coworker asks me questions he could google, employer’s shirts don’t fit me, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Coworker in a different department asks me inane questions

I am a 30-year-old woman. I have been at a business for three years in one department. A man, about 60, who has been there for 25 years in a different department, often asks me for information he could google (addresses, phone numbers, employee names at other businesses, etc.). I am in a manager role (although not his manager; we are pretty much equals) and have no assistance duties assigned for this colleague. I find these requests annoying. What can I politely say to him to encourage him to use his resources and problem-solve on his own before asking colleagues for help?

“I don’t know, you should google that.” If you say this every time, he’ll probably stop asking you pretty quickly.

But if you’d like to make more of a point: “I might be missing something — why are you asking me to do this?” (If you’re comfortable being blunter, you can drop the first part.)

Or: “You often ask me for info you could google, and which I’d need to google myself. We work on different teams and I’m not an assistant. What am I missing about why you’re coming to me for these things?”*

But really, “I don’t know, you should google that” on repeat should put a stop to it pretty quickly.

* The answer is to that question is almost certainly that you’re a younger woman who was helpful to him once or twice, or maybe just someone he saw being helpful to someone else once.

2. The shirts my employer offers don’t fit me

I work as staff at a university. The dress code is business casual, but on Fridays we are allowed to dress in jeans and a university branded t-shirt. My department gave us t-shirts, but they only went up to size XXL. I need a 3X, so I am unable to participate in “spirit Fridays.” I never said anything about it and I just stick with business casual on Fridays. My question is not about this particular issue, but I’m including it as background and evidence of a pattern.

Recently I was accepted to a leadership development program offered by the university. The program director sent a link to an online form for participants to fill out. The form asks for t-shirt size and provides options from XS to XXL. None of these will fit me. The field is required and there is no option to decline a t-shirt, so I can’t submit the form without choosing a size.

I could just choose a size that would fit my daughter and give the shirt to her, but I’m concerned I will be expected to wear it for program events/photos. I also feel shamed, othered, and excluded by the lack of sizing options. My university is sending me a clear message that I do not fit the look of a “leader.” Given that the program focuses heavily on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I wonder if this is worth flagging for the director.

What would you suggest? Request a daughter-sized t-shirt and explain if asked to wear it? Decline to fill out the form and email the director with my information instead, explaining that the sizes offered do not work for me? If this is something I should raise as a DEI concern, how can I do so without coming across as scolding, angry, or aggressive? This program is a great professional development opportunity and I don’t want to further alienate myself.

Please do email the director to explain the t-shirt sizes aren’t inclusive and won’t fit you and ask how you should proceed since it’s a required field. Clearly using the words “not inclusive” to someone leading a program that focuses on DEI might be enough to jog her into realizing this is A Problem, but you can also spell it out in a straightforward way. For example: “Especially since the program focuses on DEI, I hope this is something we can change.”

Read an update to this letter

3. I’m supposed to do two jobs for a $30/paycheck raise

I currently work for for a SaaS company. I was hired as a product analyst and although the salary wasn’t what I wanted, it was close and I was told promotions were common and come with a 7-15% raise (depending on performance). Over the past year I’ve become critical to the team, handle 47% of the department workload (proven by our metrics), have wonderful monthly reviews, and have the highest client ratings in the company. My managers told me I just needed to keep performing like this and I would be promoted/given a raise to what I was originally looking for. Well, good news, I just received a promotion! There is a hiring freeze though so I’m expected to continue all of my current duties (they can’t backfill until 2023 at the earliest) while immediately taking over all client-facing meetings, and handling my new duties. It’s a lot but I feel like I can handle the added responsibilities. The issue lies in my “new” compensation.

Apparently, I was started at a higher rate than some of my coworkers due to my experience within the field, so I’m now being told that the pay band for my new role only allows a raise of less than 1% from what I currently make (about $30 a paycheck before taxes) and this is the most they could get approved with the freeze in place. They are asking me to stick with it and they will take this into account during annual reviews to get me the max amount, which is capped at 4%.

I loved working here before this but this has left a bad taste in my mouth. I haven’t signed the promotion paperwork yet as there was a clerical error, and I’m unsure if there’s anything I could or should do.

So they have you doing two jobs, one of them a higher level role than you were hired for, and they are paying you … $30/paycheck extra for that? That’s quite a good deal for them, and quite a bad one for you.

If they can’t pay you appropriately because there’s a hiring freeze, then by definition they can’t afford to hire you into the new job at all right now. And that’s the way I’d approach it with them: “This is a significant amount of additional work to take on while still doing my old job, without the compensation to match. I’ll be glad to take on the new position once we’re able to allocate the appropriate pay for it, but it sounds like the hiring freeze means we need to wait on that?” (Of course, this requires you to be willing to risk the promotion, so you’d want to figure out exactly where you stand on that before having this conversation. Keep in mind, though, that once you start doing the work, you’ll give up much of your leverage to be paid fairly for it.)

4. Asking about salary when your interviews seem endless

I was browsing jobs after a bad week at work and found a role that seemed like it would be a good fit and would allow me to better utilize my degree than my current job. I submitted an application without expecting much, but the next day I received a request for a virtual interview with the person who previously held the position. I agreed, just to learn more about the job, and things seemed to go well. I then had a second virtual interview with the person who I would be directly reporting to, and that also went well. I was then asked to a third virtual interview with the board of directors, which apparently (again) went well. In between interviews, I also had a phone call with the person who previously held the job (at my request) just to learn more about the day-to-day. All of these interviews took place over the course of a week. During that week, I was also asked to complete an online personality test and a skills assessment.

The only reason I was able to meet with them so easily is because they were virtual interviews, but even then I did have to make up excuses to not be at work (my job is not remote). Now I have been asked to come into the office for a fourth interview to meet the board of directors in-person. This would have to be during a specific time slot four days from today.

This all seems like it would make sense if I was applying for a prestigious job. But this job is not something that I have encountered before. It is a new position with no historical data, so I am not able to easily find any information online, particularly salary info.

Should I reach out for a salary range before I attend any more interviews? I have a feeling, based on what I have learned about the responsibilities, that this job will pay less than what I am making now (in this economy a dealbreaker), and I’ve already spent a lot of time on this company. But there is also a small chance that this job has better pay and benefits than what I have now. I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by jumping the gun and asking about pay too early.

This is way too many interviews. And unless it’s a very senior position (like the top position), there’s no reason the board of directors needs to be interviewing you, let alone twice.

You can definitely ask about salary before you do anything else. Say it this way: “Before we move forward, can you tell me your salary range for this role so we can make sure we’re in the same ballpark?” You can ask about the rest of the process too: “It will be hard for me to continue taking off more work, so I wonder if you can tell me how many more steps to expect in the process?”

5. Getting reimbursed for tips on work trips

I’m currently traveling for work and I’m wondering about tipping. I have a corporate credit card that I’m using for my hotel, rental car, and meals. It’s easy to add a tip to my total when I use my card at a restaurant or something. But I’m not sure to handle tips that are usually done in cash, like for the hotel housekeeping staff or valet parking. My company does also have a reimbursement process, so I could attempt to submit this for reimbursement, but they require a receipt for every purchase. Is this just a cost that I’m expected to “eat”? (Which would be annoying, but I guess I’d rather deal with the personal loss of a few dollars than have service industry workers suffer.) How do other companies handle this?

No, you shouldn’t just eat the cost of cash tips. At most organizations, you’d record the tips you give and submit those along with the rest of your expenses for reimbursement. Some people do that by writing the tip amount on some form of receipt connected to the trip (like if you tip housekeeping, write that tip on the receipt for the hotel stay). Your organization might also have written guidelines for tipping, so check for those too.

{ 670 comments… read them below }

  1. ENFP in Texas*

    Absolutely read your company’s policy on reimbursement and tipping. Not only should they have an explanation of what sort of documentation they require, they may also have limits on the types or amount of tips that they will reimburse.

    1. BlueberryGirl*

      Yes, 100% this. Once places I worked had a cap that came out to 18% for services and did not include things like housekeeping at a hotel or ubers. It did cover cabs. I always left a housekeeping tip, but didn’t get reimbursed for that one. Government policies are… weird about some things.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Our old policy specifically excluded any tips for baggage handlers. Not positive why that was their line in the sand, but there we have it.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Knowing how government workplace policies start, odds are there was one person, one time in 1972 who got busted saying that they gave high tips to baggage handlers but really didn’t and pocketed the reimbursement. Alternatively, someone writing the policy had a bone to pick with baggage handlers and thought of the scenario above to discourage tipping.

            1. Old Cynic*

              Yep, this.
              One company I worked for wanted us to stay at places with kitchenettes. Their thought was we could be buying Lean Cuisine at a local market and cooking for ourselves, saving on restaurant charges and tips.

              1. Selina Luna*

                My school district simply reimburses $15 per meal, regardless of what or where you eat and expects you to deal with that for tips and everything.

              2. Starbuck*

                This is why I like per diems, you’re treated like an actual adult and compensated fairly for the added hassle of travel. No, I don’t feel like cooking on top of everything else!

                1. Just Another Cog*

                  My husband’s school district allowed $21/day for meals, up until 2019, at least. Covid made travel disappear and he’s since retired. It didn’t matter if you were in a large metro area or small town, the reimbursement was the same. He figured they wanted him and his colleagues to eat from the dollar menus. Of course, the hotel rooms were bare-bones, too.

                2. Chexwarrior*

                  I never thought about it as being “treated like an actual adult” (though I don’t disagree), but I figured why my employer (US Federal govt) does per diem is that it was more hassle to process everyone’s meal receipts than to just pay a flat amount after the trip (also makes budgeting easier). Of course they still had a decent upper limit and a culture that didn’t stigmatize maxing out that limit (if you went over you just wouldn’t be reimbursed for the excess amount, and that would be out of your pocket) before I started working. So people would just go for steak/seafood/whatever if they still had “money on the table” at dinnertime, thus it would just get maxed out 95% of the time anyway.

      2. Anonym*

        Yep, my company approves up to 20% tip for commonly tipped services, including cabs and restaurants. I use my own cash for anything I want to tip in excess of that.

        But I could totally see getting tripped up by a weird policy and running into reimbursement headaches after. Glad the OP and Alison have brought this to people’s attention. Check your travel and reimbursement policies!

    2. mlem*

      My company just updated its reimbursement policies, so I was skimming through them. (I don’t travel for work myself, but they just added reimbursement for being made to travel to a different company building, which may well apply to me at some point.) I noticed their stated policy for “maid staff” says that “Tipping for maid service is allowed within reason. For example, tipping maid staff between $2 and $3 per night is appropriate in most cases.”

      I haven’t stayed in a hotel since 2014 or so, but that … seems awfully low to me ….

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        Ooof, that is low. I have a family member working as a hotel housekeeper, she says that when people tip (about half don’t tip at all!!) it’s $5-10 a night.
        If possible, tip each day, too. It stinks for her when she cleans the room daily for most of a stay, but they check out on her day off and her coworker gets the whole tip. I didn’t realize that until she started doing the job.

        1. Caroline+Bowman*

          That’s a really good point. When we (rarely) stay in hotels or anywhere that there’s a housekeeping service or similar, we generally have always included a generous tip on the last day, but of course if the person who has spent a week cleaning up after you happens to be elsewhere or have a day off, someone else gets it!

          1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

            Yes, tipping daily ensures that the person who cleans your room WILL receive the tip. Hotel housekeepers don’t always get the same room assignments, so that leaving one large tip at the end of your stay means that the different staff members who cleaned your room during your stay get nothing while the one who happened to clean it on the morning after your last night there gets a windfall. And yes, $3 – $3 per night is too low a tip!

        2. Bagpuss*

          Yes, last time I visited the US I did a fair bit of reading beforehand to try to make sure that I tipped appropriately as we don’t really have a tipping culture where I am, and that was one of the things things that wouldn’t have occurred to me, but made a lot of sense as soon as I read it.

          1. No Longer Looking*

            Honestly I don’t think the US has much of a tipping culture either, except for restaurants and food delivery. Every other case of tipping is more of a guilt culture, like everyone here knows you should tip your waiter 20% but most folks I know don’t seem to have any idea what an appropriate hotel or busboy or gate check or whatever tip should be, other than the frequent business travelers.

            1. Zaeobi*

              Well, apparently the ‘appropriate’ amount, according to the above commenter’s company, is $3 at most lol(!)

              – Note the /s

        3. GammaGirl1908*

          I’ve also passed by information that says to make clear that this cash is a tip for the housekeeper, and not just money you left lying around (I don’t leave money lying around, but I’ve learned that a lot of people have very different habits than I do). I now take a slip of paper from the hotel notepad, fold it and write HOUSEKEEPER on it and tuck the cash inside, and put it on the night table or pillow.

          Sometimes the housekeeper then writes a thank-you on it, which is very sweet.

          1. Hey Nonnie*

            Yes, last time I had to travel for work, I did this. And then took a photo of the cash + note (which included “for housekeeping” and the date) and submitted that as my receipt. I had to submit all receipts electronically anyway, so everything I submitted was a photo of a receipt.

          2. Ness*

            Thanks for this suggestion. I generally tip at the end of my stay because I’ve noticed housekeepers often don’t take the tips I’ve left for them (presumably because they’re not 100% sure it’s a tip), but I should do this instead.

        4. doreen*

          I know how much of a tip was expected in the before times- but I’m not sure what’s expected now, when the room not only isn’t being cleaned daily. ( only at the end of the stay or after 5-7 days) but at most of the hotels I’ve stayed at, there isn’t any service at all during the stay other than picking up trash bags left in the hallway by guests.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            When I travel I don’t have housekeeping clean my room daily anyway because I am allergic to artificial fragrances. Most cleaning solutions and air “fresheners” (polluters IMO) have the cheapest artificial fragrances made, which often mean I’m coughing/choking when I encounter them. I will get extra towels or TP if I see them on their rounds, but otherwise I keep my “Do Not Disturb” sign out.

            This means that I put my tip for all the days into an envelope marked with “Housekeeping” or “For the Maid” and put it prominently on the desk. I know that the person turning the room is cleaning it after several days, and they are the only one doing the work so I’m not shorting anyone else.

        5. Not A Manager*

          It’s been years since I stayed at a hotel that cleans daily. Even high-end hotels only change the towels and do a very light pick-up unless you specifically request more. Most hotels no one enters your room at all except every four or so days.

          1. ThatGirl*

            For many places that change happened over covid, too – what I saw before often was that they would straighten and replenish things but not change the towels every day (to save water), now I see a lot of hotels only do any housekeeping every 3-4 days unless you request otherwise.

        6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Yep. I do $5 per night in low cost areas (Show Low AZ, Ely NV) and $10-15 in high cost ones.

          In hotels, especially big ones where there is likely a housekeeping manager, remember to put the cash out every day so you can ensure the . If you put it out on the last day, the manager usually pockets it. They tend to schedule themselves for the rooms where people check out and pocket the entire tip. My friend’s mom was a hotel housekeeper and told us all about it

        7. Student*

          I don’t tip for housekeeping because they are paid a non-tip-based wage, unlike restaurant waitstaff. I realize they’re low-paid workers still, and that they get exploited. However, I can’t make up for that everywhere with tips, and tips cover up the problem instead of addressing it fundamentally.

          I just can’t mentally justify adding tips for housekeeping when there are plenty of other minimum-wage workers I encounter all over. I don’t tip the custodial staff at work, but if I was going make a list of minimum-wage workers who make my life better, they’d be on the top, way above hotel housekeeping. Housekeeping staff have options to address low wages. I realize none of those options are great, but they can unionize, they can report abuse or wage theft to appropriate organizations (or sue, or try to get a criminal case going), and then can seek other jobs.

          Also, with the changes to hotel service since COVID, I’m hard-pressed to understand why people who do tip for hotel service should tip daily. Most hotels I’ve stayed in since the pandemic only do housekeeping once per week during your stay – sometimes housekeeping won’t come at all during your trip unless you specifically request and schedule it. What service am I tipping for, and who exactly am I tipping? If I’m taking out my own trash, I’m not going to tip housekeeping just because they have to change the linens once and vacuum for the next hotel guest who comes after me.

          1. Starbuck*

            “I don’t tip for housekeeping because they are paid a non-tip-based wage, unlike restaurant waitstaff. ”

            Interestingly, I live and dine in states that did away with the tipped wage for any workers many years ago. Restaurant workers make the same state minimum wage as everyone else, which is about twice the federal minimum wage where I live. But I don’t see any change in tipping practices – people still tip 15% – 20% as the floor. I wonder if, or when that will ever change. Because it’s true, I interact with lots of other minimum wage workers – like people in fast food restaurants, for example – and no one is tipping them.

            1. acmx*

              I’ve wondered about this- Are people still tipping in states like CA and NY for servers that are paid a standard wage?

              Bartenders, I might consider tipping if they created/suggested a drink for me but not to hand me a bottle of beer.

              1. Starbuck*

                In my experience, yes, and people tip even higher percentages in big cities that have higher minimum wages still. Obviously it varies person-to-person but that’s what I’ve observed. It’s not that I think they don’t deserve it! I just wonder what we’d have to do to actually get rid of our tipping culture, which I don’t support as an equitable wage system.

                1. acmx*

                  hmm, I totally missed this ” But I don’t see any change in tipping practices – people still tip 15% – 20% as the floor.” in your first post. Sorry!! lol *facepalm*

              2. Gumby*

                Yes they are. And in several cities here there is also an automatic 3 – 6% added for employer mandates. People still tip at ~20%.

                I mostly just don’t eat out any longer but honestly – just tell me the actual price of my food. Don’t rely on me reading the tiny print that says there is an automatic surcharge for this that or the other. Or an automatic 20% tip added for parties of 2 or more but I can feel free to adjust that assuming I read the small print and want to be known as the jerk who subtracted out part of the tip. Or, and this is increasingly common, a flat fee or percentage for using a credit card – I get it, you get charged by the cc company and you want to pass that on, fine. Tell me that BEFORE I get the receipt and go “what is this $3 charge for?” Do not depend on me being unobservant and just signing whatever you place in front of me.

          2. Me ... Just Me*

            This is me. I just can’t wrap my mind around tipping for housekeeping, especially since they are only cleaning once every several days and I’m re-using towels and run out of trash space on day one (itty bitty trash cans).

        8. Beth*

          Oh, that’s something I hadn’t thought of! We’ve always tipped at the end of the stay. We will change to daily tipping now.

        9. Anon4This*

          I did not realize I was supposed to tip houskeeping at hotels. Is that all hotels or just the high-end ones where you receive daily services? We don’t travel much and typically just stay over one night when on particularly lengthy trips to visit family – is tipping for 8 hours at the Microtel a thing?

          Are they also paid in the absurd and unfair way that servers are, where they are exempt from minimum wage and patrons are expected to essentially pay the remainder of their salary via tipping? I really hate that system. I wish they’d just charge me more for the hamburger/room and pay a fair wage. I don’t want to stiff the staff because the system sucks, but… the system sucks.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        $2-3 seems low to me, too. $5 is basic, and $10 is even better. I even got in the habit of packing notecards so I could leave tips for the housekeeper each day of my stay, and thank them for taking care of me. I addressed the envelope to the Housekeeper, with my room number and the date, and left it on the bathroom counter so they’d be sure to find it.

        Even if I didn’t get reimbursed, I left tips because the housekeeping staff works hard and they deserve it.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          And it is a brutal, dangerous job. So many scary things happen in hotel rooms. Groping, racial/ethnic abuse, robbery, beatings, etc. My friend’s mom was a hotel housekeeper in NYC and during school we’d pick up shifts to pay bills and the folks who do this job are not paid 1000 times enough

      3. Heather*

        Is that really low? Maybe this is a blind spot for me – I’ll have to look it up. I’ve only ever left about $5 for a 1-2 night stay and $10 for a longer one (that is – total, not per night). But I usually don’t get any daily service so it’s really just for the person who ends up cleaning the room after I’m gone.

        I can’t really imagine tipping $50 for a work week’s stay and then ask for that reimbursement, but I hope I haven’t inadvertently been stiffing housekeepers this entire time. (I actually used to work in housekeeping as a teen and we rarely got tips at all, and if it was it was hardly ever over $2-3, so maybe my perceptions are just skewed from that.)

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          It depends on the hotel set up. My recent work travel puts me in smaller hotel/motels (often branded but franchise) in rural areas with lower COL and the housekeeper is often also a manager. In those cases I go $5 per day. Any of your bigger hotels or any in a high cost of living area, I do $10-$15 per day. Hell, in some places that won’t even get you lunch

        2. K*

          Back in the 80s, my mom told me to leave housekeeping $2-3 a day… I’d been wondering what the “current” rate was… glad to see there’s some consensus around $5-10 /night.

    3. Lizzianna*

      Yes, we don’t have to provide documentation for cash tips up to a certain amount for housekeeping, etc. For meals, tips are supposed to come out of our meals allowance (so if we get $60 per day for meals and incidental expenses, we need to account for waitstaff tips when budgeting that).

    4. Cold and Tired*

      This! My company allows up to 20% gratuity for meals plus tips for taxis, hotels, etc. The CEO even has encouraged hotel tips for housekeeping. We have it all explicitly in writing in our company travel/reimbursement policies.

      1. Cold and Tired*

        And forgot to add, but there are plenty of travel expenses that are often hard to get receipts for beyond just tips (road tolls before most of them became electronic, subway tickets, street parking, vending machines, the occasional cash only coffee shop, etc) so your travel department 100% for sure expects these. For us, we submit all expenses and receipts electronically, so you just add a line item for the tip, say how much it was, and note that it was cash only or you write it onto a related receipt like a hotel statement and bundle it. As long as it’s reasonable and meets policy, it shouldn’t be questioned.

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          Even a cash only restaurant using an older non-internet POS should be able to print a receipt of how much you spent, even if you paid cash.

          thankfully most parking meters/ramps I’ve seen now take credit card, and most vending machines that are part of bigger businesses also take credit card/phone pay as options. so even if you can’t get a receipt you can see the transaction on the statement.

          1. AProfessional*

            Just because it’s reasonable doesn’t mean it can be reimbursed.

            At my workplace (which as you will probably imagine is public sector), the original physical receipt AND a matching credit card statement is required. The card number and dollar amount are manually checked for a match. Anything paid in cash absolutely won’t be reimbursed.

            Yes, we pay people to do the receipt checking. Yes, the labor cost to check all those receipts is way more than the value of the reimbursements. But the government in its wisdom has decided it’s a good idea to spend $50+ on labor to make sure taxpayers don’t feel like they’re being scammed out of $5 because I tipped the housekeeper.

            1. Cold and Tired*

              Yep, which is why I said “reasonable and per policy.” I work for a private company with a heavy travel footprint that often has the same team of staff go to the same locations and hotels regularly for a year or two, so they’re happy to reimburse standard tipping norms to keep everyone happy and keep good relationships with hotels, etc. I know public sector has a completely different philosophy so I’m not surprised it’s different.

        1. Miette*

          Yes, I agree that hotel support staff and restaurant workers ought to be paid a fair living wage which would make tipping less crucial to their earning enough to feed/house/clothe themselves and their families, and yet here we are…

        2. MsSolo UK*

          It’s definitely an issue if you’re travelling for work from abroad; very few expense policies cover tips that wouldn’t exist in their own country.

          1. coffee*

            Another problem with coming from abroad: the tricky balance of retaining enough foreign currency in cash so that you can tip, but not so much that you’re taking home money you can’t spend (until/unless you come back).

        3. Ellie*

          Yes, I live in Australia, and I really don’t want to travel to the US, just because of all these complications around tipping.

          Our company pays a per diem for meals, so I guess any cash tips would have to come out of that? I can’t imagine paying an extra $5-$10 a night though. Does it depend on the price of the hotel? I’ve stayed in backpacker places that cost $20 per night total.

    5. Reluctant Manager*

      When I had to provide receipts, I would write what I spent on a piece of paper, sign & date it, then scan it and attach as a receipt.

    6. Snow Globe*

      My company’s expense reimbursement system has a separate section for input of cash expenses, such as tipping. No receipt necessary, you just need to specify where and for what. (We use an online system developed by Oracle, so probably fairly common??)

    7. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Also, it’s extremely common for most companies to not require a receipt for expenses below a certain amount. At my company, it’s $25 which would cover a housekeeping for a few nights in a hotel, a valet tip, etc.

      As mentioned previously, check your company’s expenses policy and get any exceptions or clarifications in writing (email) in case the person processing your expense report kicks it back.

      Someone Responsible for Expense Reports

    8. Miette*

      I once worked at a place that stopped allowing housekeeping tips (BS, I know), so I started adding the amount in extra mileage. Thankfully, they weren’t the kind of place that would sit and put your home address into Google Maps or whatever (though I’ve been at those kinds of places too).

      Admittedly, this isn’t always an option if you don’t drive during these trips, or if you’re on a multi-week assignment, but it may be easier in certain circumstances. If you’re in the US, this amounts to 8 miles for every $5 of tip (at the current IRS mileage reimbursement rate of $0.625).

      1. Texan In Exile*

        In my old job, they reimbursed at 40 cents/mile. The IRS rate was 54 cents/mile, I think.

        They also gave us a per diem for meals, allowing $30 for supper in expensive places like Chicago and ~$20 in not-expensive places. I guess we were supposed to eat at fast food places only.

    9. Heffalump*

      Steve Dublanica, who came to prominence with Waiter Rant, has a good book on tipping, Keep the Change.

    10. Sloanicota*

      Yeah unfortunately at least one of my companies had stringent rules about tips, which meant we had to supplement the bill with our own cash (or exploit tipped workers).

    11. PivotPivot*

      I work indirectly for a state government. We are not reimbursed for cash tips. At. All.
      Thankfully I do not travel very often but when I do? I have to eat the cost of the tips.
      It sucks.

      1. Appletini*

        That sucks. This random internet stranger thanks you for being fair to people who live on tips even though your employer is being unfair to you. Your kindness deserves note.

    12. Amber T*

      Came here to echo this! Phew my compliance heart…

      You should definitely not be eating the tip amounts – that said, please understand your expense policy and make sure it’s crystal clear that the total charged amount was $X and the tip amount was $Y. Talk to whoever handles reimbursements if you have any questions, and if you work in financial services, definitely talk to your compliance team as well.

    13. Nina*

      My company requires a lot of travel for a few people and a little travel for most people. All reasonable travel costs (gas to get to airport, leaving car at airport, extra checked bag if you’ll be away more than a week) are reimbursable, and the per diem is [a lot] about half my weekly rent per day (for context, this is enough to have one really excellent or three pretty good restaurant meals a day, tipping generously). They do not want receipts. They do not want refunds of unspent per diem. They do not give a single flying f**k what you do with the money but suggest that you avoid buying firearms or illegal drugs with it while dressed in company branded clothes.

      It’s pretty sweet.

  2. mlem*

    LW4, these days, the first interview wouldn’t have been too early, and I’d say waiting for the second interview would be too late — especially when you think there’s a chance the salary range will be an immediate showstopper. No time like the present — send that email!

    1. Jen*

      No way. The first interview is NOT too early. I don’t even meet with a recruiter unless they give me the salary.

    2. Anon4This*

      Yes, I would not have done a second interview without the salary range, much less this amount of time invested and hoop jumping. Totally a first-intervew/phone screen question to see if it even makes sense to proceed.

  3. Evelyn*

    LW2– I am sorry this is happening to you. I used to work for a promotional products company and every single company we worked with that ordered branded apparel took care to be size inclusive. There are all kind of options that go up to 5X. Only mentioning in the off chance they try to use availability as an excuse. It’s BS and you deserve to have the same things as your coworkers.

    1. Elena*

      If its a smaller company where it doesnt make financial sense to order sizes that only one or two people would use, they could also use other branded options, like pins, vests or hats

      1. Artemesia*

        If they order the shirts according to forms employees are filling out, of course they can order outlying sizes for one or two people. The same problem happens with small women who are expected to wear unisex apparel that is actually designed for men and looks ridiculous on them. If companies are going to have apparel they expect people to wear at work, they need to fit everyone — and there are options out there for womens wear polo shirts and a range of very large sized t-shirts etc. Gonna do it? Make the effort to do it inclusively.

        1. Elena*

          Alright, thats fair enough. I ve never actuallytried to orderbranded merch for a business, so i wasnt really sure of the exact costs, but was trying to think of possible solutions to the cost objection

          1. Starbuck*

            Why work so hard to make excuses for them? That doesn’t help LW, they can ask the question of their employer themselves and see if there even was a reason.

            1. merpaderp*

              Why assume the worst of people? Why is Elena “making up excuses” and not “brainstorming potential problems and their solutions,”? Posing the hypothetical gave the whole commentariat an opportunity to reflect on the philosophy of inclusivity, and learn from it. Okay, it may not be helpful for you/everyone, but others do find that sort of things helpful.
              I know my executive function issues make it difficult for me to make connections like that (micro: macro, issue: value,) in conversation so I do brainstorm before meetings in just this way.

        2. Miette*

          Absolutely THIS! I often am in charge of this kind of thing, and there can be some lines of shirt that simply don’t go up to 5X. Do you know what I do when I come across one? I don’t order it/make it available to staff. I also try to go for lines that have a male and a female shape because those who prefer short sleeves not to end mid-forearm appreciate it.

          1. Sally*

            Thank you for, you know, being a considerate human! My company just had an event with t-shirts, and they ordered S-XL in women’s and in men’s. I check for fit by holding the shirt up, and if it goes halfway around my body, it usually fits. The women’s XL wasn’t even close, so I took a men’s L. I really wanted a “women’s cut” shirt, and the pathetic thing is that, while I was irritated in the moment, it didn’t occur to me to raise a stink about it (and I’m on the DEI committee). I appreciate everyone’s comments here because now I will be raising this with the people who order company apparel.

            1. Sally*

              and I usually wear a women’s XXL, so anyone who couldn’t wear the men’s XL (which was clearly not XL) was SOL.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                I’m AFAB, and I wear a men’s 2X.

                They don’t make women’s shirts to fit me in promotional apparel. A women’s 2X, usually the biggest they offer, is the equivalent of a men’s large, which is a joke on me. The worst of it is that the stupid things don’t fit in the chest!

          2. Marna Nightingale*

            Thank you! My particular problem with “unisex” shirts is that if it comes anywhere close to fitting on my shoulders and upper body, it’s going to catch on my hips.

            Not only is that a terrible look, every time I sit down my t-shirt is going to catch on my butt, slip back, and try to strangle me.

            For volunteer work, etc, I can get away with taking the scissors to the thing to produce a somewhat cropped muscle-shirt effect, but obviously this doesn’t work at all for work-related stuff.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Unisex clothing looks really sloppy on me. I’ve got narrow shoulders, an average waist, and a large chest. Oh, and I’m 5′ 2.
              A men’s cut t-shirt, polo, button down shirt, or fleece, or whatever that fits my chest is going to completely swamp the rest of me. It’s impossible for me to look professional in those cuts; they look so sloppy I never wear stuff like that even casually in my personal life.

              And giant eye-roll to the event coordinator who told me I could just have stuff altered to fit. It’s not like tucking in the waist or shortening a sleeve or pant leg; it’s nearly every seam needing to be undone, every fabric panel needing to be recut, armholes needing to be re-positioned, made smaller, and it’s still going to look wonky. Plus it’d be an expense I’d have that no one else does.

              Any time I’m the person ordering, I always choose suppliers with men’s / women’s cuts and extended sizing. And I always check that the women’s and extended sized items aren’t a just a pale knock off of the “standard” men’s S M L XL (because that’s a thing some suppliers do … stuff like the men’s items have pockets, or color-matched buttons, but the women’s don’t, or the “standard” sizes are in a nice fabric, with attractive stitching, but the extended ones are a cheaper fabric with different details.)

          3. Momma Bear*

            One of the criteria for us for using a shirt vendor is size. It is problematic if they don’t have the range we need, big or small. We don’t need people looking ridiculous in something that doesn’t it. I hope OP speaks up, especially since now this is for an event and they will not match the company.

        3. Texan In Exile*

          At an old job, where I had to wear the horrible polo shirts for the trade shows, I asked the guy in charge of ordering to get women’s sizes so I wouldn’t have to cut off the bottom 10″ of the shirt. (Stuffing that much extra fabric into the required khaki pants – which are already not flattering to women – looked awful.)

          He told me the vendor didn’t make women’s sizes.

          I suggested he seek a different vendor, as we were not longer in the 19th century.

        4. snarkfox*

          Totally agree! I definitely think it’s more egregious to leave out the bigger sizes, but I am also sick of wearing a baggy, unflattering men’s small that’s tight across the bust and then hangs like a tent everywhere else. I can deal with it when it’s a free giveaway t-shirt or whatever, but if I’m expected to wear it, please let it actually fit me.

        5. Antares*

          We have to wear OSHA-compliant high-vis vests, and the smallest size is a men’s medium. I’m a 100-lb woman, and it does indeed look ridiculous on me! I call it my safety dress. I never could get the tool committee to approve smaller sizes, though.

      2. PollyQ*

        There are so many CafePress-style businesses that now make branded merch to order that the small size of a company is no longer an excuse for this. If it costs a little more, then that’s just the price of doing the job right.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          That’s it, basically. If you can’t afford to get branded T-shirts in a full range of sizes, then you don’t get branded T-shirts.

          One of the best examples I’ve seen is was at a largish week long conference (~600 people). They had samples to try on when you checked in Sunday evening, and they had the chosen sizes and colours Wednesday morning.

          1. BethDH*

            I wish every event did that, or at least had you pick shirts by measurements (inches/cm across and top to bottom would be good!)
            Worst version for me was the event where they gave men’s or women’s tshirts based on the pronouns you entered in your form, without mentioning that on the place where you put your tshirt size. I ended up with a comically small shirt but also thought that would be especially horrific for someone whose pronouns didn’t match their birth gender assignment.
            So OP should definitely approach this as a DEI issue for their situation, but there are lots of places this issue could be an inclusivity problem.

        2. Koalafied*

          Exactly. “Your shirt size would be $30 instead of $25 and we only budgeted for $25 per employee,” is a really shitty message to send an employee. It’s $5. Find room in the budget for everyone to get their correct size or don’t do shirts.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            Especially because, frankly, any organization spending $25 per employee for shirts is likely spending far more on some different perk for the C-suite. Take it out of that budget.

      3. WS*

        If they’re a small company they’re even more likely to be using a major print on demand service and should have size options from XS-5XL.

      4. Bagpuss*

        Yes – We ordered branded T Shirts once but it was where some members of staff had decided to enter an event and wanted to do so as a team, and asked if we would sponsor them, so we did , butthey organised it including ordering the sizes.

        when we were looking at uniformity for staff we wen’t with branded badges (pins) and for reception staff and discussed and agreed colours / type of clothing (e.g. black dress or skirt/trousers + a shirt or blouse in white or our corporate colour) – which meant that eveyone could have a badge with the logo on, eveyone could wear clothes that fir in a style that suited them, and as none of the clothing was branded, it wasn’t limited in where it could be worn.

        I agree that if they are ordereing for each staff member then it’s reasonble to ensurethat the correct size is available and, ideally, proper cuts rather than ‘unsex’ which isn’t suitbale for many women

      5. Lavender*

        If LW is in the US, though, it’s statistically more likely that the expanded sizing options will be used more than the smallest one.

        I think it’s interesting that the average US woman is a size 16/18, but we’re still thinking of S/M/L as the norm. At this point, those sizes don’t include a vast proportion of women, at least. Not sure about the stats for men.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Yeah, I was thinking reading this that if L/M/S are the same in the US as here, then I take a Large and I am a UK size 16/US size 12, so fairly average. Somebody only one size larger than me would be XL and I suspect that is not how a lot of people picture XL. It sounds like it should mean a size significantly bigger than the average, like maybe 24 or something, not like a size that would correspond to maybe a US 16.

        2. Momma Bear*

          You can’t even count on consistency within that, either. We had a guy try on an XXL shirt and he usually wears an XL so the fact that it fit him well makes me concerned for the people really wanting/needing an XXL. You need samples, always.

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        Anyone who can’t find a vendor where you can order a specific number of sizes of your design or chooses a vendor that doesn’t offer sizing for non-average-sized people shouldn’t be in charge of handling this. When I register my kids for recreational sports, there is a spot on the form for t-shirt size so that, when they make the team t-shirts, each coach gets shirts that fit their specific kids and don’t have anyone embarrassed that they have to either try to fit into a too-small size or not have the team uniform. If my high-schooler’s just-for-fun soccer league can get an adult 5XL in 15 different colors with their logo, I bet corporate American can too.

    2. Gillian*

      For you specifically, if you are a 3x women and the shirts are unisex it’s likely the 2x would fit. It’s kind of ridiculous overall though – can they reimburse you for another university shirt you COULD wear? Surely at a college there are many people that need a larger size.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        That really depends on what shape you are. I’m busty, so anything that isn’t cut for curves is probably going to be too tight across my chest. To get a big enough straight cut shirt to fit my chest, it’s going to be too big in several other places, the shoulders are going to be drooping down my arms, and it’ll look pretty sloppy on me. That’s fine if I’m buying a flannel shirt to wear as a jacket because grunge never died, less so if I’m posing in a group photo for work in logo gear. (If the logo is across the chest, that will also get distorted and look terrible on me no matter what size I end up with, but that’s a separate-yet-related issue with logo clothing.)

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah this is a problem I have run into as well (re: busty). I look like I’m wearing a sack in men’s shirts, which is fine if I’m wearing it as a cozy home shirt but not if I’m standing next to people wearing the same branded polo and looking professional in it. I’ve also found those company branded merch shirts run a bit small, so they tend to pinch in the arms for me. Hate the whole concept. Get a vest or a button and let people wear their own clothes.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            So true! Also, the LW never states why the too-small shirt doesn’t fit. It could be height also. I have worked with some very tall people. A 2x would effectively be a crop top on them, no matter their weight.

            Just provide a wide range of sizes, which any one could do.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Oh, hi, I see you’ve met my spouse. The highlight of his life was when he found tall clothing and no longer had to wear things that were twice as wide as he is just to get something that covered his whole torso.

              1. Felis alwayshungryis*

                Yup, that’s my husband. He’s tall and skinny, so a M hangs on him but a S reaches his belly button.

                Company branded clothing sucks – I’m narrow shouldered and busty, and that kind of stuff never fits.

        2. NervousHoolelya*

          Yup, the “but the unisex 2X size should work for you!” option… does NOT work for me either. I am two sizes smaller from the waist up than I am from the waist down. Any unisex shirt that will fit my hips has SO MUCH material in the shoulders and waist that I look ridiculous.

          I work in higher ed, and they wanted all staff to wear a branded shirt for Commencement. I knew from the ordering request that the shirt wouldn’t fit. I mentioned that IN THE FORM and asked about alternatives, but never got an answer. Shirts arrived, and surprise! They didn’t fit. The coordinators seemed dumbfounded and suggested wearing my own unbranded shirt in a similar color — which I didn’t own and had to rush order. One told me earnestly, “Oh, don’t worry. They won’t fire you over this or anything.” I am specialized academic staff. I, uh, wasn’t worried about being fired because of this, but I was damn sure feeling body-shamed because of it.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Stuff like this makes me wonder if the people involved in planning & ordering have ever tried on or bought clothes in their entire life. Who are these people who never have problems with sizing?

            1. Captain+Swan*

              I have found that usually the person doing the ordering is a junior staff member. So they are younger, possibly a recent graduate or an intern and often times fall into the range where a medium or large unisex shirt looks fine on them. They don’t think about expanded sizing because the largest group order of clothing they have dealt with is maybe a sports team or club type group, so perhaps 20 people around the same age and body type as them.

          2. anon for this - too identifying*

            We once ordered Asian-sized shirts for an all-staff thing where the staff from each school wore t-shirts with their school logo on them. I’m a “try our large economy size” in American sizes, and wearing the largest sized shirt available from the vendor made it look like I was wearing skintight clubwear, which is not my usual professional “look” as a high school teacher. (It was also actively uncomfortable because it was so tight.)

            I pointed this out while ordering the shirts, but apparently it was too late to pivot to a vendor that offered a wider size range since the person ordering really wanted light-up logo shirts and couldn’t find a vendor offering those in typical American sizing.

        3. snarkfox*

          Yep, the bust thing is so real. Stretched out logo across the bust… but baggy everywhere else. Luckily, my current job doesn’t have branded clothing, but in past jobs, I hated looking so sloppy and unprofessional.

      2. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Nah, I think most fat people are going to be thinking of tshirts in unisex sizes by default. I’m a smaller fat woman, and I’ve just accepted that I don’t fit into women-sized tshirts.

        1. Baffled Teacher*

          Yes. Like, even if you use print on demand services or a really inclusive line that has men’s and women’s cuts, they virtually NEVER have plus size women’s cuts. All women stop at 2xl, apparently (and it’s a “2xl” that would fit a middle schooler, let’s be real).

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, a women’s “2xl” is maybe a size 16. I wear a women’s 24 just for my bust alone. Needless to say, I wear men’s 2X because I’m also fat.

        2. Sally*

          I wish we could get rid of unisex. There’s actually no such sizing – those are men’s sizes. I guess I’m hyper-aware these days, but it’s wearing me down to constantly see the men’s version of something as the default.

          1. snarkfox*

            Yeah a “unisex” shirt is 100% a men’s shirt. It’s so stupid. Call it what it is and let women know you don’t care if they have clothing that fits!

            1. Starbuck*

              Totally. Very tired of the idea that “gender neutral” = “letting women wear men’s stuff”. Not even getting into the fallacy that you can sort all body types into just two t-shirt categories that correspond to “women” and “men”! I’m one of many people where neither style usually fits right.

          2. marvin*

            Even as a unisex person, while I like to be able to order clothes without getting into weird gender territory, they generally don’t fit me. It would be exciting if someone decided to create a truly inclusive clothing line, which would have to include various types of customization.

        3. Pillow Forts FTW*

          Funny side story – one year our company bought tshirts for conventions and career fairs that had a slogan that contained the work “Big” in big capitalized, bolded font.

          Unfortunately, the placement of the slogan on the shirt had ‘Big’ right over the Chestular region.

          A coworker’s husband asked her exactly what were we selling…

      3. JSPA*

        OP isn’t roasting in a desert or freezing on an ice floe with only one potential piece of somewhat-too-small clothing as lifesaving protection. Wearing the shirt is an entirely optional act, except for bad policy. It’s completely reasonable for them to want their actual size that they are comfortable in!

        If OP says that the 2X being offered won’t work–let’s go with that. “But this one actually might!” gets old awfully, awfully fast.

        It’s not just people on the extremes who get armchair quarterbacking about their clothing, of course.

        Some people apply magical thinking about sizes to others who are a different size from themselves (people who’d never ask someone who takes a large–as they do–to fit a medium, will ask, “they’re cut large, can’t you make that fit?” of someone who takes a 5X, about wearing a 4X.)

        Some apply it to themselves and others of their size, whether aspirationally, or out of a sense of obligation, or shame, or just because clothes look really different lying flat on a shelf, than they do on a body.

        In a world where all bodies were valued equally, I suppose it would be less of a big deal to “just try it on and see.”

        But even then, it’s never a good feeling to struggle part way into clothing, in public, only to get stuck, and have to be rescued, or to pull it all the way on, then deal with the “oops, I was wrong, you look like a sausage, I had no idea you arms were so meaty” reaction of the people there (and often as not, you then have to comfort them, when they’re overcome by awkwardness, over having put you in that situation).

        Even if you’re not overall large, perhaps you’re disproportionately large in the hip, or the shoulder, the bust, or are blessed with a “junk in the trunk” badonkadonk…I feel like most of us, out of some misplaced feeling of obligation, have done the “wrong size item is all that’s left” dance at some point, right?

        Which is fine, if you lean in on the comedic aspects, and enjoy it (or enjoy making the point, more than you dislike the sensation). But “no, you don’t have my size” and “next time, please order my size” are also 100% fine responses.

        1. Just here for the cats*

          You hit the nail on the head. We don’t ask someone to fit into a smaller size if they are in conventionally sizes, why do it just because someone is in the XL range.

        2. Pickaduck*

          My hero was a former co-worker who, when presented with the polo shirts that my boss’s secretary (wrongly) guessed at our sizes, tossed it back on the table and said “I’m going to need a couple more X’s!”

        3. OP2*

          OP2 here. I agree whole-heartedly with this comment. I do actually have experience with unisex/men’s t-shirt sizes and I know the XXL option will not fit. I know the “just try it on and see” people mean well, but it gets extremely tiresome. I have had so many people offer me L and XL clothes, I guess because they mentally categorize them as “so huge” that they should fit anyone? That or they are passive-aggressively pointing out that I am so fat I can’t even wear an XL, but I try not to assume maliciousness when ignorance will do as an explanation. Anyway, it’s humiliating to have to explain repeatedly that I’m actually much fatter than they think.

          1. Momma Bear*

            I’m sorry they are doing this to you. Surely you cannot be the only one needing a larger shirt and even if you are, you deserve the respect of having the right shirt ordered.

          2. Ellie*

            OP2 I get that all the time as well. I’m a short, overweight woman with big boobs. I think people see the ‘short’ and figure I can’t be that large? ‘Just try it and see’ will result in me popping out in all directions, if I can manage to get the shirt over my head at all that is, but I get it all the time.

            It can’t be that hard for them to order shirts in more sizes. And if the cost is prohibitive, they could get one made for you. You deserve a shirt that fits like everyone else.

          3. Former Employee*

            “… I try not to assume maliciousness when ignorance will do as an explanation.”

            Thank you, OP2. Given that sizing is non standard, I can see how people would do a quick mental calculation and come to the conclusion that a man’s XXL should be equivalent to a women’s 3X.

            Maybe it even did work in one situation and now the person believes it will always work.

            People tend not to be good at this sort of guesstimating and I appreciate your attitude towards your co-workers who are probably just trying to do their best.

          4. Deborah*

            “I try not to assume maliciousness when ignorance will do as an explanation.” But just today I read the very awesome statement (which I’m paraphrasing from memory), “Persistent and extreme ignorance becomes indistinguishable from malice.”

      4. Justme, The OG*

        I order swag for a university. It’s ridiculously easy to actually buy things that will fir your staff. Your excuse that “unisex should fit” is not only wrong, it’s lazy. Buy stuff that fits your employees or don’t buy it at all.

        1. Ruby Julian-Lee*

          Not ridiculously easy enough for the university department I work for. It consistently gives me shirts that don’t fit and the person who orders them actually argued with me via e-mail when I reminded her about what size I wear: she wanted me to wear something two sizes too small! I can only imagine they over-ordered too many smaller shirts and were trying too off-load them.

          I’m not in a leadership position, so when I get something that doesn’t fit, I just don’t wear it. The last time, it was a yellow polo that didn’t fit, so I wore a blouse (in keeping with our business casual dress code) I already had that was mostly yellow. No one said a word. I’ve lately taking to saying, completely deadpan, that my religion forbids wearing clothing bearing graven images.

      5. Art3mis*

        Yeah… no. Not really. For tshirts, I don’t even bother with women’s tshirts, I only look at the mens/unisex ones and a 2XL mens is not the same as a 3XL womens.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Seriously. A women’s “2XL” is a men’s “Large”, at best. I wear a men’s 2XL. They don’t make women’s stuff that fits me.

          I can’t wait for the letter from some XL size guy whining about how his company only bought women’s style and sized shirts and nothing fits him. Then I will know that we’re getting near to equality.

      6. My+Useless+2+Cents*

        I wouldn’t assume the 2X would fit. I’m a 3X woman and most unisex or branded shirts typically do NOT fit me at any size. I’ve tried getting 5X shirts before and they still don’t fit. (Way too tight in the shoulders, arms and neck, way too big in the waist and length, how a shirt can go up 2 or more sizes and not be *any bigger* at the top is a mystery I’ve given up trying to figure out).

        I’ve also been the only person in the room not wearing the matching shirt because nothing would fit. It’s isolating and totally sucks. If you have to bother with emailing the boss, I’d see if something beside the branded shirt was available or, as Gillian suggests, if you can be reimbursed after finding something that will actually fit.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I currently work for a pro products company, and I’m pretty sure most of the garment suppliers go up to 4XL standard and 6XL on their most popular styles.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      We order branded apparel regularly and there are always size-inclusive options available on some items. However, not every style is size-inclusive.

      For anyone reading this and thinking, “I’ll just add a size-inclusive alternative,” please be aware of the potential pitfalls in that approach too. At my last job they offered a nice Adidas polo with limited sizes OR a non-name brand polo for those who needed larger sizes. There were obvious differences in quality and appearance between the two shirts, which was the opposite of inclusive.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        I’ve seen this when ordering different sizes of what was supposedly *the same* garment. Men’s standard sizing, women’s standard sizing, extended sizes of the same shirt were actually 3 different shirts with different fabric quality, styling, features (pockets, button types/colors, collar styles) Unsurprisingly, the “men’s” standard sizes were always nicer.

    5. REH*

      Ugh, LW2, I’ve dealt with this too and sorry you are experiencing it. Something similar happened to me at my last job. The CEO at our small company had picked out some really nice vests from Patagonia. He was kind of obnoxiously proud of himself for choosing a product from Patagonia. To be clear, I think Patagonia is a great and ethical company! His pride in ordering branded vests from them was just a bit over the top. Unfortunately he’d picked a style that had limited sizes and in no possible way would fit me (I’m plus-size and top-heavy). I’m certain he didn’t think about sizing for even a moment. It was our office manager who had to tell me that the vest wasn’t available in my size. (They already had a list of our preferred sizes for ordering company t-shirts, which thankfully came in a wider size range.) I ended up just giving the vest to my sister. In hindsight, I wish I’d spoken up – at the time I felt too much shame at being one of the larger people in the company.

  4. Random Internet Potato (RIP)*

    LW2, forgive me if I sound insensitive, but I think you’re over assuming and over complicating a simple problem.

    1. “I never said anything about it”
    If you never told anyone about the problem, how do you expect them to solve the problem they might not know they had?

    2. “My university is sending me a clear message that I do not fit the look of a “leader.””
    This ties to point #1, and you’re making a huge assumption. They ACCEPTED YOU into the leadership program. The university is not sending you a message on what a leader should look like, you’re sending that message to yourself.

    1. Banana*

      You do sound insensitive. Their sizing isn’t inclusive, they should be able to realize that on their own, it’s certainly not OP2’s fault for not having pointed it out for them, and it is absolutely reasonable to conclude that they don’t fit the company’s vision of a leader when they don’t fit the clothing the company has picked out for people in that role.

      1. Despachito*

        Isn’t it just possible that people’s sizes are rather marginal for them (and therefore more likely to be omitted)? I understand the t-shirt is rather a perk, not a uniform (where there would be an obligation to wear one, and an absolute need that it fits).

        1. Harper the Other One*

          That might be the case if they had a stash of shirts they had made in a large batch, but places rarely do that now because of the accessibility of print on demand/other rapid customization options. These services offer a HUGE range of products and sizes to choose from! It is so easy now to be inclusive about size, to offer multiple cuts like both slim and relaxed fit, or to offer options like letting staff choose short versus long sleeves, etc.

        2. Banana*

          What Harper said.

          I have never in my professional life considered branded clothing to be a perk. Unless you work for an actual clothing brand, or a brand that people intentionally buy branded merchandise from, using their own money, it’s not a perk, even when wearing it is optional. It’s a team building tool for the company to make people feel like they belong to the group by wearing clothing with the same branding on it. The entire point of it is to make people feel like they belong to the group, so excluding someone from the clothing group based on size or disability runs counter to the object of purchasing it in the first place.

        3. J!*

          If everyone else is wearing organization-branded shirts on Fridays and the Letter Writer isn’t, how long do you think it will take for people to think that says something about their commitment to the organization, even if it doesn’t? It may not be an obligation like a uniform, but much like happy hours with the boss, there are informal costs to not doing it.

      2. Allonge*

        If you are in a philosophy class, maybe it’s reasonable to get to that conclusion. Maybe it’s reasonable anyway.

        But if you want to issue to be resolved, you cannot get stuck there. I am fat, I get plenty of sizing issues. I ask for my size and I get it and normally systems learn. If I just sit there, angry that it’s not already perfect, it will never change.

        1. ceiswyn*

          Sure, but it shouldn’t be up to you to always have to point it out and ask for it to be fixed.
          The fact that people of certain sizes/shapes have to constantly advocate to get things that everyone else just gets without a second thought is a problem. It is doubly a problem when this sort of microaggression occurs within the context of a programme meant to raise awareness and decrease the occurrence of exactly this sort of thing.

          1. EPLawyer*

            But how is anyone supposed to KNOW the shirts don’t fit OP. Most people don’t go around presuming other people’s shirt sizes. They put some sizes down on the sheet. If none of them work, you let someone know so they can fix it. Otherwise, maybe everyone is thinking OP just doesn’t like to wear branded swag (which some people don’t).

            This is a case of TELL someone then see what happens. If they still refuse to fix the problem, then they don’t care. But if they don’t even know they don’t know.

            1. ceiswyn*

              None of that is relevant.

              The point is that they just need to know that there are people out there who are larger/smaller than the options they’ve provided, and have thought about how to accommodate those people. Not to rely on those people getting in touch to say ‘hey, I’m really fat’.

              It’s a bit like giving only wine as a corporate gift. Sure, at that point your Muslim, Methodist, alcoholic etc employees need to point out that there’s an issue; but the fact that it has got to that point is an issue in itself.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*


                It’s not the case yet, but some of these things are just so basic that it seems like more work to make them less inclusive. Don’t send anything you wouldn’t let people consume or use during working hours, leave sizing or general prefences as a write-in, have events that aren’t focused on drinking or heavy physical activity…it feels like such basic common sense but the world is catching up slowly and it’s hardest on those who need accommodations.

                1. BethDH*

                  Pushing back on leaving sizing and general preferences as a write-in. I agree with everything else you said, but that is just a nightmare.

                  I’ve been places where they tried to do that. You end up with a bunch of people saying “well, in [obscure brand 1] I’m a 10, but in [familiar but extremely variable brand] I’m usually a 14” and then some poor person at the bottom of the hierarchy has to deal with it.

                  Instead ask:
                  Do we really need shirts in the first place?
                  If so, how can we provide as inclusive a range as possible?
                  How can we communicate how those sizes actually fit in a way people can act on?
                  How can we make it as easy and non-judgmental as possible for someone to let us know they need additional options?

                2. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  I agree with you, I should have worded that better I meant more like have an option for “other”. But yes thinking through all those things, having available size charts with measurements, having a safe way to communicate needs – basic must haves. And if that’s too much work, just skip the shirts. I am a big fan of accessory options. Vests, buttons, lanyards – and then letting people wear clothes they choose and are comfortable in.

                3. Somehow_I_Manage*

                  Many companies solicit shirt sizes during onboarding and offer you a place to maintain it in your private HR profile. It’s the type of thing you think about once, but then never consider again. But it easily allows HR to keep an eye on this kind of thing when choosing vendors, etc.

              2. Heather*

                That comparison doesn’t hold up for me. I can look at a bottle of wine and realize “this won’t work for everyone”. I can’t really look at my largest coworkers and decide whether the vendor who supplies shirts up to 3X needs to be ruled out or not.

                1. ceiswyn*

                  Yes, yes you can, and without looking at your largest coworkers at all.
                  Why do you need to look at your largest *current* coworkers to have a strategy for when your corporate clothes supplies don’t work for everyone?

                  Such as, say, the 4X or XXXS coworker who gets hired next week?

                2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  I just look for vendors who do XXS to 6X, ideally 7X and keep them bookmarked for when we need to order promotional things. It only takes a google to find them

                3. My+Useless+2+Cents*

                  But the company can look around and realize that none of the larger people in the office ever wear branded shirts on Friday, or at the company luncheon, or at the conference, etc. and then wonder if maybe there was a reason. Just because LW has never said anything, doesn’t mean that the company shouldn’t realize there is a problem. I sincerely doubt LW is the only person who is routinely sized out of the shirts give-aways.

              3. Mr. Shark*

                Exactly. When in charge of ordering shirts, these are things that you should be aware of. It shouldn’t have to take someone telling you that S-XL doesn’t fit everyone–anyone with sense should know this and be aware of this issue.
                Even if those sizes are available, it’s still just *not fun* to have to go and declare your size. We had fittings every year for our shirts at a factory, and having to publicly deal with that and then tell whichever HR rep was there collecting the information, and trying on sizes that are too small, is just humiliating.

            2. ceiswyn*

              … And yes, the process of pointing out these things and requiring them to do extra work to accommodate what they may see as ‘a fat slob’, or ‘an alcoholic mess’ or ‘one of those terrorist types’ is not one that is free of professional consequences.

            3. FridayFriyay*

              They’re not because the inclusive like of thinking doesn’t rely on assumptions about any one specific current participant. Surely we expect that most people are aware of the existence of fat people, including those who wear larger plus sized clothing. Unless you are making a fat phobic assumption that no one with that body size/shape could ever enroll in this program, you’d obviously choose one of the many (I cannot emphasize enough, MANY) available branded options that comes in a full range of sizes. If it’s merely due to thoughtlessness now is a great time to stop normalizing that and making excuses for it. It’s 2022, we know fat people exist, do better.

              1. Jen*

                There’s a big difference between realizing that fat people exist and realizing that XXL isn’t big enough for some people.

            4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

              The whole point of DEI is literally for the organization to be aware of these things without putting the onus on people who are exceptional in some way to have to point it out. The OP is not the only fat person in existence, and by making it about the individual, it reinforces the idea that that person doesn’t fit. “Even though you’re fat, we think you’re ok” is not the message that DEI wants to be sending.

            5. hbc*

              They aren’t supposed to know that OP has a problem with the shirt sizes anymore than they should know that another person has bad knees and can’t take the stairs. But they should recognize when setting things up that the clothing sizes should include all possible employees and a third floor conference room requires an elevator.

      3. L-squared*

        I think its a bit harsh. I can see this, especially on a university, as just a thing that has been done. As in “we use X company for shirts” and never questioned. If the people in charge don’t need anything bigger than an XL, and they haven’t needed to order anything bigger, I can easily see how you could just not realize it until someone brought it to your attention. Once it is brought to their attention, how they react makes a big difference. But its something that can easily just not be noticed until it is.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          LW says they have a big focus on DEI and DEI requires thought about people who don’t fit into the existing norm without putting the burden on those people to raise the issue. How comfortable do you think it is for someone to have to point out their own size when our society is so contemptuous of fat people? “Hey, I don’t know if you consider fat people to be lazy and undisciplined [i.e. buy into the ugly stereotypes about fat people], but I need a larger shirt.”

          1. L-squared*

            I feel like even framing it that way is making it much more of a big deal. You can just say “Hey, my size isn’t listed here. What can we do”. It can work the same way if someone needs smaller than a small.

            Everyone, even people working on DEI have blind spots. Because of that, we have to allow mistakes to happen without assuming the worst.

            1. CPegasus*

              No, you really can’t. It’s just not possible in the society we live in to address size with a person you don’t know and safely assume they aren’t biased.

              1. Starbuck*

                How does that change the starting approach or suggested scripts? Everything I’ve seen suggested says to start by pointing out the oversight with the assumption that whoever’s in change will want to fix it once it’s known. If they react poorly, then that’s a different conversation. Do you have a different recommendation for how to first approach it?

              2. Ellis Bell*

                I think there’s a difference in assuming conscious and unconscious bias though. Assuming conscious and deliberate bias is in play when something has been overlooked is pretty bold. Tackling unconscious bias usually just involves treating it like a blind spot, but underlining that it’s a serious one: “we really have to be more aware of this if we want people to feel included”.

          2. Just here for the cats*

            I’m betting that what happened is that it’s just an old/generic form that is used by multiple offices and not something specific that DEI have made, which means the DEI may not even know that its an issue, because they don’t handle/ create the forms, just hand them out.

          3. Despachito*

            Do you think that if someone is fatphobic, they would not realize someone is fat unless this person tells them their size?

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Nah, these are system failures, not her failures. Could speaking up have resolved it quicker? Maybe. But lack of inclusivity is a system failure first.

    3. Jessica*

      RIP, you are being unhelpfully dismissive about something you clearly don’t understand. This would be a good time for you to talk less and listen more.

      1. Asenath*

        If an employer provides me with clothing that doesn’t fit, I need to speak up. Clearly, something has gone wrong, but it’s unlikely to change unless it is brought to the attention of someone who can fix it.

        1. So Tired*

          You’re overlooking the very likely fact that LW2 has been through this before and is simply tired of having to point it out to people. As a fat woman myself, I’m usually the one to point out if size ranges aren’t big enough, and after a certain amount of time it starts feeling like I’m a broken record begging people to include me and other fat folks in their planning. I’ve done what LW2 said she was thinking of doing and simply picked a smaller size to give to someone else instead of bringing it up, and it’s really not helpful to be told/reminded that I should have done more and said something because what if in the future someone else is in my position and that group doesn’t have bigger sizes because I didn’t say anything? Sometimes I just want to be part of the group without having to do extra work or make extra noise. It would be nice if planners factored fat people in from the beginning.

          And why are you and others saying it’s fat peoples’ responsibility to make sure they’re included in sizing and not the responsibility of the people planning and organizing? Especially when it’s for something related to DEI? It’s not at all inclusive to exclude any sizes bigger than XXL.

          1. Asenath*

            As a fat person myself, I prefer to take responsibility when something that affects me is not satisfactory – about many things, but including clothing sizes.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Actually, when I order stuff it is on me to make sure I order sizes for everyone. It isn’t hard to find promo clothing lines that go XXS to 6X and I you’d have to be blind to know that people come in all sizes so all sizes have to be available

        1. Cat Lover*

          I realize this comment wasn’t completely helpful- I was referring to “This would be a good time for you to talk less and listen more”- this is a blog with an active comment section.

          1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            One of the benefits of an active comments section is that you can learn something if you’re willing.

              1. Dahlia*

                Sometimes you do. For example, I’m white. If people are talking about racism, I don’t need to involve myself. I need to be quiet and listen.

        2. Ginger Pet Lady*

          Sometimes people will never learn unless they do shut up. This is one of those times and she’s pointing that out.
          And adult should be fine being told they need to stop talking and listen more. It’s something that comes with mature thinking.
          And if they won’t listen even when being told that very plainly, I’d add “grow up” to the list of things they need to do.

      2. Another Fat person*

        I am not RIP but I am a fat person. I don’t think they are being unhelpfully dismissive. I do think a bit of this is being taken a smidge too personally. I don’t think their employer is sending a message saying they don’t fit the look of leadership. They were accepted into this program. That’s a sign they do fit what they are looking for. Does it suck that inclusive sizing isn’t universal, yes absolutely. Should they have to alwasy speak up about it, no. But like it or not, being perfectly inclusive in every single way isn’t everyone’ s default. I would look at it the first time it happens, speak up and raise the concern. If it after speaking up once and it continues to happen, then its an issue.

        1. BethDH*

          This is where overall culture really matters. If you’re used to bringing up an issue and having people say, “oops, let me fix that,” saying something is no big deal.
          If you’re used to an environment where people respond by rolling their eyes or telling you how hard it will be to make that change but they “guess” they can figure it out, you’re going to avoid being the one to tell them.
          I find that second situation a lot more common than someone outright refusing to accommodate, and you get tired really quickly of being the one who is seen as the problem.

        2. My+Useless+2+Cents*

          Also a 3X gal, I agree that straight to the assumption of doesn’t fit the look of leadership is extreme however… I think that the fact the LW is going there means there are a lot more microaggressions happening at her work, not that LW is too sensitive. Isn’t that the problem with microaggressions to begin with? Small petty things with simple solutions that when added up all together lead to exhausted person in a toxic environment tired of always having to battle just to be seen as human?

          1. Starbuck*

            Totally true, but we don’t have that info in the letter – the info we do have is that while this has been an issue before, LW has never spoken up about it. So none of us know how it would go – but it seems worth trying, because LW seems pretty unhappy with how things are now – feeling shamed, othered, and alienated.

      3. Retired Merchandiser*

        I respectfully disagree. If no one has ever mentioned the need for a larger range of sizes, then you can’t really expect them to just know. I have encountered this problem a lot because merchandising companies love for their employees to wear branded t shirts. I just always asked if it were possible to get a larger size and only once was it not possible.
        But like RIP said, they can’t know there’s a problem if no one mentions it. Years ago these type shirts were only offered up to a L, so the fact that they’re now up to 2X is an improvement I would say.
        If it’s brought up and nothing changes, then you have a problem, but give them a chance to make it right. (The one time I couldn’t get the right size I just wore a solid color t-shirt and no one said a thing.) Oh, and after I brought it up this wasn’t an issue anymore.

          1. L-squared*

            I think you can know without knowing the specific sizes people need. Depending on your frame of reference, you may really not how how big sizes need to go to be fully inclusive.

            If they see that something goes to a 2X, they may think that is a big enough size to offer as standard.

    4. Sorry*

      Actually I understand exactly what RIP is saying. Nothing changes if no one says something. Remember that diversity and inclusion are still fairly new and there are always growing pains. No one is going to think of everything the first time. And even my husband would never have fit into a XXL. He would have ordered one that fit me and worn his usual clothes and not cared.

      And while it might be a system failure everyone forgets about something sometime. And I expect that the larger sizes cost more and don’t forget how often we are told it is not fair for someone to get something “more”. Even if they aren’t really (but they got something that cost more).

      1. John Smith*

        I have the same problem at the other end of the scale – extra small clothing. This is safety gear, and not a lot of manufacturers make extra small size clothing of this type, because, you know, everyone’s a big burly man of some sort. I end up ordering the smallest size available, find it’s too big, report it (as a safety issue) to my employer and ask for XS size but get told there’s nothing that can be done. There is something that can be done, they just choose not to. They’re currently trying to explain their ridiculous procurement policy to the powers that be.

        1. münchner kindl*

          If it’s safety gear, though, not just company brand, don’t you have a much firmer foot to stand on, because if it doesn’t fit, your company is violating OSHA/ workplace safety laws, thus they must find approriate-sized clothes?

        2. just another queer reader*

          XS safety gear has been an ongoing struggle for me!!

          At a previous job – construction adjacent – the site safety rep was able to find me an XXS safety vest, which fit perfectly and had tons of pockets! I was delighted! It took a couple weeks to arrive so I wonder if he ordered it special for me. What a gem.

          I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, though, and I hope that the powers that be come around. Everyone deserves safety gear that fits!

          1. spcepickle*

            Have any of you found safety gear in “non-standard sizes”? I am a tall, fat women – I have hips so the “men’s” clothing does not fit but all the “women’s” clothing is too small and too short. I asked a specialty store for tall, XXL, women’s cut safety jackets and they just laughed.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              ” I asked a specialty store for tall, XXL, women’s cut safety jackets and they just laughed.”

              Paraphrasing Sherlock “Then what exactly is the point of them?”

              (it made me think of the dermatologist I saw to have a mole removed when I was 20 who asked me “is there anything else you’re concerned about”.
              When I pointed out an unusually (for me) dark spot on my arm he asked me to give him a minute, went off to gather the interns working there that day to come see it … and then they all laughed at how absurd it was that I was worried about it. Like, why shame someone, be dismissive or mocking when they are asking the supposed “expert” for guidance, help?)

              1. virago*

                “When I pointed out an unusually (for me) dark spot on my arm he asked me to give him a minute, went off to gather the interns working there that day to come see it … and then they all laughed at how absurd it was that I was worried about it.”

                And medical professionals wonder why patients go online and Google things like “dark spot on my arm” instead of asking their caregivers for advice! I’m so sorry that happened to younger you.

        3. alienor*

          I actually saw equipment size as a safety issue come up in a movie I watched recently. It was a true story about a Thai boys’ soccer team that was rescued from a cave that flooded during a monsoon. They had to be taken out by divers through narrow underwater tunnels, but one of the boys was too small for either the ‘standard’ scuba mask or a women’s mask to seal properly, and so the rescuers had to jury-rig a solution. I’d never considered that issue before, and it was really enlightening (and alarming). I hope your employer gets it together soon!

      2. PollyQ*

        And I expect that the larger sizes cost more

        Not necessarily. More clothing companies, e.g., Eddie Bauer, are charging a single price across all sizes.

        1. Mf*

          Custom t-shirts are priced very different from Eddie Bauer and other name brands. Larger sizes (above XL, typically) do cost more for every custom tee vendor I’ve ever seen. (That’s no excuse for not being size inclusive tho.)

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Every printed tee I’ve bought online has always cost from $1 to $5 more for a men’s 2XL. The only reason that bog standard ones like you buy at Walmart don’t is because of volume and the store not wanting to price by size.

            Larger sizes are literally more expensive from the wholesaler, so the markup gets passed on. This is also why the larger sizes are often not available – people don’t want to deal with pricing by size, so they don’t stock anything but “average” single price sizes.

      3. Allonge*

        I agree about saying something.

        Most people have a million things they don’t need to think of and so are not aware of – if someone wears size S or M, they don’t necessarily think about how XXL is not the end of the scale – I wear 3-4XL and was told just last week we have XL size shirts, that should fit, right?

        But unless I really sit down and think, I also I don’t necessarily think about XS being still too large for some people, so…

        Would it be nicer if we did not have to say anything? Sure! But not saying anything is not a solution.

        1. Varthema*

          I agree – if this has never been raised before it could just be someone’s ignorance of what that “typical” range of XS to XXL does and doesn’t cover. I don’t love saying this because it’s often used as a catchall excuse for avoiding actual DEI measures, but humans gotta human and learning sometimes happens on the fly – esp because formal DEI stuff covers a lot on race and gender and sommmmetimes disability but tends to neglect a ton of other areas, sizeism included. If LW is willing to take on this emotional labor, they’ll be doing some really good work in ensuring the people they touch are better aware next time.

          If LW has already raised this in the past though (not just by opting out of spirit day, which can easily be interpreted as personal choice), this is all moot. As with that letter about scheduling a happy hour during Rosh Hashanah, ignorance is an excuse only once, max.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Humans gotta human and learning sometimes happens on the fly.
            This. Sometimes you don’t realize something isn’t working for everyone until someone speaks up.

            (I have one of those invisible disabilities that mean someone might ask me to do a totally normal physical thing, and I need to say no, not possible. People are not always going to guess all of the things that might possibly be a problem and pre-emptively correct them. Even someone who cares about thinking about this stuff in a lot of contexts might miss stuff until it’s pointed out by those affected*.)

            *Who both know what the problem is and how it might be resolved, and have standing to say “yes this is a problem for me that I want solved.”

            1. Properlike*

              This. I’m very DEI oriented, very above-average in size (especially up top), and have been both Scheduling Leader and Procurer of the T-shirts. If your experience hasn’t included things outside the dominant culture — like holidays beginning at sundown on the day and extending through the next day into the evening — and/or buying average-sized clothing, you’re not going to know unless someone else tells you. Assuming it’s all micro aggressions is as unhelpful as assuming every woman loves “women’s sizing.”

              A lot of tips I’ve actually learned from the commentariat here, and this is another I’ll file away for the future! And as my closet will attest, there is no consistency to fit and sizing in branded logo wear. I have everything from L – 2XL (that’s tight) from the same company over a decade of me not growing or shrinking.

        2. No pineapple on pizza*

          I’m also in favour of speaking up. OP2 has been accepted onto a leadership development programme, and this is a great time to start developing those leadership skills!

          1. FridayFriyay*

            I am not at all opposed to the LW speaking up about it, but folks commenting who aren’t themselves fat (no idea if that applies to you) should also consider that body size is well documented as a career limiting factor (for women especially), and being concerned about drawing attention to your specific shirt size (vs simply moving around in the world in the body you have) is not unreasonable. Nor are concerns about coming across as an angry fat person because like with most D&I issues, raising them risks blowback – maybe even especially so if it’s a D&I specific program where people leading like to see themselves as above making these sorts of mistakes. I think some of the comments suggesting this is easily solved by the LW raising it are underestimating the potential risks of doing so.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Right. I don’t think anyone is saying OP shouldn’t speak up, I think Alison is giving advice on HOW to speak up and people are rightfully observing it sucks OP has to, and having empathy since OP is correct that it feels othering.

            2. OP2*

              OP2 here. Yes, this is correct. I have not spoken up in the past because I don’t want to harm my career, and “spirit Friday” is just not a big deal for me. I have encountered so many anti-fat microaggressions at work (not that I think my workplace is more anti-fat than others; our whole society is terrible) that it didn’t/doesn’t seem safe. What made me think that maybe I should speak up this time is the fact that it’s a leadership development program.

            3. Susana*

              Absolutely true. I don’t necessarily think the employer is *trying* to be non-inclusive, but this is awful because it draws attention to a feature employers use to discriminate – especially against women (anyone remember the employer who weaned the LW to lose weight to be “thin and edgy?”
              But I very much like Alison’s language.

          2. mlem*

            Independently, pre-program? “We’ll teach you how to do something if you teach yourself first!” seems like … a not-great program?

            1. Allonge*

              Speaking up in your own interest / against discrimination is not something you can only ever learn in a leadership programme though? So, yes, pre-progamme.

        3. Gen*

          Yeah, clothing sizes are weirder than some people realise unless they’re actively involved. My spouse is 6’2” and has always worn a mens medium, while I’m 5’3” and have swung along the BMI scale a few times over the last twenty years. He’s often baffled to learn that whether I’m currently wearing a UK 8 or 18 in regular clothing I’m still an XL or more in branded shirts due to the terrible combo of bust size and t-shirt design.

          1. Asenath*

            I have a female friend who is approximately the size I, also a female, am – and she asks me specifically what size I’m wearing (she sometimes has clothing she thinks I might like) – and I generally reply that it’s a range of 2-3 sizes, depending on manufacturer. Getting sizing right can be tricky for those who haven’t thought about it and just automatically tick some “typical” range of sizes that are supposed to fit everyone.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I was just complaining about jeans sizes in the weekend open thread. They are wildly inconsistent, as are women’s clothing sizes in general – I can be anywhere from a M to a 2XL and a 14 to an 18 depending on the manufacturer and style.

              1. Hannah Lee*

                Jeans sizes also can vary widely within the same manufacturer and style. I stopped buying certain brands online because even if I reordered the Exact. Same. Item. with the Exact. Same. Sku. there was no guarantee what the actual dimensions of the clothing would be. I’m not talking little differences, I’m talking 1 pair has a 28″ inseam and 1 pair has a 34″ inseam, with all the differences of proportions and cut that go with that half a foot swing. I’m guessing it’s a QC/standard specifications problem in their supply chain management. But when I just want to order another pair of the same jeans I ordered last week, from the same company … the supposed manufacturer of the product, not Amazon, etc. it’s really annoying to have them get it so wrong.
                (oh, and because I’m short and curvy, very few brick and mortar stores carry more than a handful (and sometimes zero) things that would fit me, so online is often my only option)

                1. Loredena*

                  I have a set of Goldilocks bras. I ordered three of the exact same bra. One was too small, one the cups were huge, and the third fit perfectly

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Just a reframing –

              The boobs are fine. It’s the clothing manufacturers that don’t take them into consideration in their designs and sizing standards that are creating the issue.

              Like, why, exactly are men’s shirts, suits available sized with various dimensions for neck circumference, arm length, torso length while women’s are not? (of course not all men’s clothing has those details, but it’s pretty common especially for nicer items) And don’t get me started on dry cleaning price differences because the standard equipment assumes men’s sizes so women’s items require more manual work (or at least that’s the excuse I’ve heard for charging more for women’s clothing)

        4. Bertha*

          I was thinking about this – sizing is something that many people have no clue about, and so they could very well think that up to XXL IS inclusive. I mean even the anecdote you mention, being told “well won’t XL fit you?” Those people .. legitimately think XL will fit you because they just have no concept of clothing sizing.

          I still remember the time I was shopping at a thrift store and another customer (who was possibly a size 0 or 2) noticed the kinds of clothes I was picking up and looking at and showed me a pair of jeans. They were size 8. I wore size 16. She legitimately thought I could wear a size 8 based on her own point of reference. People are frequently surprised when I tell them what size I am because they just don’t know beyond their own size.

      4. münchner kindl*

        I think that ties in with how Allison so often recommends approaching problems as “I’m sure it’s not malicious of you, but actually what you as manager/ the company is doing/ not doing is illegal/ makes us look very bad, therefore…”

        In this case, framing it as “innocent oversight/ignorance” at first and approach it this way.

        If DEI manager reacts with “oh so sorry, we’ll fix it immediately” – problem solved.

        If they dig in their heels and refuse – that’s when OP knows where they stand and takes different action.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I agree with this as an approach to management, but it’s very important to distinguish, “this is a productive way to approach management” from “this is how you are supposed to feel about it.” It’s OK to feel angry and humiliated when your employer puts you in a position where you have to talk about your body size! It’s OK to feel frustrated that you are the first person of larger size ever to be invited into this leadership setting and you have to draw attention to this fact! It’s OK to be pissed off about yet another reminder that you’re in a world which is hostile to people with bigger bodies!

          Yes, calm and assume-good-faith is the right way to handle it outwardly, but that doesn’t mean that any of those negative emotions are wrong or inappropriate or unjustified. And it’s good for employers to think about these things pre-emptively so they don’t put employees in this position.

        2. AnonAcademic*

          Boy, I find the responses to LW2 upsetting. Fat phobia in the U.S. and many other countries is VICIOUS. To be put in a position at work where you have to say, out loud, “my body is bigger than your presented sizing options” is indeed stressful bc of the well-documented discrimination against fat people at work. I agree that asking for the needed size is LW2’s way forward, but let’s not pretend that doesn’t come w/ a cost, both mentally and possibly professionally. I am not remotely surprised LW2 is carefully considering the issue before deciding on a course of action.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Agreed. Of course broaching the subject is the only option, I think OP knows that on some level. But it’s embarrassing, risky, and exhausting, and we should have some empathy for that too.

          2. So Tired*

            Exactly this! And if this is happening now, there’s a non-zero chance it has happened to OP previously as well. And honestly, as a fat woman myself, it just gets exhausting to have to continuously ask to be included with sizing. Yes, the solution for OP is to bring it up, but as you pointed out, there’s definitely a cost that comes with that and it’s upsetting, though perhaps not surprising, that quite a few commenters are missing or ignoring that.

            1. Mr. Shark*

              Yes, totally. Some people are just flippantly saying, “of course you should bring it up, and how are they supposed to know?”
              But honestly, it sucks to have to have that conversation, and yes, people who are ordering shirts should have more of a concept that there is a larger variety of sizes on both sides of the spectrum than those who fit the “standard” S-XL in this world.

      5. Despachito*

        “Nothing changes if no one says something. Remember that diversity and inclusion are still fairly new and there are always growing pains. No one is going to think of everything the first time.”


        I’d think of it as a learning curve – OF COURSE I assume most people want to do the right thing, and to err is human. I think even the best intentioned person may forget/not realize something, and if I was that person I’d much more appreciate if someone pointed out what is wrong for me to correct without automatically assuming I did it on purpose/I do not care/I despise them. The time to push back would come if I refused but why before?

        1. mreasy*

          Unfortunately this puts the fat person in the position of educating their colleagues. Ideally a straight-sized colleague would speak up. I get that it is probably the only way to handle this, but we can’t forever chalk up insensitivity and discriminatory behavior (which this is, it excludes a colleague) to not knowing if nobody says something.

          1. Despachito*

            The problem is – how would a straight-sized colleague know? They are not supposed to speculate too much about other people’s sizes (and rightly so because it is not their business), and are probably not aware what their larger coworker is a size 2X or 3X, or that the upper size of the offered range may be a problem for them.

            How would you want the straight-sized colleague speak up (in a situation when OP has not even voiced their concerns aloud)? Go proactively to the HR and say “I see the range of t-shirts ends with 2X and Sally from the Accounting will probably be larger than that and need a bigger size”, without Sally asking or even mentioning it? That would be extremely nosy and unasked for.

            I cannot see how this can be solved without Sally mentioning what she needs?

            Why is it almost an outrage to expect that yes, sometimes we do have to educate people about our needs? Nobody is a mind-reader, and it is impossible to think of everything people around us will need without them having to ask.

            1. bamcheeks*

              You don’t have to mention or even think about Sally from accounting! You can just say, “We only go up to XL on our forms and there might be people who need bigger sizes. Can someone check that our suppliers go up higher and that our forms reflect that?”

              Same way you don’t have to say, “John uses a wheelchair so we need to plan the whole office around him”, you can just say, “We should think about how a wheelchair user would access this when we’re planning it, that’s just basic good practice.”

            2. Happy meal with extra happy*

              Well, now hopefully everyone reading this thread who is a straight size knows that a range going up to 2XL isn’t always going to be enough. As people have said above, with the options available today, it’s highly unlikely these companies are stocking all possible tshirt options. Therefore, it’s pretty easy for a straight sized person to be like, “hey, this size range should be expanded so that it covers more people.” It’s rather ridiculous to think that you have to explicitly name someone you think is fat enough in order to request this change.

            3. FridayFriyay*

              Presumably most people in the world regardless of their own size are aware of the existence of fat people who wear sizes larger than XXL. If you haven’t before now considered that you do or may someday encounter some of these people in a professional context, now you know. No one needs to reference a specific individual to point out that something is not inclusive.

            4. mreasy*

              A straight sized colleague could look at the size options, notice the top size is XL, and reach out to the organizer to say, this range isn’t inclusive, is it possible to add more size options? I’m not saying they should ID OP’s size specifically. I have done this and would do in this case too.

            5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              We know by knowing the upper and lower ends of clothing sizes and looking for companies that cover the spectrum to order from. I don’t need to guess coworkers’ sizes, I just need to make sure all possible options are available. This is pretty easy

            6. Hannah Lee*

              When you’re the person doing the sourcing, you can see the sizing options right there in the product descriptions. You can see that some items are available in extended sizes and others are “One Size Fits All” or only SML or SMLXL. And default to choosing the items that offers extended sizes.

              If you’re sourcing clothing for a wide range of people or people of unknown sizing, and AREN’T thinking “hmm, maybe people come in all shapes and sizes and some might be taller or shorter or bigger or smaller than me and I should consider that. More size options are better” maybe you shouldn’t be ordering clothing for other people.

          2. Allonge*

            No discrimination issue ever disappeared or lessened without marginalised people – and some allies – addressing it, out loud, thousands of times, at great cost to their life and happiness in many cases. Progress does not ‘happen’ – people take time and effort and risk to make things better.

            Should it be so? No. But the only alternative seems to be, as you say, is for things to stay the way they are.

              1. Do you hear yourself?*

                I’ve certainly spoken up for marginalized people. “If we do a t-shirt run, we need to pick a brand that has sizes up to 5XL and has styles cut for women” is not rocket science.

                1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  Shoot. I often have to order for community events which means having a vendor who can cover all the sizes for all the ages. Workplaces have to do the same for adult sizes. This definitely isn’t rocket science

              2. Emmy Noether*

                I think speaking up for / speaking over one specific other person isn’t ok, but speaking up for a general group on a known issue should be in most cases.

                “I think Jim from accounting is too fat for these sizes” -> not ok
                “Hey, how about being more size inclusive?” -> ok.

          3. L-squared*

            But what person in standard sizes will even notice that. That is kind of the thing. Many people essentially pay attention to what affects them. A person who isn’t in a wheelchair or have someone in their family who is may not even register that a certain place doesn’t have ramps to get in. This is that same type of thing. I’m sure it does suck that the person affected needs to do it, but that is how things change by someone noticing and bringing it up

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              But what person in standard sizes will even notice that.

              A person in standard sizes who has met a fat person before?

              I’m on the borderline between standard and plus sizes and the size range the LW mentions works for me. But I know people who I know it won’t work for, so I’m aware that it’s important that we choose suppliers that have a size range that will work for all our staff.

              This isn’t rocket science. If nothing else, it’s an exercise in “more options include more people” which should always be the goal.

              1. Boof*

                I think both have good points but statements like “having ever encountered a person of x demographic would surely make you permanently aware of their specific needs” are so clearly untrue and dismissive it’s not helpful. I appreciate why op would be hesitant to raise the issue and wish they didn’t have to, but clearly someone must try – maybe op has an ally they could ask to bring it up if they don’t trust the response?

              2. LB*

                Because a lot of straight size people have no idea what sizes even exist above a 2xl, or a general sense of what size range each increased size above an XL even covers.

                Solipsistic? Yeah, a bit. But it doesn’t mean that they are “unaware fat people exist” or any other hyperbole. If you’ve only ever seen up to 2xl on dropdown menus, and have only the fuzziest concept of what a 3xl would even be (or that bigger sizes exist in a codified way, rather than being tailored), it does logically follow that without intending to, they would look at a company’s offerings and not see a problem with it until someone informs them. Honestly, I’m a diehard maintenance phase lover, interested in fat activism etc, and I had never heard someone refer to a 5xl until reading this thread.

                It’s the same with numerical sizes; I was involved in an event and was looking at a company that specifically promoted itself as size inclusive, until someone had to let the organizers know that the maximum size that company offered was a few too small. (They went with somewhere else because of that.)

                People can disagree and break down how sh***y or clueless it is or isn’t that straight size people would be so unaware of what sizes exist above the XXL threshhold and how common they might be, and that society makes it easy to miss out on that awareness unless you go looking for it. But that is the piece of general knowledge information that’s missing here. Not that fat people “exist” etc etc.

            2. Dahlia*

              …it’s a DEI organization. They absolutely should be thinking about those things.

              Also, sorry, “knowing fat people exist” is a low bar.

            3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              If people can remember the smaller XS or XXS people exist they can remember 6x people exist. I notice that not everyone is built like me, assume the full spectrum of sizes exist because people wear them, and order a line with all the sizes. What I don’t get is how people DON’T notice

              1. L-squared*

                I think you are likely overestimating how much someone who wears a size medium will think about sizes on either end. As people have mentioned, even people who need smaller than XS have problems sometimes.

            4. Ginger Pet Lady*

              The ENTIRE point is that they *should* be thinking about everyone, not just themselves.
              Yes, lots of people don’t. Just because you think that way does NOT make it okay, or normal, or whatever justification you make up for not thinking about other people.
              It’s not okay to be oblivious to everyone not you. Period.

          4. Lana Kane*

            We all educate others sometimes, because we all have something that we know, that others don’t. As a POC I understand the burden and emotional labor of that, and the peril of doing so in the workplace. From my perspective, we are living in times that are changing rapuidly (for the better in terms of recognizing the need for DEI), but it’s still early in the process of change. People will fumble. We will correct when it applies to us.

            I expect to only have to educate an individual once, and not have to do so repeatedly. But that 100th individual that I educate doesn’t know they are the 100th. I would like to see a more balanced approach towards the concept of educating. I try to learn as much as possible on my own but I don’t know what I don’t know.

            1. Despachito*

              Thank you!

              And even more so if you do this for the 100th individual knowing that they do not know they are the 100th. It must be taxing but if I was this individual I would be grateful (and do my best that I do not need it more than once).

              1. ceiswyn*

                Except that your comments elsewhere on this thread are not ‘grateful’ at all, and insist that people have to educate you in exactly the right way in order for you to deign to learn.

      6. mreasy*

        If you are working at a program focused on DEI, you should not “forget” about a marginalized group, though.

        1. Snow Globe*

          They shouldn’t, but I think the main point is that the LW was invited to the leadership program, so they clearly aren’t thinking that the LW doesn’t belong in a leadership program. LW has reason to be angry, but shouldn’t think that there is a “hidden message”.

          1. Curious*

            I would expect that the person (or group) selecting participants in the program is different from the person (likely lower level) responsible for arranging for t-shirts.

      7. ceiswyn*

        Sure, nothing changes if no one says something.
        But it gets really tiring to always be the person who has to say something, and doubly so when saying something requires you to point out that you are a person who belongs to a group that is really negatively viewed by society.
        That’s one of the reasons DEI exists; to take these burdens away from discriminated-against groups.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yep, or at least to give them a safe space to bring them. If this is awkward to bring up to a manager directly, one would hope there’s a functioning HR to go to (I know this is often not the case). Ideally, HR would head off these issues ahead of time, but if they don’t they should be able to address it confidentially and without the employee having to raise a fuss if they’re uncomfortable doing so.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I totally get how it can be exhausting to always have to be the one to speak up. But others can’t do it for them, or they risk being accused of treating the exhausted minority as people without agency, or being accused of assuming they know what’s best for them and so on.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Do you genuinely believe that saying ‘actually, our sizes only go up to 2X and some people are larger, what can we do to address that?’ will result in a lynching?

              1. ceiswyn*

                I forgot that lynching is a much stronger term on the western side of the Atlantic, and is associated with racial violence in a way that it isn’t elsewhere.
                Where I am, it’s a relatively innocuous term to use in that context, but I apologise to anyone who I made uncomfortable by not thinking about the different cultural context here.

          2. Mondays Again*

            I promise you that I do not know a single fat person, myself included, who would be offended or upset if a straight sized person said “hey, the size range only goes up to XXL. Is there anyway we can increase that size range for people who may need bigger sizes.”
            Honestly this comment just looks like you’re trying to come up with a reason to not be helpful.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Echoing for other marginalized and disabled folks as well. I would love not to be the one always asking for a shorter walking route to happy hour, maybe someone else could see this happens all the time and pre-emptively suggest we uber? It’s okay to be thoughtful.

          3. Irish Teacher*

            I don’t think anybody would be accused of knowing what is better for others if they simply said, “hey, boss. I don’t know if you realised but that range of t-shirts only goes up to 2XL. A lot of people take larger sizes. Can we get some t-shirts that will fit them?”

            If somebody who took a standard size said something like, “I don’t think we should use that style of t-shirt because they are too revealing and plus sized people would be too embarrassed to show that much of their body,” then, yeah, that comes across as thinking you know what is best for other people, but just “stock t-shirts in all sizes”? I can’t see how that could be interpreted as “I know what’s best for others better than they do.”

      8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Larger sizes don’t really cost more. The cost of the actual fabric is a negligeable percentage of the overall cost, and it’s really not hard from a design point of view.
        And even if they really did cost more, it’s the price you have to pay and it has to be budgeted for.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          They do cost more because the manufacturers charge more for just a small increase in fabric. It’s out of the hands of the middleman at that point. Are they really more expensive to make? Not really. But since they are a minority size the manufacturers get away with charging more like it’s a big burden. It’s very annoying.

    5. Reluctant Manager*

      What sizes do the clothes they sell in the gift shop come in? What sizes does the vendor who provides the shirts offer? You would have to be deliberately obtuse not to know that bodies come in more than 6 sizes.

      1. Allonge*

        Are you personally aware of every diversity issue that may come up at your workplace? If you were to make a mistake about something like this, would you prefer that it’s
        1 not addressed but people suffer
        2 addressed with someone calling you obtuse for it
        3 addressed without that?

        1. bamcheeks*

          I would personally prefer that the employee gets what they need quickly and with as little fuss as possible, and that they are not responsible for dealing with my feelings about not doing my job properly.

          It’s a fact that everyone is ignorant of some aspects of diversity and inclusion! But not making that ignorance and your own embarrassment about that ignorance the marginalised person’s responsibility is like, Diversity 101. “You can have the thing you should have had in the first place if you ask nicely enough and don’t make me feel bad” is the opposite of diversity.

          And look, OP’s question is literally “If this is something I should raise as a DEI concern, how can I do so without coming across as scolding, angry, or aggressive?” They are already committed to calling it out in a productive and diplomatic way. It’s so unfair to suggest that simply talking about how horrible this makes them feel is some kind of unreasonable and personal attack on their employer.

          1. Allonge*

            The comment I was responding to says ‘You would have to be deliberately obtuse not to know that bodies come in more than 6 sizes.’ – this is what I was addressing, not OP’s feelings or the DEI person’s feelings.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I recognise that, but “if you were to make a mistake about something like this, would you prefer that” is literally asking about the hypothetical person’s feelings.

              If the hypothetical person-who-has-made-a-mistake is entitled to have feelings about being thought obtuse, the person-who-has-been-ignored-or-overlooked also gets to have feelings about being ignored or overlooked!

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Reluctant is not addressing the person responsible for ordering T-shirts directly here, so it doesn’t matter in the slightest.

      2. Jackalope*

        Not really? As other people are saying, people tend to be most aware of the issues that affect them personally, and not necessarily know this level of detail about the people around them. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that there are more than 6 sizes, but as someone who had very little idea how clothing sizes worked and who fit within the standard sizing, I honestly had no idea for my young adulthood that size XXL (or maybe XXXL, don’t remember for sure now) wasn’t in fact the largest size needed by anyone and that some people needed larger sizes. Once someone pointed it out to me (on this very site, quite possibly), it made sense to me that that’s the case, but I would have had no idea that it wasn’t when I was younger. And not because I didn’t think that people came in a wide range of sizes, but just because I couldn’t imagine in my head how a specific amount and cut of fabric would fit another human being that wasn’t me. I know I’m not the only person out there who doesn’t magically know how to look at someone and tell what size of clothing someone else would wear.

        1. mreasy*

          People not thinking about things that don’t affect them is the problem, though. People should think about those things!

        2. LB*

          Exactly, a lot of people slash the general straight size public aren’t aware of the gradation of difference between XL, 2xl, 3xl, etc – having only ever heard of xl and xxl, you might assume that there’s a wider gap in how big the clothes are between 2 and 3 xl than there is between M and L.

    6. MK*

      I agree that they aren’t sending her a message. They just didn’t think/care about people with her body type at all. Is this supposed to be better?

      1. Allonge*

        If all we do about it is be angry on a discussion board, it’s not better.

        If we want it fixed and do something about it, it’s better because it’s a lot less personal and it’s easier to correct (e.g. by using Alison’s script).

      2. Random Internet Potato (RIP)*

        Well, if they don’t think/care about people of different types and sizes when they’re accepting people for the leadership program, then yes, it is better.

      3. Yellow+Flotsam*

        Or maybe they are less aware of her size than she is? Maybe that’s the typical range shirts come in there and nobody thought – hey Gretchen is bigger than that we’d better get in larger shirts.

        Or maybe the shirt forms come around from someone otherwise uninvolved with the leadership team and they don’t know Gretchen so they have no reason to wonder if she’ll fit the shirts.

        There will always be DEI issues that you only consider when prompted. Being inclusive doesn’t mean you have to pre-empt and be aware of all potential equity and inclusivity things – but it does require that you respond appropriately when a need is raised.

        1. Ann Ominous*

          If you’re (the global you, not you in particular) in charge of DEI, you shouldn’t wait till you personally know of a person in need of certain services before making a plan for how to make things more accessible.

          You don’t need to employ a wheelchair user before you make your business ADA-compliant.

          You don’t need to carry a 3X just because Gretchen is a 3X (and you know that because…? Not sure how you could know without being invasive anyway).

          What if you go up to 3X and now your new hire Sally has to tell you she’s a 4X? You’ve just kicked the can down the road.

          Would be much better to go with a company that does any size (and has a really good size chart) and let employees place their own size orders. Now no one has to tell anyone their size, and no one has to awkwardly and inappropriately eyeball anyone’s body to see if they look like a 3x or a 4x.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yep. As HR I run every “perk” or “event” through a DEI calculator in my head and am often the buzzkill because of it. That’s my job, that’s fine. Unfortunately DEI training isn’t equal at this stage and a lot of people don’t think about these things.

            And I don’t get it right every time, I learn. I hope OP speaks up, gets an immediate apology, and they learn. But so many places don’t do this well that it’s scary to speak up if you’re not sure the response you’ll get. We need to do better about pre-empting these things.

            1. Allonge*

              I agree we need to be better. I agree that especially people responsible for DEI need to be proactive about it. But as you say, it’s also learning from others, so I still think that speaking up – which OP is willing to do – is the best.

          2. Big Bank*

            I’m becoming genuinely curious as to what “any size” means? It seems like based on comments that an inclusive option means sizing from XXS to 5x (or maybe 6x?)

            It’s interesting that probably as little as 10 years ago I’d be excited to have XS to XXL sizing and think those were extremely inclusive options. I definitely remember squeezing into the largest size at events, sometimes L or XL being as high as it would go and the organizer being totally unapologetic.

            1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

              I know a civil engineer who is a 4’6 man. I promise you no company swag has ever fit him, even in an inclusive sizing line.

              There’s legit no standard sizing which works for all people. An org I volunteer with just offers custom sizing for uniform, at the same cost, for anyone outside the range. An option and text box with space to explain if there is an issue with the sizes is always needed (even religious modesty reasons to get a tunic or beginning a process to find something other than a baseball cap for standard head bump protection for a turban wearer… There’s a lot)

          3. Not so straight sizes*

            As a “straight size” person who wears clothes that fit in sizes s to xl, size charts are SO much better than having the guy in HR try to measure me to determine which size men’s shirt will comfortably cover my bust without ending up looking like a kid wearing Dad’s clothes.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        It does mean that they think of OP as leadership material, and also that they don’t think of her as “the fat one”.

    7. Emmy Noether*

      I don’t think the problem is that innocuous. The university really should have been more size inclusive without someone having to complain.

      However, the solution will likely still be to speak up. As someone recently told me when I was complaining about a (completely unrelated, but this transfers) injustice: “We can talk all day about what should have happened. Be practical and do what will get you the result you want the fastest”. Felt like a cold shower, and yes, it sucks so, so much that the burden of these things falls on those that are discriminated against. Still better to speak up and get it corrected than to deal with it quietly and repeatedly for the foreseeable future.

    8. Random Internet Potato (RIP)*

      Rather than replying individually, I’ll just make a new reply.

      Yes, the university made a mistake (whether intentional or accidental, we don’t know), but not saying anything and yet expecting them to fix a problem they MIGHT not know is still a mistake. How hard is it to lay down your pitchforks and torches for a moment, and just go and ask:
      “Hey, I noticed my size isn’t available, may I get a t-shirt in size ….. and maybe we should include that as an option for all participants as well”.

      Whether they intentionally did this is a whole other conversation.

      1. Despachito*

        I am team “lay down your pitchforks and torches for a moment”.

        Why assume malice in something that is likely to be a simple omission? Is it really realistic to expect the employer to intuitively know that you will need a different size of a T-shirt (I suppose company T-shirts are not in the centre of company activities but a fairly marginal thing), and if they don’t, read it as contempt and a covert signal that you do not fit their idea of a leader ?

        Isn’t it much more likely that they simply do not realize that their size range may not cover everyone? If I was to order t-shirts I would certainly have no idea about the exact measurements of all the employees involved, and I would assume that if someone finds the range insufficient in either way, they would just tell me what they need and I’d order it for them. If nobody says anything how am I to suss out there is a problem? And if Wakeen from the Accounting is 2 metres tall and the largest T-shirt is too short for him, does it mean that if I do not automatically realize this and include a larger option for him, I despise him and I think he is not management material?

        If I were OP, I’d say something like “hey, I do not find my size of T-shirt here and the system does not let me through. I wonder if we could include the option of “Other” in the questionnaire for those who need something different”? I doubt it is personal – there is simply a gap in the system and OP would be pointing it out.

        1. orange line avenger*

          Agreed. It’s almost certainly an accidental oversight and not a deliberate attempt to exclude the LW/other larger people.

          I also think it probably feels obvious to LW that they’re a triple XL and OBVIOUSLY can’t wear the sizes provided, but…it probably isn’t. Assuming this is a small enough university/a small enough program that all of the participants in the program are known to whoever is ordering the shirts, they’re aware that LW is bigger, but not aware of their exact size. People, even people in charge of ordering shirts for corporate events, don’t go around literal sizing up their coworkers. If LW send an email and says, “hey, I’ll need [whatever] size in the shirt — any way we could change the form going forward so people can type in their size instead of picking from a drop-down?” The person will probably be embarrassed to have put the LW in the awkward position of having to ask for the bigger size and gladly make the change going forward. Coming in hot with “wow, not very *inclusive* of you :/” is a great way to make that colleague feel defensive and lead to them mentally sorting LW (and fat activists in general) into the PITA bucket.

          Someone said upthread that they had a conversation that went “we can argue all day about what should have happened, but right now, let’s focus on the practical steps for moving forward” and I think that’s where LW should focus their energy. Yes, it’s embarrassing to have to ask for a bigger shirt. Yes, it should have been accounted for. Yes, it sucks. No, seething and assuming ill intentions won’t make the situation any better.

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            While not in clothing, I can appreciate sizing problems. We have them at work, except in disposable nitrile gloves. They like the heavier ones, but trying to get them in the right size has been a challenge. I don’t remember whether the men need XL or XXL.

            At least I don’t have to worry about my gloves being taken, because I wear a medium in latex. (I’m sensitive to nitrile.)

        2. Jay*

          It’s not about malice, which is an individual trait. It’s not personal. It’s a systemic problem that perpetuates marginalization. This is how systems of oppression operate – it’s the system, it’s invisible, it’s “normal.” It’s like the story of the fish who couldn’t see water.

          I lived most of my life as a fat woman which means I spent most of my life as the object of contempt and ridicule. That’s on the individuals – but the systems can and should do better. I spoke at a prestigious event in my field that had national recognition and part of the swag package was, as the OP says, a daughter-sized T-shirt. All the other participants wore their shirts immediately. I could not. This made me more conscious of my size than of my achievement.

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I must have been doing ordering for public events too long because I don’t get how people wouldn’t know you need to have all sizes available. Want to see bad PR? Have a community fun walk/run for $Cause and don’t have sizes so everyone can get a t-shirt that fits. The workplace isn’t all that different, except you don’t usually need kids/teen sizes.

          1. Anne with an E*

            But how would they know precisely what “all sizes” entails?

            I mean, I learned just today through this comment section that standard size t-shirts go up to 7XL and down to 4XS. I’ve never seen either of these options listed when choosing my t-shirt size for an event/work thing, nor have I ever noticed them in a store while shopping, nor do I personally wear either of those sizes, so how would I know that’s what the official “all sizes” t-shirt size range should be if I were planning an event with t-shirts? And how would I know if the range to be 4XS-7XL vs 3XS-8XL, etc?

            The point is, what counts as “all sizes” isn’t self evident. And seeing people who at larger or smaller than me doesn’t tell me what size they wear. (People generally remove the size stickers before wearing a new shirt!)

            We should definitely work to provide options for everyone – and sometimes that means pointing out when we have unintentionally failed at that so we can do better. I recognize that this can be an uncomfortable situation due to the way size is stigmatized, but I don’t see a way around it other than speaking up.

      2. Do you hear yourself?*

        “Drop the pitchforks and torches” is part of the problem here.

        Marginalized person points out problematic behavior. Marginalized person mentions that they’re considering whether or not to speak out. They discuss the personal and professional costs of speaking up and pointing out the problem.

        Non-margininalized person decides this is “bringing the pitchforks and torches”.

        These aren’t pitchforks or torches. This is someone rationally considering the career and personal implications and consequences of being That Person is.

        Non-marginalized people labelling the rational consideration of implications and consequences is actually one of the implications and consequences.

        Do Better.

        1. Despachito*

          I think this is not exactly what was meant.

          The “pitchforks and torches”, as I understand it, do not refer to pointing out the problem as such but the WAY it is pointed out.

          So far everybody agreed that the problem (the offered range does not cover my / and potentially other people’s needs) should absolutely be addressed.

          But there is no need to go aggressively about it from the very beginning and assume that it is a terrible slight done on purpose, and that was what was referred to. Unless proven otherwise, I’d always assume there are reasonable people on the other end who made a honest mistake, and act accordingly, and I think it yields better results than being militant right off the bat. And I will deprive myself of the possibility of escalating if my assumption was wrong.

          1. Do you hear yourself?*

            So what in the original question was all “pitchforks and torches” to you?

            How was my description of the thought process most of us who are marginalized wrong?

            What about my description led you to believe I was suggesting aggressiveness?

            1. Despachito*

              The “pitchforks and torches” was not meant at the OP’s intended response (they explicitly said they do not want to come across as aggressive yet want to make their point).

              But I do think they read A LOT more in what is very likely a simple omission. They assume a bad intent and a load of negative emotions against them, and all this even before they decided to speak up (so they have no idea what the response would be). And they are approaching it from this point of view, which might possibly make things unnecessarily complicated, and other people chimed in basically supporting this view (how awful and thoughtless it was from the employer).

              And this is what I meant – why solve this as some sort of conspiracy against you from the very beginning, and overthink and overcomplicate it? Why not simply ask “hey, actually the size range might need to be a bit broader, can we take care of this?” and see what happens next?

              1. Do you hear yourself?*

                Well, I was told further down in the comment section that politely bringing up shirt sizes that don’t fit as “creating unnecessary drama.”

                And, yes, I know. You were saying shirts that were too big weren’t a problem. It’s only when shirts are too small that there’s a problem. And that asking for more sizing options when it was just something we could buy to be part of a team wasn’t important.

                I’m just confused as to when asking for more sizes in a shirt range is ‘unnecessarily creating drama’ and when is it pointing out a simple omission?

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  “You were saying shirts that were too big weren’t a problem. It’s only when shirts are too small that there’s a problem.”

                  Which commenters have discussed elsewhere is also incorrect. Especially if it’s expected to be worn at work, you stand out as looking sloppy and that is also an indication “I don’t fit into the image you had here”. These things can have indirect consequences and they can also simply make people feel like crap.

                2. Do you hear yourself?*

                  Oh, I was just trying to head off another derailment to see if my actual substantive comments would be addressed.

              2. OP2*

                I don’t assume any kind of conspiracy or negative intent, and I don’t believe this is a good faith interpretation of anything I said. I assume they just didn’t think about the fact that some people can’t fit standard sizes. But that lack of thought does send a message, and I’m allowed to have feelings about it.

                1. Eater of Hotdish*

                  “But that lack of thought does send a message, and I’m allowed to have feelings about it.”

                  Simple, perfect, devastating.

                  Solidarity and appropriately sized T-shirts to you, OP2.

                2. Boof*

                  100% valid on feelings!
                  The practical work-advice aspect though, is it’s probably worth starting to speak up and see what they do, especially now that you are going into a leadership position. I really do hope they just apologize and adjust their sizing options!!! Good luck; I do hope you update us!

          2. bamcheeks*

            I really would like you to point out what in the original letter counts as “aggressive”. or “millitant”.

            OP says they feel “shamed, othered, and excluded” and that the university is “sending me a clear message that I do not fit the look of a “leader.””. The first is purely about how this makes OP feel, and they do not say that they are angry or aggressive. The second says nothing about the employer acting “on purpose”. “We have never thought about including larger-than-XL-sizes in our leadership programme” absolutely IS a message about how they perceive leaders and who has been a leader in the past, just as, “goodness, we never thought about making sure that participants in our leadership programme have access to a female toilet / the day off for Rosh Hashanah” would be.” “All our leaders up to now have been straight-sized / male / non-Jewish” is important information about how they employer views leaders: it doesn’t have to be a intentional and conscious message to be a communication of information.

            What happens again and again is that people simply naming how diversity issues make them feel is perceived as “aggressive” or “millitant”, or in your words, “pitchforks and torches”. Over and over again, someone says, “this makes me feel shamed and excluded”, the people responsible feel guilty, they don’t like feeling guilty, so they blame the person who raised the issue for “being aggressive”. OP has literally described how this makes them feel to a group of third-parties on a message board– people who are not remotely responsible for the tshirt sizing– and is being accused of being “millitant”, “pitchforks and torches” even thought their specific question is “if I should raise as a DEI concern, how can I do so without coming across as scolding, angry, or aggressive?” It’s just wild!

            1. Despachito*

              I did not mean OP’s original post, rather a part of the commenters.

              OP definitely has a right to have any feelings they have, but I do think we should police what of those feelings are for other people to manage for us and what is up to us. (I am aware that OP does not want the employer to do that but have the impression some other commenters do)

              If I have experienced toxic behaviour (fatphobia) from person A, B and C, I understand it is very damaging and frustrating. But is it really realistic and fair to automatically assume everyone else would be the same?

              1. bamcheeks*

                What would you characterise as aggressive from other commentators? About the most damning comment I can see is people saying they should have known, that it was obtuse not to know and that it should not be on OP to have to deal with it. I find it extremely overdramatic to call that “aggressive”.

                1. FridayFriyay*

                  Agreed. And the fact that these relatively innocuous comments are interpreted as “aggressive” and “pitchforks and torches” really underscores the LW’s initial concern about raising this issue.

                2. Boof*

                  Honestly as someone who struggles as weight (have usually been overweight to obese most of my life) the several comments along the lines of “have you ever seen a fat person? Then you must know about 6x sizing!” are striking me as so wrong and, yeah, maybe even offending me a bit. Because it’s a struggle just to figure out my own size, which is usually L to XL, and I’d have no idea what another person’s size is by looking at them? What exactly is a “fat person” anyway – overweight, obese, severely obese, morbidly obese, extreme obesity?? I’m not even looking at other people’s options just figuring out my own is a challenge and I’m still in the “standard” sizing system.

              2. FridayFriyay*

                When the phobia/ism in question is a well-documented and extremely widespread phenomenon assuming that some large portion of the people you come in contact with share those views can be both personally and professionally protective. That’s the thing about the systemic nature of phobia/isms. You have to account for the fact that these are not isolated viewpoints or incidents.

        2. mreasy*

          Accidental oversight, sure – but that means colleagues with OP’s body size simply aren’t being considered when decisions about e.g. shirt vendor are being made. The person deciding didn’t think “I am looking for someone who is size inclusive” when finding a vendor. This is something I have had to correct for multiple times in the teams I work with: always use a size-inclusive vendor for wearables. If you can’t? Don’t produce them. Period.

          1. ezmama*

            Exactly this. It doesn’t have to be intentional and malicious to have a negative impact, and the emotional costs in even considering speaking up can be high. Which is why DEI efforts are important, and DEI 101 should include size inclusive vendors.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          One thing happening here is that it’s marginalized people saying “Yeah, if you want something to change, you need to speak up. That’s what I did, and a thing changed.”

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Example: I recall a letter about a conference held in a remote location with wi-fi only near the distant snack bar. The set-up did not have enough break time for people who needed to check in with work (because they were the person who could authorize purchases) or their teenagers (where silence doesn’t mean no one tried to microwave an egg). People at the conference agreed this was annoying; people in the thread here agreed it was annoying; the actual useful thing that might have worked was for a bunch of conference participants the first night to approach the organizer and say “The lack of breaks is a problem; here is a proposed fix to the schedule.” You can say “Well the conference organizer should have thought of that” all day long–they did not, and were unlikely to spontaneously re-organize the conference around better breaks.

          2. Do you hear yourself?*

            And sometimes marginalized people speak up and nothing changes. They’re told they’re making a big deal out of nothing and what they’re saying is a problem isn’t really a problem.

            There are implications and consequences to speaking up as a marginalized person.

            Sometimes it works and it’s lovely when it does.

            Sometimes it doesn’t work and there are consequences.

            Figuring out what the consequences might be and whether or not we’re prepared to accept them is part of the decision making process for any marginalized person.

        4. Constance Lloyd*

          Thank you for this. I’m especially disheartened by all of the comments criticizing LW for not taking action because they have specifically written in to an advice column for recommendations on how best to proceed with taking action. They let the matter slide before when it was “just” a perk (perks should still be inclusive, as Alison has addressed previously, but in practical application we also have to be aware and judicious of how we spend our capital, as Alison has also addressed previously) and is looking to address the matter now that there is a chance the shirt may function more as a uniform than a perk. This approach sounds very reasonable to me.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I’m hearing a lot of unsaid “I’ve never had to point out that an unchangeable facet of my person is outside the parameters of how your system was designed and it makes me terrified and humiliated to address it” in the comments.

            It’s not “just” asking for a bigger t-shirt. It’s more personal than that. Should OP work on framing it differently in their mind? Absolutely. They’re writing in, they’re asking how to do that and how to approach this professionally. But that doesn’t make it easier. Yes, things only change if marginalized people speak up. But marginalized people are already carrying the burden of people’s ignorance on a regular basis, and it’s tiring to be expected to be an advocate on top of that. It has to happen but that doesn’t make it easier.

            1. Do you hear yourself?*

              This exactly.

              Yes, I will be an advocate as I have a lot of privilege and freedom to speak up without (many) professional consequences. But I also make choices about when as bringing it up can often be emotionally fraught. Especially when there is pushback about whether or not this is a real issue and the discussion turns into defending marginalized people’s feelings as real.

          2. Plus la change*

            A lot of commenters don’t see this as an advice column. They see this as a sort of reality show where the letter writers are performing for their entertainment and approval.

            Look at how many times someone will write in with a serious problem and there will be a string of comments going “oooh, can’t wait for the update!” as if the LW’s problem was an episode of a reality show.

    9. Green great dragon*

      The phrasing of this has been well covered, but I do agree with the sentiment of point 2. Someone’s dropped the ball on sizing, but they don’t speak for the whole university. I’m pretty sure the people who has selected you for the leadership programme have a lot more power than the person doing the shirt-ordering, and they think you do look like a leader.

      Go with the matter of fact approach Alison suggests.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes, this is the thing – I am 99.99% sure there is no one person who handles everything about the leadership programme, from selection to t-shirt orders. Even if this was the 0.01% case, they likely don’t connect the two things in their head.

        And if after OP asks for a larger shirt (and this sizing to be available in the future) and it turns out that this is an intentional sizeism issue, or if it persists and OP has to request this all the time, then – well, then it’s time to say something different, to a lot of other people. But it’s still going to have to be saying something.

        1. Antilles*

          Yeah that’s what I don’t get about this whole thread. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, the actual process of ordering t-shirts wasn’t actually done by leadership or senior management. Senior management makes the decision that we need branded merch and often (but not always) decided on the style/design/colors, but the actual legwork of preparing the order form and purchasing and etc was done by an administrative assistant, junior staffer, or an intern.
          To me, it seems extremely likely that it’s just some random admin/junior person screwing up sizing, no more.

        2. mreasy*

          It is incumbent on the leader of the program to instruct the person ordering to choose a size-inclusive vendor. Source: am leader of a dept who instructs people to choose size-inclusive vendors so nobody who works for my company has to go through what OP is going through. I am straight-sized but that doesn’t mean I don’t know that size inclusivity is important.

          1. FridayFriyay*

            Agreed. And staff at all levels should be made aware of how these practices and other related practices impact the inclusivity of the work/program environment – especially when they’re as well known in the DEI field as sizing issues are. That is the responsibility of program leadership and the fact that it isn’t happening here signals something (not maybe something extremely sinister, even, but it sends a message for sure.)

          2. Allonge*

            Good for you, seriously. I imagine at some point in your life there was something you did not know and learnt from another person though. OP’s boss now will learn about size inclusivity.

      2. Kwebbel*

        A few months back, a consulting firm our team was working with had prepared a presentation for us to deliver to our VPs. I had created most of the content, but when the consultants shared their agenda for the VP meeting with us, I saw that my manager (a dude) and his manager (also a dude) were penciled in to present all the slides I’d created – with no room left for me (a woman) to present.

        I decided to flag it with the consultants the following day. Believe me, I wanted to tell them they were a tool of the patriarchy and out of touch with our organizations more bottom-up approach (which they reasonably should have known after working with us for 6 months). But I didn’t. Instead I pointed out “hey, this is what happened. It’s important in our org that we maintain gender parity when presenting to the VPs, so next time, let’s approach it differently.”

        The consultants were receptive and actually grateful for the feedback. And honestly, we saw an overnight change. Probably because they had just slipped up here and were open to being better.

        So, LW, I encourage you to speak up – and would also encourage you to assume good intent while doing so. The barriers go up in people when we go on the offensive, even if we have every right to. Have this conversation with someone who can make a change, and they may positively surprise you with their willingness to be more inclusive.

        1. mreasy*

          I agree this would probably be most effective. But again we are now putting the burden on OP, to add this to the list of probably the many ways our society tells her she is less than, from doctors to service workers, to people on the street who are seemingly angry that someone exists in a fat body. We don’t have to assume malice to believe that the onus should be on the company to do better.

          1. Myrin*

            I agree with you on principle – as I do the other comments in that vein – but I’m a bit unclear what you (general you) are proposing. I think my problem is with comments (not just in this thread or even on this site, but in general regarding lots of different issues) saying, to borrow your phrasing, “the onus should be on the company to do better”, and then stopping.

            Like, yes, absolutely the company should do better! I’m 100% with you there! But they aren’t. And that’s the problem.

            If I find myself in such a situation, I can’t just sit there and endlessly repeat “But they should’ve known better!”. That’s not at all what OP is doing but it is some commenters’ stopping point.

            “OP shouldn’t have to say something!”. Yes, completely true! She shouldn’t have to but apparently she, in the real situation she’s living right now, does have to. So I’m not really seeing what all the comments saying “It shouldn’t be on OP to bring this up!” are offering beyond validation (which does have worth on its own, no doubt) when OP has asked for practical advice.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I think validation is exactly the point. I don’t think the two points being made here are “you should say something” and “you shouldn’t have to say something”. I think they are:

              – you should say something, because they probably didn’t know and didn’t mean to something wrong and you seem awfully angry about something they didn’t do deliberately and it’s on you to speak up and unreasonable to expect anyone to already have known about this issue and aren’t you really the problem here, being so aggressive
              – you should say something, *if* you’ve got the bandwidth and you decide it’s in your own best interests, but it’s shit that you have to and you are completely justified in feeling like it’s not fair and they should have done better.

              I think the latter is really important! I think the resilience to create change comes from having that validation, and having your experience and emotions undermined is incredibly draining and exhausting. It’s good to hear that you are not the problem.

            2. Ellie*

              Yes, better OP say something than nobody says anything at all. If they’re any kind of employer, they will feel mortified by this and want to correct it.

              Having said that, I’ve received unisex swag before, asked about women’s sizes, and gotten the brush-off. I still think its important to draw attention to it though, because the company is sending a message, and its worth finding out if its an intentional one.

      3. bamcheeks*

        I am really surprised that, “The university is sending me a message” is being read as so literally as, “someone deliberately decided to insult me”, rather than “this is extremely clear information that the people responsible for developing leaders has never consciously considered including people like me in its vision of leadership”.

        1. Allonge*

          The people conceptualising who they want in the leadership programme never thought about (t-shirt) sizing at all.

          I prefer it that way. I am fat, (probably fatter than OP), and I don’t need this to be a consideration even a little bit.

          The people who should have thought about t-shirt sizing are the ones responsible for procurement / purchasing.

          1. bamcheeks*

            There’s absolutely no reason at all for a leadership programme to think, “everyone should have the same tshirt!” but having decided that– presumably because they think it will instill some kind of pride or sense of inclusion in their participants– they actually do have a duty to think about whether this will instill pride and inclusion in ALL their participants or feel hostile and complicated to some. It’s completely fair enough if that’s not what you personally would want, but thinking about it from more perspectives than just your own is a key part of leadership.

            And I definitely agree this doesn’t mean anyone should be thinking about yours or OP’s bodies specifically, of course– it should absolutely not be people doing a mental checklist of the people involved and going, “Sally’s fine, Jill’s fine, Wakeen’s fine– we’ll need bigger sizes for OP and Allonge, though!” I completely agree that would be gross! It should be a completely abstract exercise: regardless of what we know about the people on this list — what size we think the participants are, what gender identities they might have, what religions they practice, what their dietary requirements are– have we made this as accessible and welcoming as possible? Are the things we’re conceiving as team-building or perks actually going to make everyone feel part of a team and valued? If they aren’t– just take them off all together, for heaven’s sake. Having matching tshirts on 9/10 participants and one person feeling rubbish because there isn’t one for them is so much worse than having ten people in their own shirts!

            1. Green great dragon*

              Senior person could well have done all that thinking – LW’s not objecting to the whole idea. The problem is only with the ordering process, which will be done by more junior staff.

        2. OP2*

          Yes, thank you – “this is extremely clear information that the people responsible for developing leaders has never consciously considered including people like me in its vision of leadership” is exactly what I meant.

    10. Darsynia*

      Your argument here is that no one at the workplace could understand that they are excluding larger people as leaders until someone tells them that. I think this is absurd and you are being insensitive, considering that the subject comes up in places like this about 3x a year, and should be included in DEI discussions (not just uniforms but weight ratings on equipment, food restrictions, insurance health initiatives & fairness, etc.). It’s easy to find this stuff out, and not comparable to other, more obscure issues where this attitude might make more sense.

      Telling someone who feels excluded that it’s their fault when multiple others in the comments can show that their workplaces handle the same situation with professionalism and kindness is not good advice. It shows how much work there is yet to do for subsets of the population to feel equally valued for their equal work.

    11. Chief+Petty+Officer+Tabby*

      Um, no. It should be second nature to make sure to pick tshirt companies that offer a wide range of sizes. Nobody should have to tell you you need the ability to go up to a 5x and down to an xxs. Really, it’s not hard to think of that.

      1. Allonge*

        OK but OP works for a company where it’s not second nature and the t-shirt sizing was not considered from a DEI perspective. As do a whole lot of other people. We can sit here and be sad / angry about this or maybe, OP can speak up and fix this for this company and this DEI programme.

        Also, 5xl is not the end of the scale either.

        1. bamcheeks*

          We can sit here and be sad / angry about this or maybe, OP can speak up and fix this for this company and this DEI programme

          Why frame this as either/or? Why is it not OK to feel sad and angry AND speak up?

          1. Allonge*

            It’s ok for OP to feel whatever she wants!

            Look, we are trying to help OP in different ways, based on our own brain and experiences.

            This is another way people can be different: I find it incredibly unhelpful and annoying to hear repeatedly that a situation I am in is bad, that I should / can be sad / hurt / angry, and not discuss any kind of solution. For others this may be necessary validation, for me it’s not at all needed. And I am not the only personlike this.

            Also in my experience, addressing an issue directly out of anger can be a mistake. So I tend to hesitate to encourage people to be angry, especially over ignorance. You can be angry every day of your life and not get anything done. It’s exhausting and it makes for some spectacularly bad decisions. Or it can lead to legendary acts of courage, of course. Still, less overall anger is my preference.

    12. JSPA*

      They may know OP from their work, without knowing OP. If they accept that people of OP’s size are leaders, then they can have the shirts on hand. Along with the extra-extra-extra-smalls. Leadership comes in all sizes.

      There are A LOT of microaggressions (or call them, would-be complements that really sting, if you prefer) around leadership and large size.

      “OMG, you can’t be that size, you’re so dynamic. Sorry, did that come out wrong?”
      “you’re so energetic, I guess I think of you as slimmer than you are!”
      “we’ve never had someone Of Size in this course before, but we’re so glad to have you!”

      You can replace “larger person” with any other group, and the message will be clear, cruel, gross and patronizing): “most of You People are unimpressive so we didn’t plan for you here…but hey, look at you, transcending your group identity, way to go!”

    13. snarkfox*

      1. It’s possible (maybe even probable?) that they didn’t realize it’s a problem, but that’s not an excuse.

      2. That’s not assumption… That IS the message they are sending, unintentionally or not.

    14. Appletini*

      Every single time a marginalized person talks about not enjoying their marginalization we end up with a discussion like this, full of tone policing, use of violent metaphors to describe less-than-placid statements made by the marginalized, debates over whether or not it is the responsibility of the marginalized to enact fairness or whether those in power might possibly have some responsibility there, whether the marginalization exists at all, whether those in the majority can possibly learn about not marginalizing people unless coddled and talked to sweetly, and so on and so forth. I think I may make a bingo card.

    15. marvin*

      This is an example of why it’s so frustrating to talk about systemic problems. To you, it just seems like a simple oversight. To anyone who has to deal with issues like this on a regular basis, it’s exhausting and it does signal that you are the problem for not fitting into a system that was never built for you. And then every time you decide it’s worth spending your energy on trying to address one of these, you inevitably have to deal with yet another person who blithely tells you that it was just an oversight and not personal. It starts to feel personal pretty fast.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*


        As a person who checks off a lot of marginalization boxes it is exhausting to have to deal with this crap day in and day out. I don’t even have racial marginalization, so I can just imagine how much worse it is for someone like me who also is non-white! Needless to say, when I can use what little privilege I have to stick up for others, I do it.

        If you’ve never experienced (or noticed) microaggressions for systemic bias it can be hard to understand just how wearing the drip, drip drip of subtle bias can be. One drop of water means nothing, thousands can wear away a stone.

        Even if you “only” experience one microaggression per working day, that’s roughly 250 per working year. That’s a lot. Many people experience multiple microaggressions per day. It adds up fast.

    1. Ina+Lummick*

      I have wanted to use that site at work so much (however it’s clients with the not so smart questions so I haven’t…)

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Mostly, LW1 needs to take to heart the idea that you can say no.

      It is not rude to say no. It is rude to say no rudely, but just declining to do something that is way out of your lane* is not rude. It’s also a skill many of us women in offices where there are men who tend to ask women to do minor tasks need to hone.

      “Unfortunately, I don’t have that information handy. You’ll be able to look that up yourself on Google,” and turn back to your task. Repeat as necessary and as brusquely as needed. If the requests don’t slow way down, step it up quickly to Alison’s suggested questions about why you’re the one getting these requests.

      *that’s out of your lane, or that’s not part of your job duties, or that you don’t have time to do, or there’s someone else who can better handle it, or that’s part of the person asking’s duties, or that several other people can do just as well, or that you don’t know how to do and don’t have to do, or that isn’t a critical part of getting the work done.

      1. EPLawyer*

        And never do it “just this once.” Because all the guy will learn is if I ask 100 times, I might get a response once, so I should keep doing it.

        The guy is in his 60s. He has been working for the last 20 years as the internet has become more widespread. If he STILL hasn’t learned how to use google in that time, then maybe he shouldn’t be working. If he does know how to google but finds it easier to ask the most covenient woman then he is just an ass — and shouldn’t be working.

        1. Corporate Lawyer*

          YES to never doing it “just this once.” Repetition is your friend here: “I don’t know. You’ll need to Google that.” (or change the second sentence to “You can probably find that on Google,” if that feels easier for you to say) Every. Single. Time. You can say it breezily and cheerfully if you like, although a puzzled, “why are you asking me?” demeanor would be appropriate too, and then turn back to what you were doing without pausing for his response.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I used to work at current job with a guy like this – would always ask me to get him information (despite finding that information being explicitly part of his job description). He would ask me over teams constantly for the info – I’d just reply back “I’m not sure, have you tried googling the facility’s address” constantly (so much so I had it saved on a sticky note on my desktop that I just had to paste into the chat). Eventually it became me pasting that while adding our manager to the chat (because he kept doing that on a private chat – when the manager was wanting all questions on the main chat).

          He was eventually let go for blatantly violating COVID safety protocols at our job. Yes, I worked someplace sane with regards to Covid – it went warming, suspension, today is your last day – go pack your things now. It stunk being in-person the whole time, but at least they had and enforced safety procedures to minimize the risk of spreading it at work.

        3. Artemesia*

          This is so clearly a sexist assumption that women are there to assist him. Absolutely NEVER be his maid or secretary.

    3. JSPA*

      Came to suggest this. And depending how it’s used, it can be literally instructive, rather than snarky, if he doesn’t actually use google very well (not good with key words, doesn’t know how to limit it to search specific sites, or whatever).

      “Well, if you already know how to google it effectively, why were you asking me?” is the natural follow up, if he gets huffy.

      IMO, he may be looking for excuses to interact, so shutting things down a bit firmly isn’t the worst thing in the world.

        1. JSPA*

          That’s my default guess as well.

          Whether there’s an element of “thirst,” or whether he merely finds it an appealing way to waste time, or whether it makes him feel young to chat with younger people, or whether LW reminds him of his kid, is only relevant if he makes his motivation explicit, and it’s extra problematic.

          Otherwise, it’s all equally an unwelcome low-level time-suck for the LW.

    4. KatieP*

      Came here just to see if someone linked! I’ve only used it to make the boss laugh when she vented to me about the umpteenth time someone asked her a question they could have googled.

      I mostly deal with faculty, who often think that they’re above anything so pedestrian as using Google. I lack the appropriate mix of courage and foolishness to actually use on them. When I’m about a month out from my retirement, though? Watch out!

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Yes. This. That hiring freeze is suspiciously timed.

      They don’t sound like they are ever going to give the letter writer a fair salary, so it’s time to start job hunting.

      As for the extra duties, that then becomes a question of if the extra duties will interfere with job hunting.

      1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Surely the extra duties (assuming they’re more senior) are good material for a resume though, so it might make sense to accept them.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Only if she’s not so exhausted from doing two jobs for a single salary that she can’t find the energy to search job listings and write cover letters, and isn’t so swamped with work that taking a morning off for an interview will result in working until after midnight.

          If it were just a promotion without the promised raise, that might well be worth taking it, doing a good job at it, and job searching for a similar position that pays more. Doing double duty for an extra $15 a week, for an open ended period of time, is quite different.

          1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            OP characterised it as “a lot but feel I can handle it”, and the question was more about the pay than the workload as I read it. I suspect she would have both sets of duties but would no longer be hitting that 47% of all (tickets?) metric. (Now if she takes the additional work and then managers moan that she isn’t doing that 47% any more… instant signal to get out.)

            1. EPLawyer*

              Also the OP hasn’t been working the new position fo rlong. She doesn’t know what it will really feel like after you’ve had to work late every night and on weekends to get everything done for the last 6 months.

              OP, they are stringing you along. They figure you want the promotion so badly you will accept the position no matter what it entails. Don’t let them use you. If you are that great, others will want you too.

              1. ferrina*

                Yup. If both jobs could be completed in 40 hours, they wouldn’t need two roles. If you are willing to wear yourself down doing both jobs, they are winning from your pain (they also won’t be incentivized to hire into the new role).

                Let some things drop. Tell them you can’t do everything and ask them to “help you prioritize”. That way they get to choose what doesn’t get done, they get to feel the pain points and absorb it as the cost of doing business (which it is!!)
                Don’t work overtime trying to do 2 jobs when the pay raise isn’t enough to cover the extra coffee you’ll need.

            2. Kevin Sours*

              That letter is already a instant signal to get out. This isn’t a company that is paying people what they are worth. And, frankly, this is a situation where can’t isn’t any different than won’t.

              Whether taking the promotion is a useful boost to job hunting is or isn’t a good move involves information I don’t think we have.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, I’m like, OP you don’t *have* to accept that promotion. In the case you describe, I would certainly not. You can just take it as evidence that you’re ready for the next level of responsibility and start looking for a job that will pay you what the role deserves (and not require you to keep doing your old work too!). That is a doubly better deal!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed. I wouldn’t be jumping for this promotion either. They want you to work 2 jobs for a $60 a month pre-taxes raise. $60 pre-taxes is maybe $35-40 after taxes (depending on where you live). They want to double you workload for about $35 a month.

        Is the promotion really worth it when you break down that number? And if the company is playing these games now – what is ever going to make them stop. Probably nothing.

    3. High Score!*

      Nooooooo…. Take the promotion. Put it on your resume. Get a job that will pay you for what you do.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think my problem with that strategy is that being recently promoted isn’t necessarily very persuasive on a resume – you haven’t really demonstrated the skills of the role for at least a year or two. And here, OP is really being set up to fail, since it’s unlikely they’ll be able to excel at this new role if they’re also expected to do their other job. After a year at this job OP will probably be a wreck and I’ve even seen companies write up formerly rockstar employees who aren’t able to pull of miracles. (PS – this is the flip side of the employee secretly working two jobs! I recall some irked employers saying it couldn’t be done!).

      2. ferrina*

        I’ve done similar to this. My boss offloaded responsibilities onto me that I shouldn’t have had to do (no promotion or pay raise offered, she would just throw me under the bus repeatedly).

        I did the extra work, rocked it, and added the accomplishments on my resume. Then I used that to get a new job at a much better company.

    4. Artemesia*

      What kind of hiring freeze is it that gives you the new job but not the pay? You can bet that if some golden boy had been promoted they would have figured out how to pay him.

  5. Lilo*

    I find the excuse that the hiring freeze means they can’t hire anyone to help you or raise your pay exhausting. This is a private company, right? They’re entirely imposing it on themselves and during a great reshuffling where it’s absolutely forseeable that they will be understaffed. The idea that “Oh, sorry, it’s out-of our hands” is just ridiculous. They chose to do this.

    Think really hard about whether this is a place you want to be long term.

    1. MK*

      Eh, it’s perfectly possible that the decision came from the head of the company, and the people saying the can’t do anything are middle management who really don’t have power to influence the decision. The problem is them trying to go around the freeze by giving the OP an empty promotion.

      1. Lilo*

        Yes, but it’s still sending a clear message about how the company views the employees and raises serious questions about the long term.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        They’re still proceeding with “but obviously you’re fine doubling your work load for essentially free” breeziness. That’s almost a scam artist level of brazen.

      3. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        And this situation is clearly saying middle management does not value OP3 enough to advocate for the correct salary and backfill.

        I work at a MegaCorp and hiring freezes happen. Even with them, senior leadership can make exceptions – my team desperately needed a backfill for me since I’m pregnant and no one else could go my job.

        If your boss values you enough to risk the political capital, your boss can advocate on your behalf to the required level even if it’s CFO/CEO level (my backfill permission took CFO approval and they got it).

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This Right Here. Hiring freezes are a thing even out in the private sector. But a good company can get exceptions. This place doesn’t exactly stoke me as the best out there.

    2. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If it’s a large company (SaaS could mean anything from a startup of 2 people to something like Salesforce…) I expect the hiring freeze has come from “above” or from a central HQ that makes all these policy decisions. The company itself has control over these decisions* but from the perspective of OPs business unit, it is probably non-negotiable.

      * assuming the company is not publicly listed on a stock exchange. If they have public shareholders, a hiring freeze is probably a very visible part of their strategy at the moment.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Well, then the powers that be will just have to suffer with unfilled roles! Return awkwardness to sender. This is not a promotion.

        1. Lilo*

          Yes. The company created an artificial condition that hurts employees. The fact they’re having line managers deliver the news doesn’t change that fact.

          I should note I’ve been in this position in government and that’s infuriating (one of the downsides of government is certain politicians use you like a hostage). But we’d never have asked someone to do two jobs.

    3. Salsa Verde*

      One of the most important things I’ve learned about work life is that the employer can, and will, do whatever they want to do. If they wanted to find more money for the LW, they would find it. Maybe it comes from the top, or HQ, or whatever, but the truth is, if they wanted to make the change and find they money, they could and would make it happen.

      I agree with Sloanicota* – return the problem to sender – if they can’t find the money to pay for this job to be done, then the job will not get done. They should have thought about that before they enacted a hiring freeze. Or maybe they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps or whatever they tell other people who aren’t getting what they want.

  6. Person from the Resume*

    I didn’t get very far in letter #1 before I realized that he’s asking the LW because she’s a young woman and sexist old man thinks all young women are secretaries and admin assistants and are there to help him. He’s not asking “colleagues”; he’s asking YOU because you keep helping him.

    Alison has a good answer, but you don’t need to be polite to him at all. Just tell him you can’t help him; it’s not your job to help him but he thinks it is because you’ve been doing it. Seriously you very much know this isn’t your job. If it were somewhere in your area of responsibility it might be a bit harder but you’re just googling it looking this stuff up which he can do himself.

    Make no mistake the fact that he’s asking you and no one else is not a mistake. It could be unconscious but no matter what he’s asking the 30 something woman because of sexism. Don’t be polite, be direct and clear and unhelpful because your job is not to be his assistant.

    1. Jessica*

      Yeah, and the time and energy you’re spending dealing with this clown? Your male peers are spending it advancing their careers. Cut him loose. And one day when you’re a higher-level manager, watch out for this behavior among your reports and crush it, so the next generation of women coming up can experience a lower level of obstructive sexist BS at work.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I wonder if the OP would extend this much help to someone who was newer or more junior. I think “helping the new person” has a shelf life, where at some point it’s a kindness to tell someone to fish for themselves…. and this guy has definitely reached it after 25 years! The main issue for OP, I think, is that they want to do this “politely”, but there is no question or prospect of impoliteness on her end! It is perfectly polite to redirect people to what they should be doing: their job. A super soft way to do it would be just acting puzzled at their helplessness or sympathetic. As in: “Can’t you find it when you search?”, or “Oh my internet is going slowly too. You should write down the most common numbers you need to prevent that.” But really, there’s nothing unprofessional or impolite about saying: “I’m busy and that’s not my job, George. Also, these requests to assist you are making you look a little sexist which I’m sure you’d want to know.”

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I’ve helped senior-to-me coworkers with Internet searches because it’s part of my job and I’m also really, really, good at it, but they usually ask me, “Hey, I’m trying to find [x thing] online and I’m getting all kinds of unhelpful results–how would you do this?” which, to me, is hugely different from, “Can you look up [x thing] for me.” I am always happy to help someone learn to search better. But then my coworkers aren’t information freeloaders, which makes it a lot easier.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          “ Hey, I’m trying to find [x thing] online and I’m getting all kinds of unhelpful results–how would you do this?” which, to me, is hugely different from, “Can you look up [x thing] for me.”

          I so agree with this Dust Bunny. There is a world of difference between helping somebody who has tried to do the task but is stuck and somebody who hasn’t tried at all. I will gladly help you, but be warned I’m going to ask what you’ve already tried so that we don’t reinvent the wheel.

          It’s also akin to the math teacher in school wanting to see your work/process when solving equations- they want to see what you’ve done so they know where you are getting confused, and how best to help.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            That’s actually a really good basis for a script: “What have you tried so far? I would have expected that to be a simple search.”

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think you can be direct, clear, and unhelpful while still being perfectly polite. Having respectful and considerate behavior doesn’t mean not being clear or allowing yourself to be pushed around. I’ve found variations on Alisons, “I don’t know, maybe you should Google” to be very effective in dealing with this behavior at more than one job.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Agreed. You don’t have to be rude, but you also don’t have to do it. It seems that LW feels like telling her colleague that she can’t help him is rude on its merits, which it is not.

        LW’s primary order of business is not to do the task, but she doesn’t have to go straight to a 10 in what she says at first. She can preface not doing it by just saying neutrally, “I don’t know. You should look that up online.”

      2. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Okay, I had a good relationship with an old manager (which is the only reason this worked), but he was the WORST at not having the numbers he needed. He sat across from me so he’d always ask for one specific number – maybe two or three times a week. I honestly have no clue why he didn’t just program his speed dial, but I got really tired of having to give him the number.

        So what I did was find the number for Pizza Hut and pin it to the wall right by him so I could look like I was looking right at him while reading the number off. He laughed, but he never asked me again, either.

      3. Mints*

        I’m actually really good at being nice and unhelpful.
        me, smiling, “Oh I don’t know! have you googled it?”
        “Oh I’m sure it’s on their website, but I don’t have their hours memorized, haha!”
        “Good question! Have you checked online?”

        Being nice is about tone and seeming friendly, and you can do that without really stopping what you’re doing

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      It is not rude to not help people who asks you for help espiecally those coworkers who ask you to do something that (1) is not your job (2) they can do as well themselves.

      “No” is not inherently impolite. My thoughts last night (which were not articulated) was the LW sounds like she’s being far too soliticious: What can I politely say to him to encourage him to use his resources and problem-solve on his own before asking colleagues for help? You don’t need to train him (manage up/manage laterally) to do it on his own and not bother other colleagues. That’s overly soliticious (showing attentive care or protectiveness). You just need to stop helping him and to get him to stop asking you for help.

      1. EPLawyer*

        HELLO, this RIGHT HERE. OP, not your job to teach your coworker how to do his job. You are not assigned as his trainer, mentor or supervisor. It is not your job to “encourage him to use his resources and problem-solve.”

        He’s been with the company 25 years. You’ve been there 3 years. What do you think he did before you came along to be his crutch? He knows how to do this stuff. He is choosing not to.

        Shut it down immediately and completely. Don’t give in even once. Just a “I don’t know why don’t you google it” EVERY SINGLE TIME. He will get the message eventually.

    5. PsychNurse*

      I am a nurse. I’m female and not particularly young, but younger than an old-school male doctor that I worked with recently. He would ask me to do the most inane stuff for him. He wasn’t very computer savvy and he would ask me to basically Google things, send faxes for him, etc. I’m always happy to help out a colleague, so I was doing so, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that because I’m a nurse, he thought I was basically his personal assistant. That’s not how it works in 2022!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        OMG this. I’m in a research library but most of our patrons are doctors or medical lecturers. A lot of them are clearly used to having research assistants–we basically have to teach them how to keep track of their own notes because, yo, that is not my job. I work here; you, sir, are the researcher.

    6. Generic+Name*

      Also, OP, if you were raised anything like I was, you were taught that “polite” = “everyone is happy with you”, so saying no, while not inherently impolite feels rude when you’re saying no to certain types of unreasonable people. So please don’t think that you did anything wrong if Mr. Reverse Mansplainer is peeved that you’ve stopped being his personal google machine.

    7. WillowSunstar*

      It’s not always an age thing. I (cis-gender woman, was in my late 30’s at the time) had a (cis-gender male) colleague in his early 20’s who frequently asked me things he could have just Googled and also things that were not exactly work appropriate, like what should he do in a relationship? If I could give good relationship advice, I wouldn’t still be single. I tried very hard to draw boundaries and tell him to only ask me work-related questions and had to do so repeatedly. He “forgot” quite frequently.

      I do think sexism is playing a role in it but also, possibly social awkwardness. My coworker was very socially awkward and didn’t seem to know how to start a conversation without asking a totally random, irrelevant question, but also didn’t quite get that workplace norms are you don’t pester your coworkers with random, irrelevant questions when they are obviously busy.

    8. Office Lobster DJ*

      OP should be cautious about the “I don’t know…” scripts. I’ve found that phrase comes with its own baggage. In my experience, there’s a reasonable chance he’ll take her at her word and end up tracking her down later to let her know what he found and how he found it, so that she can know it now, too. This is probably preferable to the current situation but can annoy in its own way when you never cared about the question in the first place.

      If that’s something to be avoided, I’d suggest something more along the lines of “Hmm. Can’t help you there, but it should be in the llama files.” or “Hmm. You’ll need to Google that.” (The “Hmm” is to show you’re considering his question rather than dismissing him outright, which can go a long way to keeping it collegial.)

      Nothing would be foolproof, but I’ve found that the phrase “I don’t know” carries its own baggage.

      1. JSPA*

        “not my department!”

        “I don’t have google open, and I’m on a deadline, so it’ll be faster for you to google it.”

        if Google isn’t working on your computer, it’s probably down on mine, too.”

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I agree that “playing dumb” in general can backfire, especially on women — someone might declare you the winner — but I think adding “you should google that” mitigates the “don’t know” because it indicates that you do know where to find the information, you’re just not going to fetch it.

        1. Starbuck*

          Which is so annoying, because this dude is admitting he has no clue! *He* has to ask! But as soon as you say you don’t know either, oh, *you’re* now the dumb one! Ugh!

        2. Generic+Name*

          But is it playing dumb to admit you don’t have an address memorized? The OP specifically mentions that this guy is asking her for minutiae level questions. If he were asking substantive technical questions, that would be one thing.

      3. Ann Perkins*

        My spouse used to do this to me (“what’s the weather going to be like today? what time does X business open?” type questions) and I started responding, “I don’t know offhand” and then continued doing whatever I was doing. That quickly conveyed, “I don’t know right now and could look it up for you but choose not to”. It only took a few times before he stopped asking me those types of questions.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          My husband used to do this to me. He’s in software so already sitting in a front of a computer and I’d get an IM or email “what’s the phone number for our dentist?” Me: “just google it.” Him: “well I figured you would have it on your phone.” Me: “I do but it would take you less time to google it yourself without bothering me at work.” Ug

          Then there were the guys at work that would ask me questions about benefits (I am not in hr or an assistant of any kind.) I worked part time and didn’t have (most) benefits so like why in the world would they ask me?

          1. whingedrinking*

            The thing that boggles me so much about that is that it takes less time to type “dr. smith dentist MyTown” into Google than it does to text “Honey, what’s Dr. Smith’s number?” and wait for an answer.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          A work cart isn’t could be:

          – I do not know off the top of my head
          – I can’t remember, but need to finish X for big boss
          – Not in front of my computer, and won’t be for a while, probably faster for you to go google it
          – Huh, if google never works on your computer maybe you should check with IT about that

      4. WillowSunstar*

        Yes, I tried playing dumb a couple of times and coworker took it to the boss that I didn’t know. So be careful with this one. It can be used against you.

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          But it’s not playing dumb. OP explicitly said she herself has to look these things up. She literally does not know the answer any more than he does.

    9. Gracely*

      Eh, I’ve had this happen with older women colleagues. Literally had one woman tell me “Oh, you just always think to google things first!” like it would never occur to her to do that (and our field involves helping other people do RESEARCH, wtf).

      What worked is exactly what Allison suggests: tell them to try Google. Repeatedly. Do not do their work for them. Eventually they stop asking.

  7. Kwebbel*

    LW 3: Your situation sounds painfully familiar to me. One thing to remember: right now, they haven’t promised you they’ll increase your salary 4% by EOY. The only promise they’ve made you is that they definitely *won’t* increase your salary before that. I know how pessimistic and negative that thinking sounds, but it might help you make good decisions for yourself.

    And the market right now has got to be great for people with your experience levels in SAP. Go out and get paid, Queen!!! I’m rooting for you.

    1. Varthema*

      Agreed! And also, even 4% is a pitiful raise attached to a promotion. My husband’s firm also has a freeze on promotions and raises right now, and even they’re getting blanket 3% COL adjustments.

  8. Yoli*

    LW #2, you could email the director and say something like “I can’t fill out the t-shirt form because my size isn’t listed. How do I go about requesting a 3x?” and then see how she responds. FTR I agree with AAM’s advice about calling out the lack of size inclusivity directly, but if you’re concerned about coming off as aggressive or scolding, you can make a face-value request and then go from there.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Always a hard approach to wrap your head around when you’re upset, but by far the most effective.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed – calm and reasonable solves a lot more problems that getting upset.

        And possibly that’s what has been going on for a while for the less frequently needed sizes, they are available but just not listed. How do I go about getting that larger size I need ordered sent via an email probably solves it all.

    1. BlueberryGirl*

      I like this solution. It allows them to not feel like they are being called out (which is sometimes tactically useful). I totally get the OP being upset. I used to be in charge of shirt ordering and I am upset on their behalf! However, I think if the goal is to get the shirt and not make waves, this solution allows for that.

      1. Despachito*

        I think that on top of that, the goal is to adjust the questionnaire for any further employees who would need something out of the range. Perhaps including a field “Other options” or something. (I assume the manufacturer will possibly normally carry a range which is the most common and will be able to satisfy any specific needs if asked, and I do not see any problem with this. If someone is very tall and needs a longer size, I assume it would not be considered as disrespect or sizeism if that is not included in the usual range but can be achieved at request?)

        So pointing out that there is this bug in the questionnaire would be a kindness for everyone – the company would be aware that there is something more needed, and any future employees who would need a different size would be grateful.

        1. mreasy*

          A lot of vendors still top out at XL or XXL, I have recently found, which seems crazy to me. There are options though.

      2. Somehow_I_Manage*

        The “goal” is the question, isn’t it? Either approach is valid- it’s up to OP.

        Taking the initiative to correct a workplace injustice shouldn’t be placed on OP’s shoulders It comes with risks, and demands they draw attention to the very thing they are sensitive about. But on the other hand, this situation may repeat itself without direct communication, it likely affects more people than solely OP. Given, the leadership program is focused on DEI, it seems like a really reasonable moment to voice a concern (setting aside the fact that they shouldn’t *have* to).

    2. Do you hear yourself?*

      I once saw an organizational meltdown due to t-shirt sizing.

      Long story, but a couple men put together a joke shirt and advertised it on the organization’s FB page. One woman commented “it’s a shame no one though to offer women’s sizing”. The response was eye opening.

      1) Well, it was UNISEX sizing, so, really what was she complaining about. They weren’t men’s shirts. Of course, when the printing company was asked for the sizing chart for the ‘unisex’ shirts, they sent a sizing chart labeled “mens sizes”.

      2) One of them has a wife and she always complains about how sizing for women is unfair so those of us of the female persuasion should just accept that sizing sucks and we are irrational as to expect clothing to fit.

      The discussion ranged for a while, mostly with women sharing experiences and how alienating it was to never be given clothes that fit. And the men arguing that they were good guys and no offense was intended. If they didn’t mean to be exclusionary, then clearly they weren’t exclusionary and why were women pulling out the pitchforks and TRYING to be upset about something so minor and inconsequential?

      The upshot was, a bunch of terribly distressed men. They were desperately upset that the women in the group didn’t trust that they liked women and how dare anyone even insinuate that they weren’t thinking about women. It was so hard to organize the (jokey, not required and mostly about camaraderie and fitting in) shirt anyway and they couldn’t offer more than 2 colors and one t-shirt type so they chose unisex. It was unfair to expect them to actually offer multiple options. That’s just too much work.

      The organization pulled the post from the FB page and they had to figure out another way to sell their merchandise.

      I now know more people in the organizational leadership (yes, one of the men is on the paid staff of the organization) are unsafe.

      1. Despachito*

        It seems to me an awful lot of drama over a loose t-shirt, on both sides.

        I always thought fun clothing is just this, for fun, and does not necessarily been exactly fitting. Most t-shirts I ever received as fun things or company perks were oversized but I never thought I should be entitled to get one cut exactly to my size.

        There are absolutely hills worth dying on but I don’t think this is one of them.

        1. Do you hear yourself?*

          The organization in question has a policy in place that any clothing was to be offered in men and women’s sizing, these men just decided that rule didn’t apply to them and the clothes they were offering.

          “It’s a shame women weren’t included in the sizing” is … creating drama?

          Women expressing any tiny bit of disappointment for being excluded (again) is … creating drama?

          Women wanting to be a part of things with clothing that fits is… creating drama?

          Do explain to the rest of us exactly how people are supposed to wordsmith their objections to be marginalized so as to not offend anyone doing the marginalizing.

          1. Despachito*

            “The organization in question has a policy in place that any clothing was to be offered in men and women’s sizing.”

            You did not write this in your original post, or have I overlooked it?

            It is also not clear whether this policy refers to clothing officially provided by the company to employees (in such a case, I’d understand that it should be adhered to), or to any clothing provided in relation to the company. IDK whether clothing is the main activity of the company, I thought about it more as of a fun non-official thing organized by some employees.

            Long story short: if the T-shirts were not part of an official programme of the company and the problem was not that they were unwearable (too small) but that they were too baggy for a female body, I think women were not excluded (they could wear the T-shirts although they were not the most flattering ones) or marginalized, and if they suggested this, they were indeed creating unnecessary drama.

            1. Chief+Petty+Officer+Tabby*

              If they want me to pay for it, it BETTER fit, and fit well. And no, I won’t just accept baggy clothes because some dude is too lazy to get it together and make it fit properly.

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              This sounds like “this is how it’s always been and it doesn’t bother me so women should get over it” for a pretty clear microaggression. Pointing that out is not creating drama.

            3. Esmeralda*

              Sounds like these guys were trying to do something fun and team-ish.

              Since they made it difficult for the women to participate, then it wasn’t fun/team.

              Why should the guys get shirts that fit and the women get shirts that look like crap on them?

              It’s illuminating not that they didn’t think this through — it sounds like they thought they were getting unisex t-shirts but the vendor didn’t actually have uni-sex shirts. At that point, they could have apologized and found a way to provide shirts that would fit and not look crappy on the women. They refused to listen to the women and to understand why this seemingly small issue was a big one for their women colleagues — because of what it *meant*, because of how it was one more instance of not seeing women’s experience.

              They could have learned from that. And they would have looked mighty good if they HAD listened, apologized, and asked “how can we make this right?”

              But instead they doubled down and got all butt-hurt that no one appreciated their intentions.

              Intentions to include everyone are good. Actions that actually include everyone are better.

              1. Do you hear yourself?*

                That about sums it all up.

                Some of the folks are industry colleagues (it was a professional industry organization, not a job) that I’ve known for 20 years. It was painful to realize just how thoughtless they were. We were asked to give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t mean harm and they weren’t trying to marginalize us. But we were given no benefit of the doubt that we were actually hurt and upset (vs. just being jerks) that we couldn’t get shirts that fit us.

              2. Yorick*

                There’s really no such thing as unisex t-shirts. There are either “we offer both men’s and women’s shirts” or “we have men’s shirts but not women’s so we call it unisex”

              3. Emmy Noether*

                “Unisex” clothing is the physical manifestation of men being treated as the default gender. I’m not going to wear sexism incarnate just because I’m able to fit into it, badly (how’s that for a metaphor of women in the workplace?). That is all.

                1. Münchner Kindl*

                  I’m now remembering how at the Kirchentag (general church meet ups) the standard branded items sold are cotton scarves with the logo phrase and a different colour for each event. Much easier than doing t-shirts, also less expensive.

                  The voluntary aides, many of whom come from the scouting movement, get triangle or square-to-fold-into-triangle cotton kerchiefs with printed Helfer (aide) on them. Well, it started out as Helfer (male aide) then they printed Helfer on one side, and Helferin (female aide) on the other and you folded it so it showed the right word outside.

            4. Starbuck*

              Oh my goodness, why are you doing so much work to excuse the shitty behavior of these men and make it seem like the women being excluded were to blame for expressing that exclusion? Wow!

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, curvy woman here (not plus-sized, just literally curvy, as in 14″ difference between waist and hips): I HATE “unisex” sizing. Nothing fits or looks good. I don’t want all of me to be filled in to the same width as my hips, thank you. If you only offer unisex sizes I’m going to order the biggest size they have and wear it as pajamas.

            1. WillowSunstar*

              I hate it as well. I’m petite so people always assume petite = thin. No, petite = short. Most companies do not make their swag in petite sizes because they want to use unisex/men’s sizes, which means it will generally look baggy on me.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I think you need to pick one argument here– you’re further up the thread saying, “if no-one speaks up, nothing changes”, and when you have two extremely mild versions of someone speaking up here:

          “One woman commented “it’s a shame no one though to offer women’s sizing”
          “mostly with women sharing experiences and how alienating it was to never be given clothes that fit”

          you describe it as “an awful lot of drama, on both sides”.

          The drama here the privileged group– in this case, men– getting emotional and defensive. The women were doing precisely the kind of “speaking up” that you’ve advocated further up.

          So what are you actually saying here– it’s good to speak up about exclusion, as long as you don’t talk about the emotional impact of being excluded, because that might be drama?

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Thank you for calling this out. I think we all have these two worlds in our head – idealized vs what we do in real life – and calling out the dissonance between them is important.

            1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

              Yeah, that commenter regularly posts a whoooooole lot of freezing cold takes on this site, and I think they would benefit greatly to “lurk moar” as the Internet says and learn to read the room a little….

          2. Despachito*

            I actually find “it’s a shame no one though to offer women’s sizing”
            “mostly with women sharing experiences and how alienating it was to never be given clothes that fit” passive-aggressive and sort of a “guess culture” . (I do not tell you what I want, just hint and sigh around it and wait if you get it, and if you don’t, I interpret it as if you were disrespecting me.)

            I am not very sure how to perceive Do you hear yourself’s example as I feel I do not have sufficient information. My guess (which may be wrong altogether) is

            1) either the fun T-shirts were officially organized by the company, and the company (as per DYHY’s information) has a policy everything has to come in both men’s and women’s sizes. In such a case, I assume this policy should be invoked and enforced, no hints needed.

            2) or it was some private or semi-private activity of the guys, and the company let them advertise it on its pages. This would mean that the company would likely have much less say in it, and the T-shirts will probably be just something you can – or do not have to – buy on the side.

            The drama for me was not in that the women wanted different T-shirts and said it aloud but how both parties argued about it. In case 1) they could have easily pointed out it is against the company policy, in case 2) just said “would it be possible to order it in women’s size /MY SIZE/? These you have here are too small/baggy/short and if there is no other option I will not be buying them.”

            1. Yorick*

              “It’s a shame there were no women’s sizes” is absolutely not too “guess culture. ” It is the same as “I wanted a shirt but couldn’t get one,” just in a less aggressive tone.

              1. Do you hear yourself?*

                I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a direct quote, I don’t remember exactly what was said – the whole FB thread was deleted when it was removed for violating organizational policy.

                But it really it seems the whole “women create drama” is based on the previous poster deciding that the women involved didn’t point out that there were no women’s sizes using the exact right words. And that opinion just reinforces my point – there is no way that a marginalized person can bring up this type of exclusion without being told they’re doing it wrong.

                It doesn’t matter how this stuff is brought up. It will never be the ‘right’ way to bring it up with some people. Yes, there are absolutely folks out there who will go “oh, wow, we messed that up, we’ll fix it” but, in my experience, the default reaction is to get defensive and attack the person bringing it up.

                (What I remember, not that it really matters, is that one person made the comment about not having women’s shirts and a few other women piped up to agree they, too, were disappointed that there weren’t women’s shirts. Then the men involved started with the defensiveness of how it’s too hard for them to offer women’s shirts. but it’s too hard to have women’s shirts, and how dare women be so ungrateful to mention that they were left out.)

                1. Appletini*

                  Well and truly said. I have seen so many examples of this pattern of silencing, and you have described it and its effects with brilliant clarity.

            2. bamcheeks*

              So basically I think what you’ve done here is carve out a teeny, tiny little space where people are allowed to speak up about exclusion, but if they say directly that the experience of being excluded sucks or talk about how that makes them feel, they are either aggressive or passive-aggressive.

              I mean, I think that’s *you* creating drama. I just don’t think, “Oh, it’s a shame we can’t have X” is hard to parse as a desire for X.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            What men’s size is going to fit a XS woman and not be oversized? Heck, I’m even an XXL woman and men’s shirts are oversized in that they are too long everywhere.

            1. Artemesia*

              as a tallish woman I take advantage of that — my winter turtles are all men’s small because I learned that women’s sizes as they get larger just get wider, they don’t get longer in the body and arms. Men’s sizes are entirely different. For me a men’s small is trim but with waist and arm lengths that work for me. For a small woman, men’s small is not going to work and men’s polos are cut all wrong for most women.

        3. FridayFriyay*

          Huh, this is “drama” but you also think the LW from the tshirt letter should just alert someone to the fact that the shirt options won’t fit even though she’s concerned about being labeled exactly the way you’re labeling this interaction? Do you not see any contradiction in this viewpoint?

          1. Despachito*

            No, why?

            “I actually do not find my size here and the system does not let me through without it. Can we add another option to the questionnaire, as this is likely to happen from time to time in the future? Thanks.”

            (And assume they will OF COURSE do that because this is the right thing to do and a very minor issue. IF they refuse or otherwise act unpleasant, THEN is time to express concerns about inclusiveness, but why feed oneself with unpleasant assumptions which are likely to transpire to the communication right from the start when nothing has yet been said or done?)

            1. ceiswyn*

              And when someone does as you suggest, and alerts someone to the fact that their sizing isn’t inclusive of women’s bodies, you criticise them for creating drama.

              “Speak up so that I can shut you down” is an… interesting… take on inclusion.

              1. Despachito*

                I can see several differences here:

                1. OP – has what I perceive a legitimate issue (employer provides “official” shirts, meaning they are meant for ALL employees, she cannot find her size, she needs her size).

                She has not raised it yet, and so far there is no drama. And yes, I think that IF they refuse, THEN it would be time to escalate, and OP will be entitled to much more than in the second case (women’s fit).

                My personal opinion is OP is widely overthinking what I see as a simple legitimate omission. I do not see any reason for the employer to be “mortified”, and I’d expect that they should simply add the correct size, or even better, an empty box allowing to choose a different option. I do not see asking for this as any sort of drama. And OP has not done it yet so we do not know how it develops (hopefully they will just add the box and that would be it).

                2. The case of women’s/men’s fit – there I do see unnecessary drama, because as far as I understand, is not an official thing offered and/or required by the employer. So you can buy it if you want but are free not to if you do not like it.

                If I was one of those guys, I’d probably think that “no good deed goes unpunished” – I designed an optional thing, which is a (presumably cheap) T-shirt meant as funny, and I would never expect it to fit like a tailor-made piece of garment. People may or may not buy it, and absolutely don’t have to if they do not like it (unlike the employer-provided T-shirts which may be perceived as obligatory). If they say that they would prefer another shape/color/design, I can choose to oblige, or say “sorry, that’s not possible”, because I do not want to invest any more time in it. If they raise a stink about this, then yes, I’d think they are creating drama over a molehill which is work-unrelated, or perhaps tangentially related. And I would stop designing things next time and I’d rather focus solely on work.

      2. bamcheeks*

        the “a marginalised group mentioned having a feeling and now *I* am having a feeling and I don’t like it HELP SAVE ME FROM THE EMOTIONS” pipeline.

        1. Do you hear yourself?*

          Right? Look at the discussion above for people having FEELINGS about the drama women cause by asking for shirts that fit us. It’s the whole discussion that happened over on the group as well. “you’re just being unreasonable and causing drama for expecting clothing to fit you”

          I mean. I used an actual example of a time where women spoke up, pointing out that they were feeling marginalised. The whole point of me bringing it up was that non-marginalized people react badly when marginalized people bring up feeling and being left out from clothing sizes. That it’s not about ‘bringing the pitchforks and torches’ but more that no matter how we bring it up, it’s never the right way.

          And, well, apparently I didn’t bring it up the right way here, on this very thread, and am being explained to that it isn’t FAIR to mention wanting clothing that is sized for you. It’s just not.

          Notice, too, the whole sidestepping of the real issues and questions I brought up. No, now we’re going to make the discussion about whether or not women deserve clothes that fit.

          I’ve often threatened to only buy swag t-shirts in women’s sizes, and see how men feel about that. “just give it to your girlfriend or your kids. it doesn’t matter.” I bet it will matter then.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I’ve often threatened to only buy swag t-shirts in women’s sizes, and see how men feel about that. “just give it to your girlfriend or your kids. it doesn’t matter.” I bet it will matter then.

            I would pay money to witness this.

            1. FridayFriyay*

              And then commenters wonder why the LW doesn’t “just bring it up” because otherwise how are people to know!? This. This right here is why it isn’t low stakes to do that.

          2. bamcheeks*

            The drama comes 100% from the people who claim they don’t want drama but are also just constitutionally incapable of saying, “oh gosh, I’m sorry. What do you need?”

            I also just painfully recognise OP’s articulation of how this makes them feel— “othered, shamed and excluded” “a message that the university doesn’t include me in its vision of leadership”. It takes A LOT to articulate that— because there are plenty of voices in your head saying, you’re making a fuss, don’t make a big deal, does it really matter. So you carefully express how it makes you feel, and what it does to your confidence and your belonging, to convince yourself as much as anyone else that is DOES matter, and it IS worth addressing. And it’s so carefully written! And then it gets used against you because by having feelings and expressing then you’re “causing drama”. They didn’t actively set out to make you upset, so aren’t you really the problem here, for being upset?

              1. Despachito*

                If preceded by “actually, I cannot find my size here, can you please help”, definitely. And it really is that easy too.

                1. hbc*

                  It actually is just as easy to say in response to “Hey, you jerks didn’t offer anything that will fit me” or “Are you serious that a DEI committee doesn’t even offer sizes that include all committee members?”

                  When you’ve made a mistake, it’s best to save the tone policing for after you’ve cleaned up your side of the mess.

                2. Appletini*

                  Marginalized people shouldn’t be graded on the eloquence and grace of our requests as a condition of having them granted.

      3. anonymous for this one*

        I was running an event once and the organization sent only boxes of women’s sized shirts (they weren’t even flimsy and particularly narrow like women’s shirts usually are, they were just cut slightly smaller with shorter sleeves) and the VOCAL distress from the few men who were there who were told to “pick a size up from your usual size” the same way women have been told to take a size down in “unisex” sizes for all eternity…

        I swear, I wish I had a video. I would take it out on days when I felt bad and just laugh and laugh and laugh.

        1. Artemesia*

          When Nashville built a football stadium about 20 years ago they designed it for gender equity on restrooms. The first weekend game, it turns out they had miscalculated the ratio of men and women and men’s beer consumption and the ladies rooms had no lines, but there were long lines for the men’s rooms.

          You would have thought a meteor had struck — the OUTRAGE, the UNFAIRNESS — MEN were STANDING in LINES. The ignominy. They fixed this before the next game.

          Women had been standing in long lines for decades and no one had ever seemed to think this was outrageous and unfair because it is just the way things are in this best of all possible worlds.

  9. Green great dragon*

    I’m not clear what covering two jobs really looks like here. Is LW really expected to work double hours? Or will they be doing the best they can to hit the top priorities across two jobs?

    I agree with someone above who says take the promotion and use it to get a better job elsewhere. And in the meantime, do what you can in standard working hours, and be up front about what you just can’t do. Hopefully your manager won’t truly be expecting you to work extra hours for $30, if they are, then you have greater problems.

    1. princesscaroline*

      nope, not worth it for the title. why shouldn´t workers get paid for their greater contributions and responsibility? We need to telling workers to just buck up and take the extra work without pay – even if it is just for 6 months before you leave. The tide is turning on this kind of “standard practice”.

      1. The Original K.*

        Agreed – and once OP takes this on, management has much less of an incentive to increase her salary because she’s already doing the work for the price the employer wants to pay her. As Alison says, it’s a great deal for the employer. But an increased likelihood of burnout for $60/month (assuming biweekly pay periods) is a terrible deal for her.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I think this could be worth doing in jobs with serious stalling points and hard-to-get promotions because the field is highly competitive. But I would also say; don’t work in that kind of field because it’s exploitative! If this company thinks she can be promoted to do x role, why wouldn’t another one hire her to do it while actually paying her?

    2. Bilateralrope*

      So the letter writer should reduce the time they have for job hunting just to cover for problems higher up in the company ?

      That’s a good way to tell the company that the hiring freeze is a good thing to keep, because it makes them more profitable by keeping payroll down.

      All with no guarantee that the LW will be in the new position for long enough to prove competence in it.

    3. Zweisatz*

      The thing is, juggling two or more roles is taxing even if you don’t exceed standard hours. The constant shift of priorities, the bigger amount of total requests, more stakeholders etc can be a huge strain.

      Sure it’s doable for x months. My concern is that OP doesn’t have clear confirmation on when the double role ends NOR when they will receive fair compensation for it. Sure sounds like the short end of the stick to me.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep. Sometimes this happens in a transition period, it’s a tough sprint but it pays off. But to say “this is the way it is indefinitely and we’re not able to compensate you for it until a mysterious date in the future” is exploitative and OP shouldn’t agree to it.

  10. Caroline+Bowman*

    OP3, do not, under any circumstances, agree to take on a big new job AND do your old one for a whopping extra $30 for an indefinite period.

    How very convenient that there’s a pay freeze and yet, they can promote you! No, they cannot because they cannot pay you appropriately so.

    Obviously you want the promotion, so I’m not suggesting being rude or snitty, but do sit down with whoever is most applicable and lay it out ”these are my current duties, these would be my additional duties. Effectively I’d be doing 2 jobs for a sustained period and receiving an extra $30 for this. That doesn’t feel fair, so I’d rather defer my promotion until the freeze is over, thanks”. Then immediately start job hunting. Immediately.

    Another, less-good option is to smilingly take the promotion, the title and responsibility bump and instantly start hunting for a new role, use it to your advantage essentially, and get out of dodge as fast as is feasible.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      All of the above, plus — working effectively 2 jobs means the OP is going to be burnt out, have a lack of work/life balance, and not be as successful in either role as they are working just 1 of the roles. Which might affect their performance rating or ability to be promoted (with commensurate salary) in future.

      Feel free to point that out, because it is definitely an implication of the unfair proposition being put forward here.

  11. chewingle*

    Re: Tipping — my husband constantly runs into a problem where his company had a cap of 15% for tips, but most of the restaurants near the venues he is sent to take out automatic gratuity of 18%. (Occasionally this has lead to the bill going a bit over the cap on individual meals, as well — and he isn’t eating extravagantly, the cities he travels to just seem to charge more for the same food you’d find elsewhere.)

    How do you explain to a company that their caps are too low for the places you’re being sent to?

    1. Pierrot*

      Is this in the US? A 15% tip at a sit down restaurant is very low. These days, 20% is considered the baseline. I think if this company is US based, your husband could just say “We are allotted money for a 15% tip at restaurants but that is considered a pretty low tip at a sit down restaurant and many restaurants are now including an 18-20% gratuity automatically.” He can share examples of times/places when he was traveling where most of the restaurants added the gratuity.

      1. Starbuck*

        Well, it doesn’t really make sense to generalize the whole country. Some states, severs still make the tipped federal minimum – $2.13 – and in others the state requires the same min wage for all workers, so it can be $14 – $15.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I would just say, “The norms around tipping have changed and most restaurants routinely add an 18% or 20% gratuity. Can the reimbursement policy be updated to reflect this?”

      (Also, if you’re in the US, 15% is just being cheap. If a client took me out and I saw that they only tipped 15% on a meal I knew was getting expensed, I’d wonder what else they’d nickel and dime me on.)

    3. Snow Globe*

      If it is an automatic gratuity, I’d just put in the total amount, and if it was questioned (unlikely), tell them that it was not optional. But someone should raise this issue to have the policy updated.

  12. Yellow+Flotsam*

    LW2 I understand why this is upsetting – but it’s not personal. Email and request the size you need, hopefully they can do that (sometimes special orders can’t be found in the timeframe required).

    It is impractical to provide every size that could be required – so they have a range of sizes that approximately fit the majority. If their off the shelf included 3XL whoever required 4XL wouldn’t fit them. Likewise anybody requiring XXS won’t fit the sizes available and would need a special order as well.

    When you email – ask them to include a comment / other field so that people who need to indicate a special order can still complete the form.

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s really not impractical to list every size the t-shirt company provides on the form. Yes, they can take 3 extra seconds to add fields for 3xl and 4xl and however many other options are available. Evelyn’s comment near the top confirms that 3xl would absolutely be available.

      1. Yellow+Flotsam*

        Sure – they can list every size provided by the company – but that will still have limits and it still won’t fit everyone.

        I would expect them to list all the sizes the shirt comes in as standard (whatever that is in whatever country you’re in) and then have special order available for all who require it.

        Even if the range is larger – it’s still ok to require a special order if you need it – and the company should provide it (whether uniform or perk)

  13. Miette*

    For LW1: I’m going to head off the “he’s too old to Google” conversation before it can start lol. He’s younger than my older sister, who has zero problem doing this kind of basic research. Internet and computer literacy should have ceased to be an excuse by the mid-90s (and I’m being generous). Cut him zero slack, OP, as Alison suggests.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I’m 61, and I’ve been on the internet longer than Google has been around. Age is no reason not to be able to work a computer and search engine. Even as much as twenty years ago I was helping people my parents’ age to get on the computer and work with it.

    1. Texan in exile on her phone*

      My mom is 79. She has a degree in comp sci. If my mom can do Fortran, a 60something can google.

    2. Old Cynic*

      I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the initial question because I’m 65 and I can’t think of any of my friends and colleagues (in the age range here to 60-75) who aren’t computer adept.

      How did someone manage to work for so long and still be out of the loop?

      Cut him zero slack.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        For the record, if my 93 year old grandpa can figure out google, so can this guy who is approximately 30 years younger.

    3. Lilo*

      I know a lot of special search engine tricks, but search engines are designed to be usable by people who don’t know those tricks.

    4. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

      I’m 72, my husband is 73, and both of us use Google all. the. time. If you can use a traditional print dictionary then you can use Google!

      Frankly, if that 60 year old employee “can’t” simply Google information for himself then what is he doing in that job? How is he able to perform even entry level office work if he’s that incompetent? Well, the answer is that he isn’t – he’s just gotten used to asking that nice young lady to do it for him! Whether this is laziness, sexism or weaponized incompetence, it’s gotta stop NOW. “Just Google that!” is a perfectly good response to his lazy, selfish and exploitive behavior.

    5. DataSci*


      Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web, is 67.

      Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocol that underlies the internet (which predates and is not synonymous with the Web) is 79.

      People in their 40s and up (the founders of Google are both 49) built the internet. Don’t anyone dare tell me we’re too old to know how to use it. We were using it when it was a lot harder to use than it is now – I’m in my 40s and remember what searching was like pre-Google.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*


        This so much!

        I get really tired of people trying to tell me, at 61, that I “need to learn how to use a computer”. People in my age group and older invented the internet, and pioneered working with it.

        My spouse, in the late 90s, would get “You don’t have to be afraid of the computer…” and then some patronizing BS, when she was working with computers in the early 80s before the IBM PC came out. Just because she was female and “older” than the rest of the office.

        Nowadays when I get that BS my response is along the lines of “The people that invented the internet are older than I am. Please do try to keep up.”

      2. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Metacrawler and Netscape Navigator days of the 90s. *Shudder* I’m 43, and I remember, all too well.

        But I do really miss webrings and Geocities pages with terribly animated “under construction” and “click here to email the webmaster!” GIF’s.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Ah, nostalgia. I remember deliberately making a web page at Geocities that displayed all of the worst web formatting schticks out there, including “under construction”, blink tags, marquees, and frames inside of frames. It was wonderfully ghastly.

    6. Artemesia*

      Anyone in the workforce today has been in the personal computer age most of their working life. I am pushing 80 and saw the transition but this guy is 20 years younger than I am — he would have come into the workplace when computerization was established or becoming established. No one working today has any excuses with regard to basic competencies like google just as they have no excuses about casual racist or sexist comments — 1964 and the civil rights acts were nearly 60 years ago.

  14. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    OP #1…

    If his requests are by email, then write back to him (using Alison’s scripts) with copy to both his boss. Also, please consult HR.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      Why would you have her escalate to boss and HR before she tries using those scripts on him to begin with?

      I envision that email you describe being directed to the boss and NOT cc’ng Bob, with the format of “I’ve told him to stop and he hasn’t, am I missing something?”

      Email to boss:
      “I wanted to check in with you about my role in relation to Bob. As far as I know, our work isn’t related and I’m not his assistant. However, since I started working here, he always asks me what the weather is going to be during his trip out of town next week or for the email to Jane in Accounting. I’ve asked Bob several times this week to Google things himself rather than asking me to Google things for him; they’re unrelated to my work and I’ve not been told I’m his assistant – but he keeps asking. Is there something else I should know about my relationship to him that would make his requests reasonable?”

      1. Artemesia*

        This kind of tendentious prose is also likely to get you assigned to assist poor old Bob. Much better to be terse and simply re-direct him to google each time he asks, adding occasionally,I am really covered up today and can’t google that for you. The key is EVERY TIME

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      I worked retail enough when I was younger that corporate would need to give me a LOT larger incentive than “jeans on Friday” to get me to wear branded clothing.

      And when I’m in an office, I balk at name tags too (unless they’re also quite obviously pass-keys/entry cards/ID cards). “Oh…you got me a gold plastic tag with my name engraved in it…no thank you…” *slides name tag back across desk*

  15. L-squared*

    #2 definitely bring it up. One question I have, is this shirt purchased through your University, or from an outside vendor? I like to typically assume ignorance before malice, so its very likely no one knows what sizes the vendor offers things up to. If it has never come up before, that isn’t a shocking thing not to know. But if no one ever brings it up, they’ll continue to not know.

    1. PsychNurse*

      Yes I agree, presume ignorance. I am a petite woman, so I have no idea, really, the difference between an XL and an XXL. I mean, obviously I know the XXL is bigger, but I would not be able to tell at a glance which colleagues will be served by standard sizing and which need expanded sizes. You’ll have to actually explain your needs. IF someone responds badly, then you have a right to be affronted, but until then, just assume people are walking around with their head in the clouds and don’t give a lot of thought to t-shirt sizing.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I would like to note that “My university is sending me a clear message that I do not fit the look of a “leader.” probably means, “this is important data showing that the people who are responsible for thinking about leadership at my university have never had a leader who looks like me and did not consider people like me when considering what “leaders” look like”, not “someone actively thought, haha, let’s tell OP they’re not leadership material.”

        This doesn’t have to be deliberate or knowing for OP to have “a right” to be affronted, and it’s not kind to suggest that their feelings of shame and exclusion are invalid unless it is malicious.

        1. OP2*

          Yes, thank you. I don’t think that anyone is being malicious or directing anything at me personally. I think it was an oversight. But yes, it is important data that my university has apparently never considered that a “leader” might need extended sizing.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Its further complicated by the fact that the sizing isn’t consistent from one comany to another – one person might easily be a XS, S or M dependng on the supplier, another person mght be a XL, XXL or XXXL .
        Being female my impression is that this is more true of clothes for women than those made for men but I think even for mens or ‘unsex’ t-shirts it’s still broadly true.
        ideally you need sizing charts that tell you what the measurements of the things actually are.

        I do agree that the organisation should have given more thought to the fact that nt eveyone will fit into a limited range and that particularly for people who need larger sizes, it’s awkward and uncomfortable to have to bring that up.

        I think for OP, the best way to raise it is to flag it up in as matter-of-fact a way as possible – maybe “I note that there’s a limited range of sizes available, how to I request a size that isn’t listed? Can we look at having more inclusive sizing available moving forward?”

      3. Dahlia*

        But you don’t need to know the difference. You just need to know that people larger than a 2x exist. That is an incredibly low bar at a DEI focused company! It’s not about OP alone.

        It’d be like me (I’m also petite, I’m 5’2 and a 2-3x) going, “Well, medium is the smallest size we need. No one wears smaller than that.”

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Exactly! Nobody needs to know the exact dimensions of a XXXL shirt, or go around staring at their colleagues to try and guess their shirt sizes. In fact, the best way to avoid that all around is to choose the vendor that has the largest range of size options so you have a better chance of all your employees getting a size that will work.

  16. Hiring Mgr*

    #2 sucks and of course it shouldn’t be on the LW to have to mention it, but honestly this is a great chance to show leadership (both in advocating for yourself, and for others, particularly if there’s a DEI component to this leadership program).

  17. Pocket Mouse*

    LW1: Depending on the question/circumstances, you may want to avoid saying ‘I don’t know’ as part of your response to these requests for information. In those situations, I’ve used “That sounds like a question for Google.” There’s an implied ‘…and not for me’ but it also allows for a broken record conversation where you can say “Google will have a good answer for you” and “Google’s the best place to find that kind of information” and “Why don’t you Google that?” and “Why are you asking me instead of Google?” Replace Google with ‘the directory’ or whatever may be applicable as needed.

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      Also, if these requests are coming to you in an asynchronous form, try just not replying for a while, and then writing back something like “Just seeing this- hope you were able to find the answer by now.”

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        +1 to both of these ideas. I’ve been a little burned by “I don’t know” answers, because the questioner assumes that means I must want to know, so they have to report back with the answer. And “Hope you were able to find the answer” is how I try to train people out of leaving a question dangling when I’ve been out of office, rather than finding someone else (like it literally said to do in my away message, Fergus).

    2. Marna Nightingale*

      LW 1: FWIW, I have seen “Why are you asking me that?” be incredibly effective.

      Sometimes, sadly, you get a defensive reply and then you have to revert to “check google”. “Check the directory.” “Can’t help you, sorry.”

      But sometimes you actually get a useful answer, directly or indirectly (where you don’t get a verbal answer but he stops it).

  18. Dust Bunny*

    Side note to LW1: Somebody in my virtual friends circle shared a meme this weekend about how Alexa and Siri are basically training a new generation to view women as “staff” and I’ve been mad ever since.

    I’m middle-aged and grouchy; I have no problem telling guys like this that I don’t know and I’m busy–they’ll have to look it up themselves.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I once did a casual count of business chatbots, and something ridiculous like 80% were called things like Alice and had a picture of a slim, sexy 20-something woman with a headset. Every new generation and new technology invents imaginary women who are either secretaries or sexbots or both: it goes back as least as far as the early 1800s with mechanical dolls, then electric ones, then robotic ones and now AI ones!

        1. Despachito*

          I did, and it was offered to me right in the initial settings. I am not very tech savvy so I probably would not have sussed it out were it more complicated.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        I mean, pointing out that the default setting is female seems reasonable even if there is an option to change it somewhere in the settings.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Agreed. “Why don’t you ask Alex about that?” will probably also not ring any bells, while Alexa and Siri are household names.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      D’Arcy Carden from The Good Place based her character Janet on Alexa, after being at a party where people kept telling Alexa to do things.

  19. Dilly*

    My organization uses the federal government per diem rates which include two portions: Lodging and Meals & Incidental Expenses. Lodging is spend to get. M&IE is flat rate, meaning they give you the full amount, regardless of what you spend. The “IE” is supposed to cover tipping. Does it? Enh, it depends. Traveling outside the continental US, I’m generally pretty well covered.

  20. kiri*

    Ooof. I am really disappointed with the lack of empathy for LW 2 that is showing up in so many of the comments. At the end of the day, yes, the only solution to the immediate problem might be for them to send that email and note the lack of inclusivity in sizing.

    HOWEVER. This is likely one of hundreds or thousands of times the LW has been made to feel excluded or less than or embarrassed, as someone in a larger body, over the course of their life. I feel like there’s a lot of implied “just suck it up, this isn’t that hard” in the comments, and I hope we can acknowledge that it may, in fact, be that hard for LW! Our whole society is built around, among other things, marginalizing fat people, and it’s hard to read this particular incident as anything other than a manifestation of that.

    LW – just wanna say that we hear you, this really sucks, and I’m sorry. Do you know anyone you might be able to send the email with together? Or who might be willing to step up and send it on their own, mentioning the issue in a more general sense? I know this is opening a whole other potential can of worms by having to discuss it with a coworker so YMMV.

    Guess we gotta get more people listening to Maintenance Phase…

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The most impactful part of MP to be isn’t even the case studies in fatphobia they cover but their chatty anecdotes about existing while fat.

    2. J!*

      Truly, even after so many years of existing while being fat I am blown away by the things people say out loud (or type, in this case).

      LW, it really sucks and I know it’s super uncomfortable to have that conversation but you have to ask or it’s going to keep happening because people don’t even think about it.

    3. Junior Dev*

      I used to listen to it and had to stop because I find it incredibly invalidating as someone whose chronic health issues are tied to my weight. It actually hurts quite a bit to be told the steps I’m taking to (successfully!) improve my health are doomed to fail and mean I have an eating disorder. The show explores some interesting ideas and can teach people a lot, but I would really hate for people to take it as some sort of guidance on how they should treat people in the workplace. They don’t speak for every fat person, and they’re openly contemptuous towards people like me.

    4. kay*

      Seconding this – especially in a comments section that’s normally great, especially on women’s rights issues. LW2, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this at work, and based on the thoughtfulness of your letter I have no doubts that you’ll handle this well! I hope your employer takes the criticism with an open mind and fixes the problem!

  21. Simply Stephanie*

    My philosophy regarding tipping has evolved to this: my $5/$10 ++ means more to the housekeeper/server/pizza delivery kid than it does to me. Sure, it’s great to be reimbursed when on company business, but travel on the company’s dime doesn’t enter into the equation for service workers providing a service to ME. When I was so young and so poor, I slung beers at the local sports arena- those rare non-coin tips were a literal lifeline. It’s now my chance to pass goodness forward. Tip early, tip often, tip generously because you are making a hard worker know that their efforts are appreciated. It really does matter.

    1. Beth*

      My wife and I still aren’t going out to restaurants, but we order delivery instead. During the pandemic, we went from being solid tippers to heavy tippers, usually including a 20% tip within the app and also handing the driver cash when the food arrived.

      When gas prices soared, we increased the amount of cash we gave — and there have been days when the delivery driver has burst into tears. One of them came back a few days later and gave us flowers from his garden, which made ME get all teary-eyed.

    2. Chief Bottle Washer*

      That’s a reasonable philosophy, and I tend to follow it myself, but IMO it’s a separate question from whether your company should be reimbursing all reasonable expenses while you’re on the road. I am luckily traveling a lot less now than I was in the past, but when I was on the road 20% of time and eating every meal out, that would end up to a lot of money out of my pocket if I was having to cover tips or some portion of tips. Which would not be okay in my book.

  22. StudMuffin? No, just Muffin*

    #2. [I mentioned this in a similar thread months ago]. I can’t tell your gender from your letter, but I solved the problem by wearing the polo shirt in question. My company were a bit stroppy about people wearing them so I did. It was 3 sizes too small for me. You can probably guess what it looked like. The issue was solved very quickly!

  23. El+l*

    It’s not just money you need to discuss. Reading your letter, I get confusing signals about how senior (and possibly specialized) the role is. Because who gets interviewed twice by the Board for a non-CEO job, much less one that sounds like it’s non-standard? Do you have a good handle after all this on what exactly you’d be doing? If you don’t have this pinned down, it needs to get pinned down now, or red flag.

  24. Art3mis*

    LW2 – I’ve only had one company have a shirt in my size available. And I was shocked. My current company has one shirt on the “swag store” in my size for the Black Professional Network, but it’s black in color and I have light colored pets and I find that black tshirts attract pet hair like its their job, so I try to avoid them. At OldJob they had a contest for DEI suggestions and the prize was a tshirt, which was also not in my size. My suggestion was larger size options for tshirts. That was the only company that had a shirt in my size so obviously it was a possibility but none of the other “promo” shirts they had available ever came close. I was told they were “working on it.”

  25. introverted af*

    LW5 – I was an admin handling my team’s expenses in my last job. The way they handled it varied, but they all were able to submit cash tips. Some would write it on each valet ticket they received, some would keep the valet chits and write a running total of all cash tips, some did a mix. So you should definitely be able to get that submitted. If you’re currently on a trip, I would say do something that seems reasonable for now, and then confirm when you get back to it what they’d prefer so you can do that next time, but do be insistent that you need reimbursed for that.

  26. Pocket Mouse*

    LW 3: Pay increase issues aside, I’m curious why having others in your department take over the 47% you do there isn’t seen as an option. Presumably there was a plan for them to handle the full workload before you came on board, and it sounds like more cross-training would be beneficial regardless. Maybe you can push back by delaying the new start until you’ve had a chance to cross-train AND offload most or all work from your current job.

  27. Dr. Rebecca*

    I’m betting the company in #4 wants the LW to work for “exposure.”

    “Oh, we weren’t going to *pay* you, we thought you could use this position to build your portfolio!”

    1. Artemesia*

      And you know Robert the Golden in the same position would insist on being paid and would be properly paid. Absolutely time for the OP to actively search for a new position.

  28. Veryanon*

    Inclusion: It’s amazing to me how even people who regularly work in the DEI space don’t always think of body size or disability when they think of inclusion. I was at a meeting the other day where the speaker was giving a talk on DEI. She started by saying, before I begin, everyone stand up and stretch! The lady sitting next to me was in a wheelchair, so obviously could not stand up. I mentally did a face palm.

      1. bamcheeks*

        If your approach to diversity is “what’s the barest legal minimum I have to do”, you are not doing diversity, equity and inclusion.

        1. Student*

          Diversity initiatives of old, now rebranded as DEI initiatives, are a crap-shoot on whether they are sincere or not. I think it’s unwise to assume any given DEI group at work is actually useful and effective.

          Most of the ones I’ve encountered are (1) a busywork group meant to keep the people most likely to complain about diversity issues too busy in bureaucratic work to do so, or (2) legal and social cover to continue to do exactly whatever the company’s been doing with no changes; they can point to minor policy wording shifts and the existence a committee that’s “considering the issue” whenever the topic comes up, without having to take any concrete actions or spend any substantive money.

          I’ve had advisors in my field recommend avoiding any DEI work during my career, because it’s got the same reputation as the social committee – not an effective use of career time; doesn’t help anyone who does care about DEI, but still draws the fire of people who oppose DEI.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Agreed. DEI initiatives often get myopic on what they exist to accomplish — increase racial diversity – OR – gender equality – OR – LGBTQ+ inclusivity…but not all these things, and more, at once. I doubt the DEI folks even register body size as a DEI concern at all.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I spent, I don’t even know how long or how many emails, trying to explain to our training department why it’s bad that our training on ADA accessibility is not closed captioned. I’m still not sure they understand. Their solution was to send an all staff email with instructions for how to add a browser extension in Chrome that will provide auto captions for videos, which is still a crapshoot since I’ve never seen an accurate autocaption bot.

    3. OP2*

      Yes, this is one of the reasons I was reluctant to bring it up. I looked at my university’s DEI page and there is a lot of lofty language about including everybody, but nowhere do they mention size/weight/appearance. Only the legally protected categories are included.

  29. Just here for the cats*

    #2 I’m so sorry that this is a problem. Please reach out to whoever is in charge of the T-shirts and let them know what the problem is. But please know that this is most likely not anything anyone is trying to do to limit folx or to fat shame. I know it can feel that way but it is most likely a vendor problem or maybe they have not updated their form to include more size options. That doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid and that this of course needs to be addressed.

    I am sure you are not the only one who has been in this situation and it needs to be brought to their attention. It especially needs to be brought to their attention if the shirts are mandatory for events! Good luck with everything and please update us!

  30. LW #5*

    LW #5 here. Thanks for your answer, Alison, and all of the commenters as well for your insight!

    I work for a small-ish (40 people) non-profit, and my role is to actually create and enforce policies such as this one. I’m new (started in June) and they brought me on specifically because of gaps in their previously non-existent policies like this one. I honestly hadn’t thought of it either, until I was on the road this week! So I’ll be revising the policy language to be much more clear and to allow for some employee discretion (I definitely won’t be putting a $3/night cap on housekeeping tips like one commenter mentioned!). Thanks, everyone!

    1. Free Meerkats*

      A few years back, my employer moved to a straight per-diem reimbursement policy except for lodging and transportation. It was a massive reduction in paperwork for everyone, no more receipts, no forensic examination of meal receipts for alcohol, and so forth. The only receipts I need to get now are for my hotel and cab/uber; our travel office books all flights.

      It also made the travel policy simpler; “you get $x for breakfast, $y for lunch, and $z for dinner when you are in travel status.” Then a definition of travel status – which I can’t remember off the top of my head. And the amounts are reasonably generous, right now all three combined is something like $65/day.

      1. Four of ten*

        I used to work for Federal government. The per diem for meals varied by location, so more expensive areas were allocated more per diem. It was much easier not having to save receipts, mark down tips, etc.

      2. Just here for the cats*

        see we have a per diem but still require receipts (at least we did in 2019. Pandemic put a hold on all travel and I’m not in a roll that does not have to take care of people’s travel expenses.) Never made sense, but of course that’s state government for ya!

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      My old NP job had an option to expense small cash amounts without a receipt. You just had to include a note saying what it was for. I don’t think you even need to set a max – if the amount seems weird, you’d just ask about it.

  31. Free Meerkats*

    The sizing thing goes the other way, as well. One of my employees wears a Womens’ XS t-shirt. The smallest my employer offers for uniform t- shirts is Mens’ S. Technically, she can wear it, but it looks sloppy and we are semi-public facing.

  32. CJ*

    #2 Storytime! So I play the flute, and signed up to participate in a flute choir. The director before choir started said she wanted to get us all matching polos, and she sent an order form around for sizes XS-XL.

    Women’s XS-XL. (The picture showed the placket, which gave it away.)

    Reader, the gender neutral name on this comment hides a male set of shoulders, a set of shoulders that drift between men’s L and XL. Because “flute choir”, she had absently assumed all participants were female-bodied. So I emailed her, and she apologized and got a men’s shirt added right quick.

    Moral of the story: yes, especially in a case of DEI, they should’ve probably thought of this, but it never hurts to ask if we’re outside the bell curve of the stock styles that a t-shirt printer offers. (Actually, having done t-shirt and polo orders, I would be 100% unsurprised if this is a vendor problem: some of them are right “charming” about extended sizes.)

  33. Anon (and on and on)*

    LW1, I had a weirdly similar situation. Not sexism, but I entered into into an HR role that used to be quasi-admin and I had a hard time retraining people that this was now a leadership position. I had a colleague come to me and ask who “handles the mail,” clearly expecting it to be me. I cheerfully answered that we handle our own mail, then went on that “it’s too bad we don’t have admin support, but we don’t!” That got across the idea that not only were her and I peers, but that not only was there no admin support for our office but that it WASN’T ME! It definitely got the point across.

  34. What She Said*

    Oh the drama over t-shirts in this comment section. Happy Monday, Y’all!

    I personally like wearing men’s shirts or unisex shirts. On occasion I prefer a women’s fit but I can take it or leave it.

    I do think the OP should say something at least once. I get why she went straight to thinking what she is thinking, your feelings are very valid, but I’m hesitant to assume the organizers are doing anything to intentionally harm her. Is it possible? Sure. But before I go hard on them I’d like to be certain it was they are doing. Hence, the same something, at least once. Does she have to? No. But why sit in all these feelings when you can say something and possibly save yourself the headache of worrying for nothing. If they don’t address it then you know what you are dealing with. Focus on what is and not what if. Right now you are still in the “what if” part of it. Good luck!

    1. Ellie*

      The thing is, they are harming her though. Its like when I attend a meeting and the chair starts off with, ‘Hello gentlemen!’ – it might not be intentional, but its sending a clear message that I’m not part of the group. And when it happens over and over again, its tiring to have to deal with.

  35. SpaceyO*

    OP#1 – Look into (Let me google that for you). You type in the search term, click, and get a helpful video guide to googling the term that can be shared with your needy co-worker..

  36. Confused in CRM*

    *tap tap tap* Is this thing on?… You’re supposed to tip the housekeeper at a hotel? Is this something people should know via osmosis?

    I spent 10 years in a job that was 100% travel, and now work in admin handling expense reports for half a dozen management and executive level employees and I have never either heard that you are supposed to tip the housekeeper, nor seen anyone submit a receipt for it to be reimbursed. Have I just spent the last 20 years of my professional life (at multiple companies) working with jerks? Is this one of those things like sending a thank you note to your interviewer (another convention I learned from AAM) that a certain subset of the population just *knows* and everyone else is judged for not knowing?

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I only learned this a few years ago! I was surprised, too. I don’t remember family or friends tipping when we traveled together so it seems to be Absolutely A Thing If You Know It but lots of people don’t. (Per the comment that 50% don’t tip…possibly because they don’t know they are supposed to.)

    2. irene adler*

      Back in high school-decades ago- my birthday gift was an envelope full of ones and fives.

      But not for me to spend- they were for me to give tips as I was leaving on an out of state trip in a few days. This was a teaching moment on how the world works.

      So here I am, 17 years old and knowing that I have to tip the housekeeping, the cab driver, the skycap, the wait staff, etc. A number of people were pleasantly surprised.

    3. Starbuck*

      Totally, our tipping culture is very unintuitive (it was, after all, founded on racist employment discrimination so there’s lots about it that doesn’t make sense) and there’s no guarantee you’ll ever have all the teaching moments needed to learn in which professions it’s the norm, and good luck trying to deduce it yourself as there’s no set of uniform rules you can apply to test which positions would require it.

    4. H3llifIknow*

      I do tip housekeeping IF I GET housekeeping! The last 4 hotels I’ve stayed in this year (travel a lot for Biz) had no houskeeping unless you explicitly asked for it. I’d see a housekeeper in the hall and swap out towels every couple days and that was the extent. BUT, if someone is cleaning up your sink full of toothpaste and hair and replenishing toilet paper, towels and shampoo, as well as making the bed and tidying up the space and taking out trash? Yeah. I tip $5 per person in the room, per day. My MIL taught me that when we went to Vegas on my first (non European) vacation. Eye opening!

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      This is a somewhat new thing, I think. Does anyone know when this happened? Or maybe when this drifted down from fancy big city hotels with concergies and bellmen to the basic American motel/motor lodge. Not that maids are not poorly and underpaid for hard work, but presumably they are making minimum wage because there’s no law that allows them to be paid under because tips are fully expected to make up a large part of their wage.

      I mean, I greaw up lower middle class in the 80s. My parents didn’t leave tips in the motel (not hotels) that we stayed at when I was a kid.

      When did it become the job of the guest to subsidize the maids salary when we’re already paying the hotel who needs to pay all their employees? To be clear, I am a pretty neat person and do a bit of my own cleaning in my room because I am a bit bothered by mess.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Also I do not want to be a jerk, but usually move through the world with between $40 – $20 in my wallet, often in $20 bills which is how I get my cash out of an ATM. I can’t tip a $5 a day for every day of my stay easily. Which sucks for the maid because as pointed out above, you don’t necessarily get the same maid every day of your stay.

        Lots of people carry evene less cash than me and are less prepared to hand out cash tips.

        Over the weekend a pizza delivery driver got a $10 tip (on top of the tip on the CC bill) because I didn’t have anything smaller.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        It’s not new, though maybe not universal.. My parents would leave a few bucks for the hotel maids back decades ago

      3. River Home*

        Tipping housekeeping was a joke in one of the early seasons of Seinfeld, so it’s been thing for at least 30 years.

        I am a little older than you and grew up in a similar socioeconomic bracket. I don’t remember how I learned that you are supposed to tip housekeeping, but it wasn’t from my parents. Once I learned, though, I just started doing it.

        US tipping culture goes way, way back to before minimum wage and is firmly rooted in preventing African Americans from making a living wage. That should give you some insight into why consumers rather than employers are directly responsible for paying service employees.

      4. I was there*

        When did it become the job of the guest to subsidize the maids’ salaries when we’re already paying the hotel, who needs to pay all their employees? It actually started around 1980 when greedy rich hotel owners started shaming guests for not tipping, so that the hotel owners could hire for less.

        The hotel managers would tell all of the maids that cheap guests were the problem who weren’t coming across with the tips that were deserved.

      5. Loredena*

        My father always tipped housekeeping in cash, daily. We were middle class and this was 40 years ago. It’s always been a thing. Sadly the amount hasn’t really changed

    6. Chief Bottle Washer*

      I think this is one of those things that is not standard. US wait staff are tipped as standard. Some folks tip hotel housekeeping, but many do not.

    7. Artemesia*

      It is part of the creeping ‘tip everyone’ rather than companies pay their employees properly. A tipping culture soon morphs into a grift culture where no one every gets anything done without greasing palms.

      It is backsliding in the US to introduce tipping for every public facing role rather than push for better compensation and benefits. I know restaurants traditionally pay staff this way — but making this how EVERYONE is paid is newish and IMHO a bad trend.

    8. LB*

      I didn’t learn it until my mid-to-late-20’s. It’s something you might learn through osmosis or might only encounter when reading an advice article about tipping, as opposed to tipping waitstaff which is (a terrible system but at least) universally known.

    9. Calamity Janine*

      well it’s less “by osmosis” and more “in the etiquette books”

      but tipping becomes less emphatic if someone is in a role where they are being paid a full wage. it may help that tipping house cleaning staff is relatively small – 2-5 dollars per service is the usual rule i follow.

      so i absolve you of guilt lol. think of how you leave hotel rooms. is it not a wreck? is the trash in the trash can, the towels not across the room, etc? do you think it’s clean enough to save a few bucks of bother and trouble to the cleaning service? then yeah you’re probably fine. a few dollars will be appreciated, but is not obligatory.

      amusingly i think this fading from memory is more to tip culture fading, instead of the opposite. crack open a novel of yore, and you’ll get the opinion that a nice hotel is like being mugged – first a bit for the bellhop, then the receptionist, then the bell boy showing you to your room, then the elevator attendant, then…

    10. PotsPansTeapots*

      I’m in my early 30s and my mom always left a tip for housekeeping the few times we stayed in a motel for vacation. We were very working class, which I think was why my mom always tipped.

      I don’t always have cash on me and have stiffed people because of it, but it’s pretty easy to leave a couple bucks otherwise.

  37. BuckeyeIT*

    re: Tipping- we had a policy around percentage amount limits, but our program didn’t have receipt as a required field or attachment if TIPS was the selected category. You might find this to be the case with your expense report software, too.

  38. SpringIsForPlanting!*

    LW3 Get Ouuuuut. The field is hot right now. We’d hire you. (I can’t say where because mumble mumble social media policies, but, just as an example.)

    This is BS and they either know it, in which case they’re purposefully exploiting you, or don’t know it, in which case they have no business being managers in this field.

  39. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    LW2: I get that this is a touchy subject, and increased fat shaming has meant that more people are unwilling to speak up for themselves. But as someone that handles these topics for organizations, it is so frustrating to put so much work into organizing events only to find out that someone hasn’t been able to fully participate because I didn’t know they needed an adjustment.

    A recent example that comes to mind is having to Uber a meal for an employee because I didn’t know about a dietary restriction. We have a form solution that we use to collect dietary profiles from our new hires, and it is linked in our staff portal so that they can update at anytime. During their training we explain why we’re collecting this information and encourage them to make edits anytime they try a new diet, have adjustments made by their doctor, or just generally need to start steering away from foods (I can’t eat like I could 20 years ago, even though I have no new allergies or intolerances).

    But this employee skipped past this (we’re obviously not going to force people to do this), and then was upset over several catering events that there was little available for them, until finally coming to a heat on the topic during a recent lunch and learn.

    Cutting down the length of this story…speak up! Assume they want to include you…and if you find out they’re going to be an egg flatus about it…all the better to know now.

    1. OP2*

      This is not equivalent to my situation. You wanted to accommodate dietary restrictions and specifically asked about them. Your employee didn’t answer and then got upset when their needs weren’t met. That is frustrating. The question my organization is asking – “which of these straight sizes do you wear” – is not open ended and does not allow any room to request what I need without going outside the normal process. And since they are not showing any sign of openness to the possibility that people over a certain size might be participating in the program, it does not necessarily feel safe to bring my fatness to their attention.

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        They really are the same, they’re asking you for information that you aren’t supplying them. I’m also not sure how they’re not showing any signs of openness if you haven’t addressed the issue with them.

        I assume you have been seen by them, so frankly, your size isn’t going to be a shock to them, so it isn’t like you’re going to be identifying something new to them.

        I’d also add that a quality of a good leader is that they’re willing to meet the needs of their team, themselves included. If that means going back to your leadership to address shirt sizes, so be it.

        1. Calamity Janine*

          let’s be fair, though, you asked for info in an open-ended manner. there was no ‘other’ with comment field on the form for sizes. it’s putting down a barrier to getting that appropriate data – so it really does become more of a slight to have to go out of your way to contact someone, hoping you’ll be accommodated, despite no flexibility being shown on the matter because the options for flexibility are not accepted input on the form to communicate that information, and that’s if you’re not already exhausted from being given this sort of run-around time and time again. because this isn’t the first time sizes have meant exclusion in your life, and been wielded purposefully to make sure you are othered.

          with all due gentleness, since you look like you have a selfie there as your avatar… maybe listen to the fatties on this one, yeah? just believe us when we say that this is tiresome bullshit. even if you haven’t experienced it yourself. i promise, you having one unreasonable employee doesn’t make systemic fatphobia exist and suck to endure.

          mind you, if you’re not seeing the difference in types of form input there, i would also suggest from a web dev angle that your company’s system really needs an “other: _____” option that can include text input that is not pre-written…

          1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

            As someone that grew up a fat kid…thank you for you considering me one of the slim jims. It took a lot of work.

            1. Calamity Janine*

              perhaps this means you’re ready to listen to us fat adults as well, given our additional experience on the matter? :)

            2. OP2*

              Sincere congratulations on your success, but please remember that having been a fat kid doesn’t exempt you from being fatphobic as an adult. (In fact, some of the most fatphobic people I’ve ever met were once fat themselves, lost the weight, and assume that everyone should be able to do the same and the fact that they haven’t is a moral failure.) You can still listen to fat adults about our experiences without dismissing them.

              And no, they have not seen me, so yes, my size might be a shock to them.

              They’re not showing openness because t-shirt size is a required field that does not include extended size options or any kind of “other” option. If the form in your situation had only allowed the employee to choose between a limited list of dietary restrictions into which theirs did not fit, it might be similar (minus the systemic oppression of gluten-free people or whatever). But it doesn’t sound like that was the case.

  40. H3llifIknow*

    If you’re filling out an expense report, everyone that I’ve seen has a “Meals & Incidental Expenses (which includes tipping)” or “cash expenditures” or “ancillary expenses” category. When I travel it is on “per diem” which includes “M&IE” so I don’t file for them separately. Does your expense reporting allow you to add a line item or add to the “itemization” of hotel expenses with “Tips”? I’d be willing to bet you are permitted to claim them, you just need to reach out to your Expense approver about how they want to see it. I have seen limits on it though, like “15 per day in cash tips” but ask. You won’t know until you ask YOUR company!

  41. Sharkzle*

    LW#3 – I had exactly the same offer and same BS scenario a few years ago…but I accepted the position without the pay increase. I paid dearly with my mental health and well being. Doing the extra work while also doing the other part of my job drove me to become very resentful of the company and my horrible manager who told me more than once to “just go outside and look at the trees for a little bit” when I went to her for help prioritizing my workload. I was working 60-70 hour weeks without extra pay or support from the team, and became, overworked, miserable and burnt out. So I quit after trying to make it work for 6 months. From my experience, I wouldn’t recommend taking the bait of a promotion without the compensation to match. Don’t let the company take advantage of you! Like Allison said, it’s a way better deal for the company, not you!

  42. OP2*

    OP2 here. It was a busy day and I’m late to the comments, but I want to thank Alison for answering my question and the commenters for their advice as well. A few clarifications: I do not believe anyone is acting maliciously here. I think it honestly didn’t occur to the program leaders that extended sizes might be needed. But the intent does not nullify the impact, and exclusionary sizing does send a message – that they are simply not thinking about people like me when envisioning a “leader.”

    To those saying “but they accepted you to the program, so they must think you look like a leader,” there was no interview in the application process. I was accepted on the strength of my application materials, but they do not know what I look like. I know it’s ridiculous and won’t really happen, but part of me is worried that once I bring my fatness to their attention, they will boot me from the program. It would be perfectly legal and in line with the university’s DEI policy (which only includes legally protected categories) for them to do so.

    Anyway, I am going to take Alison’s advice and email the director. Hopefully I’ll be able to update that I got a fitting shirt and they revised the form for the future.

    1. it's just me*

      You feel shamed, othered, and excluded, but they don’t intend that, and you don’t need to choose to feel that way. I wouldn’t bother.

      1. Calamity Janine*

        i’m so sorry that people have been rushing forward to show you how they don’t like fat people, lw2. it is indeed a thing you should bring up and i’m glad Alison was here to support you on that.

        intention isn’t magic, and “only you can make yourself feel bad (when other people treat you badly)” is cheap excuses for logic dealt by bullies. all of them suddenly change their tune when the insults are turned against them instead of being directed where they want. suddenly other people need to be mindful of feelings instead of just intent, and words mean things again! it’s a truly magical transformation.

        know, lw2, that the rest of us clock this for the cheap dodge that it is. go continue fighting the good fight out there. you are indeed worth bothering over. (the trolls even prove that point by rushing in with put-downs… they consider you worth bothering lol.)

      2. OP2*

        I hate this toxic positivity bullshit that says we choose how to feel. Feelings don’t work that way, and it’s incredibly invalidating. Also oppression is not about personal, individual feelings. It’s like the body positivity movement telling us everything will be fine if we love ourselves enough, ignoring all the external sources of discrimination that actually limit our lives. People exist in a society, not some impenetrable personal bubble. Also I’ve said many times I understand the exclusion is not intentional. I get that. It’s still happening.

      3. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        You feel shamed, othered, and excluded, but they don’t intend that, and you don’t need to choose to feel that way. I wouldn’t bother.

        Gross. Would you also say, “I didn’t MEAN to step on your foot and break it, so you don’t need to choose to feel that way” if someone gets upset at you for injuring them? You still screwed up and caused harm. It doesn’t matter if it was intentional. You. Still. Screwed. Up. And Caused Harm.

    2. Do you hear yourself?*

      Well said!

      Speaking up is hard and you should be proud you’re doing so. This is one anonymous internet commenter that is proud of you.

  43. Yikes on Bikes*

    LW 2 brings up a good point. DEI initiatives should focus on size inclusivity as well. We finally have branded clothing that goes up to my size but it’s so ill-fitting I won’t wear it.

  44. Calamity Janine*

    i have a bad solution for lw1.

    you’re going to need to email him that due to his frequent questions interrupting your work, the company has okayed his new personal secretary. her name is Alexa and she starts next Monday; she has excellent references from her time working at a major silicon valley tech corporation so you think she’s really going to be just what he needs.

    then you’re going to need to expense one wig, one set of large googly eyes, one “hi my name is” brooch, and one amazon echo tower…

  45. making my way through the world we live in*

    “I also feel shamed, othered, and excluded”

    It’s just a shirt. You’ll feel better if you let this one go, because it’s not a big deal.

      1. making my way through the world we live in*

        Katie, you and I are not going to see this the same way. I’m not a racist. Or a homophobe. Lumping me in with the Klan because five shirt sizes are not enough does not encourage anyone to take you seriously.

        We have jobs. Some things about them suck. Being able to distinguish important things (explicit racism) from trivial things (only five shirt sizes) is a useful skill to develop while we try to earn a living. Not all situations are equivalent.

        1. Calamity Janine*

          the point is that it’s a system of oppression. you don’t have to roll out of bed rubbing your hands together in evil glee in order to be part of the problem.

          this is indeed a thing, a real thing that is hurtful, and a thing that any diversity and inclusion groups should actively be embarrassed to have let slip. just because it’s not something that you care about doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. maybe listen to people who are affected by it. otherwise, yes, you are on the side of institutional bigotry here, and it’s not actually a big leap for people to think you would keep up that trend.

        2. PotsPansTeapots*

          She didn’t call you a racist. And no one is calling anyone at LW2’s work evil. That’s your projection.

    1. OP2*

      And for all the people upthread who are baffled that I don’t “just speak up,” this type of attitude is why. If I feel like I’m just going to be told it’s not a big deal and why am I starting all this drama when there are real problems in the world, of course I’m not going to speak up. Also it’s interesting that you adamantly deny you’re a racist or a homophobe, even though no one accused you of either, but don’t say anything about not being fatphobic. I guess because fatphobia is “trivial?”

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        A lot of people were super crappy to you on this post. I hope you know a lot of us are on your side and see how exhausting this is to deal with, and understand how crappy it is to live in the kind of world these comments are demonstrating. We deal with it too, it’s not easy, and we lend you our strength to deal with it again.

  46. My 2 cents*

    OP2: Wow, lots of comments on here and I’m a little late to the party, so you may not even see this. Two things, #1 I’m sorry their choices made you feel like you do. I’m hopeful this was not their intent as someone likely just picked a shirt they thought most people would like and didn’t consider the size. I am married to a man who is 6’9″ and 350ish lbs. He has faced the nothing in my size more times than we can count, but most of his employers have been able to come up with an alternative when he spoke up.

    #2 – I imagine it must be hard to have to be the one who is always deciding do I say something or not, but there are likely others out there in similar situations and when you speak up for yourself you are speaking up for them as well.

    Good luck and I hope this is an amazing program!

  47. Antony-mouse*

    I want to add something regarding all the t-shirts sizes discussion. I am a 20-something who has multiple jobs whilst also currently at university.
    I’ve been part of t-shirt orders in the past and we also left the size box as free to fill in whatever you want. However, I’ve only had 1 person order an XS and 1 an XL and everyone else has always ordered S-L. I didn’t know that sizes existed above 3XL and if I’d found a supplier that went up to 3XL I would have thought we’d found a very size inclusive supplier.
    Some of this is simply based on who I’m exposed to. My university definitely runs on the slim side and I’ve had conversations with others about what combination of a sports culture at the uni vs interviewers being fat phobic causes this.
    I will admit that before reading these posts, I would have naively assumed that any person over 3XL would have been too large to have enough mobility even have a job.
    Having read all this thread, I have learned a lot and if there are situations like this that I’m part of in future, I will definitely look for sizing providers that go beyond 3XL.

    1. Calamity Janine*

      holy cow, i’m stunned that you would admit to thinking “any person over 3XL would have been too large to have enough mobility even have a job”! sometimes… while the revelations are good… you should maybe not admit to a certain level of bigotry beforehand.

      please treat this as a wake-up call that you need to do some serious work beyond reading these comments. let your first stop be articles about wide variance in what sizes mean, and maybe looking at an article or three about olympic athlete size and body diversity. (i can guarantee that unless you’re exclusively shopping in the children’s section in adulthood, i can find you an outfit of adult clothing where YOU would be a 3x!)

      and honestly, please also stow your roll when it comes to your ableism. people using mobility aids are also perfectly able to study at college and work jobs. and here’s a handy hint: it usually isn’t fatness and laziness putting them in mobility aids. it’s far more usual that major health problems happened first – and guess what becomes harder when you can’t move easily? y’know, the thing based around movement we call “exercise”? yeahhh. and that’s before the many medication side effects…

      just, mainly, know you don’t always have to share with the class. just so you don’t exclaim aloud something like “oh wow, black people really ARE that color even AFTER a bath! i never knew that until now!”…

      1. Calamity Janine*

        (also, absolute mobility required for any job is a real ableist crock. you’re typing on a computer after reading an article, after all. i’m going to guess most of your college classes require about the same level of physical prowess. i shouldn’t need to bring out a parade of laudable cripples in order to prove a point, but – child, if Stephen Hawking was smart enough to outclass all of your professors while writing many books, the hell do you think MOBILITY has to do with AN ABSOLUTE INDICATOR OF ABILITY?

        at best, you could have remembered how stores like lane bryant exist and sell plus sized professional work wear beyond 3xl, and realized that “them fatties too fat to work lol” hypothesis ain’t panning out so good!

        and this… is AFTER you’ve had discussions about fatphobia being a thing to fight against?!

        if you aren’t observing your world to that basic degree, and thinking about what you are saying and doing… and are instead content to write off vast swaths of the population even though you know that’s a bad thing to do, but you’re doing it anyway, since ideas you affirm seem to have minimal impact on modulating your actions… i’m not sure how much good your collegiate education is going to do. please pass my sincere sympathies on to your professors.)

        1. Despachito*

          Wow, this was a lot of irony and snark directed to someone who genuinely admits they had a misconception but are starting to change their mind.

          1. Calamity Janine*

            social shame can serve a valuable purpose. and if someone *starting* to change their mind still happily trots out statements that are hurtful and bigoted… well, i exist to be more than inspiration for their enlightenment. i am not obligated to be a saintly punching bag, demurely absorbing every blow with nary a peep of complaint.

            the commenter also, quite frankly, busted out verbiage that suggests they think their learning to be over and done with after considering t-shirt sizes and this thread. there’s a lot of really rotten ableism still in there. a LOT of it. primed to set themselves up for nothing but failure as nonsense ableism meets reality and comes up offensively short. it would be cruel to let them continue fermenting that toxicity within them as if nothing is wrong.

            but you also are persisting in your own bigotry, so that tells me most of what i need to know to correctly value your input.

            1. Despachito*

              You are forgetting that you are not the owner of the ultimate truth and the only correct solution, nor am I, or anyone else on this forum.

              We are discussing a problem, and our opinions differ. This is normal, we do not have to agree in everything. A different point of view can be enriching – I have learned a lot of interesting things here – sometimes it can change our own opinion, but sometimes it doesn’t, and it is nothing bad in it.

              No one here, as far as I read the comments, said anything hateful or cruel. We sometimes can just agree to disagree without an urge to shut the other person up or “shame them socially”.

              1. Calamity Janine*

                and yet, bigotry and ugliness has happened in spades. you have contributed to it.

                my very exitance – as a fat disabled person who is not just a useless lump – being up for debate isn’t actually “agree to disagree” level. it’s “wow that is wrong” level.

                and yes, it is suitable to meet that ugliness with strong denunciation.

                honestly? if you’re promoting bigotry that actively harms me by categorizing me as subhuman… yes, i’m going to want that shut down. just like if you were standing on my toes hurting me, i want you to move.

                if you’re standing on my toes and i go, “ow! that hurts! why do you think turning my tootsies into red paste is acceptable?!”, i’m not going to be impressed by an answer of “well there’s no need to raise your voice, we can agree to disagree”. i want my toes not being stomped on. i’m not sure, quite frankly, why you’re expecting to have the right to mash my toes to bloody meat by standing upon them, much less the right to me cooing over you with kid gloves to coddle you and insulate you from the consequences of your actions after you smash my toes.

                this kind of bigotry that the commenter exhibited, and that YOU also exhibit, is also doing harm. you can face up to that, or you can go on pretending that the real issue is someone yelling when you step on their toes (raised tone! so unmannerly!)… and get treated accordingly.

        2. Despachito*

          Moreover… OP bases their thinking on an assumption that everybody

          – is aware what size 3XL looks like
          – will assume that it is very large
          – will assume it is TOO large for anyone in her position.

          I had to google what 3XL is, and found out it wildly varies – what is a 3XL for one brand, would be a L or a M for another. I do not know how knowledgeable people ordering T-shirts in OP’s company are in matter of sizing, but I’d think it most probable that they just included the range they thought would suit most people, and perhaps that was the range the manufacturer was offering. It seems to have been sufficient up to now, so I do not see why call them thoughtless or see in it any sign of hostility. And OP happens to be the first person who points out a different range is needed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but also nothing OP should take personally. There is a flaw in their system, you tell them, they should fix it.

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