Dear Dr. Faizal,
My boss makes sexual remarks in the office. They are not directed at me or any employee but he objectifies female bodies. Yesterday, he was talking about how hot one of our client’s is and it made me uncomfortable. I don’t know how to convey my feelings about this to him without hurting my job security. I am pretty sure, if I say something, he’ll fire me and I can’t afford to lose my job right now. What should I do?
– Hate My Boss
The days of accepting female sexual objectification at work or in society, in general, is long gone. Aside from certain world leaders (who shall remain unnamed) who believe they are above social diplomacy and the law, living in the 21st century and in Metro Vancouver, we know that bosses making sexual remarks at the office is unethical and not professional.
In the past, we have excused such behaviour, owing to the presumption that our employer most probably grew up in a sexist home environment or culture, in which his male role models didn’t respect women and therefore he is genuinely not aware that he (or she) is being sexist. The time has come for us to stop pardoning such behaviour. Essentially, by ‘looking the other way,’ we are perpetuating and reinforcing the very act we object to.
There are a few strategies you could try, and, depending on how perceptive your boss is, one is sure to work. You could use the indirect approach and, in the presence of your boss, comment on how ‘hot’ your new client is or how firm his butt seems. Hopefully, your employer catches on to your sarcasm, appreciates your true intentions, and curbs his sexist comments. This approach could backfire, though, with your boss thinking that in you he’s found an ally, a partner in ‘crime,’ one who shares his interest in objectifying the opposite sex.
This is why I prefer the direct approach, where you would share your concerns with your boss in his office, without any misunderstandings. Hopefully, he appreciates you bringing this matter up and mends his ways.
Yet another technique – if you really don’t feel comfortable approaching your boss – is to send him an anonymous letter, something like:
Dear Mr. X,
I appreciate working at ___ (company’s name) and have learned much from you as my boss.
As a leader, I’m sure you would like to see the company progress, and I hope you will agree with me when I say that the success of a company largely depends on the quality of its leadership and the happiness of its workers.
All bosses have strengths and weaknesses, but it is the true leader who accentuates his/her strengths and overcomes his/her limitations.
You, Mr. X, have many admirable qualities (list a few – without exaggeration) which enable you to be a good boss.
As I see it, and I hope you don’t mind the feedback, there is only one ‘hiccup’ in your conduct, which you may not even be aware of, that may be preventing you from being an exceptional leader. (Describe briefly the incident and your feelings toward it). By displaying respect for both sexes in the office, you will be looked up to by your happy employees, and, as you know, happy workers lead to a happy work environment, which ultimately results in success for the company.
A Concerned Employee