Sexual Harassment at Work

Sexual Harassment at Work | Corporette2017 Update: You might want to check out our more recent post on sexual harassment and the #metoo movement

WOW.  Staci Zaretsky over at Above the Law has collected some amazing sexual harassment at work stories from women lawyers, and the collection is too… revolting, I guess?…  to not discuss over here. (My first reaction to the post was of a mental roundhouse kick, but the fight scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith will have to do to illustrate the post.) What stories do you care to share, ladies? Here’s one story of the several they share:

I wore dark purple suede heels to court. Opposing counsel asked, “Where are you dancing now?” in open court. Later that morning, he came to my office with cash in his mouth.

PURPLE HEELS, LADIES. Purple heels. For my $.02, I remember recognizing that people were being inappropriate around me in my legal eagle days, also, I suppose — older male lawyers I worked with would occasionally make negative comments about some of the secretaries based on how they dressed (usually implying something regarding clubbing), and one of the partners I worked with said something once about my “long, flowing hair,” like I was a princess or something. (I was growing it out for my wedding!)  But mostly I remember there being an invisible thin line that seemed to be present in every interaction I had — that was definitely not there for my male coworkers, who were free to drink, joke, have meals, and share personal stories with partners.  Vivia Chen at the Careerist had an interesting post a year or two ago where she scoffed at the perception that older male lawyers couldn’t take female associates out for a meal, and in response got a ton of emails from older male readers saying YES, the fear of being accused of sexual harassment absolutely did limit their interactions with younger female attorneys. In some ways that’s worse, because sponsorship and mentorship are essential to move up the career ladder.

Above the Law is suggesting women lawyers band together to speak up and say something — do you know who you would speak to in your workplace if something came up? (Or, in the above example where it was opposing counsel — do you know who would you speak to regarding that kind of behavior?) Do you feel like there would be retribution — or at least judgement, such as “she can’t take a joke” — for speaking up?) How do you think workplaces should walk the line between discouraging sexist behavior and encouraging senior workers to sponsor more junior workers, regardless of gender?

Psst: we’ve also talked about what to do when a client hits on you, how to discourage a flirtatious boss, how to deal with sexist coworkers, and how to network with older men


What to Do When Your Boss Tells You to Smile

bitchfaceThere has been a LOT in the news lately about “bitchface” (when your resting face looks slightly angry/bitchy). A lot of women have poked fun at the problem, such as the Smile, Bitch! Training Camp or this great cartoon, but the policing of women’s facial expressions is also starting (finally!) to be more understood as a form of harassment — often on the street, as in one of the catcalls men feel entitled to make to women. But reader F has a different problem: her coworkers and superiors are the ones telling her to smile. Here’s her question:

I’m hoping you or the Corporette community could give me some advice. I am a recent university graduate who’s accepted a public sector position. I have my own office but we keep our doors open, and anyone who walks by can see my face as I work. A number of my coworkers and superiors have stopped while walking by to tell me that I look “too serious” or “angry” while I’m working. I do furrow my eyebrows when I concentrate, and often am reading very tiny print, which makes me squint a bit.

It seems silly to put mental energy into holding my face into a more pleasing expression while I work, but the comments are getting on my nerves and I’m unsure if there is any ‘talk.’ I haven’t found a good response to the comments yet. Do you have any ideas of something appropriately light-hearted I could reply that wouldn’t be rude if said to a superior?

MAN. Welcome to the club, Reader F! I also “suffer” from resting bitchface, and I can’t wait to hear what the readers say here. A few thoughts for you: [Read more…]

What To Do When Your Boss Has It Out For You

what to do when your boss has it out for you2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on what to do when your boss has it out for you (and links have been updated) — but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion on how to deal with extreme coworkers.

How can you avoid getting fired when your boss has it out for you? In general, how can you deal with horrible bosses? Reader M has a good question:

I know you’ve covered things like workplace etiquette and tips on dealing with co-workers, but do you have any suggestions on how to deal with horrible bosses? A friend of mine has been having issues with a boss (male, if that matters) who has been bullying her recently through means of intimidation, threatening her position in the workplace, and embarrassing her in front of clients. With a downward spiraling economy and many people being laid off, what is the best approach to dealing with someone who is looking for a reason to fire you?

Ouch. I’m sorry for your friend, M! Vivia Chen at The Careerist just covered what to do when you’re getting fired, so this seems timely to me.  Everyone has a lousy manager at some point in their life, some of whom actually hate you.  I once clashed so badly with a superior that she actually threw a redweld at my head (yep, Professional was her middle name); I’ve fortunately blocked out most things about that time in my life beyond the fact that I woke up, every day, to Whitney Houston’s song, “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay.”  You will get out.  Here are some tips for the friend with the bad boss:
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The Incompetent Boss

How do you handle an incompetent boss? Reader C wonders…

Corporette is my top go to blog for advice on anything career related.  I haven’t found much on dealing with an incompetent boss though.  Could you consider doing a post on how to handle a thoroughly incompetent boss? It’s almost worse than incompetent – she actually does some level of harm whenever she is involved in a meeting, on a project, etc.  (As a bonus which you may or may not want to tackle – she has 0 social intelligence, micromanages and is a chatty Kathy all wrapped into one.)

She sounds delightful!  We have talked about how to handle a chatty boss, as well as how to handle a micromanager boss, but let’s talk about the incompetent boss.

First: Figure out if this is a personality conflict between you and her.  For example, does she horde work she should have /could have given to you, and then get overwhelmed and ask you for help with it at the very last minute out of desperation?  This may stem from her lack of trust in you  — she may not want to delegate your work to you because she doesn’t trust you, so she takes on too much and has to ask you for help out of desperation at the very last minute… in which case you need to build up her trust so you can get the work done.  A few more ideas: [Read more…]

The Chatty Boss

Blah blah blah, originaally uploaded to Flickr by theunquietlibrarian.2017 update: We still stand by our advice below on how to get your work done with a chatty boss — but you may also want to check out our latest discussion on how to deal when your assistant talks too much.

How do you get any work done when your boss is a Chatty Kathy? Reader K is having some trouble adjusting to her new boss’s management style…

I have recently switched jobs in the legal profession and am having trouble adjusting to the management “style” of my new boss. My previous supervisor was a hands off type of person, to whom I spoke only sparingly when necessary.

My new supervisor is the total opposite. He is very chatty about everything under the sun and if I am not careful he will consume half of my time (literally) during a given work day to chit chat, mostly about non-work related topics. I end up zoning in an out of listening and am afraid I will soon start pulling my hair out due to the unproductive nature of our interactions!

I pride myself on being very productive and am having trouble adjusting. What advice might you have for my situation?

Wow — great question. I particularly see this management style more in smaller offices where everyone is friendlier just because they’re working in close quarters — but it can happen in big offices, as well. Especially when you’re the newbie, you don’t want to be unfriendly — but you also want to finish your work and get out of there at a reasonable hour. We’ve talked before about how to discourage chatty coworkers, but we haven’t really talked about how to deal with it when it’s your boss. (Pictured: Blah blah blah, originally uploaded to Flickr by theunquietlibrarian.)

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When Your Boss Won’t Delegate

When your boss won’t delegate, how can you move to the next step? But how can you grow your own skills when working with this person? When I got this question from Reader E a while ago, I knew just the woman to ask: Jodi Glickman, the author of Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It. The Secrets of Getting Ahead. (both book and blog), and a fellow Northwestern alumna. I hope you all enjoy her guest post today! – Kat

Multiple Choice, originally uploaded to Flickr by CoreForceHere’s Reader E’s question:

Can you do a feature on how to deal with a boss that is not good at delegating work, does not “have the time to teach” and believes it is easier to handle the matter herself, has issues letting go of important matters or bringing in the associates to work on such matters and etc. when one has been at the firm already for a good amount of time? Would love to hear the feedback you and the readers have other than the obvious answer of switching firms.

The reason your boss won’t (or can’t delegate) is that she’s too busy to think about putting you to work and she’s convinced it will take more time to get you up to speed than to do the work herself.  So, you’ve got to prove her wrong by showing that you can indeed add value and that you bring real skills to the table. (Multiple Choice, originally uploaded to Flickr by CoreForce.) [Read more…]

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