Keys and Gray – Sexism in the workplace returns...

Keys and Gray – Sexism in the workplace returns...


In his TalkSport interview, Richard Keys said that he was stunned by “the firestorm” sparked by his and Gray’s comments.

So is it all just a bit of harmless fun? Probably not in their case (a quick listen to the audio clip reveals real venom in the way they discussed Sian Massey), but there’s a fine line to draw between accusations of misogyny and what could be intended as light-hearted fun.

“In many workplaces there are no problems in this area,” argues Patrick White, “and as long as comments are not disparaging or offensive, jokes and laughing with colleagues is a main contributor to the organization’s culture.”

He goes on to point out that many women also play on their gender stereotypes for comic effect, although whilst this is their prerogative, “it’s important that if this happens it is not taken too far by their male colleagues.”

Naturally, nobody would want to work in an environment where having a bit of a laugh had been formally outlawed.

However, when issues of difference are involved, be it racial, sexual or gender-based, you’re always going to be on tricky ground.

“I don’t think we’ve reached the stage where people are afraid to have a joke with their colleagues,” agrees Maggie Berry. “But if someone's subjected to continual sexist banter at work, that is taking things too far. It's just draining.”

She suggests a “three strikes and your out” system, allowing women to shrug off an isolated remark as a misjudged joke, but encouraging them to take it to a superior if it continues.

“I've known plenty of colleagues who've made an out of order remark,” she says. “If they say something similar again, I would pay more attention and after that, I'd be inclined to formally flag it up.”


George Wales
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