Men and women have worked together since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Thing is, though, with them--they were husband and wife.
To state the obvious: most people at work are not married. So what do proper relationships between men and women in the workplace look like for those who are not married? By "proper relationships," I mean moral, professional, and appropriately friendly and productive relationships.
In the past thirty years or so "gender relations" has become a much bigger concern for businesses and organizations. In some ways we've become more aware. We've finally awakened to some serious problems and begun to try to correct them for the benefit of everyone but usually especially for women. In other ways we've become hyper-sensitive to the point where some "fixes" seem worse than the problem. For corporations, gender relations in the workplace has become so much policy. But who can write a policy for every eventuality?
Shouldn't adult professionals police themselves on such common sense matters? Well, yes they should, but some men and women are not mature, some are naughty, and some are downright nasty. All this means the corporation, to protect itself from legal liability and to protect its employees from unwanted and harmful interactions with the opposite (or maybe the same) gender have had to develop H.R. policies.
Then there's the issue of what used to be acceptable--maybe, for example, truly innocent friendly hugging--isn't wanted or isn't always acceptable any more.
During my days as a university administrator our institution and other similar ones had to address gender issues, including appropriate interaction. Out of those experiences I wrote this recently published article: "Men and Women In The Workplace." It's not the last word, not even my last word, on the subject. But it does address some basic concerns, share what I learned, and make some recommendations.
One thing's for sure, the question of appropriate male/female interaction in the workplace is never going to go away.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012
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