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Harriette Cole: The slideshow for new employees was extremely sexist. Who should I talk to?


DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m relatively new at my job. I came in with a group of new hires, so we have been in an orientation for the past few days.

Today we were shown a slideshow about “appropriate vs. inappropriate office attire,” and it was extremely sexist. The rules were pretty much only applicable to women.

Who should I address this with? How should I address this? My boss is male, and I don’t want him to think I have an issue exclusively with him, as I’m sure he’s not the one who created those exact rules.

Sexism at Work

DEAR SEXISM AT WORK: You can speak to your boss or someone in human resources. It’s the tone that matters.

Ask him if you can speak privately. Note that you understand the orientation is designed to get everyone on the same page about your company’s culture, business practices, etc. Point out that you noticed that slides about office attire were skewed toward women, and you found that to be unbalanced.

If you took issue with any of the guidelines, bring that up, but if it is mainly the fact that men’s attire was largely not included, say as much. Ask if he ever noticed how lopsided the presentation was. You could even give a few examples of what you saw in the presentation and what was missing. For example, “no low-cut tops or miniskirts” could have been there for women. Were “sagging pants” listed for men?

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