A reader writes:

Curious to hear your take on a situation that came up a long time ago at a previous workplace. Shortly out of college, I got a job working for a nonprofit cultural institution that had a fair share of unpaid interns working across the organization.

Our head of security had a reputation for being gross/inappropriate around women at the company, so much so that my female supervisor and head of my department both took me aside my first week to quietly warn me to “watch out for myself” around him. As this was an organization that was often open to the public, this guy managed a team of security guards as well as a fairly sophisticated video security system throughout the building/grounds. That fact was always at the back of my mind whenever I was working alone early or late — this guy that multiple female colleagues had warned me about had the ability to surveil me as I sat at my desk — which, I realize, sounds dramatic — but just wait.

One day, a teammate was in the empty lobby a few feet from the head of security and his second-in-command. An intern wearing a skirt was hanging up signs along the stairwell above, and the head of security holds out his phone with the back of it facing upwards toward the stairwell when the unmistakable click of his phone’s camera rang through the lobby loud enough for his second-in-command and my colleague to hear it and look at each other. He was taking upskirt photos of an intern and was caught in the act.

Both my teammate and the member of the security team who witnessed the event went to our head of HR to report what they had seen, and the company did … absolutely nothing. Possibly he was spoken to (I can’t say for sure), but years later the guy still has his job running the security department at the organization.

Is there any universe where retaining this guy is an okay move? Aren’t upskirt photos in the workplace with MULTIPLE witnesses grounds for an automatic fire? What gives? And what could I and/or a group of my coworkers have done to demand that this lech get canned?

WTF.

YES, this should have been an automatic firing. NO, there is no universe where retaining this guy was okay.

Of course, that assumes that this really was what it looks like — that he was indeed taking upskirt photos and not just, I don’t know, photographing the elegantly carved staircase bannisters or something, a fact that could have been easily verified by demanding to see his phone (and firing him if he refused to show the photo he’d just taken).

This would be unacceptable for anyone, but he was the head of security — a person with special access in a job that requires a high degree of trust. There should be nowhere in the cosmos where “oh, we’ll give him a warning and then set him loose among employees again” is considered a reasonable response.

That your company did nothing is … well, it’s maybe what we should expect from a company that had already continued to employ a head of security who was so known to be gross around women that multiple members of your management team warned you about him.

Whatever led to him still being around despite those complaints (hint: deeply entrenched sexism and a dismissal of women) is the same thing responsible for them keeping him on after the photo incident.

As for what you and your coworkers could have done: in theory a group of you could have demanded further action be taken. What that could have looked like in practice would depend on what you were willing to do — anything from making loud demands within the organization to being willing to quit over it to going to your board of directors to going to the media or even to funders. Sometimes those things work! Sometimes they don’t. They work more often now, but since this was years ago, it might not have worked then.

Is he still there? If so, you and your old colleagues might consider writing to the board now and sharing your experiences with him.



Source link

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *