Expert Advice

Sexual Harassment — It Happens to Men Too

| Updated April 8, 2018

Yes — women can be perpetrators of sexual harassment

Nonprofit experts Gary G. Godsey, executive director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, and Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk, MissionBox co-founder and CEO, have teamed up to create MissionBox DoubleTake — a column that offers opinions about the peskier aspects of working in the nonprofit sector. The opinions offered here are based on the authors' personal nonprofit experience and may not reflect the opinions of MissionBox, Inc. These opinions should not be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for professional legal consultation. MissionBox readers are invited to submit alternative responses, which may be published here as well.

To be blunt, my CEO is a hunk. I live for his gorgeous smile. Since he offices in another part of our building, I time my snacks and lunch for when I see him heading toward the kitchen. He always has a kind hello for me. Checking him out gets me through many a tedious work day.

I'm trying to get up the nerve to ask him for coffee or a drink after work. Some of my fellow female colleagues think it would be a mistake, but I'm not so sure. We're about the same age and we have similar interests. At the same time, what if he rejects me? And I don't want to leave this nonprofit — they do great work.

What do you think I should do?

Gary says ...

Run for the hills! What could you possibly be thinking? Mixing business and pleasure is a deadly combo. It's certainly fine to be an admirer. Acting on it in the way you describe is out of line. Fantasizing is the safest way to go, if you want to keep your job. Dream on, but don't make the career-ending mistake of acting on your temptation.

Kathryn says ...

Step down, my dear. If a man said the same type of things you're saying about his female boss, we'd all be outraged. You'd likely call him a sexist — and you would be right. So, I'm calling you out as a sexist — and I am right.

Your CEO isn't there for your sexual entertainment. It's creepy and objectifying. Because he's polite to you, you think it's OK to put him on the spot and ask him out. Do you do this to every good-looking man who says "hello" to you? You might consider counseling to learn about healthy relationships in the workplace (or perhaps any place).

In summary: this type of behavior isn't OK when men do it, and it isn't OK when women do it. Eat lunch at your desk if you can't control yourself. Please stop the sexist behavior. Today.

Now, your take!

Ruth says ... Don't do it! And find someone else - outside the office - to crush on NOW. If you do this and he turns you down, you've made future interactions extremely awkward. If you do it and he accepts, you've created a potentially disastrous situation for the future: If you get involved and then break up, one of you will be out the door, and it won't be the CEO. You've already created a problematic situation just by discussing this with co-workers.

Nigel says ... Not being a hunky boss myself, I consider myself indeed fortunate not to have had to deal with this situation in my workplace. I concur with the respondents. It is hugely complex and especially given the differentials in power and perceptions, it can only ever end in tears. Sometimes you can't help the people you fall in love with. In this case, my advice would be if you can't help yourself, leave the organization and pursue the relationship on an equal footing outside of the workplace.

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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