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Things Never to Say to Women Executives

Computer You would think most people use common sense in the workplace. Not so. Which is why Diversity Inc.is kind enough to clue people in by providing a list of eight things you should never say to a women executiveve or co-worker. Hard to imagine in today's business world that these seemingly obvious reminders are still so relevant but speaking from experience, they are.

  • Avoid any kind of sexual comment. Karen Brown, chief diversity officer for Rockwell Collins,one of Diversity Inc's 25 Noteworthy Companies, says she once was asked to join a co-worker alone in the copy room. "The best way to deal with these things is to consider it as a perfect awareness opportunity to teach that individual something that they never would have had the chance to learn before then."
  • "You don't really want that promotion. You'll never see your kids." Don't assume that a woman's career isn't as important to her because she has children at home. Her children may be what's driving her to excel to her highest potential.
  • You'll get the job because you're a woman" or "You must be the token woman" Suggesting to a female coworker or executivee that she is where she is because of gender is nothing short of disrespectful. It demeans that woman's experience in the field and expertise as a leader. It also indicates, to a woman from an underrepresented group, that she was selected not only because she is a female but also because she is Black, Latina or Asian.
  • What's the matter, is it that time of the month?" (This one is infuriating!) When a female executive is forceful or aggressive, she is often received in a negative way, while a man in the same position is perceived as doing his job. One of the ways that negativity can be expressed is by attributing the behavior to hormonal changes.
  • You're very attractive [or pretty, or beautiful, etc.]" Athough women as well as men may enjoy a compliment on their looks, saying this to a female coworker or executive can leave the coworker feeling marginalized--as if her looks are more important than her skills or what she has to say. (Better to compliment her suit or new purse)
  • "You look great for your age" or "Do you use Botox?" Especially inappropriate in the workplace, a woman's age should never be discussed unless she brings it up first. And if you suspect her great look is the result of a surgical procedure, keep it to yourself, unless your coworker volunteers that information to you.
  • "You do that so well … for a girl." Even if said in a joking way, the phrase implies that women are inferior to men, and the recipient may not receive it with the best of humor.
  • "When are you due?" If you are not absolutely certain that a woman is expecting, do not, I repeat, do not ask this question.
  • Why did they give YOU that assignment? This is my addition to the list. Said in a condescending way, this is one of the most obnoxious comments I hear made to women in workplaces.

If you have anything to add to the list, let me hear it!