Earlier this week, the U.K.-based agency RMS Recruitment posted an ad for an Executive Assistant and Investor Relations Associate. The ad went up on Guardian Jobs, Independent Jobs and LinkedIn, among other sites. It didn’t last long.
Why did it disappear from the internet so quickly? We’ll let you read and judge for yourself:
What’s Wrong With a Little Male Banter?
“The art of ‘male banter,’ which is predominantly British slang, has been the get-out-jail-free card for men in the workplace for decades,” writes Lianna Brinded at Quartz. “It is a phrase used to dress up sexist remarks, jokes, or jibes as playful and friendly exchanges, and it has been used to shield the toxic masculinity of a ‘boys will be boys’ mentality.”
The ad perpetuates the expectation that women will learn to deal with bad behavior from their colleagues. The clear message: It’s not the job of male staffers to learn how to be appropriate in the workplace, but rather women’s job to manage it.
In other words: “Hey, lighten up. What’s a little sexual harassment between coworkers?”
The reality, of course, is that there’s no such thing as harmless banter that includes sexist remarks. In addition to being illegal in both the U.S. and the U.K., sexual harassment does real harm to both workers and employers.
The Effects of Sexual Harassment
Recent research has shown that women who experience sexual harassment at work are six-and-a-half times more likely to quit than those who don’t.
In one of the only studies that looks at the effects of sexual harassment over time, the sociologists asked about 1,000 men and women if they had experienced unwanted touching, offensive jokes and other behaviors that could be considered workplace harassment. Among the female respondents who said they experienced unwanted touching or at least two of the other, non-physical behaviors, 80 percent said they left their jobs within two years.
Take the tech industry as an example. According to one survey, 60 percent of women in tech say they’ve been sexually harassed. Women are also famously underrepresented in tech. That’s not a coincidence. It’s also not a problem that can be solved by women leaning in — or lightening up.
No wonder women are underrepresented in high-paying jobs and executive positions, and that the gender pay gap persists.
It’s not just a problem for workers. Research shows that companies with more women in leadership roles report higher profits. To fix the pipeline, we have to make the workplace safer for all workers.
Getting rid of ads like these is a good first step.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you seen a worse ad than this one? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.