Office Politics 101: Distracted by the way they dress

Q: I work in a medium-sized office with about 20 staff. There are two women who frequently dress in a way that distracts the men— including me. I’ve discussed the matter with some co-workers and we would like the women to dress more conservatively. How can we communicate our concerns?

A: These women, I would guess, are either relatively young — and naïve — or somewhat older and are using revealing clothing as a way to attract the attention of males. I will assume it is the latter.

It is no accident these two women are choosing to wear clothing that emphasizes their physical attributes. They are doubtless well aware men can often be visually stimulated and, as you have noted, it is distracting for many of you.

You should be cautious in how you address the matter because, as a man, speaking with them — even casually — could upset them and may even cause them to accuse you of sexual harassment, should the conversation become confrontational.

In addition, unlike a school or religious organization, for example, you probably don’t have a written dress code that can easily be enforced. The women may be dressing provocatively, but they are likely not violating any company regulations.

There are at least two options available to you that you may wish to consider.

One option would be to informally share your concerns with another woman employee who could become your unofficial advocate. She might be willing to speak with them individually, woman-to-woman.

Another option would be to candidly discuss the issue with someone — preferably a woman — in your HR department. She may be open to confidentially communicating your concerns and could make the point using tact and discretion.

In either case, should you have the support of a significant number of male co-workers, you could speak with more authority knowing you represent their views, not just your own.

While I agree these women should be sensitive to their male colleagues and not provoke attention in this way, it may be a challenge to have them modify their “dress code” without a degree of resistance and tension.

Submit your confidential questions relating to work and office life to simongibson@shaw.ca

Just Posted

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Mount Waddington Transit System celebrates 10th birthday

Mount Waddington buses to participate in summer festivals

Island wide crime spree leads to multiple charges against Cowichan Valley resident

Social Media and citizens of the North Island played a big role in solving the case.

Port Hardy council stands with Marine Harvest

Mayor and council went out on the water to experience local aquaculture firsthand.

Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide U18 Girls bring home provincial gold

“This has been an extra-ordinary season with a diverse group of young ladies…”

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Car calls 911 on possible impaired B.C. driver

A luxury car automatically calls Princeton police to scene of crash involving alcohol

BC Games marks 40 years in 2018

Cowichan Games a milestone for BC Games Society

Group urges Canada to help Holocaust denier on trial in Germany

They’re concerned about Canada’s apparent unwillingness to come to the aid of Monika Schaefer

RCMP seek person of interest after elderly man left with ‘life altering’ injuries

Burnaby RCMP believe a male teen is a ‘person of interest’ in the case

Most Read