Post # 1
so I have a job where I have a lot of control over who I work with but I am restricted by certain things like location/overlaps in projects etc so not a completely free choice and it can be hard to find the right people to collaborate with. Today I learned that a more senior person whom I have worked with many times before on big projects and would have loved to work with again is part of a sexist messaging group where they regularly exchange typical “bro culture” messages. This person is perfectly situated for me to have continued to build a strong working relationship with BUT for me this is unacceptable behavior esp because I actually consider this person a “work friend”. As I said, they can do a lot for my career so it would be advantageous for me to keep working with them (esp leading to greater job security) but I just despise racist or sexist people and I can’t respect someone who is complicit in such things. Am I overreacting by not wanting to work with this person ever again? Would you confront them about their behavior?
Would you let a work friendship fade and limit your career opportunities because of someone’s behavior in other contexts (ie outside of work?) or would you call them out but continue to work with them?
thank you for reading and any thoughts. I am very upset by this and feel very disappointed in this person.
Post # 2
leebee333 : how did you learn about this messaging group? If he hasn’t been sexist to you and this is a private, out-of-office group of friends he has then I’d ignore it. If he’s sexist in the work place or otherwise very publicly it’d be a hard pass.
Post # 3
it sounds like your working relationship is professional. how did you find out about his text thread?
Post # 4
How sexist are we talking about? Like “oh man So and So is hot” or really ugly stuff like the Immigration Staffers were doing about AOC etc? Because that was terrible and there should be consequences to stuff like that.
Post # 5
They told me about it, seemed to think I would find it funny. I did not. They saw I was less than impressed and then said they don’t participate much, but even that is unacceptable to me. If you’re not calling this behavior out you are not an ally, and you should not be pretending to be one.
We were having lunch to discuss a potential upcoming project, and the topic of who is planning their bachelor party came up as we were chitchatting about their upcoming wedding. As I said we have known each other for a while (6 years or so) and have worked together a lot so I would have classified them as a work friend and not solely a colleague. We’ve had dinner at each other homes (together with our spouses obviously etc so not strictly professional, but it has always been a good working relationship.)
They have not behaved in a sexist or inappropriate way towards me directly.
ps not sure it it’s offensive to clarify but this friend prefers “they/them” pronouns, was brought up male, is now non-conforming, has a male partner. They are in a powerful position at work, and while I think they show a preference for working with males (both gay and straight), I have not heard of any complaints about their behavior towards women directly.
Post # 6
If it was me, I would “ignore” it for now and continue to network with this person, but be careful and be aware. It sounds like they may have been a bit embarassed when they saw you weren’t impressed (“saying they don’t participate much”).
Keep things professional with them and be on the lookout for other sexist behaviour. If anything else crops up, especially any behaviour directly towards you or other women, call it out right away in the moment.
Editing to add: are you in a position where you could suggest or implement sensitivity training in your office? If you could have a professional come and do a workshop, it might be a good way to protect from sexism & racism from them & others.
Post # 7
So from your parenthetical statement it appears this text chain is not work-related (i.e. not using company equipment or the company network) and they have given you no reason to believe that they are incapable of being professional in the workplace. Under that assumption…
Only you can decide how much you value your moral stance over your livelihood. If you do take a stand and limit your options, what are you planning to do about it? Out them to all of their peers? File a complaint at work? Or are you just going to stay mum about it and choose not to work with them, even if it means turning down projects because they are the only option? At what point are you just cutting off your nose to spite your face?
I mean I get it – we should all be privileged enough and morally strong enough to stand with our principles and not tolerate that behavior in any capacity. But the reality is we aren’t because on the flip side of that coin is a world where everyone is just trying to get by and build their life and jobs are very handy for that. You are in a very privileged position to have any say in who you work with in any capacity. Many don’t. And the fact of the matter is shitty and/or sexist people have bills to pay and will be in every workplace. There are several individuals in my workplace who I have zero respect for based on what information I have learned about them that exists outside my workplace. You learn to coexist with all sorts of individuals.
You don’t have to tolerate it in the workplace so if this is happening on company time or using company resources then absolutely report that shit. And you don’t have to tolerate it in your personal life. You don’t have to be friends with all of your coworkers or engage with them beyond what is required for professional behavior in the workplace. But I would be very hesitant to decide to mix the two and bring what you find to be personally abhorrent behavior occuring in their personal life into your professional life unless it has a direct impact on you or other people in your workplace. If you are close enough “work friends” then you should also be able to have a discussion about it and state your views instead of making it open-ended. Otherwise, simply let the friendship aspect of it fade away and keep it work-related on a professional basis only.
Post # 8
I don’t know the exact extent of it, but definitely pictures of women in degrading positions with derogatory and veeery explicit language about women. (I saw a couple of the pics on their phone when they were showing me pictures of their previous weekend trip.) When they saw that I was clearly not okay with the direction of conversation they said “don’t be so judgmental” and shrugged it off.
Post # 9
Thanks bees, this is all helpful! It was not on a company phone but with other male employees of the company. I don’t know how often/during working hours or not.
I do realise it’s a privilege to be able to have a say in who I work with for sure, which is why I am not sure how much to let this determine my choice. I appreciate gaining perspectives from all of you.
Post # 10
leebee333 : people are allowed to their personal thoughts and conversations, even if they are gross. This person thought you might share their views, tested the waters, and changed topics when it was clear you were uncomfortable. So long as it doesn’t come up again I think you can maintain a professional relationship.
Post # 11
Are these random hot women pics or is any of this about other women you work with? Yes people are allowed their personal views but freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences and I would definitely distance myself from people like this. If someone’s makes their personal views public at work there is every reason to react (like a company has every legal right to fire someone for idk giving an interview or writing a blog post on their own time about how much they hate gay people or say the MeToo movement is sexist against men and women victims are liars etc).
Post # 12
I mean, from what you describe you’re essentially going to punish yourself professionally because you don’t like what he said. You’re of course entitled to do that, but I’m not really sure how strong of a point it makes?
Post # 13
leebee333 : when it’s a work colleague, I lose respect for them but don’t bring it into my career. My job is about 98% female so sexism isn’t an issue (barring toward men and that’s an unfortunate cultural problem). But I did have a weirdly racist coworker. I had to be around her, so I acted confused as to why she’d bring up rascal at all and change the subject. She hinted at wanting to see my house and the like and I never followed through. Not interested in being around her. She’s one of the reasons I never hosted a get together because I couldn’t leave her out. Thank heavens she quit this year. It’s been delightful not to have her around.
So remain professional. You don’t have to respect him as a person but you should treat him like everyone else at work rather than causing problems and tension related to something no one knows about and that doesn’t impact his ability to work. I’m sure he got the hint that you weren’t impressed and you don’t have to be friends to be friendly or professional.
Post # 14
leebee333 : edited comment because I didn’t read everything. Let it go. It’s not work related, it doesn’t concern you.