When you’re a young girl and you’re thinking about your career, you never think about the implications of being a woman. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to you as a kid that you’re a girl and that may cause problems. I honestly was one of those people that would have told you that sexism wasn’t really a huge thing in America anymore except for the wage gap. Then I had to report my boss for sexual harassment and everything changed.
I worked for the company for about a year and had won awards and was consistently told how great I was doing and that I was in line for a promotion in the next year. They were growing quickly, albeit faster than they could handle, but I was so excited to grow with them and become a valued part of their team. I frequently expressed my interests in being a team player, growing, and succeeding with them to multiple people in corporate positions, as well as my direct supervisor. So here’s the backstory. My supervisor and his boss have been friends for years and years, since college. They were pretty open about this to anyone who asked. No big deal. I got complaints from some of the staff I worked with that my supervisor was inappropriate, stating that he had said they should see him in his speedo or wondering why these young girls (around 20) wouldn’t date him (a mid to late 30s man). I brushed the first one off thinking maybe it was a one time thing. It became more and more frequent and started happening to me as well. Any time we would be in the car together (he often asked me to take him to drop his car off to be cleaned or worked on at the dealership), he would discuss his sexual experience in high school or college. He discussed how one girl he was with liked anal sex. He told me how women were the scum of the earth. These are just a few of the events that I still vividly recall.
This happened over about a 6 month period, and finally another manager and I decided to take this to someone higher up than us. We didn’t feel comfortable going to our supervisor’s boss because of the aforementioned friendship, so the only person we both knew and felt comfortable with was the director of training. We requested a meeting with her and met with her within a week or so. We told every instance we could think of, including the issues we had with the fact that he was not a resource for us. He couldn’t answer questions and heavily relied on me to complete a good portion of his tasks. All of this aside, she said they would take this very seriously and that she personally would be surprised if they didn’t let him go.
I’m sure by now you’ve realized that they didn’t let him go. They did an “investigation” but didn’t actually speak to the employees at our site, past or present. They shrugged it off that he was immature. A mid 30’s man was “immature” and he got to keep his job. At the very basic level, that’s still wrong. You add in the sexual harassment, and these people are certifiably crazy. That’s what happened though. Luckily, the manager I reported it with got a different position. I got a 15 minute heads up that he was coming back to the office the day after the manager I reported it with left. I decided to give it a try and see what they would say. He and his manager, who is his long term friend, came in my office and shut the door. My manager “apologized” then they proceeded to tell me that if I had future issues that I needed to come directly to them and that the policy & procedure manual even says so. They also tried to quote our sexual harassment course to me by saying it also says to go directly to your supervisor with issues.
No one reporting sexual harassment is going to go tell the person they are having issues with. That’s just not what happens. I get maybe that’s ideal and I sure wish it worked that way, but even reporting him formally didn’t help, so would it really have helped had I gone to him first?
I say all of this for one important reason. This happens all the time.
I quit my job over this because I refused to work for a company that allows sexual harassment and violence in their culture. I refuse to put up with inappropriate comments, slurs, and racial jokes at the workplace. And I’m writing this to say that if you have any of these issues whatsoever, do not be afraid to report them. Obviously, that didn’t work out so well for me, but it was worth it. I came out better for everything that happened.
Always remember, karma is a bitch.