With women like Susan Fowler showing the way, more victims of sexist behaviour at the workplace should speak up and demand justice.
While we all talk about women empowerment, we also, knowingly or unknowingly, make plenty of sexist remarks. Since the controversial story on Uber’s work environment came to light, there have been plenty of stories from women highlighting the everyday battle they have to fight at work dealing with sexist remarks.
The problem is sometimes compounded by the fact that some women hesitate to speak up. And, why don’t they speak up? Their grooming since childhood to be a picture of resilience could be one of the reasons. 'A women should not be outspoken. She must behave in a soft, tender and gentle way,' are the unrealistic, dangerous expectations the society poses often on its women.
As a result of this traditional grooming, women who tend to speak up are either made to suffer harsh criticism or become a victim of ‘bro culture’.
And, that’s not all; another unbearable condition that these women have to face is ‘victim blaming’, which is quite common in the corporate world. Susan Fowler chose to speak up, but before that how many cases like hers have actually surfaced? Victim blaming has cast a fear on women about speaking up, and they rather live with the atrocity than raise a complaint or go public.
But this is not just related to India and its culture; it is a global cultural phenomenon. Women are always taught to be the more demure gender, and expected to never raise their voice in the largely male-dominated society.
Things are changing, slowly
But things are changing, and changing for good. Women are speaking up about sexist atrocities at the workplace.
Susan Fowler's case is one of the many stories that have made the headlines in recent times, and have highlighted the problem of sexism in Silicon Valley. The important step that needs to be taken now is to figure out what can be done to fight sexism at work. It is time for women to speak up.
Speaking up is important because that’s the only way things will become better. A voice raised by you might inspire others like you who have faced similar issues at the workplace. It might help others to come out of their shell, become more confident to register a complaint and expose the people treating women in an inappropriate manner at what should be a safe environment.
A New York Times article, published on June 20, 2017, on the impact that Susan Fowler and the Uber controversy has had on women in workplace, explains how courageous efforts from one women have inspired thousand others to speak up.
But, how should women speak up?
In this post I explain why it's important you speak up in order to change the status quo and obliterate sexism at the workplace.
- Speak to others - be the voice of change
If you are facing untoward behaviour from someone at workplace, then speak about it to other female employees in your team.
This is important as there is a high probability that someone else might have also faced a similar situation, but could not muster up the courage to report it. You voicing your trauma will also encourage her to go public about her experience.
- Don’t ignore the situation, let the other person know you are offended
Another common scenario that has been observed at workplaces is that such offences from male colleagues are often ignored or taken lightly. This sets a dangerous precedent and such behaviour needs to be nipped in the bud rightaway, as what might start off as humorous banter today may end up becoming a hurtful sexist remark tomorrow.
So whenever someone makes a sexist or derogatory remark, even if it is considered to be on a lighter vein, let that person know firmly and politely that such comments are not welcome.
- Make a note of things, and then report them
Even after you put the person in his place the problem persists, then it is time you took action. It would be wise to put it all down in writing rather than make a verbal complaint.
There have been instances where companies, in order to save their reputation and standing among stakeholders, have ignored verbal complaints and have even taken action against the person who raised the voice. A written complaint is documented proof that cannot be ignored in the future when things may go out of hand.
- Take legal action
The last resort, in the most adverse circumstance, is to hire a lawyer.
If you have documented proof of a person’s inappropriate behaviour, things will always be in your favour.
All it takes is a little courage and awareness to fight this battle of sexism at workplace. Although the recent revelation by Susan Fowler about her experience at Uber has brought this facet of Silicon Valley’s toxic work culture into the limelight, such incidences have been happening regularly everywhere, ever since women decided to join the workforce.
However, Susan Fowler, and others like her, have shown the way to take charge of the situation and report issues. By sharing their story, they have started a wave of change across the globe.
Bring the change. Be the change.
Your voice has the power to bring down people who think they are free to treat women as lesser beings.Raise your voice, bring the change and be the change you want to see in the world. Not just in one's own case, but also when you see it happening to others.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)