our company ID badges are causing people to stare at women’s chests

A reader writes:

A friend who works at a different company has described this problem, and I’m not sure what to say to her: Her company has instituted a policy that requires employees to wear badges with full name and picture, on a lanyard around their neck. No other location, no matter how visible, is acceptable. This causes the badge to hang at mid-breast level. My friend is large-chested and somewhat sensitive to people staring. She feels like she, and other women, are now having their chests stared at in a demeaning manner by facilities/security.

She has attempted to discuss this problem with her company’s security/facilities people, who have adamantly refused to change the
policy. She has attempted to work with her company’s HR, which has acknowledged that staring does happen but insists on a “need to comply with security.”

What advice can I offer her? My instinct is “it’s time to talk to a lawyer” but she’s been at this company for over 10 years, really likes the work, and is afraid to upset a good workplace over a policy that was just introduced a few months ago.

I’m not a lawyer and it’s possible that you’d hear a different answer from someone who is, but I would be very, very surprised if a company requiring badges to be worn like this met the legal standard for harassment.

Companies usually want ID badges to be displayed at roughly chest level so that they’re close to eye level. That said, I can’t imagine why your friend’s company isn’t open to allowing the badge location to be modified slightly, or simply allowing them to be clipped to a shirt rather than having to dangle from a lanyard.

Your friend might have a better chance of getting the policy changed if she can get other women to complain along with her. (Alternately, can she shorten the length of the lanyard? That might solve the problem too.)

But I’d also point out that the real problem likely isn’t the location of the badges but the lecherous staring, if that’s what’s happening. People who ogle coworkers inappropriately are going to do it with or without an ID badge, and it’s not happening just because she suddenly put on a lanyard. Your friend should be able to walk around her workplace without being ogled, no matter where her ID badge happens to land, and that’s where I’d focus.

{ 187 comments… read them below }

  1. The IT Manager

    Yeah … what do you think a lawyer might do?

    This is fairly sound security policy – having people display badges as close to their face as reasonably possible. (versus people wearing badges on their belts or belt loops.) Other options I have seen like clipping a badge to a shirt collar also have the badge on the breasts. I really don’t understand what you and your friend think the alternative is.

    I do not understand the situation and how often people look at the badge. When the badge needs to be examined could she grab it and hold it out away from her chest to the person looking at it?

    1. Kelly L.

      At one job I had, the bustier women often pinned it further up the shirt, almost at the shoulder rather than down on the actual breast.

    2. Mike C.

      Clipping it to a shirt pocket directs the eye to a much different place than wearing it on a lanyard.

      Mostly though, I’m rather disappointed in your lack of empathy for women who are tired of being treated like a piece of meat. You sound rather dismissive of their concerns.

      1. Anonymous

        If I clipped my ID badge to my shirt collar/pocket, it would be directly over my boob, instead of slightly beneath them hanging by a lanyard.

        I don’t found IT Manager’s comment to be dismissive at all. I’m with AAM on this one.. if people are staring, they’re staring regardless of if there’s a badge there. And if there is a badge there, they aren’t looking in a demeaning manner, they’re looking in a practical one.

          1. TheSnarkyB

            lol I did not know how to say this, but yeah. I don’t know how your boobs sit, but if I pin an ID to my shirt collar, it’s have to fall 6-8 inches to hit nip city.

            Maybe you’re thinking of a lapel, not a collar, Anonymous?

            I also found IT Manager’s comment to be dismissive. Letting people with different bodies slightly modify the placement of a security measure to their comfort, within certain necessary parameters, is just plain common sense.

      2. Keith Matthews

        It’s called “Reality,” Mike. One sign of a good manager is the ability to deal with it effectively.

        Oh, and btw, did you read the answer’s last paragraph? I think you’re being a little sensitive. IJS

      3. TheSnarkyB

        Wow, Mike C., I don’t know what’s up with the comments in response to yours but I agree completely with what you wrote. Thanks for chiming in.

      4. Jen RO

        People looking at an ID badge = being treated like a piece of meat? What?

        I don’t know about other women’s boobs, but unless I wore the badge on my necklace, it would be in my boob area (and I am not well endowed). The OP should be allowed to place her badge wherever she wants, but I doubt this would help much, since it would still fall in the same general area. And, like others have pointed out, if someone wants to ogle her breasts, s/he will anyway.

        1. Jen RO

          (This comment assumes that the OP’s workplace requires badges to be worn at chest height. If this is not a requirement, then a longer lanyard is the solution.)

  2. ClaireS

    I can see how this could make some one really uncomfortable. It may be to simplified of a solution but whenever I get a lanyard at a conference or something, I put a knot at the back of my neck to position it at a better height. I recognize this may not be a solution for everyone based on body type, but it might be worth trying.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      Yep, the knot is a good idea and one I’ve used myself. The OP’s friend could look up some neat adjustable knots online, or just get one of the adjustable lanyards.

      As a busty woman, I’m joining the chorus and saying that this can be a very real issue. Long lanyards tend to settle between the breasts, which can draw unwanted attention. Even if someone is staring at the badge, it can feel like that person is ogling. Worse, it can give some jerks an excuse to freely ogle. There’s a reason I avoid necklaces or lanyards that are of a certain length.

      1. Anon

        Yup, absolutely. I had this same problem when my workplace started requiring this too, and so did several colleagues. But management were understanding of our discomfort and agreed to allow the badges to be worn differently.

      2. Jessa

        Be careful about knots if you work in any kind of industrial area, there’s a reason those lanyards have breakaway cords and a knot will stop that from working.

        Knot each SIDE of the lanyard and then clip it back together. It’s safer if something happens and will still allow the safety breakaway to work.

    2. EngineerGirl

      I’m a busty woman that has worn an ID for 33 years. I agree that shortening the lanyard is the best solution. But I have some thoughts on lanyards in general:
      * First look is for free. That means they can stare hard at my badge ONCE to get my name. After that there is no excuse and I’ll challenge the stare at my chest. As in “May I ask why you are staring at my chest?” Because really, most people just glance.
      * Make sure your lanyard is a break-away lanyard. No Isadora Duncan for you! So shortening the lanyard may need to be done at the front, not the back if you want to keep the break-away mechanism.
      * I’ve had the sharp edges of the badge ruin several pieces of delicate blouses. The constant rubbing caused my shirts to get very worn where the badge was. File the edges of the badge, or better, put the badge in a soft frame of plastic.

      1. EngineerGirl

        BTW, I really like the comment further down that says when someone is looking at your badge, pick it up and hold it in front of them. I realize I do it all the time without thinking.

        But picking it up and holding it high eliminates looking at the chest. And really, you need to challenge them if they are looking at the chest.

  3. MR

    I’ve worked in a few environments that required name badges, and every lanyard I’ve ever seen, the badge hangs below the breast/chest level.

    So the problem is either a lanyard that is too short (simple solution: get a longer lanyard) or paranoia about what people are looking at (chances are, people are looking at the badge to see who they are, not the breasts).

    1. Judy

      My lanyard clip is about 2″ below the bottom of my bra, but I have one of those retractable holders attached there so the actual badge starts maybe 4″ below my bra, because half of the readers I have to use are more “butt height” and half are more mid-chest height. Maybe modifying the lanyard with a retractable clip will put it low enough to make it a non-issue.

      I prefer a lanyard to clipping the badge on, because many of my clothes don’t have good places to clip the badge. Most of the females here use lanyards, most of the males use just the clips.

      1. EngineerGirl

        Yes. After the retractable attachment is added on, the badge ends up near the waist.

    2. Xay

      I agree with the longer lanyard – my badge is at about waist level and I raise it if security needs to look at it. The paranoia comment is unnecessarily dismissive.

    3. Emily K

      But this company has stated they specifically want the badges at chest height and will not allow employees to use another location. The typical height at places you’ve worked before doesn’t really mean anything in regards to this company and what they’ve stated they want, and your “simple solution” is something the OP has already been told is unacceptable.

      And just because you don’t ogle breasts or have yours ogled doesn’t automatically make someone else paranoid if they believe someone is ogling theirs.

      1. fposte

        The company hasn’t stated that badges must be worn at chest height, though–it just said, or at least the OP just said, that it requires them to be worn on a cord around the neck. As stated, there’s nothing that rules out shortening the cord.

      2. Smilingswan

        Also, what is chest height for you may be different than for me. People are not all the same height, and torsos are not all proportioned the same. It seems pretty arbitrary of the company to require this. I would think visible anywhere on the front torso would be good enough.

  4. CaliCali

    I used to work at a company with a similar name badge policy — it didn’t have to be a lanyard, but it was the best option for most of us, since often women’s business casual doesn’t have convenient lapels or pockets for clipping badges, and the badge was required to be above the waist, so no belt- or pants-clipped badges. Also, wearing the badge off company premises was not allowed, so it needed to be easily removable. Being a defense contractor with a high level of security, there was little likelihood of any alteration of the policy. Most of the women (myself included) would shorten, or lengthen, the lanyards to a comfortable length, and if a security person was wanting to see the badge, we’d grab it and hold it up higher, both to make reading easier and to avoid chest gazing.

    Overall, I’m completely in favor of eliminating discriminatory policies, but this kind of policy is common in higher security facilities and will be such an uphill battle to fight that it might not be worth the effort and the visibility.

        1. EJ

          I’m also a woman. It sounds like it may be an over sensitivity with the friend in question. I agree about doing what she needs to do to modify the location – longer or shorter lanyard perhaps – but she should also realize that people are generally looking at the name tag and not her breasts. Especially if there was no ogling before the name tag rule came into place.

          1. TL

            Probably she knows the difference between ogling and non-ogling, though.

            I wear necklaces with interesting things all the time and I can tell the difference between someone looking at my necklace and someone using my necklace as an excuse to look at my chest.

            1. Zillah

              Agreed. Even if there wasn’t much ogling before the name tag rule, there are plenty of people who will take advantage of it and use it as an excuse now that they have one.

          2. Anonsie

            Agreed. If people really are fixedly starring at women in this office, the ID badge is not the problem, and moving it somewhere else is not likely to fix what is definitely a larger issue about respect and boundaries.

            Either that, or the concerned employee is especially sensitive about having her chest looked at people just looking at the badge makes her uncomfortable, which is still an issue but a separate one.

            I get how the policy is awkward (as a, I suppose you could say, endowed woman in a workplace with a lanyard policy, I get it) and you do notice people looking down to see your badge, but you know they’re looking at the badge. If someone did that on the street I’d know they were ogling, at work I know they’re reading my name or checking my photo. Different contexts, different meanings for the downward glance.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I think a lot of women find this a non-issue too, for whatever that’s worth.

        To be clear, if people are ogling her in a lecherous way, that’s a problem. But I don’t think the ID badges themselves are lawyer-worthy. They’re two different things.

        1. Gilby

          Agreed with AAM

          I am wondering though if there are new employees involved?
          I am hard pressed to see how after 1o years in a company if she is that big no one knew what her chest looked like unitl now. None of that happened before? Not judging. Just asking.

          The badge may be drawing more attention but badge or no badge if someone is endowed it was noticed before the badge.

          Yes if someone is staring too long it is a problem. Address that.

        2. AB Normal

          I’m late to this conversation, but also consider this a non-issue. I have to wear ID badges near the chest area frequently, and being a size 34DD with a relatively tiny waist that makes the breast area more prominent, have never noticed any “ogling” at work because of (or despite) the badge.

          Like others, if I see that a security person needs to check my credentials, I’ll bring the badge forward to make it easier to see, but I never noticed anyone staring. I highly doubt that if someone wanted to stare, he/she would need a badge as an excuse.

          I definitely agree with AAM’s statement, “To be clear, if people are ogling her in a lecherous way, that’s a problem. But I don’t think the ID badges themselves are lawyer-worthy. They’re two different things.”

    1. Clever Name

      It may not be an issue for YOU, but it’s obviously an issue for HER, so whether or not you feel it is an issue really doesn’t matter. I apologize if this sounds overly snarky, but I get tired of people dismissing something that is a problem for someone else because they don’t have a problem with it themselves. People are allowed to have different opinions, and one person’s opinion doesn’t negate another’s opinion.

      1. Matteus

        Not that I am not sympathetic, but there is now way reacting to everybody’s individual problems is practical.
        We can be as accommodating as we can, because we are decent human beings for the most part, but there comes a point (excluding things like safety or health or harrassment) where you have to just suck it up and realize the world cannot alway rearrange itself for you.

          1. Zillah

            Sure – but right here, we’re talking about an issue that seems to be making some women very uncomfortable, and one of the biggest problems with “little” things like this is that because they’re very difficult to prove and so usually can’t be termed “harassment,” they make the atmosphere of the workplace feel oppressive and difficult in a very gendered way. Very overt sexism/sexualization is often less of a problem than a million little incidents that people tell you to lighten up about.

            I would be really, really bothered in this situation.

  5. The Wall of Creativity

    My security pass is also on a lanyard but spends most of its time in the breast pocket of my shirt. The lanyard itself is clearly visible and anyone that wants to look at my pass can ask me to show it off. I’m male but sensitive about my Simon Cowell moobs.

    1. The IT Manager

      I suspect this solution wouldn’t fly at higher security offices. The policy no doubt calls for the photo ID badge to be displayed.

        1. Anonymous

          And why is that? I have come to believe it’s a fashion designer conspiracy to deny pockets to women in order to sell more purses. I know that sounds silly, and it is, but every time I go shopping now, I look for pockets and there aren’t any. It’s staring to really tick me off. Anyway.

          1. Betsy

            I’m fairly sure it is (no sarcasm). I don’t remember where I was reading it, but it comes down to the fact that fashion magazines don’t like to feature pockets because the purse industry is such a huge sponsor.

            1. sunny-dee

              That is probably true, but the thing with pockets has much more to do with the way clothes lay. Breast pockets draw attention to the breasts, but also look bulky (meaning, unattractive). Pants pockets and jacket pockets create bulges, since women were slimmer fitting clothes than men, and those bulges either make women look poochy in those areas (bad) or cause other clothes to bunch on top of them (also bad).

              1. Betsy

                I will agree with the shirt pocket point, but I absolutely do not believe that they could not engineer a pair of pants, skirt, jacket, or dress pockets that are practically invisible when empty. Putting the pockets in and giving the woman the choice to use them or not has always seemed the sensible choice to me.

                1. TheSnarkyB

                  Oh sure, you can definitely engineer pockets to lie flat while (lay flat? lie flat? someone help me out here) – while empty, but IMHO, they don’t want to give women the chance to fill up the pockets and then “mess up the lines” of the clothing, therefore making it look “ugly” or “bulky” in the eyes of the industry (magazines, designers, etc.). They don’t want to give options that can be made unattractive.

                  If you notice, places that aren’t so concerned with fashion-brand-image build more practical pocket options (Target women’s jeans, for example)

              2. Ellie H.

                With men’s clothing they actually make the pockets so you can put something in it and it’ll work and look normal and you can’t even necessarily see what’s in the pocket. The couple times I’ve worn my boyfriend’s jeans or whatever I have been so jealous of this.

                1. Emily K

                  This reminds me of a time my (very tall) boyfriend reached down and stuck his hands into my jeans pockets and then asked, sounding very confused, “Are those your pockets?? They’re so small!!”

                  I happened to be wearing a pair of super-casual/low-end jeans that have bigger pockets than any other pair of jeans I own, too.

          2. Colette

            Because the shirt pockets would be over the chest, and thus draw attention to that area, as well as being completely impractical for actual use?

            I don’t understand pants without pockets (and won’t buy them), but I’m 100% fine with shirts without pockets.

            Of course, I rarely wear shirts that button, so it’s unlikely that I’d encounter a shirt with pockets, even if they were common.

            1. Anonfromabove

              Today I am wearing: a skirt with no pockets, and a jean jacket with no pockets, and a short sleeve sweater with no pockets. I won’t buy anything without pockets anymore. I actually looked at some running pants at Athleta, and guess what. I asked the sales staff, seriously, am I supposed to carry a purse? They tried to sell me a key holder for my shoe. A shoe-purse!

              My point is, I am a pretty good seamstress but strictly an amateur. If I can put pockets in garments without ruining way the garment lays, then surely a professional designer could do as well.

              1. Anonfromabove

                Oh and don’t even get me started on those stupid jeans with the minature pockets next to the 2 inch zippers. Geez I am crabby today! lol

              2. EngineerGirl

                My mom used to retrofit my pockets – she’d open up the seams and put in slit pockets. A good tailor can do that too with fabric in a matching color.

                Also, a lot of outdoors clothing has side pockets at the waist. I really like the Royal Robbins shirts for this. The Lt Expedition 3/4 sleeve is a great crossover shirt that I can wear at work or on the trail (great for business trips)

              3. TL

                Shoe purse!? Lace your car (or house or bike) key into your shoelaces, stick your ID into your sports bra – the back is more comfortable but the front is more secure if you don’t wear them ultra-tight – and you’re good to go. :)

              4. Poe

                I own a wrist purse, because I always carry medical ID with me when I run (medications, emergency contact, diagnoses, doctor name and number, medical card number…I know that seems over the top, but if I am hit by a car they need to know some really important things before they do anything) and my house key, which is the biggest house key in the world. No matter what pocket I put it in on my pants, it pokes me. I was so ashamed to buy a wrist purse. I felt like I had been totally swindled. Ugh.

            2. TheSnarkyB

              Colette, when I first read “shirts that don’t button” I pictured a cardigan-style silk blouse just flapping open in the wind and I was like “whaaaa??”

  6. The Writer

    As the person who wrote on behalf of a friend I’m disturbed by the assertion that this is a “non-issue”. That seems both dismissive of womens’ concerns about how their coworkers treat them and inflexible.

    We’re not talking about a quick professional glance at a badge to ensure that a person is who they say they are. We’re talking about a pattern (acknowledged by HR) of prolonged and repeated staring.

    In an environment without badges, women would (I think) be justified in being uncomfortable if a group of their coworkers repeatedly stared at their chests. I don’t think the presence of badges excuses this same behavior, nor do I think telling women just to accept it is the kind of response we’d like in a 21st-century workplace.

    1. Aunt Vixen

      But that’s just it, OP: it’s the staring that’s not okay. The badges don’t really have anything in particular to do with it.

      1. Mike C.

        The badges are a ready excuse, and if they were allowed to be clipped somewhere else on the shirt would make it much more difficult to be objectified. And it costs the company nothing to allow this.

        Or they can continue letting women be treated like crap. Which is the better solution here?

        1. Aunt Vixen

          The best solution is training and policies that teach employees not to objectify other employees no matter where their badges are hanging, no matter how they’re dressed, no matter what they’re eating, etc. etc. etc.

          Focusing on the location of the badge is mis-identifying the nature of the problem, and seems to suggest that changing the location of the badge will *solve* the problem. Which it will not.

          1. Cat

            And it puts the onus on the women in a weird way – “Oh, when you have women in the office, you have to have special policies about ID badges.” When really, no, you just need to hold sexually harassing employees responsible.

          2. TheSnarkyB

            Yes. Changing the location of the badge WILL solve the problem. OP’s friend has worked there for a long time, presumably with many of the same people, and has not experienced this before. There are people now staring who wouldn’t have been because the badges provide an excuse or “reason” to have eyeballs in the vicinity. Take this hypothetical breakdown. (Men, please don’t be offended- these are totally hypothetical numbers):
            Let’s say 10% of the men in your workplace glance a little too long all the time. It feels lecherous, you feel objectified. They’re few in numbers and tend to not be welcome at the company very long.
            Then let’s say 40% of the men in your office would never blatantly stare at your just-boob chest, but if there’s something that catches their eye first (like an annoying dangling badge), they might take the opportunity to stay a while.
            Then let’s say 50% aren’t looking at all.

            Your boob-gazing experience just skyrocketed from 10% to 50% in a week because of a stupid policy that the company is being rigid about. Getting rid of the badges won’t stop the worst 10%, but it will get you back to your baseline, instead of dealing with a 50% rate of sexualized discomfort.

              1. KellyK

                I think a large part of the problem is that the badge gives the whole 50% plausible deniability—“What? I was just looking at her badge.” Not just for the 40% who wouldn’t be looking at all if not for the badge, but it’s now *even harder* to deal with the blatantly staring 10% because they have an excuse.

                (Allowing the length of the lanyard to be adjusted would be a really easy fix here.)

      2. Anonymous

        +1 I completely agree. Deal with the inappropriate staring, make that your issue. If HR is acknowledging that, it seems like you’re already halfway there. But the badges are a requirement, and many people (male and female) deal with it without it being an issue. Everyone in my high school had to wear a badge on a lanyard for security. If high school kids can make it work, so can any professional environment. But the staring/oogling is definitely a problem that should be dealt with.

    2. Cat

      I made the “non-issue” comment. Let me clarify – I think the lanyards are a non-issue. Many, many, many women work in environments where they have to wear lanyards every day and it does not lead to staring. If your friend’s co-workers are staring at her chest, that is sexual harassment, but it’s not related to the lanyards.

      1. Mike C.

        Many, many of these locations allow lanyards of different lengths and allow badges to be clipped to the shirt as well.

          1. Mike C.

            I assumed it was a rule as it would have been the first thing most people do when the lanyard doesn’t fit right.

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        Yes. I’m large chested, and have had to wear ID badges (above the waist). And I’ve never noticed any oogling towards me or the many other women. It’s not the lanyards, it’s the creeps she works with.

      3. Betsy

        The problem with addressing the staring behavior is that most of the time, these things become uncomfortable not from a specific incident, but from a pattern of behavior. I may notice that the security men spend what feels like too much time staring at my chest every time I go by, but that doesn’t mean that on any given occasion it’s inappropriate for the starer, because my badge IS located there. I don’t even know if this particular individual is looking at me. I just know that something is going on, that some people are exploiting it, and it’s leading to a culture where I start second-guessing. How long exactly was he looking at my badge today? Is that an appropriate length of time or not?

        And if they DO start cracking down on the staring, it’s going to cause the same problem from the other direction. A security guard comparing the picture on the badge to the person in front of him is going to be thinking, “Crap, am I going to get in trouble for this? Have I been looking too long? I’m not really confident about the ID, but I don’t want to make her uncomfortable (or get in trouble), so I’ll just wave her through.”

        Fixing the positioning issue by make the rules clear and secure, but less rigid, cuts through the BS in both directions. Now a security guard doesn’t have to worry that he’s committing sexual harassment by doing his job and a woman knows for sure when any given person is checking her credentials versus checking her out.

    3. fposte

      This sounds likely different than your original post–are you saying here that security is using the location of the badges as a cover for harassment? Because that would be a different kind of problem.

      I do think they should tie knots in the lanyard so it hangs at neck level so that any staring at chests is obviously not looking at IDs.

      1. Cat

        Yeah, I think this is the key and probably why I reacted harshly to the original letter. If women are being stared at it should be addressed, but that should be the focus – not the lanyard policy.

  7. Windchime

    We have picture ID/name badges that are also designed to hang on lanyards. These badges must also be swiped in order to unlock the door to the building. I make sure that mine is long enough that it’s not resting directly on my chest. Others clip it to their shirt above bust level (or for men, sometimes on the shirt pocket). There are lots of people who clip it to their waste band on one of those stretchy things. I’m sure it’s convenient for purposes of swiping, but if you want to know a man’s name, you basically have to stare at his belt buckle, which is uncomfortable for me.

    They are clipping them there against rules, but nobody says anything so it continues.

    1. Mike C.

      Then speak up. Part of any badge policy is challenging people who aren’t following the rules. Heck, try this on for size:

      “Where’s your badge? I don’t see you wearing one.”
      “It’s on my belt, right here.”
      “You should keep it at eye level so someone doesn’t call security on you, it’s hard to find it if it’s hidden like that.”

      1. Colette

        A better solution is to simply ask their name (or how they spell it, or who they report to).

        I can’t imagine my reaction if an employee I barely knew (since she didn’t know my name) told me I wasn’t following the badge rules – unless she was part of security, of course.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          We were told that we were supposed to challange people not wearing badges or wearing them improperly. Sometimes, security people would deliberately walk around without a badge, or worn incorrectly, to see if they were challanged. It was not a good thing if no-one noticed. In other words, security is everyone’s business.

          1. Colette

            Yeah, we’re told that, too, but I think there’s a difference between challenging someone you see in the kitchen every day (or someone you’re talking to in a work context) and saying something to someone you’ve never seen before who tries to follow you in the door.

    2. A Teacher

      I’m required to wear a name badge at work and they prefer us to wear it around our necks on a lanyard. I don’t for two reasons: fights (which is specific to my environment and not for everyone) where it can be grabbed and medical reasons (eczema) in which my doctor was willing to go to bat for me. I can wear jewlery and scarves occasionally but even then I have to take them off. (just to comment on why I know I at least where mine clipped elsewhere.

    3. milton keyes

      In my experience, it’s best for some leeway to be afforded, but as long as it’s clearly visible this is the best that can be done IMO.

  8. Mike C.

    I’m not sure how folks can surmise that “they aren’t likely to be staring at one’s chest” when they aren’t there to witness it. Maybe I’m being weird here, but I’m going to assume that a woman knows what it’s like to be stared at, and if said woman says that people are staring at her, that she know what she’s talking about.

    Saying “I don’t think this is really an issue” or “security uber alles” is a bit much. You can clip the badge to a shirt or use a different length lanyard without lowering security.

    1. Cat

      But there’s no indication that changing the length of the lanyard is an issue. Co-workers staring is an issue; security lanyards probably aren’t.

      1. Mike C.

        What is it that you don’t understand? HR doesn’t give a crap, while allowing folks to clip their badges somewhere else makes it more difficult for men to treat these women like sex dolls.

        I mean yes, obviously the people that are staring at these women are the root cause, but by not offering these women any support and calling this a “non-issue”, you’re diminishing their concerns and not supporting any measures they can take to make themselves more comfortable in the workplace.

        1. Cat

          Sorry, my original comment was too flippant. I think that sexual harassment should be addressed. But that should be addressed, not the security badge/lanyard policy. I don’t think that policy, as presented, actually does make it easier for men to treat women like crap. It sounds like it may be being used as an excuse, but that’s a different issue.

            1. Cat

              You assess your options the same way you do with any other workplace issue and make a calculated decision about what it’s willing to you to take on. But I thought we were having a normative discussion rather than a practical one in this comment thread; the fact that HR has decided not to care is the same whether or not the root problem is the lanyards or something other than the lanyards.

              1. Jessa

                I think HR might care more if it was phrased on the sexual harassment axis of the graph and NOT on the lanyard one. “I know wearing a lanyard gives them an excuse, but they’re being creepy and staring more than checking security warrants, I want that to stop. We can’t change the lanyards, but we can change their behaviour. How do you want me to handle this in the future.”

                1. Joey

                  Well that’s not the best way to say it. I would say something like “the security guard was staring at my chest long after I held up my badge and told him my name. He’s making me feel uncomfortable .”

                  Using the words creepy and more than security warrants is highly subjective.

            2. fposte

              We’re a few links down the chain on that conversation, though; I’m always less sure when we have a situation where the OP isn’t the actual person in the workplace and privy to the conversations. It’s one thing if HR said “If they’re looking at your name tag, we can’t really make sure they’re not ever staring at the body behind it, so it’s quite possible that’s happening”; it’s another if they said “People stare at chests sometimes; we like the name tags; get over it.”

          1. AB

            But, the lanyards are a part of the problem in that they are being used as a cover for staring. Yes, the staring is the problem, but if the security people are saying “we’re just looking at her badge…” I can see wanting to be able to relocate the badge to remove that as an excuse.

            1. EM

              I think this is the crux of the problem. I mean, obviously the actual problem is these security/other co-workers are jerks — but they seem to be using the badges as an excuse to stare and then claim they are just looking for her ID for security issues.

              I vote for getting a longer lanyard and not asking permission first. I’ve worked in an office where lots of people wore their IDs on lanyards and they were long enough that the badges hit below chest level.

              I would buy a longer length one and then just wait & see if anyone says anything about it.

            2. Anonymous

              But the only reason it’s working as an excuse is because HR/management allows it- and if HR ignores the issue of the ogling now , I don’t see any reason to believe that anything but the excuse will change if the lanyard policy changes. Sure, they won’t be able to say ” I was looking at her badge” but I’m sure they’ll find some other excuse that HR will accept. Because that’s actually the real problem- it’s not even that the coworkers are ogling. It’s that the company allows them to believe that they can do so without consequences.

              Me personally- I’d change the length of the lanyard without asking.

            3. Joey

              If someone takes more than a quick glance why not grab the badge and hold it up while saying your name? I find it a little weird that someone would stare at my badge while I let them seemingly struggle to read it.

      2. Liz in a library

        To be fair, they did say that no other location is acceptable. It seems to me that a completely simple and painless compromise would be for the company to allow them to clip the ID on a shirt collar or somewhere else equally visible but not directly in the center of their breasts.

        Maybe this isn’t the biggest problem in the world, but if there is a simple solution to an issue that is upsetting for a group of your workers, why not make the effort to compromise?

        1. milton keyes

          No problem is immaterial but then I think is a good solution. IDs are for the benefit of all and I’ve never known anybody to view them as an imposition before.

      3. milton keyes

        huh? If a lanyard is too long, is it so taxing to raise one’s arm and display it at eye level? Or even take it off entirely if asked and display it?

    2. themmases

      I agree with you; this workplace should just allow clips. It’s actually easier to get an ID closer to the face with a clip, even on women’s shirts. I use one at work, and I just clip it to the side of the neckline of the shirt (usually a v-neck), about at the level of the collarbone. This prevents the weight of the badge from pulling the shirt down, and keeps it in a spot that doesn’t make me self-conscious. I’m allergic to the metal on the clips, so I wear it this way while walking around and when I’m alone in my office I just move it to my belt.

      Also, IME lanyards can be dangerous, cumbersome, and pretty unattractive. My hospital used to use them, and most techs would take off their badges when they reached their work area because the lanyard was so prone to getting caught on things. I’m just a simple office worker (and not an especially clumsy person), and my lanyard used to get caught on the edge of my desk any time I leaned over. Many people also bought wallet-type ID holders where they apparently kept a small purse worth of stuff– not a good look.

  9. Anonymous

    The neck lanyards are very commonplace across many industries and the badge holders are pretty standard lengths, so I can’t see that this company is violating any legal standard here.

    I can see how this could be annoying, but I think perhaps you friend may be over-sensitive perhaps? When she is about to walk through security, she should simply grab the badge with her hand and hold it out/up to the guard so it is away from her immediate chest area.

    1. Us, Too

      This is what I do. And if any eyeballing of my “badge” occurs outside that context, I do the same – move my badge away from my chest so that they can see it. If eyes continue to stay on boobs, I call that out directly at that time. “You’re staring at my chest. Please stop.”

    2. milton keyes

      I agree, and as said below I’ve never heard this before.

      I think also that simply taking it off temporarily and displaying it in one’s hand may suffice.

      Though if some of the staff in my department had been accused of ogling a woman’s chest during ID checks, then this is a serious matter and they would be disciplined. IMO though, they just need sensitivity training.

    3. Us, Too

      I actually hold the badge up next to my face to make it “easier” for security to compare me to my photograph on the badge. Of course, I don’t work with a bunch of jerks who stare at my boobs, either. Our security guard is awesome. :)

  10. milton keyes

    I work as a campus security administrator (of which ID cards is an important part of security processes) and in all honesty reading the headline made me chuckle. And not in a derisive way since it’s not nice to be ogled at (though as a man I can’t relate obviously), but then I’ve never encountered this before in my work. In my time in my role, I’ve probably over seen many thousands of IDs for students and staff members, and this has never been an issue I can recall.

    How to solve it? hmmmm…. I would say perhaps use clips, or longer lanyards? Or perhaps enforce a new dress code? Yes, the last suggestion seems harsh in a way, but then I think if women who are shall we say more endowed wear low cut tops at work, they ask what they get. I know I may get flamed, but I’m not a prude and there is a time and place for everything IMO.

    To be honest I cannot give a full answer, since I’ve never encountered this in my line of work before. That said, I think providing options for display may be the best method. It’s critical that ALL staff (yes, even the CEO or VPs) wear IDs visibly so they can be readily identified.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      There’s no suggestion here that she’s wearing low-cut tops or other clothing not appropriate for work. And women get ogled all the time when they’re completely covered up. Jumping to blaming her for what she might be wearing isn’t warranted by anything in the letter.

      And I know everyone is going to want to jump on that statement from Milton, but I’m going to ask that we not let it derail the conversation, as I’m assuming it just wasn’t thought all the way through.

      1. milton keyes

        It’s not my intention at all to offend, and yes it is not warranted.

        I’d also add though that the security personnel are not very professional, as they should respond to all complaints and queries resulting from their work. To dismiss as “it’s nothing” is grossly unethical IMO, for any security service in any organisation.

        1. Anonymous

          In defense of Milton, when I first read the question, I wondered what the OP was wearing to work. She may be dressing very conservative, I don’t know. But a part of me wondered.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I mean this with all respect, but the fact that you also wondered doesn’t change the fact that it’s not appropriate to blame her for what she’s wearing, when we have nothing to indicate that she’s dressing inappropriately for work (and when women regularly get gawked at no matter what they wear).

            I think we all let bias and various ism’s creep into our thoughts at time (we absorb the society we live in, after all), and we’re not bad people for it — but our challenge is to recognize it and work to change our thinking.

            1. plain jane

              The problem with wondering is that it moves very rapidly to blame the victim for sexual harassment. Which is a problem in wider society, not just the workplace. (c.f. the Slut walks a few years ago)

              It’s great that you posted though, because it’s often only when someone points it out to us that we notice our own bias.

              E.g. in the SF community, someone recently was called out for “tight fitting gowns & plunging necklines” and showing too much leg (in another set of photos). Then a bunch of people pointed at the photos and said, ‘really?’. And then a bunch of people said, ‘actually, it shouldn’t matter what she was wearing’.

      2. Kelly L.

        +1, there’s no indication that the shirt is inappropriate. Let’s just say that when one is well-endowed, it’s impossible to miss that they’re there, even in the most high-necked and/or baggy shirt.

    2. Ann O'Nemity

      “I think if women who are shall we say more endowed wear low cut tops at work, they ask what they get.”

      That line of thinking and victim blaming just paves the road to sexual harassment. As in, “It’s not my fault for staring; SHE asked for it by wearing a low cut top.” Or, “It’s not my fault for staring; SHE asked for it by wearing a lanyard that points to her chest.”

      1. milton keyes

        Where did I condone sexual harassment? I simply offered a solution to the issue at hand.

        1. Jessa

          When you put the onus on the victim to change their behaviour (what they are wearing as long as it is work appropriate,) you are saying the oglers have no control over themselves and the victim needs to change. It is never the fault of the victim, their wardrobe, their behaviour at all, unless they’re specifically saying “ooh look at me,” and then complaining about it.

          That’s NOT the way it works. If the OP walked into her company naked, she still shouldn’t be ogled. Now if she walked in naked, her supervisor would have a cause to say “um that’s not appropriate attire for work,” but it’s still no cause for her to be harassed.

          It is solely the fault of the harasser, no matter what the victim wears, does, etc. Saying the victim needs to change their clothes means – do you realise you’re saying in this case grown men do not have enough personal control to not ogle someone not in a relationship with them, who doesn’t want them to?

          1. Smilingswan

            I disagree with the “naked” part. In my opinion, anyone who shows up anywhere other than a nudist colony naked should expect to be gawked at. And then for the police to be called.

        2. TL

          The solution to one person’s bad behavior is to change their behavior, not the behavior of the people who are being negatively affected by it.

        3. Elsajeni

          No, you didn’t. As Alison already pointed out to you, the issue at hand is coworkers inappropriately staring at someone’s breasts. We know absolutely nothing about what the OP’s friend is wearing to work, so how can that be the issue at hand?

    3. Anon for this

      “I think if women who are shall we say more endowed wear low cut tops at work, they ask what they get.”

      LW *never* mentioned anybody wearing low-cut tops, so I question why you leapt to that assumption. I find your entire attitude disheartening coming from someone who works in security. I’ll be generous and assume that you are just very, very naive about the fact that women and girls get ogled and harassed regardless of what they are wearing. The first time I received inappropriate sexual comments I was a scrawny 12-year-old. So was it my Keds or my braces that indicated I was asking for it?

      Harassers ALWAYS have some kind of reason why the target “deserves” it. You cover up one thing and they’ll find another. Women who cover their hair for religious reasons get harassed.

      If you telegraph the attitude that some women are asking for it when they experience sexual harassment, maybe the reason you’ve never been aware of a problem is because nobody bothers telling you. I certainly wouldn’t trust you to handle my case or believe me.

      1. milton keyes

        I’m not an HR professional, so I cannot answer for that point since sexual harassement is largely an HR and not security admin function.

        That said, I did say above that if women are ogled at, it’s not acceptable and it shouldn’t be condoned or accepted.

        1. some1

          You also said that well-endowed women who wear low-cut tops are asking for what they get.

        2. Jessa

          Excuse me? Security is also there for the safety of the employees, not just to deter theft. If any employee is not feeling safe (because Security are the perpetrators,) there’s a HUGE problem.

          Security need to be held to a tighter standard than normal employees. These are the people who walk unescorted employees to their cars. These are the people that SHOULD be protecting people first and property second. They are the people that employees should be going to for help.

  11. NHNonProfitDirector

    My bra size is 32F. Sigh. It is simply not possible for me to wear a lanyard comfortably (visually or physically). Luckily I only have to wear them to conferences. Which I have resigned myself to do because it’s better than people not knowing my name/organization. Much empathy.

    1. VintageLydia USA

      Yeah I don’t know if some people realize for those of use *very* well endowed ladies getting a longer lanyard would mean making one ourselves. They just don’t make them long enough otherwise.

      1. Aunt Vixen

        36FF here, and my lanyard has a clip so the badges can be easily removed and reattached – which adds extra length. So the sides of the lanyard meet right at the height of my bra band, but the clippy gizmo is about four inches long, and I’ve got one of those retractable things so I don’t have to throttle myself when I pull the badge toward the reader – all of which means the top edge of my badge is a good six or eight inches below the vee of my lanyard. Granted I’m short-waisted, but that means my badge covers my navel.

        For a bonus, my lanyard is from Aperture Laboratories (since my office didn’t supply anything besides a chain that got tangled in my hair – I figured, if I’m getting my own, why not get one that’s awesome).

        1. The Writer

          Would you be willing to give a URL or other means to find such a lanyard? I think it would be a great gift for my friend.

    2. annie

      I’m with you. Only wear them at conferences/similar events and it always takes a few hours for me to realize what’s happening and why I’m feeling creeped on. When you are large of bust, there’s often no winning no matter how you adjust placement, as others have mentioned.
      When will our smartphones advance to where there will be an invisible digital name tag projected above our heads at these things? :)

  12. meetoo

    I am large chested and I totally empathize. Lanyards are always a problem every time I see a lanyard name tag or badge I groan. It is not that everyone is always staring but sometimes there is no good way to place the lanyard. If you make it shorter it is right on your chest or choking you (dog collar style) and if you make it longer it is just natural for people to look at your face and follow the lanyard down to the badge. Either way it creates a situation where people are staring even if they don’t intend it that way or would not otherwise have done so. Even if people are not looking sexually it can feel uncomfortable.
    It is not about security the OP did not say her friend has any desire to thwart security and not wear a badge at all. If HR is acknowledging that staring is happening and they are not following up with the starers that is the real problem.

    1. methree

      I do too. I have size 48HH breasts, and every standard length lanyard I’ve ever had has meant the ID itself hits right at the widest point. Which means not only does it attract the eye, it bounces a LOT whenever I move. It’s distracting, annoying and attracts all the wrong kind of attention. It’s so uncomfortable.

        1. Kelly L.

          And when bouncing, twists around backwards all the time, so it always has to be readjusted. Grrr!

            1. ArtsNerd

              It’s relevant to the conversation, Joey. I have been big-chested in the past, and am now more regular-chested. Lanyards behave VERY differently depending on size.

              1. ArtsNerd

                And as Alison said above, everyone has biases and knee-jerk reactions. I’d appreciate if you just took a second to think about why you don’t want women talking about this, and why it might be off-putting to some of us that you told them to be quiet.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Well, in fairness, I could see how a guy wouldn’t realize that was relevant at first, and strangers talking about their boobs with other strangers is inherently going to make some people a little squeamish, just like I imagine it would if guys here were talking about (substitute some male equivalent topic here — the only ones I can think of are uncomfortably risque).

                  (Although for the record, I would find that conversation fascinating.)

                  Anyway, agreed that it’s relevant here, but I can see why a man wouldn’t realize that instantly. I really don’t think Joey is trying to silence women.

                2. Joey

                  Well it’s just uncomfortable to hear women talking about their breast sizes as I imagine it would make people uncomfortable if I started talking about how I hate that my x sized penis causes my ID to flop all over the place. Do you get my point?

                3. Windchime

                  I dunno; are you clipping your badge to it? Because then it would probably be relevant.

                4. A Bug!

                  I understand where you’re coming from, Joey, in that the actual sizes feels a bit more specific than it needs to be.

                  But it kinda does need to get that specific. The explanation for it may make you uncomfortable and I’m sorry if it does, but I’ll try to keep it on-point. Basically, “I have a large chest” can mean pretty much anything from DD (aka E) on up. But in terms of a woman’s experience, an E cup is closer to a B or a C than it is to a G or an H, and those upper sizes (or higher) are more common than you might think.

                  Now, if we have two women who both just say “I have a large chest”, but one is a 36E and one is a 36H, the 36E might conclude that the 36H is being oversensitive, because she assumes their experiences must be similar and she hasn’t seen a problem.

                  So when people ask “What could possibly be your problem with lanyards, I’ve used lanyards my whole life and never seen the issues you claim to have and I can’t fathom”, then yes, a person’s bra size might actually be relevant to the answer.

        2. Xay

          The reason why I bought a long lanyard instead of using the one provided was because of the bouncing – people could hear me coming from a mile away.

          1. Elizabeth West

            Mine bounces on my sweater buttons and goes *CLACK CLACK CLACK.* I hold it off to the side when I walk anywhere in the office. Someday, it will be warm enough again to not wear the sweater all the time…sigh….

  13. Malissa

    As a large chested short woman I certainly understand the problem. Before lanyards were a common thing I used to have to slap a name tag directly over a boob to get it in the right place at events. I have often joked about “naming the other one” when forced to do this. The simplest solution is a lanyard that allows the badge to hang below chest level if possible. Clipping a badge to the collar often just ends up with the bottom of the badge resting on the boob.
    Otherwise the lady in question is going to have to just start looking people in the eye and calling them on their staring every single time she’s uncomfortable.

  14. Elysian

    Ugh, OP I empathize. Lanyards don’t give me much issue with my shape, but I hate stick-on nametags for similar reasons. At least you can try to make good placement choices with stick-on nametags, but really I don’t want anything in a professional setting acting as a giant arrow toward my boobs.

    When your friend discussed this with the company, did she offer solutions or did she just say “this is a problem?” It’s possible that they just don’t know what would be better. A clip-on ID might be better, at least you could adjust that up higher on a blazer or something.

    1. Elysian

      Maybe they would go for a combo-deal – a clip on nametag on a lanyard, so that you can wear it around your neck but clip it so it stays in one place and doesn’t bounce. I mean, it’s not ideal but if its better maybe that’s something.

    2. milton keyes

      I’d agree, it’s slackness and frankly unethical conduct on the organisation’s part.

    3. The Writer

      Elysian thank you (and the other large-chested ladies) who have responded. My friend does match the general physical characteristics you all describe.

      As to your specific question, I did not ask her that. She is (i think understandably) frustrated by HR and perhaps wasn’t having a calm rational discussion. Above someone offered an awesome long lanyard which I hope to present to her and see if that improves the situation.

  15. tango

    Well there’s really no good place for it. We have to have our name tags visible. And lots of guys wear it clipped on their belt right next to their crotch and it hangs down . Umm, how is that not awkward when looking at a guys badge to basically be looking at his groin? I’d so much rather they wear them further out on their belt or clip to their shirt collar, etc.

    1. Joey

      I’ve seen a lot of badges, but I have never seen a badge dangling next to a mans junk.

      1. TL

        Yeah, me neither. I know a lot of guys who hung it on their belt loops (and I do too, on the rare occasion I remember to clip mine on) but it’s generally at the side loops, not the front ones.

      2. Evan

        I have. A number of guys at my work clip their namebadge to their belt, and some have it closer to that area than others.

        1. Windchime

          Yep, same here. Happens about 50% of the time, so you have to look down to see the tag. I know why they do it; the lanyard is inconvenient and they can just quickly pull on the badge (if it’s on one of those retractable things) to swipe so they can get in and out. It’s not a huge deal to me because I know all the men in our building, but it’s still uncomfortable.

          1. A Bug!

            I’m a woman, but I still used to clip my ID to my belt loop. I found the lanyard to be irritating because it would swing around too much when I walked and I’d catch it on stuff. I clipped it to my collar for a while and just unclipped it to swipe, but then I realized if I was going to be unclipping it anyway, why not keep it on my belt loop where it’s more handy?

      3. Anonsie

        I’d say somewhere around a third of the men where I work wear their badge clipped on a belt loop right there.

  16. sunny-dee

    It is possible that no one is actually ogling. The OP says her friend is very sensitive about her chest size, and that could make her amplify the attention she’s getting. That can happen when you’re very sensitive about a particular physical attribute, even things that other people don’t notice.

    It may be helpful for her to ask a female colleague to go through security *with* her a few times, and get her feedback on whether the security guys are truly being inappropriate. If they are, then she’ll have a witness that she can take to HR about the ogling (but not the lanyard, which is itself a non-issue).

    1. Aunt Vixen

      This is an interesting idea, actually – the “is it just me?” dry-run. We know from the OP that her friend’s HR department agrees that there has been staring – but whether the staring has been ogling is actually a slightly more open question. Of course the people doing the staring would claim they’re not ogling or leering. But so might a disinterested party – and so, if the OP’s friend is in fact extra-sensitive (as she herself acknowledges), might a sympathetic third party. It could come down to “I’m really sorry you’re uncomfortable, but I just don’t see it.”

      But here’s the thing: a non-zero number of people are made uncomfortable. It would be great if they could toughen up and not be made uncomfortable by a thing that is not designed to make them uncomfortable – but this might not be possible, and in this instance they shouldn’t have to. Even granting the most generous possible reading of the facilities/security staff’s behavior – that there are badges with small print hanging in front of employees’ chests that they need to read thoroughly – that kind of intent staring makes people uncomfortable. The sensitive thing to do – assuming the above training on how it’s not okay to ogle and leer is actually not necessary – is to remove the necessity of doing something that makes people uncomfortable.

      It’s not entirely dissimilar to preferring that people not use insensitive language. I don’t mean insisting that it’s not okay to call something “gay” or “lame” or “retarded” if what you mean is you don’t like it, or insisting that it’s really not okay to use racial or other slurs. I mean suppose a left-handed person said she wished you wouldn’t call something a left-handed compliment.

      Maybe a better example, which is genuinely not a Godwin’s Law, honest: in the debate several years ago about the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was confronted at a meeting by a young woman who asked him why he supported “a Nazi policy”. Frank refused to engage – I believe he told the young woman that getting into a discussion with her would be like getting into a discussion with a dining-room table – but a friend of mine described the scene as “Barney Frank basically telling a constituent to DIAF”, which, in case you aren’t aware, stands for “die in a fire”. It means “STFU”, but is obviously a much more colorful and violent way of expressing this. And the juxtaposition of the invocation of the Nazis with the suggestion that anyone die in a fire made me about sixteen kinds of uncomfortable, and I said so. And my friend was horrified that she had inadvertently done something that upset me that much, and apologized profusely. Good friend.

      TL;DR – Sometimes the answer to “Is it just me?” is “Yes, it is just you.” But the follow-up to that is: “But you deserve not to be uncomfortable, too.” So in short, I may be amending my answer: if there’s ogling going on, then that’s the problem and that’s what needs to be addressed. But if there’s no ogling and the OP’s friend feels uncomfortable anyway, the good-employer thing to do would be to find a way to display her badge that didn’t make her uncomfortable.

      1. Colette

        I’m not sure I agree that the world has to change to adjust for one person who is uncomfortable. If it’s an easy fix, it’s nice if that can happen, but in this case, several people have suggested solutions that the uncomfortable employee can use to adapt to the policy (e.g. hold out the badge to someone who’s trying to read it, get a longer or shorter lanyard, etc.). It seems to me that if there’s something easy the employee can do to make herself more comfortable, the onus is on her to do that as opposed to the onus being on the company to change. (This assumes that a reasonable person wouldn’t see anything inappropriate going on, of course.)

      2. Poe

        I know this was not at all the intent of your comment…but I kind of love DIAF. It somehow seems on the level with WPITF which I often use as “want to punch in the face”…so much that my friend came up with the acronym to shorten my emails :(

        1. Aunt Vixen

          I have no actual issues with DIAF – in a vacuum. But it turned out that in that kind of proximity to talk of the Nazis, it hit a nerve. Go figure. :-P

    2. Zillah

      From the letter: She has attempted to work with her company’s HR, which has acknowledged that staring does happen but insists on a “need to comply with security.”

      That doesn’t sound like the OP’s friend is being oversensitive to me.

      1. sunny-dee

        That could also be interpreted as “yes, they’re looking at your chest because that’s where the badge is.” It doesn’t (explicitly) say that HR agreed there’s ogling. (Although that could also be because of the legal implications and they’re CYA.)

        The reason I recommended having a friend go through would be to get the unbiased opinion — especially since the OP doesn’t say that any other women have complained (she only says her friend “fees like” other women are being stared at). If it is all in her head, then for her own sanity, she needs to deal with herself and find a way to cope (because this won’t be the only situation that makes her feel uncomfortable). If it really is a sexual harassment situation, then HR needs to retrain or fire people ASAP.

        1. Zillah

          Sure… but there’s something I find profoundly uncomfortable about going into this assuming that the woman is just being oversensitive, and the idea that if a third party says, “Oh, no, I didn’t feel like that,” the OP’s friend is clearly wrong and oversensitive, is really sketchy to me.

          This woman feels that people are staring at her breasts. She went to HR. HR essentially told her to suck it up. That doesn’t sound like a supportive place that’s going to start restraining or firing people; a place that would do that would have showed some decency and tried to find a solution that would not make her feel sexualized by her coworkers.

  17. Employment lawyer

    This is the sort of complaint which needs to be put in writing. Suggest a solution, i.e. pocket/lapel clips or slightly longer lanyards. (That said, you should take their position into account and may want to suggest clips. I find that mid-belly lanyards often result in the badge flipping around or being hard to read.) Mention that you’re being ogled under the guise of “checking ID.”

    If they don’t agree, talk to a lawyer if you care enough.

    1. Judy

      That’s one of the things I was thinking before. My lanyard puts my ID at mid-belly, and whenever I get to an actual security guard, I lift it up in the right orientation. Frankly, I only go past the guards to enter the building / complex, but the sections of the building or other buildings have card readers. There are only 4-5 security posts on the site, and I use my card at 5-10 other doors a day, while only going through one security gate.

  18. Nurse Nan

    This type of id rule is very prevalent in health care. One of the things I’ve done that has reduced the feeling of ogling is when I walk into a room with a patient, family, new doctor, etc, I hold my badge out, away from my chest and introduce myself with my title. It seems natural to introduce myself, they look at my id while it’s away from my chest, and have little reason to look back at it. Obviously, this doesn’t address if people really are wanting to stare, but for the most part, I’ve noticed people never give my id a second look!

    1. Anonie

      I’ve worked at 3 hospitals and all of them at some point realized that lanyards posed more of a safety hazard than other options. Most nursing and clinical roles are now given quick release clip badges or magnetic badges so that if anyone grabs them or they get caught in anything, the badge goes and the person is free.

  19. Cody c

    What about bicep arm bands like the ones worn by ramp agents at an airline same chest height. Also at my last job I wore a belt clip and always felt like my crotch was being stared at.

  20. Denise

    I HATE (hate,hate,hate) lanyards. I have put a safety pin on the inside of my shirts at the seam, the part of the pin that shows on the outside gets a retractable clippy thing attached to it. So my badge lays nicely on my upper left chest/shoulder.
    I hope that makes sense because I have to go!

    OP – good luck!

  21. BadPlanning

    Are the facilities and security people from the same company/department? If they’re all (or enough to be a problem) using badges as an excuse to leer at ladies, then it seems like a bad egg hired a bunch of other bad eggs and now there’s a nest of leering guys. Are they employees of the same company or a contracted company? My large company contracts out everything (cafeteria, cleaning, facilities, security and as far as I know each group is a different contract). If it’s contracted companies, perhaps the OPs coworker could escalate past HR and onto some higher up execs and they could contract with a new company. Or they could tell the contractor to roll in a new crew. I know that simplifies a complicated thing.

    At this point, does the OPs coworker feel safe asking a security guard to walk her to her car (or would, in theory, if she had a car to walk to)? Or a facilities person to come into her office and repair something? If the answer is no, because of the everyday treatment she’s received, maybe that’s something to re-address with HR.

  22. Not So NewReader

    As a former chesty person (before weight loss), I can sympathize with OP’s friend. I have no clue how many times I got stared at versus how many times I was imagining it because I felt so conspicuous.

    To me it sounds like HR is not going to budge. And the question is “what next?” I guess I would ask HR what the procedure will be for people who feel that others are staring at their chests inappropriately. How is that to be reported, what is the process for follow up on such a complaint?

    I cannot picture lanyards being safe in most working environments. Best case is that the lanyard breaks and now the ID is down inside a machine. (Even leaning over a copier to clear a jam.) This means two problems- a repair bill for a machine and there is an employee wandering around with no ID. The whole thing sounds poorly thought out to me.

    I have to ask is HR normal this rigid or is this uncharacteristic of them?

    Maybe OPs friend should get a group of women together and schedule a meeting with HR. Men might be concerned, too, from the angle that they do not want their actions misinterpreted. I can just see my severly myopic husband trying to read an ID. Small print and pictures had to be an an EXACT distance or he could not read them. Someone in this case would have to constantly ask the people to take off their ID so it could be read.

    I am really disappointed with HR for creating a situation and there is absolutely no need. It can be remedied so easily.

  23. Anon

    This doesn’t help the OP, but for those who do have options for their name badges: I use a magnetic eyeglass holder to clip my badge at my shoulder. I disliked long lanyards for all the reasons others have mentioned, and our heavy badges tend to flip over and pull down uncomfortably when clipped to collars. The magnetic clip also lets me avoid putting pins in my nice blouses. The strong magnet may be a problem for some, but it works nicely for me.

  24. Oblique Red

    This won’t help the OP, but since this thread is becoming something of a repository of helpful badge advice, here is my favorite tip. When you have a stick-on, pin-on, or clip-on name badge and are able to choose where you place it, put it high on your right shoulder. This gives you the following advantages:
    1) It is close to your face and therefore easier for people who may have forgotten your name to sneak a peek while talking to you.
    2) When you shake hands with someone, their eye is naturally led from the hand, up your arm, past your nametag/badge, to your face.
    3) The badge is nicely away from your chest to avoid uncomfortable situations like the one described here.

  25. GWT

    I am glad Anon mentioned this. There are Eyeglass Holder / ID Badge Holder pins available at many websites. They can be pinned or fastened via a magnet, and they have loops on which an ID Badge can be clipped. These pins look great, make for a very professional as well as feminine appearance when worn on either side of the chest, and help ladies avoid the problems inherent in a lack of a blouse pocket or a blazer lapel on which to attach an ID Badge. While prices vary, often I see these pins for about $9 or $10 USD. I gave a couple of ladies one pin each as a gift, and they appreciated it. :-)

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