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

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations receive grants to bring ancestors’ remains home

Grants are part of the Royal B.C. Museum’s new repatriation program

Get ready for a week of sunshine across Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures in the high teens all this week

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Alberni’s McLean Mill Society looking for a new direction

Society held a public input meeting at historic site

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

Hack sends malicious emails from Alberni School District

Tofino and Ucluelet residents urged not to click on attachment.

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

It’s shaping up to be quite a finish in CFL’s West Division standings

The Calgary Stampeders (10-2) are first, four points ahead of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-5).

Twice-convicted killer set to inherit multimillion-dollar company found guilty of father’s murder

A Toronto judge ruled that Dellen Millard is guilty of first-degree murder in death of his father,

Campaign seeks to add Farsi to B.C. school curriculum options

Group wants Farsi added to list of nine languages in policy covering second language requirements

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Most Read