Sexist remarks at work: how to react?

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“My little one, go get me a coffee”, “are you on your period or what?”, “Can't wait for the summer to come back to you putting on your beautiful little dresses”, “my poor girl, you really don't see any more far than the tip of your nose… “. Do not throw any more! If we summarize, sexist remarks are humiliating, degrading, hurtful remarks, etc. uttered against women. On the occasion of the law of 17 August 2015 on social dialogue and employment, what is called ordinary sexism was the subject of a specific provision in the labor code relating to the prohibition of “any sexist act”. The labor law of August 8, 2016 reinforced these provisions. People who are victims of sexist remarks and / or acts now have the right to it. But before drawing the heavy artillery, here are some tips for responding individually to this kind of attack..

He tells you “I could even choose a woman to set up this project”. Answer, “ah well even a woman. What does that mean to you even a woman?”.


In an organization with hierarchical lines are strong

Impossible to dismiss your attacker in his 22 at the moment, especially if it is your manager. “He himself probably not being aware of the sexist nature of his words would not understand that you get angry with him. Worse, there could be a flashback. A hot reaction under the influence of anger would even risk endangering your position, ”warns Brigitte Grésy, secretary general of the higher council for professional equality between women and men. So avoid at all costs to give him a verbal beating by implicating him directly. Let the storm pass, especially if the comments are made during a group meeting, and request an individual interview. “Without aggressiveness, show him that his words touched you by using the ‘I' and reframe the debate on a professional level,” she recommends.

When it is the habit of one of your colleagues

In this case, public or not, there is no question of allowing yourself to be humiliated. ” Getting angry or responding sharply doesn't work. On the contrary, you have to respond in a neutral and professional tone using questioning. », Suggests Sandrine Meyfret, executive coach and general manager of the Alomey cabinet. Illustration: he tells you “I could even choose a woman to set up this project”. Answer, “ah well even a woman. What does that mean to you even a woman?”. Or “Ah, you're pregnant! I thought you were more motivated than that …”, why not formulate an answer like: “and you when you had your first child, did you ask yourself the question of your motivation? ? “. Finally a parade used by this coach when we asked her to go make coffee. “I don't know how to make coffee, I have never learned. There is probably someone around this table much more astute than me to make excellent coffee.” “I assure you that I have never been asked to go make coffee again,” she recalls.

When you witness sexist comments

Again, out of the question to let go without saying anything. But depending on the situation, you may or may not react immediately. “In the management committee, one of my superiors called my assistant long legs. So I said “his first name, in case you forgot it is…. So I would like everyone to call her by her first name, ”says Sandrine Meyfret. ” It is never with impunity that we witness passive sexism. If we let it happen, we are wrong. But as with victims, I advise witnesses not to necessarily react in the heat. Especially if the company is very hierarchical. In this case, come back to the subject later by acknowledging the fact that you do not like the words very well., or that you do not understand this kind of humiliation and that suddenly, it undermines the professional relationship that you have with him, ”advises Brigitte Grésy, also author of Small treatise against ordinary sexism (Albin Michel, 2008) and in preparation of a new book on the subject to be published in February 2017.

Is humor the best reflex?

In companies that are very pyramidal and / or very late on the theme of parity, not sure that playing the humor card is wise. In those where gender equality is on the move (or real), why not. ” In fact, you can be funny if you don't feel deeply hurt. Otherwise it's impossible », Insists Brigitte Grésy. The Equality Label club and the Arborus firm have taken the side of humor by launching a Respect Me app (available for free on IOS and Google Play). The answers, in the form of icons, sounds and cues, are all based on the tone of humor. Example: we say to you “would you make us a little coffee?”, And a voice-over balances “I am not El Gringo”. ” Humor can have a mirror effect and make the person making sexist remarks aware, the ridiculous and inappropriate nature of his behavior. It's a way of destabilizing it, ”explains Cristina Lunghi, president of the Arborus cabinet. But be careful to handle the tool sparingly. Not obvious that the members of a codir died of laughter hearing about El Gringo. So you have to learn to dose.

Anti-sexism kit

If the sexist remarks and / or actions are repeated, you can obviously initiate a more official procedure by alerting the HRD, the occupational physician, staff representatives, the Defender of Rights, etc.

Details of the procedure to follow in the kit to act against sexism.

And also the site Sexismeordinaire.



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