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To wonder if this was actually quite a sexist thing to say in the workplace?

25 replies

KentishMama · 16/07/2017 20:38

I may well be AIBU and I know that there are much much worse examples of everyday sexism out there.

I work for a large global corporation who are really trying to achieve gender equality throughout the company. A very modern and forward thinking business.

But I just had my annual review meeting and my male boss said: "My feedback to you is that you are a very lovely lady, always very well put together and presentable." And I just felt Hmm.

Should add that I am not in a customer facing role and I'm a very senior manager, just in case that matters. I work in a technical role and my performance can be assessed by objective measures.

Part of me wants to casually mention this to HR. Maybe they can make him attend some gender equality training or something. AIBU?

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Mrsglitterfairy · 16/07/2017 20:39

I'm struggling to see the issue here. If you were male and he said you were a lovely young man would you still have the same issue? I would take it as a compliment

MommaGee · 16/07/2017 20:41

Did he say anything else or was that it?

RiverTam · 16/07/2017 20:41

I very very much doubt that feedback would be given in that way to a man. 'Lovely lady'? Angry

witsender · 16/07/2017 20:41

Yes, how presentable you are has nothing to do with your job! Would he compliment aan on how natty his suit was?

I hope he gave some real, useful info too?

ilovesooty · 16/07/2017 20:41

I think I'd feel as you did. No feedback on your performance?

orlantina · 16/07/2017 20:41

My feedback to you is that you are a very lovely lady, always very well put together and presentable

That feedback seems irrelevant to your actual job.

fizzicles · 16/07/2017 20:42

YANBU. Was that his only feedback? Is it relevant to your performance that you are 'well put together?' Did you get any objective feedback on your work? I would ask HR if it is standard for appearance to come into your review. Definitely sound sexist to me.

edwinbear · 16/07/2017 20:43

I don't see the issue either. I once worked with a (very competent) man who was quite the opposite. Badly presented and scruffy and it was commented on every year in his annual review. I assume this was only one comment in many? Provided your manager went on to discuss other aspects of your performance I wouldn't take offence at this.

KentishMama · 16/07/2017 20:43

I can't imagine him commenting on a man's appearance or using the word "lovely" if I'm honest! It just made me want to take a shower. But I may just have developed a slight dislike to my manager because he never does any work and I end up working crazy hours to make up for it. If I'm BU, I'll pipe down Grin

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StiffyByng · 16/07/2017 20:45

I would definitely talk to HR about that. What nonsense to come out with in a professional, senior appraisal.

Of course no one would ever describe a man as a 'lovely man' in an appraisal. Ever.

orlantina · 16/07/2017 20:46

Badly presented and scruffy and it was commented on every year in his annual review

Commenting if someone's appearance is causing an issue may be appropriate.

I don't think that commenting that someone is presentable is appropriate - as it's not a performance issue and is not causing a concern.

KentishMama · 16/07/2017 20:47

Not trying to drip feed, sorry. There was other, more run of the mill feedback. Not hugely useful, but not terrible either. This was the introduction to the review meeting and I think he was surprised that I didn't thank him for the compliment, but merely rolled my eyes at him! Confused

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EmmaC78 · 16/07/2017 20:47

I think as MommaGee has mentioned the key for me would be whether he said anything else.

If that as all that was said then yes I do think that is inappropriate and unhelpful feedback but it that was in amongst a much longer feedback conversation then I would probably just let it lie.

AChickenCalledKorma · 16/07/2017 20:48

I do appraisals and can just about imagine that I might comment on whether a junior member of staff - male or female - was smartly dressed and presented themselves well, especially if they were a recent graduate and still getting used to the office environment.

But yes, in your case, the way he phrased it does sound pretty sexist.

orlantina · 16/07/2017 20:49

I think that comments on appearance should only be made IF they are causing an issue at work.

ChasedByBees · 16/07/2017 20:49

It sounds a bit weird and patronising. I'd maybe mention it to them personally but can appreciate a lot of people would be uncomfortable with that.

KoalaDownUnder · 16/07/2017 20:50


Patronising and sexist as fuck, if you ask me. ShockAngry

Eolian · 16/07/2017 20:50

YANBU at all. No he wouldn't have described a man as lovely and no he wouldn't have described a man as 'well put together' ffs. Your appearance, unless it's inappropriate or scruffy, is irrelevant to your ability to do your job. I can't believe some people don't see the issue with this!

orlantina · 16/07/2017 20:52
GinaFordCortina · 16/07/2017 20:52

It's just urgh isn't it?

KentishMama · 16/07/2017 20:55

I just wish he'd said, "You're really nice and you always look really professional" or something along those lines to make the same point in a more neutral manner. I can't even tell myself that it was just clumsily phrased. This guy will re-word a single phrase in a presentation dozens of times to ensure it is phrased just so...

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KentishMama · 16/07/2017 20:56

@orlantina, I wouldn't last a day there without kicking him in the balls...

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orlantina · 16/07/2017 20:57

"You're really nice and you always look really professional

It's not hard, is it...

Do you know if he has 'form' for this?

KentishMama · 16/07/2017 21:07

I don't think he has form for actually hitting on someone or anything properly sleazy, but he is very very condescending at times. We're not a very hierarchical organisation, but if he got his way, I'd allow him to proofread every email I wrote before it goes out. I obviously don't let him.

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Llanali · 16/07/2017 21:09

Hmm maybe it is, but I wouldn't have taken it like that.

We often describe colleagues as "a really genuine lovely guy" or "such a lovely lady", and the presented and put together comments to me apply about the whole demeanor of a person and how they come across, I wouldn't take that as just about their dress code or make up etc. I work with men who would and are described as well
Put together and presentable, and it's not just about how slim fit their suits are.

That might make me as bad as them, but I wouldn't have thought twice about the comments, though I would be annoyed at the lack of constructive feedback in general!

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