The scene: a local hotel, the site of a holiday celebration for an organization of 120 employees. After dinner, eight men gathered at the bar and stood around smoking cigars, drinking, ogling and “rating” the women at the celebration while kissing up to “Ronald”, the highest ranking person in the organization. The men report to Ronald either directly or indirectly:
RUDOLPH: So Ronald, what are your vacation plans this year?
RONALD: Will probably spend a week at the property I own in St. Thomas.
CHRIS: Wow, that’s cool. I know your wife will enjoy that.
RONALD: Taking the wife? Are you kidding? This year I’m taking one of my mistresses.
The men roared in laughter and toasted Ronald for being a “man’s man.”
On the way home, Stuart, one of those men, clutched his steering wheel in disgust, feeling guilty about the “locker room talk” he just participated in, and his silence. When he reached home, a troubled Stuart took a look at his lovely wife, his two beautiful daughters and vowed never to be willingly complicit in what he experienced in that bar two hours ago.
Six months later Stuart reluctantly joined his organization’s senior leadership team meeting in Newport, Rhode Island where Ronald, those same eight managers and a dozen others drank beer and feasted on lobster at a local restaurant. Unlike the first time when women became to object of sexual comments, this time Stuart interrupted and let it be known that he really felt very uncomfortable hearing such disparaging talk about women. The men present glared at him, glanced at each other in total silence and, a few minutes later, called it a night and headed back to their hotel rooms.
Back at work, and in weeks that followed, Stuart noticed subtle changes in how others treated him. First it was the looks he got, the feeling that his co-workers, male and female by the way, seemed to avoid him. Soon, his frequent invitations to lunch and after work informal gatherings seemed to disappear. His named mysteriously started to disappear off important meeting notices and his previously well-received work projects started to become overly scrutinized and questioned. In less than six months, his performance rating dropped from excellent to barely satisfactory. He quietly started to search for another job outside the organization.
A year later, Stuart landed a position at a competitor with a huge increase in salary where he was soon invited to attend an off-site sales meeting with the senior vice president and his team of the 50 top salespeople.
“Oh my, here we go again,” dreaded Stuart. “Knowing what will happen, I really don’t want to put myself in that position again. But if I don’t go, there could unwanted consequences.” His wife encouraged him to go.
At the bar on the second evening, Stuart noticed that the men talked about sports, their families and how much they loved working with such great people. A curious Stuart leaned over and whispered to Tim:
STUART: Wow, what a great place here Tim. Folks are so nice and respectful and really seem to get along well. This is so different from my previous employer.
TIM: Yes, it is great here but it has not always been this way.
STUART: Oh really? What changed?
TIM: A high revenue producing business leader got his walking papers a few years ago and it was very public. And folks were literally dancing in celebration in the hallways when he left.
STUART: Oh, what happened?
TIM: The guy was a bully, arrogant as heck and said that the rules didn’t apply to him since he bought in big bucks to the organization. It all caught up with him when he got caught sexually harassing a female administrative assistant and even had the nerve to brag about it.
TIM: Since then the environment has changed for the better, plus an extremely talented woman, “Tillary Hinton,” was promoted into his position. People really love working here now and we’ve seen our profits go up. Cause and effect, ha, what do you think?
STUART: Wow, looks like I made the right decision to come here. Anything I can do to show my gratitude?
TIM: Sure, how about inviting some of the talented folks remaining at your previous employer to come work for us? Everyone except Ronald and “his boys” however.
STUART: (LAUGHING) No problem since many are available because the organization went bankrupt.
© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, story teller and senior associate with Diversity Wealth. He is also a member of the Cross Cultural Academy, the founder of the Global Diversity Consortium, a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, Catalyst and the American Diversity Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also see http://mystoriesonlineblog.com