Do you flirt with your colleagues? Do you share dirty jokes with them? Do you shower them with ‘hi sexy’ greetings? Even if your colleagues are sporty about it, your behaviour is risque enough to cost your job. With the unceremonious exit of publisher David Davidar as CEO of Penguin Canada following charges of sexual harassment by a colleague with whom he confessed being “in a consensual flirtatious relationship”, many in the corporate sector are wondering where to draw the line when it comes to appropriate office behaviour.
“Sexual harassment policies of most organisations these days are so nuanced that everyone’s job is at risk. Light-hearted but sexually tinted remarks or casual addressing of a colleague as ‘babe’ or ‘dude’ can also be labeled as harassment,” says Amir Hussain, an HR professional. “I’d be better off exchanging jokes with just close friends,” says Sumanta Roy, an IT professional.
Choose your words carefully while complimenting a colleague’s attire. “No one dares make a pass at you make it clear that you are not the sort of a person who’ll appreciate it,” says Sakshi Sahni, a producer. “In professions which include travelling and partying, people often end up romancing co-workers. But later, over professional disagreements, this may just backfire,” says Shilpa Chopra, an ad professional.
“You come to the office to work,” advises Roy, “Not to abuse or get into relationships with co-workers.”