In a cancer center somewhere in the U.S., a director of radiology for oncology makes all new female employees--from nurses to department managers--sing 'Like A Virgin' and other silly songs. It resembles hazing of sorority and fraternity newbies, except this is the workplace! When he travels with his mistress he is in the habit of asking one of the department managers to bill the trips, along with food and alcohol, to the hospital. At times, he is unable to take care of his patient load because he is too drunk to come in. But no one ever crosses him on any of it. Why would that be? It is because he makes the hospital huge amounts of money! But he's not successful all of the time, as evidenced by this tale.
Two visiting physicians from two prestigious hospitals were in a meeting with the offending director and a fairly new female department head, let's call her Delores. She had very good credentials and had, in her short time at the hospital, contributed much to the department. To her dismay, her director requested her to sing "Like A Virgin" in front of the two visiting physicians. Rather than give in, Delores told him that she most certainly would not and walked out of the room. One of the visiting physicians followed her and apologized profusely. She said, "You don't have to apologize, you didn't do anything wrong!" To which he said, "I'm apologizing for my gender. It's embarrassing to think that any man would think it's OK to treat a woman like that." Not long after, Delores gave up her position because, although she was highly esteemed at the hospital, no one would risk taking steps with this director and she wouldn't work there, under those circumstances.
I have nothing but admiration for this woman, who rather than give in to something that was a direct affront to her sense of dignity and worth, chose to leave the position. She had no sooner made this decision, when another hospital was actively recruiting her. She is now in a much better situation, where she can serve without being humiliated and asked to do things against her better judgement.
Know Your Worth
1. You Don't Have To Do It If It Makes You Feel Uncomfortable. Like this woman, don't feel obligated to do humiliating or embarrassing things just because your superior asks you to. There are discrimination laws, sexual harrassment laws in place if it falls into any of these categories. You are worth it!
2. Bosses Need To Be Accountable,Too. I thought it was so funny that no one was willing to hold this director accountable. Apparently this had been going on for a long time. When you know of a superior officer or boss who is not held to the same standards as other employees, it's time to find some accountability! It can be tricky and sometimes the job site has put up with things like that for so long, no one wants to change. But at least recognize it for what it is and look at your options. Can you afford to stay in a hostile work environment, where double standards are the norm?
3. Help others to recognize demoralizing behaviors and treatment. If people tolerate demeanig behavior towards others, be assured that it will spread. Instead of thinking, "Wow, I'm glad that didn't just happen to me" or "Better her than me", stick up for your fellow employees. So often employees on the same level feel like they need to compete rather than help one another. It contributes to the creation of a hostile work environment where bad behavior is accepted rather than condemned.
4. Always have a back-up Plan. Keep yourself up-to-date on training, job skills, and work experience. Have someone who can give you a good recommendation if you choose to leave. Keep your ear to the ground for other possible opportunities and make sure to find out what the work environments are like if possible.
Notice that none of the above tips are gender or race specific. Employee mistreatment happens across all genders and all races. If you can realize that you have worth and so do your fellow employees, you can help to create a workplace where everyone feels comfortable and can be their most productive.
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