Gen Y & Sexual Harassment

20 Feb

Soooo you see that bullseye? Yea, that’s what Gen-Yers look like when they start a new job. We are the perfect target for sexual harassment.

We make it so easy for them and here’s why:

1. We want more than anything, to be liked

You freaking got that job you’ve been dying for. Congrats! So first day on the job, you get dressed up, you’re beyond nervous, and you practice your lines so that you sound like the perfect employee robot. Why? Because you want people to like you. You want your boss and your co-workers to think that you’re the best thing that ever happened to them. Ok cool. Doesn’t seem like the worst thing, right? But it is because the desperate desire to get along with everyone, to please everyone, leads us to draw our boundaries a lot farther than where they should be. When someone does or says something innappropriate,we let it slide, because we feel that if we say something, we’ll be that conservative bitch that can’t take a joke. When we’re afraid of people not liking us, we accept certain things that are just not acceptable.

2. We want to move up the career ladder (even though it won’t exist for long)

We keep getting awesome projects. You can be sure that when your boss likes you, he’s going to make sure that you like him back. So he’s brilliant. He gives you great, rewarding work. And you eat it up because OF COURSE you’d rather coordinate a community event than make copies and schedule meetings. He introduces you to all the right people. He makes sure you get to attend important meetings. AND YOU LOVE IT.

3. We’re ridiculously naive

It’s pretty difficult to notice sexual harassment when you actually like the person, when the person is nice and seems to be helping you with your career. That’s why so many of us fall for it. We think, awesome, I’ve got a friend now and it just so happens that he’s in a position of power. In addition, most of us Gen-Yers entering the workforce do so single. So we want to meet a cute guy and when we find one that’s being nice to us and showing interest we think, score! We picture ourselves going to company parities together. We think, wow, how cute, John and his secretary ended up together. Or Sarah and Phil from finance, they’re quite the power couple. Not to mention that they’re in suits. Ohhhh the power of the suit.


It’s not okay for anyone you work with to put you in these situations. At the end of the day, they should know better. We’re easy targets because we don’t know any better. Most of us don’t have an extensive experience with sexual harassment. So Gen-Y, be a little more aware when in the workplace. Here’s a tip…If your boss has an issue being seen with you in public, then something is up. Soemthing is inappropriate. Because if his intentions are genuine and there’s nothing inappropriate going on, he won’t try to hide it. Some relationships should be stricly business. Keep them that way or I promise, you’ll find yourself in a situation that sucks.

2 Responses to “Gen Y & Sexual Harassment”

  1. Doug's BoomerRants March 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    If anyone, GenY’er or any other person in the workforce, has the added burden of having attractive looks there’s no question that can be problematic if not handled appropriately. The question is, what exactly is approriate. These days you have to be wary not only of predatory male superiors but also female superiors (and not necessarily those that are gay). There can be a fair amount of physical envy and outright jealousy between females, especially if a newcomer shines with brains and beauty and suddenly becomes office attention. So sexual harassment can come in a broad spectrum in the workplace. I generally will suggest this…
    1. The workplace is NOT an altruistic, pure, and neutral social environment. It’s competition… in any number of ways. (see next comment post)

  2. Doug's BoomerRants March 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    2. Understand your own sexual attractiveness and the responses you get from those around you in normal situations. Once you do that, then your “radar” is better tuned to separating sincerity from patronage toward your looks. Kinda tough to do when you are “just” in your 20’s because this is usually an experiencial learning thing and takes time.
    3. Know the sexual harassment laws and policies and use them as a last resort, but “wear” them when needed.
    4. Be yourself at all times… and know your social strengths and weaknesses.

    Maybe that will help. 🙂

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