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If there’s misogyny in the workplace everything else will be wrong too

In a world where workplace dynamics are increasingly under scrutiny, the presence of misogyny often serves as a litmus test for deeper organisational issues. From harassment to discrimination, the toxicity of a misogynistic environment permeates every aspect of workplace culture.
“I never found an office where there was misogyny but every thing else was fine.” Those of us who have spent a lot of time investigating claims of harassment, discrimination and bad management  will know the truth of this quote from a former HR manager.
It’s not always clear where the rot started, was it weak leadership that lead to a dysfunctional team unable or unwilling to set and enforce standards? Was it a dysfunctional group of managers that undermined the organisations leadership? Was it a workplace culture that was always there just below the surface that became more out in the open in the absence of a management challenge and a leadership setting the right tone?
However it came about misogyny is likely to be a characteristic of a toxic workplace which also features racism , homophobia, bullying and ineffective, weak,  inconsistent management. Effective leadership can change this but often leadership is part of the problem.
You’re asked in a job interview What would you do if your boss was sexually harassing you? This naturally alarms you. This is a totally inappropriate question and should make you question what sort of organisation am I hoping to work for? Does this question indicate that the organisation has a problem sexual harassment? Why is it phrased as if the victims responsibility to tackle this problem. What question(s) should the organisation be asking managers A) to ensure they were not misogynistic or sexist B) to ensure they would effectively challenge any inappropriate attitudes or behaviour.
As a manger recruiting employees to work in posts as varied as care assistants in care homes, office admin staff or first line managers I asked a question to establish their understanding of Equal Opportunities. I had different expectations on the depth of understanding depending on the level of appointment but there was always a relevant question. Clearly an organisation that asks what would you do if you were harassed, bullied or excluded has failed to appreciate the role and power of leadership.
You’re asked to investigate a complaint of harassment or a grievance. Perhaps it is one member of a team complaining about the behaviour of another and saying the manager has done nothing about it. Perhaps it is the manager’s behaviour that is the problem. Is it as the manager suggests a conflict of personalities , two people who just rub each other up the wrong way? Or is there a much bigger set of problems at work?
The investigation finds the complaints have substance, disciplinary action follows and written warnings issued. The grievance against the manager is up held. But what changes? Do the individuals involved even accept they have done anything wrong? Often the victim leaves the organisation frustrated and disillusioned feeling let down by the system, HR, senior management. And the manager may find a grievance up held does not necessarily put a block on future promotion!
A work place where misogyny is rife will be a workplace with a toxic culture where harassment, bullying, discrimination and exclusion flourishing due to weak, inconsistent management and poor leadership. In such an organisation there is no challenge to bad practice only collusion, denial , distrust and a lot of unhappy people.

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