A reader writes:
I work in a multinational bank. We have more than 500 employees. Getting a job in the bank I work for is a matter of prestige as it’s considered to be one of the top 10 international banks in the world. This company hired me two years ago after a two-month long excruciating hiring process. My colleagues are coming from Ivy-league institutions like mine. Being the only female member in the department of 25 was a little awkward for me, but I somehow happened to manage it very well in the first few months.
I feel I’m surrounded by misogynist co-workers who spare no chance when it comes to humiliating me or making fun of me. I’m a very hard-working and proficient employee. My boss feels the same as well, but he’s not always around us to back me. He has to travel a lot due to the company’s work so mostly he’s abroad. When he is here, everything will be fine, but the moment he leaves, my co-workers will start passing lame yet offensive comments. I have done internships at a few places before I joined this bank, but I’ve never encountered this kind of misogyny at the workplace. Somehow I feel utterly embarrassed to ask them to stop making such comments so I allow them to do whatever they want to. I try my best to ignore them.
I’m feeling low due to this situation. Without bothering my presence, my misogynist co-workers will talk about strip clubs, hookers, and all sorts of vulgar things while we’re on business trips together. I’m utterly disgusted by their behavior. I don’t know how to deal with the sexist comments at work. I wanted to discuss this issue with my boss, but embarrassment got the best of me and I didn’t do so. Now he is abroad again. Surely I cannot discuss such thing via an email or a phone call. I’m planning to quit this job. The only reason I’m here is because it pays me so well. I’ve worked hard to reach here. What do you suggest me to do?
I understand your concerns but do not rush into taking such big decisions. After following everything you’ve mentioned to me, I’ve noticed a huge mistake made by you. Did you call out or even tried to approach them regarding those sexist comments? No, you didn’t. Ignorance leads to huge troubles, and you my dear, have become a part of it. The best way to address such issues is by calling out loudly. Why don’t you address this issue with your co-workers? Talk to them that you do not appreciate such environment around you. You’ve worked hard for this job and due to some instances like this; you do not have to quit. You’ll just come out as a coward. If your misogynist co-workers continue with their behavior after your discussion with them, it’s time you address the issue to your HR department.