Fifty Shades of HR

My friend Laurie Ruettimann wrote a funny post over at The Cynical Girl on Fify Shades of Grey – and how crappy she thinks it is (go check it out). That post gave me inspiration to write this one, plus the fact that for Mother’s Day I bought my wife the first two books of the series (which is before this SNL bit even ran – making fun of all the guys buying this on Amazon for their wives).    I’m not going to get into the content of the book – it’s lady porn – and this is a family site. Ok, it’s not a family site – but I have standards – although they are very low, I still have some!

Here’s what I don’t get about Fifty Shades, I mean besides most of the terms – why is it Ok for the ladies in the office to talk about sex, but when the guys do it HR is called and we go through an entire round of discipline and sensitivity training?  Don’t tell me that the ladies aren’t talking about it – you’ve read the book – they are saying things that make the most harden HR Pro blush!  Yet, we chuckle and walk away – it’s just the girls – they don’t mean any harm…

I tend to think we allow this double standard for the simple fact 80% of HR Pros are female, so other females either join in the conversation or turn the other cheek.  This is reason #3247 that HR is hard – we send mix messages to our employees constantly.  “Don’t ever engage in sexual conversation in the workplace – there is no place for it – unless it’s a popular book that all the ladies are reading, then have at it, but only if your a female or gay male, otherwise it gets creepy!” (That’s actually wording from our official policy!)

Shades of Grey, literally, has no place in HR – yet we deal with “gray” constantly in our profession and in the workplace.  Individual contributor is creeping out the front desk person by hanging out around her work station to often and we discipline the individual contributor.  Executive is creeping out the front desk person by hanging out around her work station to often, and she gets fired.   Your co-worker “borrows” a ream of paper to do some printing at home and he gets written up like he stealing company secrets. Executive uses the companies IT staff to help put together his kids science project and no one says a thing. Gray.

It might just be the male in me, but the Fifty Shades conversations seem fairly black and white.  Unfortunately, in real life, we can’t have our cake and eat it to.  Leave the books and the stories and the workplace debriefs of chapters 4 and 5 at home where they belong.  We have enough creepy in our workplaces – let’s not be a part of the problem!

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