A reader writes:
I’m having an issue with a coworker. I don’t meet with him often, but it’s well known throughout the office that he holds very conservative views in addition to being homophobic. As a social media manager at the company, I manage our clients’ pages through a profile created by the employee before me. As the profile is “friends” with him, every now and then, articles expressing hot button topics (anti gay marriage, pro-life, racist articles about Obama, etc.) pop up on the newsfeed.
However, after the Duck Dynasty controversy when the patriarch shared some racist and homophobic views, this coworker brought a bobble-head of said patriarch and has placed it prominently on his desk. Now, I’m all for people bringing personal knick knacks to add a bit of personality to their work space, but every time I see this bobble-head, it makes me uncomfortable and upset. I support his right to have his opinion, but as someone who shares opposite and equally polarizing viewpoints, I don’t think the workplace is an appropriate place to have these views on display. Furthermore, clients do come to our agency regularly to meet with this director in his office, and I feel it’s only a matter of time before someone besides me is offended by this.
The issue? He’s an executive director and managing partner of the company.
I want to go to HR about this, but it is a small company. All the executive directors are male. They attend the same conservative church as many other coworkers (one of my coworkers has had two other coworkers try to “save” her). The HR director is also a managing partner and, while I think he tries to remain as neutral as possible, I’m afraid that speaking out about this will lead to me being pegged as “difficult” in an environment that’s notorious for showing preferential treatment towards men. I also fear I’ll be treated poorly, or even fired.
I don’t think I’m being too sensitive about this, but I honestly don’t know how to approach it. I’m not comfortable talking to the executive director personally as I’ve had multiple coworkers tell me he can be cruel when offended. Side note: I am enrolling in school as an “exit strategy,” but classes won’t start for another three months. But that also makes me conflicted about whether I should bring this up at all.
Well … basically, it sounds you’re working for a conservative company, where you’re going to be exposed to socially conservative viewpoints.
I get why the bobble-head doll bugs you, but I don’t think it’s something you’ll get much traction complaining about, especially in this particular office. A figurine of a reality show star isn’t likely to rise to the level of hostile workplace in the legal sense, and yeah, in the office it sounds like you’re working in, you’re likely to be seen as being overly sensitive.
I agree with you that it might offend clients, but it doesn’t sound like your company is terribly concerned about that. It’s prominently displayed, after all, so if someone senior to you in the company is concerned about how clients will feel about it, they’ll address it. It’s not behavior he’s hiding or that others aren’t positioned to see.
At the end of the day, this guy is a jerk, but it’s a doll. I agree you with that Duck Dynasty = ick, but there are bigger issues.
Speaking of those bigger issues: I’m much more concerned that you’re working with someone who has apparently been vocally homophobic in your workplace, and that you’re having to listen to his racist and homophobic speech on social media. I’d block his posts so that you don’t need to see them from the work profile that’s connected to him (you can do that without unfriending him), and if you hear any more hateful speech from him, I’d absolutely complain about that. (That said, in an environment where more than one coworker has tried to “save” someone, that complaint may or may not get results.)