SEX FOR WORK, SEX AT WORK: WHAT YOU SHOULD/CAN DO
Sex is a part of nature and most times, we just go along with nature; however, how and where we go along with it, is something I’m talking about today. I almost titled this post ‘Sexual harassment by your boss/colleague at work’ but I realized that the topic might narrow my approach, as sex in the office environment might not just be only about harassment, since workplace sex just happen sometimes and willingly too – sometimes. But, looking at workplace and employees, I realized that there’s no way to absolutely prevent employees from becoming sexually attracted to each other and even acting on it even at the detriment of their jobs. Let’s check the scenarios below.
Shade was a new employee in one of the Nigerian new generation banks back in 2009, and alongside other young females employees, she was given targets to get deposits of a particular sum before their employments would be ratified. Thankfully, there were many rich older men in her church and she felt if she could approach few of them, her target would be met in no time at all; she got a shocker of her life when 6 out of the 8 ‘church’ men she went to ‘market’ to in their offices wanted to sleep with her before they could make such huge deposit in ‘her’ bank. She became frustrated and eventually left the job, because, according to her, she could not give her body in exchange for the bank’s growth.
Kenny’s dream was to become an actress of international repute, she had almost everything working for her, a shape to die for and an attractive face, and she had always dreamt of acting alongside the Genevieve and Rita Dominic of this world, she was rightly advised by her friends to sharpen her skills by going to some acting school which she did. After graduating, the production arm of the school called for audition of some talented students for some roles in their weekly soap opera showing on more than 20 Television stations across Nigeria; she knew immediately after the audition that some other ladies did better that she did and wasn’t expecting any big role until the casting director slipped his card into her hand with an address of some hotel somewhere on the Lagos island. She visited and was asked to warm the director’s bed with a promise that she would land the supporting lead actress’ role and many more after that; she did warm his bed few times, and today she struts the red carpet as one of the Nollywood recognized divas.
Nina, a 30 year old married woman was a manager in a renowned HR consultancy and recruitment agency with ‘No-dating’ HR policy, especially between superior officers and their subordinates. But sometimes in 2010, the company sent Nina and another Director who was married and had been flirting with Nina albeit secretly on a regional conference somewhere outside the country. Needless to say they both took the advantage fully and practically lodged in the same suite throughout the conference period even though the company had made separate arrangements for them. But things went too far when some of the erotic photos they took in compromising positions went viral online after some bloggers got hold of them when Nina’s Director lost his phone; they were both relieved of their jobs and Nina’s husband filed for a divorce.
Julia got a job few months ago as the secretary to the HR Director of a construction firm, prior to this time she had been at home for 6 months after the airline where she worked owed its staff 6 months salaries and eventually went down and sacked all of them without payment. Her new job is good, the pay is attractive but she has one problem – her boss. The 56 years old man would never stop hitting on her and trying to touch her at every opportunity, he is always making remarks and comments that are sexual and unwelcome in nature, also unnecessarily wanting or setting up physical contact including touching, pinching and patting once they are both alone inside the office. But her main problem is, if she tried to follow the sexual harassment complaint procedure, everything would still end on her boss’s table and this could mean a lot of things for her; presently she is contemplating quitting her job or do something, anything just to make the harassment stop.
Those four scenarios painted above have something to do with sex in a professional environment, which could be voluntary or involuntary. I will not try to pass judgement or proffer solutions to the above scenarios, but I will try to advise on what you can do or what you should do when faced with the last scenario.
- If You Feel You Are Being Harassed, Communicate Your Disapproval : Respectfully tell whoever is harassing you to stop, it does not matter if you need to say it everytime he tries something funny, just make sure you communicate that you disapprove of his actions.
- Keep A Record: If he isn’t getting the message, prepare to report him. Gather evidence to substantiate your claims, note down the date, time and details of each incident as much as you can remember them.
- Find A Confidant: If this person is your superior and your word alone might not have enough ‘weight’ against his, share the situation with a colleague you trust in the office, probably a senior colleague at the same level as he is or very close.
- Use Technology: Try to use your mobile phone audio or video recorder to document his remarks and actions in case you finally make the formal complaint and evidence is needed. But be careful about this, so he doesn’t beat you to your own game.
- Make Formal Complaint: make written complaint to appropriate authorities and copy relevant member of staff, verbal complaint could be hushed up.
- Plan B: This means leaving the job like (Shade) the lady in the first scenario I painted. Note that this has to be the last resort after you have tried every other thing and do not succeed. But before you take this last step, it is best to start looking for another job and actually get it before you leave this one you are in now.
As I said earlier, sexual attraction between co-workers can’t be prevented. But what can be prevented, or at least minimized, are the unfortunate and costly things that can happen when people act on the sexual attraction, especially if your company has ‘No-Dating HR policy’ so, check these 4 simple rules below and see if they work for you.
- If you’re a supervisor, don’t even think about dating anyone in your department or anyone who reports to you. It also applies even if you’re both unmarried, because it will almost certainly end badly, one way or another. Trust me, I know.
- Be careful about giving too many compliments of a personal nature to co-workers of the opposite sex, and don’t let conversations with them veer too far into the personal realm; try and keep everything work-related, even if it isn’t easy to do so.
- Avoid situations where you’ll be tempted to have a drink after work with a co-worker you find attractive or see a movie with them. It always seems to end up later with the two of you walking to someone’s flat or car hand-in-hand.
- If you’re married, put pictures of your spouse and your kids in prominent places throughout your office, and look at them frequently. I repeat, look at them frequently, because they’re the biggest reason you’re working so hard, and they’ll be the biggest losses you’ll have if your marriage falls apart because of a workplace affair. Stay Safe.