A recent article in my local paper reported that male state legislators are refusing to meet with female lobbyists unless another individual is present for fear of being accused of sexual harassment. If this is any indication of what is happening in the workplace as a result of the spate of abusers being outted by the “me too” movement it is obvious that we need some new rules on how men and women interact at work beyond the obvious legal definitions of sexual harassment and hostile work environments. It appears that managers of profit and non-profit organizations are responding by increasing their sexual harassment training programs – a financial windfall for management consultants. My sense is that these trainings will be insufficient in solving the problem so I have a different remedy.
Female employees should be given a questionnaire to complete with the following items about male behavior in the workplace:
(Please check one or more answers for each question)
- Men are able to comment on my appearance
_____ never _____ clothing only ______ at times if I am wearing my OK to comment button
- When I am called into my male bosses office
_____ the door stays open ____ another colleague is present ______ he remains at least 2 feet from my chair ______ the meeting is recorded _____ all of the above
- I am open to a request for a date from a male colleague of equal status in the company
____ never _____ depends on whether he is single ____ when I am in the mood (red pin day)
- If my boss suggests we have an afterhours dinner or drinks meeting I will
____ turn him down _____ accept only if I can pick the location ______ make sure another colleague is also there ______ go for it and take my chances
- If a male colleague or boss offers to tell me a joke I will
____ say no thanks ____ ask him if it is sexual and then decide ____ offer to tell him myjoke instead ____ listen and tell him it was not funny or gross
————————————————————————————–After completing the questionnaire the female employee will be issued a badge that is color coded as to her preferences. In turn all male employees (including bosses) will be given instructions on how to interpret the color codes on the badges of the female staff. Any violations of the protocol will be made to HR and the transgressor will have to attend a mandatory training workshop.
It should be obvious that my suggestion is being offered with my tongue firmly in my cheek. However, the underlying message is that we have reached a point of utter confusion as to how men and women should relate to each other in the workplace and that maybe a little bit of humor and common sense can ease the tension between the sexes.