Q: As a relatively junior member of my team, I'm trying to figure out my role in helping change the culture in my firm (and with my clients) related to how women are treated. There's a bit of a "boys' club" atmosphere that I'm not comfortable with. What's the best way to have an impact?
–– Calvin, consultant
A: Act from a position of integrity and respect to make the most difference.
Start by reflecting on the situations you've seen and responses you've offered thus far. Have you been speaking up? It sounds as if you may not be living up to your own ideals, and that needs to change.
Think about the things you wish you'd said, and envision behaving as your best self when you see mistreatment of co-workers. What would have been different?
This could be an uncomfortable adaptation to make. However, the high visibility of this issue in the news may make it easier.
One reader sent his experience, which provides a good model for intervention that doesn't put anyone on the spot in an unproductive way.
This reader writes: "I was working on a team that included an intern -- a college-age woman. Some of the guys on the team were making some jokes about date-ability, etc. Not funny, inappropriate, and making her feel pretty uncomfortable.
She and I were talking about it and I asked if she was as uncomfortable as I was, obviously seeing that she was. She said yes, but didn't want to get on people's bad sides by speaking up.
So I went to the team lead and told him that he needed to make sure that this type of joking around was stopped. He was genuinely surprised, as men generally are when they're told offensive behavior is offensive.