Sex and the Office: Expert Insight on Gender Dynamics in the Workplace
Talking about issues related to sex and the office is difficult as many professionals aren’t sure what to say and what not to say. How do we agree on boundaries and improve gender dynamics in the workplace
Defining the Sex Partition
First, what is the sex partition It’s a barrier resulting from both double standards and a general fear to engage. To illustrate the barrier, think of a senior manager asking a colleague to join him or her for a happy hour drink after work. If both are of the same gender, most will assume this is a friendly drink that may lead to a platonic friendship. If the pair is a man and a woman, individuals are significantly more likely to assume negative intentions. In terms of sex and the office, this creates a barrier between the genders, as they are discouraged from friendly engagement for fear of misinterpretation.
We’re Still Setting Workplace Boundaries
The conversation around sexual harassment began in earnest about 30 years ago and initially everyone was talking about setting the boundaries. Truthfully, you’ll have to give your office some credit. The vast majority of working professionals understand the boundaries related to sex and the office, but that doesn’t mean clear and exact boundaries have been set. Without these boundaries, professionals are afraid to accidently cross a line and are therefore less likely to engage across the sex partition at all.
Everyone Fears a Lawsuit
Survivors of work place sexual harassment are increasingly likely to hold the guilty parties accountable in a court of law. In fact, the argument can be made that citizens are pursuing their legal options more frequently across the board. When it comes to interactions across sex and the office, many companies don’t want to expose themselves unnecessarily to liabilities like inappropriate conduct. Without clear boundaries, executives are less likely to encourage interaction across the sex partition for fear of a legal issue.
Trust Isn’t Developing Across Gender Lines
If you’re in charge of managing your team and you need to assign someone to an important project, who will you choose Chances are you’ll pick someone you have developed a strong working relationship with because you trust that professional can get the job done. If you can’t go out for a happy hour drink or eat a friendly lunch with your colleagues without fear of crossing a boundary, how can you develop a trusting relationship with your entire team
What Part Are Younger Generations Playing
Younger professionals actually have a great system for reducing the chance of misinterpreting intention. Many of them prefer to go out or spend time together in groups. What does this mean Well, if you see a mixed gender group of seven people, you probably assume that they are having friendly and innocent fun. While this tactic hold great promise, there’s one issue: older and/or senior managers are rarely seen in or invited to these group outings, which leaves the sex partition intact between generations.
Employers Need to Go Beyond the Minimum
Does your sexual harassment training consist of some type of seminar and/or video Aside from a video follow-up discussion, what else do you do to combat sexual harassment and the sex partition in the work place Just like with your company culture and employee productivity management, you can’t throw some training or software at the issue and expect everything to correct itself. With issue related to sex and the office, you have to engage as thoroughly as you would if you notice a talent leak in your office.
What Can HR Departments Do
Human Resources departments can lead the charge in combating the sex partition in the workplace. For example, Google HR department carefully designed their staff cafeteria to encourage networking and group bonding. Like with young professionals who go out in mass, this group setting minimizes the negative connotations of a one-on-one lunch between genders. The key is to subtly, and if necessary overtly, encourage employees to engage professionally across gender boundaries.
Reworking Sexual Harassment Trainings
While sexual harassment trainings are meant to address the problem, many instead put the blame on the victim. For example, studies have shown that after completing these trainings employees often viewed women as weaker and in need of protection. Why Many of these videos tell women how to react in negative situations instead of focusing on helping the entire office avoid the situation entirely.
For more resources on improving gender dynamics in the workplace, look through the Resume Builder database for helpful data and tips.