think running to HR would be very effective, especially when it is so endemic – but I also don’t want to ‘grin and bear it’ and give the impression I approve or think it’s funny.

This is such a great, great question, and I can’t wait to see what the readers say. First, let me just say that this doesn’t sound so “casual” to me — the fact that these men were making these comments knowingly in your presence is shocking, and says a lot about the power dynamics at that lunch and in your sector. I’m also going to assume that everyone at this lunch was, more or less, on the same “level,” and no supervisor was present.  So how DO you handle such sexism in the actual moment?

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What to Do When Your Client Hits On You

what to do when your client hits on you2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on what to do when your client hits on you, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion of sexual harassment at work.

We got a fascinating reader email from an eighth year attorney on the partnership track…

I am actively trying to build my client base, including going to lunches with local CEOs of start-up companies, etc. Today I went on a lunch with a 50ish CEO that I met at a seminar my firm hosted. During this lunch meeting at a local restaurant, he proceeded to make a comment about how attractive I was five different times during an hour long conversation. Whenever he would do it, I would just quickly move on to another topic and not acknowledge the statement. By the time I got back to the office, I was livid. I can’t imagine any of my male colleagues having to experience a situation even remotely similar to this. Here, I am trying to build a client base for myself and my firm and in doing so, I’m reminded that I’m looked at as an attractive women first and a lawyer second. Any thoughts/comments on how I can deal with this issue in the future? Thanks in advance!

Eeeeesh. We’ll say it again: eeesh.  We’re curious to hear what the readers are going to have to say about this one.  (Pictured:  probably what your would-be client is hoping you’ll say…) First, we would say that you have two goals at these kinds of meetings. The first goal: get the guy as a client. The second goal: not ruin your relationship with whoever introduced you to this guy. And it’s okay if you decide halfway through lunch that you do not WANT to work with this guy, and just want to get out of there without dropkicking him.  After all, the kind of politeness and interest you might show to a potential client will not be the same you show to “business acquaintance of a friend.” For example, after about the third time he mentioned that you were attractive, we might say something very calm such as, “let’s stick to the topic, please.” If he still persisted, we’d lean back and start to show disinterest, or use a break in the conversation to perhaps say something like, “Oh, this reminds me of the time __” and rattle off a few of your professional accomplishments.  After about the fifth time, we might invent an emergency (preferably one showing how desperately you’re needed at the office by another client) to get the heck out of there.  You have to know your own tolerance for these kinds of jerks, and how much aggravation you’re willing to put up with for a potential client. [Read more…]

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