Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dangerous corporate relationships

To all you guys ... be careful in how you interact with your female co-worker(s) when you : 

 - forward an email or an SMS to a female co-worker, or, 
 - you tell a joke in her presence which may be saucy / adult / plain xxx, or,
 - you crack a joke about her, or, 
 - you compliment her on her looks / dress or you do not notice her
 - you ignore her at the project party and dance with someone else
 - you do not make a graceful exit from a relationship 
 - you touch her in a friendly manner like slapping her back etc

and so many other things one will normally do with a co-worker who becomes a friend after working day and late evenings on projects, sharing the joys and pains of deliveries, client relations, bad appraisals, un-approved expense statements, birthdays, resignations ... so much and more. 
Oh yes make sure she is not three rungs below you in seniority (according to Idea Cellular it is inappropriate to get into a relationship with someone who is your junior .... ROTFL)  - one or two may be okay ;-) else try another department at the same level and on the same floor. 
This is what I know - women are stronger than men and men had better believe this and make life easier for themselves. So stop getting drunk or bashing them just to prove your masculinity. At the end you are the one who says sorry and cuddles up to her. 

What I fail to understand - women are screaming for equality. They want to wear pants and walk with the guys. You can see liberated and empowered women everywhere - standing with their male friends (or alone) smoking outside buildings, leading presentations, rubbing shoulders in pubs and restaurants. Of course then they also head large corporations and fly planes and spaceships. Oh yes, I forgot the mixed parties at strip clubs - the guys and gals really bond there. 

Any of the above mentioned scenarios is a potential 'sexual harassment' situation and if a woman cries wolf the man has no chance. 

Why do women expect special treatment when there is the eternal quest to be considered equal. 

Over the past few weeks we have seen a few high profile cases 
- Mark Hurd resigned as CEO at HP
- Pradeep Shrivastava resigned as Chief Marketing Officer at idea Cellular
- David Davidoff resigned as CEO at Penguin International
And this blog came about inspired by the incident at Idea Cellular.

Yes there are lots of bad men and they do bad things, but then bad men and bad women do bad things to men too. How many men can claim sexual harassment and how many have done this. Harassment happens in the workplace and at home too... and we have wife beaters and husband-beaters too, except that there is no law to protect the men. 

Let me clarify - I do not want to be considered or to sound sexist or attract the ire of womenfolk. My family has always had more women than men and I love them and have seen them cry, laugh and conquer.  

And there are a number of women I have had the privilege of working with - women of substance and some without (just like the male co-workers). We have partied together, shared jokes, exchanged emails, shared happiness and sorrow, bitched about the boss and the appraisals and the expenses and more. When you spend 10 plus hours with a group of people for so many days of your life you are bound to bond. It happens everywhere !

So when should a woman say harassment and when not ? Maybe that is what we must see in the context of our ambitions to be men and then act like women. Maybe the parent at home must trust the daughter as much as the son and pass on that same thought process to the female. 

What I have to say is that back slapping or a hug and a peck on the cheek among friends is not harassment. Forwarding SMSes or emails to friends is not harassment when you are friends, whether the forwards are tame or of the saucy or adult variety - it has to be taken in the spirit of camaraderie and if any one does not like such communications one can ask the sender to desist. 

Of course if the sender continues to be a pest then the harassment claim will be valid and this can be man to man or man to woman or woman to man.  

So where does one have to draw the line and why - if the workplace is equal opportunity then everyone is equal. Men and women. If so then why does the woman have the right to "claim" harassment and score on a man so easily - I mean she can get a summary judgement against a man just by crying out loud. And be sure that that man / officer will be ostracized in the office right away. 

Another clarification - I do not condone the behavior of people like Rathore or Gill. They have no business touching the ladies inappropriately, gloating over their behavior and then using their powerful connections to browbeat their victims. Even with a man they have no right touching anyone inappropriately. 

See - this is what I mean - what is wrong is wrong. And if you are going up to the moon in a spaceship how do live with three co-workers in a cramped spaceship. Or if you are on a sales trip with a couple of men co-workers how do you avoid the after hours bonding when you are all staying at the same hotel... how will you work together if you are not social with your co-workers. 

Women are all over - one sees more women than men in jobs and it is great. They are a treat to the eyes and no disrespect here. So will I be hauled up for harassment if I look at you - i mean an approving eye is good but a roving eye is evil so how do you tell this apart.

What I do know is that from a man's perspective there may be a lot of potentially situations and one has to have a perspective on this. In any case, to go back to my first statement - women are strong and women want to be empowered so why not take the opportunity and stand tall. Why do u want harassment laws and if they are enacted why have you not asked for gender equality with the same fervor !

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