Posts Tagged 'Sexual Harassment'

The Darker Side of Recruitment

Though recruitment has various dark sides to it, the biggest for me is dirty old men! (Let’s not be ageist now, men can be inappropriate at any age!)

In my (main) job, I work almost exclusively with men; a large percentage of whom are between 50 and 60. Generally I like this demographic – they’re a flirty bunch, but with values. And by that I mean that they’re mostly happily married, respect that I too am married, and are just having a bit of harmless fun if and when they say something risqué. If at any stage I was to give them the impression they’d made me feel uncomfortable they would totally mortified, stop instantly and apologise profusely. But that never happens because they know the difference between cheeky and inappropriate. They consider themselves to be charming and, on the whole, I agree… Though I concede my feminist values may be a little lax compared to some!

There is, however, a very small percentage of men who really make my skin crawl. They don’t know when to stop and have no mental filter which tells them not to make totally inappropriate comments. You know the type, I’m sure – the planet’s still riddled with them, sadly. They give good men everywhere a bad name!

I’ve encountered a few of these types over the years, but last year I had a real corker. A gentleman we’d registered some time before (with no issues) contacted us looking for work so I gave him a call to update his details and speak to him about a couple of relevant roles. Well. What can I say! I’ve got a fairly unshakeable disposition and am not easily lost for words, but this fella left me speechless! I was asked, amongst other things, my height, weight, what I was wearing, whether I was single, how I’d feel about a dirty weekend on the continent… The list goes on! He even sent me an email starting “Hi Sexy”! Thankfully I got him off the phone reasonably quickly and had a good laugh about it afterwards. What did upset me though was that, while I can take it on the chin and see the funny side, there are a lot of people more vulnerable than me, and that call could have seriously upset someone. Now he may be from a different generation (he was a little older than the demographic mentioned earlier), but my Grandad is 92 and even he knows stuff like that is downright wrong.

The sad thing is, we can choose not to call him again, but he’s still out there somewhere upsetting the female population. And really, who can stop him?! The best we can do is tell it like it is, so these are my tips for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation:

  • Be firm, not submissive. You need to make it quite clear that the behaviour is inappropriate. Your marital status or anything else brought up is irrelevant.
  • Say what they’re doing out loud to them – call it what it is: Sexual harassment. Be blunt about how you perceive their actions.
  • Don’t laugh it off or try not to hurt their feelings.
  • Don’t be drawn in to the conversation. Stick to your guns and be repetitive if you need to.
  • Talk to your colleagues / manager about the incident afterwards. Others need to be aware.

NB. I hope any men reading don’t think that this is a sexist post because it isn’t meant to be. I’m well aware that the female of the species is equally capable of being inappropriate; I’m just posting from my personal experience.

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About Me

Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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