let’s discuss egregiously clueless “celebrations” at work

Earlier this week we had a letter about a company that inexplicably decided its sole observance of International Women’s Day would be … to interview a man about sexism.

Let’s talk about other cases of egregiously oblivious “celebrations” — the office that sent out weight loss tips for Women’s History Month, the nurses told to wear pink and blue depending on their gender for Nurses’ Day, the CEO who dedicated International Women’s Day to his wife and mother of his children, who works “tirelessly making sure our needs are taken care of.”

Please share in the comments.

{ 883 comments… read them below }

  1. Ugh*

    We had a women’s month event at my last job called, “it’s women’s month… time to let the men speak”. It was exactly as tone-deaf as you think it would be. It featured men with their chairs arranged in a circle talking to each other about how to be good ally’s. Every other chair in the room encircled their circle in the most bizzaro meeting layout ever. By the end of the event all women had left the room out of anger and it was only men remaining.

    1. Lurker*

      Wow. Even the chair configuration was symbolic: an “inner circle” that’s men only and women on the outside/sidelines forced to listen and watch.

      (And what a way to start this thread.)

      1. Ugh*

        You know, that didn’t even register at the time but that’s an excellent symbol of the whole thing.

      2. Observer*

        Even the chair configuration was symbolic: an “inner circle” that’s men only and women on the outside/sidelines forced to listen and watch.

        Well, OF COURSE! Because the best way to be an ally is to talk *about* the people you (supposedly) want to ally with, and absolutely exclude them from the conversation *about them.*

        /SARC

        Although apparently the people who organized seem to have taken that line seriously.

        1. Jopestus*

          Well, lets think about the word “ally”. In military terms it is someone you cooperate with to advance your own ends, and possibly the allys ends a bit as well if the things line up, while claiming to be only thinking about the entity you are allied with. Alliances come and go.

          Maybe they are using that meaning.

          1. Andrew*

            I’ve always thought that about the term “ally,” that alliances are strategic and meant to be reciprocal, so if I say I’m an ally of a marginalized community, it implies that I expect them to fight my battles as I fight theirs. It’s not an ideal term for a person who does what’s right by the marginalized community because it’s right.

      3. Just why*

        I genuinely don’t understand how companies can’t see how these things look from an outside perspective!

    2. Meep*

      Ah yes… Let’s encourage men to think that they are victimized because women and minorities want equality.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          Incel mentality? Isn’t that something like the “Jumbo Shrimp/ Military Intelligence/” joke?

          We had a guy come in on Secretary’s Day, (this was years ago) moaning about how Secretaries Used To Try Harder to Be Pretty and NICE, but now they get mad when you just TRY to give them a little smooch.
          Their GirlBosses ENCOURAGE them to be rude to men because if you’re a successful “Shemale”, you’re 99% going to be lesbian or ugly.”

          Pardon me while I reinspect my breakfast….

          1. Robin Ellacott*

            Good god. That’s off the charts gross.

            My mom was an exec secretary in the 60s and 70s and the stories she tells make my hair stand on end.

          2. Dawn*

            I know you’re just quoting here to demonstrate exactly how horrible this was, and I sympathize, but can we try to avoid the word in quotations regardless please?

          3. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I had a boss once that had us admins take *him* out to lunch on Secretaries’ Day. I kid you not. Perhaps I shouldn’t have read how he went out of business in the paper with such satisfaction (I was long gone by then) but why, yes, I was that petty.

          4. I&I*

            The fact that no secretary ever kneed him in the knackers suggests they’ve all been trying really, REALLY hard.

          5. Vio*

            There are times when people make it so difficult to have faith in the human race. There are also people who should, to borrow a line from Pratchett, be disqualified from the human race.

      1. JSPA*

        Uh, that’s not what I got from, “how to be good ally’s.” (That’s how to be allies for women, not how to be allies for each other.)

        I mean, workplaces also have “how to be a good ally” if you see someone subject to racial or religious harassment–at work or out in the world–and that’s a good thing.

        What’s wrong is to have such events

        a) front and center, day 1 (literally “centering” allyship over community membership!)

        and equally bad or worse,

        b) keep people who are in the targetted group sitting, chilling their heels, not participating, wasting time, on the periphery.

        But the problem isn’t that men are talking to men, trying to figure out how to be better in supporting women, instead of making women do the heavy lifting of explaining what the men should be doing. This is appropriate ownership and division of labor; they just needed to do it on some random tuesday afternoon, in a side conference room, with other useful stuff available for the people (i.e. women) who are not concerned.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t trust any men in a “how to be a good ally” meeting, even somewhere other than front and centre, that didn’t at least have a willing volunteer woman to stand by and let them know explicitly when they slid off the rails. So many times, with any group, allies mean well but reinforce each other in doing things which are… not what the people supported want.

          1. rusty*

            Yyyyeah, I think I agree with this. I absolutely want to see men engaging and speaking up rather than sitting back and letting women do all the work – but a group of ‘allies’ alone in a room together could go remarkably off-piste in deciding what women need from them.

      2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        And let’s make sure that the men don’t actually have to LISTEN to any women…only to each other. Yep, that’ll really make for an inclusive workplace in which everyone – and the company! – will really benefit from everyone else’s ideas and talents. Riiiiighhhhht….

      3. Random Biter*

        More than once had to have the “Tt’s not pie. Just because someone else gets more doesn’t mean you get less.” discussion met by shocked Pikachu face.

          1. Oregonbird*

            Willow, we’ve talked about this. Leather makes you itch, and skin isn’t optionsl.

    3. Allornone*

      That is the most sexist event I’ve ever heard of. Talking about doing the exact OPPOSITE of what the spirit should intend.

      1. Ugh*

        It was really beyond words. It was organized by one of those guys who considers himself a feminist but totally does not get it at all.

        1. RetiredWorkPartyPlanner*

          I hope there was a picture of the event was a ring of men sitting in a room circulating…

          so awful

          1. Some words*

            I’d want the picture to include disgusted/disappointed women walking out the door. Actually I’d love that to be the foreground of the photo, with the circle of only men in the background.

            Beyond awful.

          2. AlwhoisThatAl*

            immature laugh for “a ring of men sitting in a room circulating”. How DO you do that?!

          3. Tesseract Mom*

            My favorite part is my own mental image … a very brightly lit ring of men and the women all looking sad or furious in the shadows behind them. It’s so menacing.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              “And that’s when Julie went for the axe. As you can see, your honor, it was completely justified.”

    4. TomatoSoup*

      Was there any follow up (or fall out) or did it just end and that was that? No acknowledgement of how horrible that was?

      1. Ugh*

        Not really that I know of. One of the guys that participated asked one of my work friends how she thought the event went and she told him pretty bluntly that all the women hated it and why. He was confused and didn’t really get it even after she explained. Not sure if he shared that feedback out with the group but it never happened again that I know of.

        1. Workerbee*

          Seriously confused, or “confused” as in “If I keep pretending not to get it, I won’t be expected to be any better than I am and do something about it”?

      1. Worldwalker*

        And check for my left eyeball while you’re there? They rolled so hard they fell out, and I could only find the right one.

        Who thought any of that was a good idea? Who thought it was in the same realm as a good idea?

        1. Ugh*

          The women who lead the women’s DEI group was very old school with outdated views of feminism and women in general. It caused a lot of friction with the younger women in the group. Other women’s month events were also sexist but not this blatant. Other DEI groups would have very thought-provoking events during their months (for example, the Black employee group had a lunch and learn about HBCUs and why it’s important for the company to recruit from them). The women’s group always had a “Women’s Expo” where you could get your nails painted and your eyebrows threaded.

          1. Boof*

            “ Black employee group had a lunch and learn about HBCUs and why it’s important for the company to recruit from them). The women’s group always had a “Women’s Expo” where you could get your nails painted and your eyebrows threaded”
            Oh my my, one of these is fantastic, one makes me want to rage-barf

      2. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        Also if someone could call up NASA to look for that table I just flipped into the upper ionosphere that’d be swell.

      3. RetailDragon*

        Oh my gosh, I never thought I’d find a Dragon Age reference on this site but here we are!
        (Been reading for two years and this is the first time I’ve given in to the urge to comment.)

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I have been saying “WTF!” way too much lately. This did not help my attempt to cut back on swearing out loud in the office.

    6. Shanderson*

      This would be a GREAT idea! … as an accompanying ally ship activity aimed at men that didn’t expect women to sit by and listen and who had focused activities or benefits of their own. Our university does this this for the women’s TBTN March (which ALWAYS gets it share of “but it’s not faaaiiir we can’t march, we want to suuuupppooorrt you!” – cool go support us by this allyship and privilege awareness workshop made with you in mind and informed by us! “No, not that way.”)

    7. Calamity Janine*

      honestly there’s the rest of the comments but this is just. just at such a level. where i think the rest of the thread can pack up and go home. one and done, y’all,

    8. Phil*

      To me, this seems similar to the Women’s Day interview story, in that it’s close to a good idea, but misses in a way that makes it worse than useless.

      If it was arranged in such a way that men and women were able to speak with each other as equals, this could have been informative and helpful for everyone. Women would be able to speak on the problems they’re having which men might not even know about. Men would be able to speak to what they might be able to do about those problems, and whether the proposed solutions are workable. And everyone could come away with a sense of “we’re working together to solve problems and make our workplace better”.

      Instead, it sounds like this event was arranged as a deliberate slight to all the women in attendance, furthering the divide between men and women in this workplace, or possibly even creating one where it did not exist before.

    9. White Dragon*

      Gaaack.

      I saw a local government’s social media post on International Women’s Day. It was a “poignant” (their word, not mine!) story from their newest (male) senior director telling how he had been humbled to learn only recently that gender pay disparity was real.

      He of course was a great respecter of women as colleagues and peers, and he wanted his daughter to not be held back. She, after all, knew how important women could be because if it wasn’t for women being moms, none of those guys would be here.

      I…just…couldn’t…

    10. Anne Elliot*

      When I was taking community college classes more than a decade ago, we had an hour to discuss diversity during February. February because, in the U.S., it’s Black History Month! They had dedicated a grand total of one whole hour for the discussion. Said discussion was led by a middle-aged white woman (one of our instructors) who, referring to an outline, encouraged us to enjoy black-centered art including such books as “The Help” and movies such as “Driving Miss Daisy.” This was before a diverse audience of students in the American South. I was deeply embarrassed for our instructor, although she didn’t seem to see any reason for embarrassment herself. I was and am hard-put to think of how the college could have handled it worse than it did, with the mix of perfunctory performance, virtue-signaling, and evidence ignorance. They would have been better served by not having any event at all: “Better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

      1. DramaQ*

        Could you go find my eyebrows I think they may be floating around Mars that’s how high they rose. I also need a crowbar to pry my eyeball open after experiencing that level of cringe.

      2. BeachMum*

        My business school (almost 30 years ago) scheduled mandatory diversity training. The first weekend fell during Rosh Hashanah and the second during Yom Kippur. I suggested to the dean (who was Jewish but non-practicing) that perhaps a different date could be chosen because, even though there were only four Jews in the class of 280, we wouldn’t be able to fully participate in either weekend. He told me it was mandatory and to get over it.

        I went to part of one weekend and skipped the time when I needed to be in synagogue. I also sent an email to protest. The students and faculty were mostly white males. Shocker.

  2. sam*

    At my old law firm (now defunct) the women’s resource group asked people for advice they could share in a book. When we got the “book” it was covered in pink bows and flowers. On the “could you get more gender essentialist than this crap” front, one of my colleagues said it looked like the pamphlet her doctor gave her when she got her first period.

          1. feline outerwear catalog*

            In the audiobook for Bossypants, Tina Fey reads an excerpt from one of those pamphlets and it’s amazing.

      1. C.J.*

        I joined one of the DEI groups. Each group was assigned a company executive — all were white men. It was made clear that the executives were figureheads and were not going to do any work for our benefit. Ok, I guess. An external consultant was hired to help each group get established (all the focus was on increasing membership. That was data that the consultant could use for his benefit). My group’s chairperson was lauded for her bootstrap story with the moral being “work hard”; never once acknowledging the barriers our members encounter on a daily basis. We brainstormed ideas to generate interest and the most popular one was a cookbook—not quite the professional boost I was looking for. I quickly realized this was becoming an echo chamber–preaching to the choir type of thing. I tried redirecting the focus to professional visibility/opportunities, but my ideas were seemingly not as fun as a virtual wine tasting and bingo. So frustrating.

        1. CanadaGal*

          In my previous job the chair of the DEI group was a white male….there were women, there were women of color in the DEI group. But he chaired it because he could relate because his wife was black.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      We had something like that last year–during women’s history month, the “women’s history month” banner on our intranet site was pink with flowers.

        1. Worldwalker*

          And I utterly loathe pink.

          What a surprise, marketers! Women like different colors JUST LIKE MEN DO!

          1. I have RBF*

            I refuse to buy anything pink wrapped, unless it’s literally feminine supplies, and even then I roll my eyes at it.

            Marketers, if you want women to buy your products, just make good products that anyone would buy, and stop pinkwashing stuff and then charging more because it’s “for women” (eg disposable razors.)

          2. Beka Rosselin-Metadi*

            This reminds me of when I went to pick my black phone and wanted a case for it. The guy at Verizon was helping me and said “how about a pink case?”. I looked at him (wearing my black suit/black coast/black boots) and said “look at me. Do I look like I want a pink case?”. I’ll give him credit-he said “so, a black one then?”. I said yes, please and got the one I wanted.
            I hate pink.

            1. CatWoman*

              I was shopping for sneakers once, and EVERY SINGLE PAIR for women was either pink or had pink accents. Male salesperson asked if I needed help. When I asked if they had any for women that were not pink, he gave me a look as if to say, “why would you even ask such a thing?” I wound up buying a pair from the boy’s section.

              1. Not Australian*

                I always have to buy men’s pyjamas, so that they’re not covered in stupid bows, lace, winsome kittens etc. and are actually (a) warm and (b) big enough…

                1. shedubba*

                  I buy my winter coats from the men’s section. I’m a short, fat woman. If I buy a coat from the women’s section, I have to go into the plus sized section, pay $20 more, have a vastly reduced selection to choose from, and the arms are never big enough around. If I buy a men’s XL, it costs the same as the other straight sizes and the arms fit great. The selection is still a bit reduced, and it’s a little roomy in the midsection, but I’m buying a winter coat, not an evening gown, it doesn’t have to be super flattering.

              2. MEH Squared*

                This happened to me a long time ago. Every pair of women’s sneakers in the mall had pink on them or teal or worse–both. I could not find a single pair of all-black sneakers. This is when I started shopping online for shoes and I have not looked back since. (I still get all my shoes online, and they are all still all-black.)

                1. Crooked Bird*

                  I live and work on a farm and for the snow/mud season I wear tall hunting boots. Men’s, because almost all the hunting boots in the store are men’s, and because I have big feet. Last time I shopped for them I actually found a women’s pair! They were the standard woods-camo on the outside and HOT PINK ON THE INSIDE.

                  I actually considered buying them. I mean it *was* on the inside. But they weren’t big enough, naturally.

            2. Modesty Poncho*

              LOL when I bought my Nintendo 3DS, the guy asked me if I wanted a pink one. I felt weird about it because I DID…but I didn’t want him to assume that! I still bought the one I wanted.

              1. BeachMum*

                I recently bought a pink drill from Target, but only because (a) I like pink and (more importantly) (b) it was less expensive than the black one.

            3. Dawn*

              I had the inverse of this; I was working in retail electronics and a middle-aged woman came in, looking for a Fitbit Versa for her husband.

              “Ok, that comes in black, and pink. Which colour would he like?”

              laughs “Well, he’s a man.”

              nods gravely “Thank you for letting me know. What colour would he like? It comes in black, or pink.”

              Neither of us was leaving that conversation until she told me what colour she wanted me to get out of the case.

              1. tusemmeu*

                Reminds me of when I worked at a pet store. People would refuse to buy pink toys or grooming supplies for their male dog. Especially ridiculous when one of the toys was a pig that came in two colors, one being pink because that’s a standard color for pigs. Actual quote: “Well he’s a boy so I guess I have to get the yellow one.”

                1. Don't be mean to Pixley*

                  My cat has a pink unicorn food bowl that says “eat glitter for breakfast” on it. The woman in the shop was horrified when I mentioned my cat is called Jeff… Because of course his masculinity would be called into question.

                2. Siege*

                  I bought my cat a pink carrier that was half price on clearance while the identical gray and black ones were not. Still waiting to report back to my FB friends that the carrier has made my cat gay, and it’s been like four years. I’m starting to think it’s just possible pink is not a color that replaces all the testosterone* in a body with estrogen.

                  * I neither know nor care whether cats have testosterone or estrogen.

                3. Zephy*

                  People get so weird about pink dog supplies! Ma’am, the dog can’t even tell what color his leash is, and I promise you he wouldn’t care even if he could.

              2. Chirpy*

                I have this conversation with customers all the time with dog collars. “Well, my dog is a boy”.

                “OK. What color do you want?”

                Dogs don’t know what human gendered color associations are, and can’t actually see colors the same way we do anyway. Who cares if you put a pink collar on a boy dog??

            4. Saturn*

              My mom was shopping for exercise equipment, and had done her research on what she wanted, she just needed help getting it. The young sales guy kept trying to steer her towards a pink version because “it’s for breast cancer awareness!”

              My mom finally chewed him out by telling him, “my best friend DIED of breast cancer. Why would I want to be reminded of that every day??” Apparently he was pretty speechless.

        2. Kacihall*

          my husband and my young son both like pink more than I do. I have detested pink (and lace) ever since I was old enough to object to the matching Easter dresses my sister and I got to wear every year. (once I figured out that objecting to the dress did not mean I didn’t have to wear it, I managed to figure out how to fall in dirty or mud leaving church meaning I needed to change before the family celebration.)

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Although I choke-giggled at the AK-47 which had been Hello Kitty’d when I found the picture of it online.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            Fun fact: pink used to be considered more of a boy’s color until roundabout 100 years ago (because pink = light red and red = agression = male). Blue was more the women’s color (because it’s the virgin Mary’s color). It’s not entirely clear why this has reversed. It’s gotten stronger over the last decades, too.

            (All of this for western cultures, obviously. Other cultures have their own color associations.)

        3. LifeBeforeCorona*

          My grandson wore a lot of pink in his first year because he had an older sister, his mom said the clothes fit and still has lots of wear left.

      1. Lurker*

        Pink as a stereotypical feminine color is a 20th century construct. The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York had an exhibition a few years ago on the history of the color. (Which you can find by searching “FIT Pink exhibition.”)

        In the 18th century pink was a new and highly fashionable unisex color. Even in the late 1920s, opinion was still divided as to whether pink was for boys or girls. Evidently the final decision was likely influenced by some paintings purchased by a millionaire.

        I wish all these people who assume women like pink, or that all things for girls should be pink would do a little historical research.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I definitely agree. Not all boys like camo and dark colors and not all girls like pink. I’m very happy that I was born in the early 1970s, when kids typically wore brown, orange, green, and denim blue, at least in Finland. Clothes for kids up to about 6 years old were unisex (except for dresses), and nobody thought anything of it when a garment was passed from an older brother to a younger sister, or vice versa.

          I firmly believe that gendered clothing for kids is a marketing ploy to make parents with more than one kid buy new stuff if they have kids of different sexes.

  3. YeppyYeps*

    My company recently made everyone dress in purple for IWD to celebrate the women in the work place. Except, only the woman were told to wear purple, and they took a picture of just us women to put in their media materials. We work in a heavy male industry known for its extreme sexism. It all felt very … tokenizing

    1. TomatoSoup*

      I would have been out sick that day. I don’t own purple clothes, I loathe clothes shopping, and that just…no.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Purple is my favorite color, and I own plenty of purple clothes, but I still would have felt icky about the company doing this.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          Yep, I love me some purple — some of my hair is purple — but I would have worn my super-cute fire-engine red hanky-hem dress, I would.

          I’m quite a large woman. It would have been unmissable.

    2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      And let’s make sure that the men don’t actually have to LISTEN to any women…only to each other. Yep, that’ll really make for an inclusive workplace in which everyone – and the company! – will really benefit from everyone else’s ideas and talents. Riiiiighhhhht….

    3. Aphra*

      I’d happily have worn something purple (much as I dislike the colour). I’m in the UK and would have chosen a white outfit with a purple, white and green sash, pinned with my grandmother’s Women’s Social and Political Union badge. The Suffragettes knew a little something about dressing to signify something important. See the photos of the funeral of Emily Wilding Davison when the members of the WSPU wore their colours in support of their fallen sister.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Unfortunately, particularly in the UK, the transphobia (“Gender Critical”) movement have co-opted those colours (and the work of the Suffragette movement) very heavily. So you may find yourself giving off unintended signals through that colourscheme.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Oh no! I didn’t know that (Brit, have been in Australia for 10 years) and it makes my heart hurt.

        2. happybat*

          I never know whether to give in to that kind of cooption or push back – pairing suffragette colours with LGBTQIA+ badges etc. I hated when they took over dinosaurs, but saw people push back effectively. I don’t know. I’d hate to make anyone feel worried but giving GCs womens’ suffrage as ‘their’ thing feels wrong.

          1. Good Enough For Government Work*

            Yeah, I completely get what you mean. One of my favourite jewellery sets was made in honour of the Suffragettes, and I’ve had to retire it — I hope only temporarily.

            I hate giving ground on this. Instinctively, it feels like we should fight to take these symbols back. However, I’m a cis bi woman and I work and socialise very heavily with queer people, who don’t always all know me that well, so I took the decision that it was more important not to make other people feel unsafe around me than it was to try to ‘reclaim’ the symbolism.

    4. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      One of my pet peeves is companies that blithely insist on their hapless employees wearing / displaying something that (A) they may not own, (B) they don’t own because they don’t like or want it and (C) they’ll now feel pressured to buy even though they can’t afford it. Those companies invariably insist that they’re doing this to promote teamwork and to boost employee morale.

      Spoiler alert, oblivious companies: this promotes and boosts nothing but employee resentment and exasperation at your clueless insistence that they waste their. own. money. (which they need for such incidentals as food, rent, utilities and medical) to gratify your thoughtless whims. STOP DOING THIS! JUST STOP IT!

    5. Problem!*

      Reminds me of the time HR sent an invite out for an all company picture for new marketing materials at my former male-dominated job. Everyone who was a woman or a minority got their invite marked “mandatory”. Everyone else was marked “optional”.

      Also in the board room of that same company is a big collage of candid photos of employees at work which featured every woman they could find— and every single one of them has since quit due to harassment and/or discrimination reasons.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      Yep. Thankfully I’ve never worked at a company that’s done anything like this. But since Big Business is still dominated by middle-aged, straight, cis, WASP men there’s going to be an overload of both entertainment and cringe. Mostly cringe.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      Yup. My company is given to sending generic emails for things like history days/months or employee appreciation and the only celebration they have is for pi(e) day. Where they serve free pie.

    3. Maureen*

      Same here, and to remind myself how deeply appreciative I am of my male relatives and co-workers, NONE of who would stand for any of this, let alone participate.

    4. EPLawyer*

      I was gonna have the popcorn ready but after reading this far, I think the PeptoBismol and several aspirin might be more appropriate.

      1. Yep*

        Yeah, aspirin for sure. It’s mind boggling how many dysfunctional companies/teams/managers there are. I’m privileged to have only worked for one year in a dysfunctional environment. I was too young to know better.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Same – my CEO declared that, as a man, he was distinctly unqualified to be in charge of IWD and instead highlighted the accomplishments and contributions of the many female members of the senior leadership teams.

  4. InsufficentlySubordinate*

    Small company, Valentine’s Day. IT men bought Lotion sets and fake roses to give to all the IT women and came into the department in a kinda parade to present to each woman.

    1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

      That’s really creepy and demeaning, especially since only the females received the “gifts.”

        1. anne of mean gables*

          At the grocery store recently, a organic-ish body care company (can’t remember which one, REALLY wish I’d taken a picture) had beer-scented hand soap, in very “manly” black and blue packaging. I think that would be perfect.

          1. Willow Pillow*

            I’m not sure whether this is just a Canadian product… but it’s a heatable/freezable fabric bag filled with oats for injuries, called Magic Bag. It’s normally blue with little red maple leaves. I was at Canadian Tire recently and there was a special edition Magic Bag in an autumn camo print… The “normal” bags all have a slim white woman in a camisole on the box, while these other ones had a burly-looking white man with a full beard. Why?!

            (I’ll put a couple of links in a separate comment)

            1. SeluciaMD*

              Well, I mean, it’s OBVIOUSLY because the “normal” ones are for yucky girl period cramps. Real men can’t use the same magic bags! They might get cooties! (Also, the “limited edition” magic bags also appeared to be geared towards more manly shoulder pain. You know, probably from deadlifting trees in the forest or other manly pursuits.)

              If I rolled my eyes any harder, I’d sprain them.

        2. Please comply*

          You joke, but I would absolutely love it if someone did that to me!

          Ignore the 8 cacti/succulents already in my office

          1. Firestar*

            yes but the cacti are placed in places that hinder them, and are arranged in a way that makes them hard to remove

      1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

        Same place that the boss would walk past 5 cubes of male developers and come to mine so I could be voluntold to help with organizing lunch.

        1. Meep*

          Ugh. I have stopped scheduling meetings unless it is something I initiate for this reason. It took the menfolk a while to get that their meetings weren’t going to get on the calendar themselves, but now I don’t even have to “suggest” they find a time that works for everyone. They just do.

    2. rayray*

      It’s things like this where you can see how they may have meant well, but it would be so much better if they actually asked what women might want. If I were asked what I wanted, I’d rather have pizza for lunch or something.

      1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

        True. It would also have been great to skip Valentine’s Day celebration with co-workers at all.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I don’t understand this. It’s not a thing where I’m from. Valentine’s Day is for people in relationships (I mean, originally, it was meant to be about secretly declaring your love for someone, but we’ve moved way past that now and it’s absolutely just for people in relationships), it has nothing to do with work or schools or anything like that. I’d be deeply, deeply creeped out if anyone at work started giving out Valentine’s gifts, even more so if it was just to the women. Yuck.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Years ago there was one guy here who sent out a Valentine’s day greeting to all the women he reported to, and someone reported him to HR over it.

            Can anyone remember, was it Valentine’s day or Mother’s day, but there was a letter here ages ago where some dude was giving flowers to all the women and tried claiming it was a tradition in the UK, to which every single British commenter here replied “No, it’s not!”

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes that one made me laugh, it was Valentine’s day. All the UK commentariat were united in their view that this was in no way a UK custom and the chap was being a complete twit.

              I think most people thought it was due to someone thinking his British accent made him irresistible to everyone in the US and people would think it charming.

              To recap in the UK Valentines Day is when you celebrate with the person you love. Apart from occasionally someone bringing in cheap chocolate the next day workplaces do not do anything for Valentine’s Day on a corporate level because that would be considered creepy and weird.

          2. Dawn*

            Sometimes – not all the time – but sometimes in the US and Canada this is just someone who hasn’t really grasped workplace norms very well yet, because at least as kids in school there are “kid’s Valentines” you can buy for your kids to hand out to all the other kids every year and (at least in my region when I was growing up) most people do and did.

            See: The Simpsons, “I choo-choo-choose you”

        2. rayray*

          I’m with you, but if they’re thinking of doing anything, it wouldn’t hurt to put in more effort to see if the recipients actually want something. I’d gladly take a free lunch, but gifted lotions usually end up collecting dust because I hate the scents.

          I haven’t had this at the workplace fortunately. The church I attend sometimes will do some kind of Mothers Day thing though it’s something they’re mostly doing away with in recent years. It was the same kind of thing, men parading in to gift us candy bars or flowers. It did put us in that weird position because you know it was meant well but they missed the mark completely. To the men, if ever you are part of a conversation about doing something for the women, maybe include a woman in your conversation. She’ll know more what women actually want- it may actually be nothing at all honestly.

          1. londonedit*

            Here in the UK Mother’s Day is this Sunday, because it’s tied in with Easter and the Sundays in Lent. So originally it wasn’t to do with mothers per se, it was the fact that domestic staff working away at the big houses would return to the ‘mother’ church in their village for a Lent service. Of course it was also a rare chance to see family, so as we became less Christian as a society it became more and more about actual mothers rather than church. But yeah, the actual Church of England is one of the rare places where a Mothering Sunday church service is actually perfectly reasonable. And even so I’d be surprised if it involved men parading in giving flowers to the women.

            1. There's a G&T with my name on it*

              My family’s church used to get the children to hand out bunches of daffs to the women in the congregation – no men involved.

          2. bamcheeks*

            It was the same kind of thing, men parading in to gift us candy bars or flower

            what! This is very odd to me. In the C of E it’s nearly always “children come up to the front and get a small bunch of daffodils [or something else if Easter is late] to give your mum”.

            1. Some words*

              Many people in the U.S. don’t appear to realize that just because marketing firms push an idea or practice, that doesn’t mean we should mindlessly adopt it. And yet…

              1. Rex Libris*

                But… but mindlessly adopting each new fad is the foundation of our culture. Or something.

                1. Oregonbird*

                  Which we like when we follow the media siren (woke/#metoo) and mock when it isn’t us media is gurning.

            2. UKDancer*

              Yes when I was a child and had to go to church, mother’s day involved children going up and getting a daffodil to give to their parent / guardian of choice. Men weren’t involved in any way, it was a child to parent gift.

          3. Siege*

            I can’t count the number of retail businesses I’ve been at on Mother’s Day (US) that treat all women as mothers and give me a flower or a widget. I don’t feel like fighting the battle though; I’m well aware there are Stories behind that. But at a church it feels like you should be better known (and involved in the decision-making!) than you are at the grocery store you never go to regularly.

            1. Anon For This #554*

              I had one come over and talk to me, clearly come to a decision that I wasn’t a mother (I’d just become a stepmother), and walk away without giving me a flower. That was somehow worse.

              1. Kacihall*

                I had my niece on mother’s day (I forget why) but we went shopping and every single employee I spoke to wished me happy mothers day, to which niece replied hotly, ‘She’s not my mom!’
                Until the cashier did. and then she told me that I’d be a good third mom if she could have three. high praise from 7 year old.

            2. marvin*

              I went to a restaurant once where they awkwardly asked everyone who looked like a woman if they were a mother and gave them a little box of chocolates if the answer was yes. I was annoyed at being misgendered but also felt bad for the staff who clearly didn’t want to do it.

        3. Meep*

          The only appropriate way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, imho, is to celebrate it on February 15th, when the boxes of dark chocolate are 50% off. Then you just buy a few and dump them in the kitchen area for all to enjoy.

          Then again, my office is big on dark chocolate. Like it is a pseudo-requirement to work here.

              1. Dawn*

                I’ve always said “cheap chocolate day” but I’m using this from here on out, thank you!

              2. St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research*

                This is genius and will be added to my calendar immediately.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            If it’s employer-paid, I am also willing to accept full price chocolate in the breakroom on actual Valentines Day, or even cookies, cupcakes, or donuts. (I am fine with an office culture that regularly invents vaguely plausible reasons to have free donuts in the breakroom, and Valentines Day makes a perfectly good reason for that week or month’s donut run.)

            I think the key thing to keep a work Valentines thing non-weird is for it for be something that is not directed at a specific person or subset, and to be extremely low-key and ignorable.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I would’ve said I don’t want a “valentine” of any kind if it was from all the men to all the women, because that’s so, so weird. If everyone participates the same regardless of gender, then sure, it’s an excuse for a party or whatever. If only the women are celebrated, it feels like either a weird statement that only women care about romance, or an even weirder statement that the men in the office are collectively romancing the women.

      3. TomatoSoup*

        A colleague bought me a burrito bowl (the meal, not a bowl for burritos) as a going away gift and it was the most on point gift I’ve gotten in a professional setting.

        1. Nina*

          When I left my last workplace, my favorite coworker got me:
          – a vacuum pump he had pulled out of the skip and refurbished
          – a mini diorama involving a Lego figure of me (‘you can tell it’s Nina because she’s giving a death stare at your nonsense!’) doing a particular high-stakes and critical task.

          It was the greatest.

        1. rayray*

          Every time I get these lotions, they mostly end up sitting somewhere unused until I eventually throw it away. If you’re going to gift me lotion, why can’t it be Gold Bond or something I’ll actually use? No fragrance and it works really well.

          1. germank106*

            I take all the lotions, soaps, etc. and donate them to my local food pantry. They really appreciate it and someone will get good use out of it.

        2. Random Biter*

          Full disclosure…. I make gift baskets for a couple of local rescues to use as auction or raffle items. I have made some *mighty* fine baskets regifting those Bath and Body Migraine Makers. People are always impressed that I spent so much money at B&B to create these baskets. Shhhh….

      1. French Fry*

        My mind went in a million directions with the word “lotion” and none of those associations are appropriate for workplace relationships. Add in the sub-text of Valentine’s Days usually being something shared between partners, and I’m feeling all sorts of uncomfortable for the women in this IT unit. As if it isn’t hard enough to be a woman in IT…

          1. Jam on Toast*

            “As a manager, Bill gives clear directions. He is very focused on both short-term and long-term deliverables. His onboarding of new team members however is somewhat abrupt.”

        1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

          Oh, it was a blast of a place. I generally refer to it as the “yelling place” rather than by name.

      2. HerstoryFan*

        We had a self-proclaimed feminist (male) who was caught repeatedly on security cameras ripping down Women’s History Month posters because they took away from the permanent Albert Einstein framed picture in the same hallway. When called on it, he said “But I’m a feminist! I grew up in Berkeley.”

    3. MaryLoo*

      Unnamed software company holiday party (spouses/significant others invited). The gifts for attendees: a fancy Swiss Army knife type thing with all sorts of cool features. That was for the men.
      The women got a scented candle in a velvet drawstring bag.

      There was a rush at the end where lots of the women ran up to the box of extras and swapped their stinky candle for a jackknife.

      The CEO, an old-school marketing guy, absolutely did not understand it.

      1. Badactorsofscreen*

        I had a mammogram scheduled for Valentine’s Day, and the imaging center was giving all patients 1.a pink Swiss Army knife and 2. A dark chocolate business card.

        They let me have 2 knives

    4. Dina*

      Now I’m picturing my wife’s company doing this… my wife, the gender non-conforming lesbian…

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        One St Nicolas day, all the men got Montblanc leather wallets and all the women received Hermes silk scarves. I saw quite a few swaps!

  5. JumpSouth*

    A few years ago my company did a blog post for IWD with statements from men – but I think it was a good thing! It focused on why gender equality was important to them and what actions they took to support it. It’s important to engage men in equality work. 96% of organizations make progress on DEI when men are involved, compared to only 30% when men are not involved.

    1. SunWorshipper*

      As long as that was not the only thing they did, I think it is pretty helpful. But if the only action is to hand men the mike, then I would remain grumpy about it.

    2. SunWorshipper*

      As long as that was not the only thing they did, I think it is pretty helpful. But if the only action is to hand men the mike, then I would remain grumpy about it.

    3. Diasporacrew*

      I agree that it’s important to involve them… but involving them shouldn’t mean prioritizing or centering them.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I agree it’s important to engage men in gender equality work. It becomes tone-deaf when men are centered on International Women’s Day. There was some discussion in the comments of the first letter Alison linked (where the company interviewed a man for IWD) that it would have been a whole lot better to include that man’s perspective along with the perspectives of women who work at the company.

      Did your company’s blog post include statements from both men and women? If so, I agree that’s a good thing. If it was only statements from men? Ugh.

    5. JumpSouth*

      The blog was only statements from men but I think there were other activities that year (it was a while ago and I can’t remember exactly). Our place generally does a few things for awareness/celebration days and hasn’t repeated that blog post idea.
      I thought it was good to get men to do the work of writing the blog piece rather than asking women to find time to write something on top of their regular responsibilities.

    6. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      Do you happen to have a citation for those statistics? I might be able to use that!

    7. Onward*

      “96% of organizations make progress on DEI when men are involved, compared to only 30% when men are not involved.”

      Taking this as the truth — WHY is that the case? Is it because, oh I don’t know, men are the ones with the power to actually make changes within the organization? People are more likely to listen to men’s voices instead of women’s?

      What is the REASON for that being the case? Surely you’re not assuming it’s just “because men get things done” whereas women do not?

      1. A person*

        I don’t think they meant that men get things done and women don’t.

        I think it’s more that, if the men aren’t involved it’s much more of an uphill battle because you’re met with resistance.

      2. RagingADHD*

        The OP doesn’t appear to be assuming anything about reasons at all, merely stating numbers. I think your suggested reasons are probably contributing factors, as well as the more general reason that if men are the ones discriminating, then getting them to see (and stop) discrimination is bound to move the needle.

        The analogy would be that if you’re teaching basic literacy, you’ll see more impact from teaching people who are illiterate, and less impact by teaching people who are already avid readers.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I assumed JumpSouth meant that men are generally the ones causing the issues (not that women can’t contribute to the patriarchy or discriminate against other women) and that getting them involved is more likely to encourage them to change any sexist views they might have.

        However, yeah, I do suspect this would only work when women are centred. A group of men sitting around talking about sexism is unlikely to teach them much. Men sitting and listening to a woman’s panel discussing the issues is more likely to be helpful or something like men and women both being interviewed on how they have been treated for their gender or how often they have had gender related assumptions made about them or feared they would have. Eg, did they worry when applying for promotions or jobs in their late 20s to mid-30s that they might be passed over due to a fear they were at an age where they were likely to have children soon?

        But I can also see that if women’s issues are simply discussed by a group of women sitting in a room, it’s less likely to lead to change because many of those who need to make changes won’t hear about them.

      4. GlowCloud*

        Because sexism doesn’t happen in a vacuum that only affects women – it’s baked into the fabric of our society and is often expressed as a direct function of men’s assumptions and behaviours towards women, and femininity.

        You need men to be able to see the problem and understand it so that they can make changes to reduce gender inequality. Just having women talk amongst themselves about the problems they face doesn’t accomplish all that much, because it just silos the issue to the people who are already the most acutely aware of their own marginalisation, compounding the problem further.

        That’s my best guess, anyway.

  6. NeutralJanet*

    My last company celebrated International Women’s Day by inviting all the women to gather at noon to take a picture. The celebration for AAPI month was showing a slideshow of 15 pictures of Asian-American celebrities on screens around the office (six were of Lucy Liu). At least they had the spirit?

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I wouldn’t mind looking at photos of Lucy Liu all day every day, but wow. That’s terrible.

    2. Bad diversity*

      At the same library I mentioned in my post below, the website had a featured list of movies for AAPI month, and it was mostly movies starring The Rock.

    3. Millenniiaa*

      SIX WERE OF LUCY LIU!!!! Funniest parenthetical I’ve read. This is hilariously bad.

  7. It's Marie - Not Maria*

    I will start this by saying I am Jewish.
    For Paczki Day (For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a Polish Based Celebration which centers around the beginning of the Christian Period of Lent, and features a gooey donut type pastry). Paczkis are traditionally made with Lard and have a certain amount of Christian Religious Symbolism. Who does the CEO ask to go buy Paczki for the staff? The only Jewish Staff Member (ME), who cannot eat Paczki and who doesn’t celebrate Lent.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      And he probably thought he was doing you a favor by “including” you.

      Or he assumed because it wasn’t your holiday you wouldn’t mind playing gofer for the rest of them.

    2. Delta Delta*

      Midwestern gal of hardy Polish stock here – I have eaten more than my share of Paczkis (my personal record is 6 in one day, back when my metabolism permitted). They’re not all made with lard. It’s too bad you were sent in search of lard-based ones because they are deeply delicious and in many instances, Kosher.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I think you are missing the part about how they are used to celebrate the beginning of Lent, which is a Christian, not Jewish, holiday. Even without lard, this request is fairly ridiculous.

        1. new year, new name*

          It’s still pretty tone-deaf BUT, just speaking for myself as a Jew from central Pennsylvania, I would gladly celebrate someone else’s holiday if it meant I could have some fasnachts. (That’s the Pennsylvania Dutch version of a paczki. The best place for them in my hometown does them without lard.)

          Personally I think that bringing in food to share from your own tradition (within reason) is ok in the workplace – it’s asking someone else to go get that food that’s the problem here.

          1. Brookline*

            Me too! Jews who miss out on donuts…just don’t know about that. I’m always up to celebrate everyone’s holidays with food.

          2. YeppyYeps*

            Hi fellow central PA person! And definitely no, its never ok to ask people to bring in religious celebration pastries. If its your holiday, most of the time I say bring them in.

        2. Devo Forevo*

          If there’s any Christian symbolism in a jelly doughnut beyond the date it’s made, I’ve yet to find it.

            1. Devo Forevo*

              Actually, one of the several points was that they have a certain religious symbolism in and of themselves, which isn’t true. That’s more like a hot cross bun on Easter.

              1. YeppyYeps*

                It is part of a specific religious celebration called Fat Tuesday. Its more equivalent to Matzah than to hot cross buns.

          1. Nina*

            I gather it’s a Polish equivalent of the UK Pancake Day (both Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent) – use up all your rich/fatty/sweet foodstuffs before the fasting period begins because you can’t eat them during Lent and they’ll have gone bad before Easter.

        3. Charlotte Lucas*

          Polish Midwesterner here. I bring in paczki myself to share, because… donuts! I wouldn’t expect a non-RC Pole to get them for the office.

          And I will gladly eat treats from coworkers’ traditions.

          1. Kacihall*

            I am a non religious, non Pole who has brought in paçzki to the office but it is a direct holdover from when I spent 5 years dating a Roman Catholic Pole in the Midwest. I had also spent a few days wondering out loud if I could buy them in my new city, and one of them had informed me of a bakery that had them. It was a donut tax.

            I was sad this year that my local grocery store only had powdered sugar covered, apple filled paçzki. it’s about the one kind I don’t like…

            1. M. from P.*

              For those interested, it’s “pączki”, pronounced…. okay let’s say ponngtshkee. With silent g.

      2. I still cringe remembering it*

        Holocaust Memorial Day.

        Stand in front of a screen showing the Arbeit Macht Frei sign at Auschwitz’s with a placard printed with “your” concentration camp number and #WeRemember, take a photo, and post to social media.

        …how many people do you think forgot not to smile even though they were in front of a camera?

        1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

          That is beyond Tone Deaf! Your “concentration camp number”??? WTF.
          I wouldn’t have done it, and would have protested. Loudly and Repeatedly.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          Aaargh.

          I suppose that’s one way for whoever organized that to prove that no, they don’t remember, and didn’t take even a little time to think while they were finding that photo and display screen.

          [at this point I ran out of the ability to form sentences, which is just as well, because you don’t need them and the people who did that wouldn’t listen even if I could make them sit down and listen]

        3. dataowl*

          Goodness. I meant to contribute my spouses Silicon Valley company, generally good about diversity and I believe genuinely looking to practice good values, but who are nonetheless apparently clueless about the existence of joyful Jewish holidays, so the only thing they mark in their company calendar is Holocaust Memorial Day. I thought this was pretty weak, but I guess we can be glad they didn’t make a celebration about it.

          TBH, in your situation I would be inclined to write a note to HR mentioning the word “antisemitism”.

        4. Jopestus*

          Tbf, i would most likely die laughing. That is so shameless and out of touch that it is funny to me. Straight from horrible to the morbidly hilarious.

          I would most likely name and shame them a bit as well. It would be some nice chaos to see peoples reactions and especially the higher ups reactions when they think about it again after being prompted to.

      3. Vito*

        I would think that Paczkis are the lenten version of Sufganiyot which is a Haunakkah jelly donut.

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        If there are multiples ;)

        I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce the singular correctly – poonch-check? Maybe?

        They’re a HUGE thing where I live. I honestly had to think a second on the lard fact.

        1. Bronze Betty*

          Yup, those pronunciations are correct.

          It does bug me when people say pączkis (you don’t need the s), but I just bite my tongue and say nothing. It helps if my mouth is full of the wonderful, calorie-laden goodness.

          1. Galadriel's Garden*

            Lol if you’re in Chicago, unfortunately we’re just gonna go ahead and pluralize everything with an S, regardless of whether or not it’s necessary. See: grocery store chain Jewel as “Jewels” (or “da Jewels” if you have that accent).

            1. lb*

              Don’t forget about Potbelly’s and Nordstrom’s! At least Mariano’s had the good sense to just add the s from the get-go.

          2. Francie Foxglove*

            Heh…What would you have thought of me, when I first encountered the term? “Uh…well if it was a Celtic or Gaelic word…Pes-kee, that must be it.”

          1. Autumnheart*

            Is this like a route-route sort of thing? Like “Route 66” as opposed to “Our package got re-routed”?

    3. Bryce*

      My apartment complex once celebrated the “Jewish New Year” with a party… on Yom Kippur (somber day of fasting). Management used to be laid-back and competent, then the owning company changed. Still competent but they keep trying to be “fun” in ways that miss the mark.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I attended an offsite work meeting at a country club in Mississippi (I lived in Memphis at the time) on Yom Kippur. They served a breakfast of bagels. Topped with pork sausage. And cheese.

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Lent is observed (not celebrated- it’s a time for fasting and reflection). The paczki are part of the pre-lent observances/celebrations like Carnival and Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday. Basically before Lent, you use up all of your fat and other things that you can’t eat during Lent. It isn’t actually particularly religious in itself and doesn’t include Christian symbols – it’s more of a tradition.

      1. Three Flowers*

        Uh…that’s incorrect.

        *puts on religious studies degrees hat and daughter of a former Catholic hat*

        Lent, a season of penitence and/or devotion, during which liturgically-inclined Christians pull out every ritual bell and whistle and special extra-long litany they can think of, is probably the *most* religious season of the year for those who observe it. Shrove Tuesday (as Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday is called in many churches) is about getting ready for Lent—yes, by eating all your goodies, but also by other preparations. Some churches prepare the ashes for Ash Wednesday (the next day). Lots of people who would not normally go to church on a weekday attend. (Yeah, going to church is still going to church even if you are motivated by pancakes. Faith-centered meals count as religious.)

        It’s a religious occasion. Non-Christians should not be asked by their employers to be involved in any way.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          My tradition (Lutheran) does Lent, but this does not involve ritual bells and whistles. Indeed, the liturgy is a bit shorter, what with omitting the Gloria. Outside of the liturgy, we run to Lenten studies, and there is a consensus that choosing some personal discipline for Lent is a good thing. I gave up alcohol, apart from the thimble of bad communion wine each week. I have a friend to one year gave up coffee. The next year his office circulated a petition asking him not to do that again.

          1. Anon Again... Naturally*

            I was once talking with coworkers at lunch about how I was considering giving up caffeine. My boss poked her head into the break room and said, “You do that *censored* on your own time!”

        2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          I grew up in a so-called mainstream Christian church, and we didn’t do ANY of that stuff.

          1. OtherBecky*

            That’s why Three Flowers specified “liturgically-inclined Christians.” That mostly means Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian/Anglican, and Lutheran. (If I’ve left anyone out, I apologize! Those are the four that I know of.)

            In those denominations, Lent is generally a deeply religious observance. It culminates in Holy Week, which is second only to Easter in religious and liturgical significance. For other denominations, Lent may not be a big deal; I wouldn’t know. But as someone from a liturgical tradition, Lent is really important.

      2. Andrew*

        > It isn’t actually particularly religious in itself and doesn’t include Christian symbols – it’s more of a tradition.

        What? Of course Lent is religious (it literally commemorates the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent fasting) and of course Lent is Christian (again, see the point about Jesus Christ).

        Please don’t confuse Christian religious traditions for general “traditions.”

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I assumed they meant Pancake Tuesday/Fat Tuesday and not Lent, which is…yeah, still very much a tradition related to Christianity, but it’s not a religious holiday or anything and really, it’s more about exploiting a loophole: “OK, our religion said we shouldn’t eat this stuff during Lent, so let’s get it all eaten beforehand rather than completely denying ourselves!” And as many denominations no longer call for such complete self-denial during Lent, even that connection with religion is gone.

          This isn’t to say it’s not part of a Christianised culture, because it is, but I assumed the comment meant “there is no religious meaning to eating pancakes or other baked goods the day before Lent begins; there is no religious requirement to do so nor do the items eaten have any religious meaning” and not that “Lent isn’t religious.”

          I can see it being a bit like “holiday symbols” around Christmas, which may not be religious in and of themselves (snowflakes, robins, etc) but which have taken on a significance related to a Christian holiday, as traditions like Pancake Tuesday would not exist without Lent, which is religious. So yeah, it is sort of a Christian tradition, but it’s not part of Lent or mandated by Christianity.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      Fellow Jew here. I’ve been thinking about this. I can’t speak to the kosher nature of Paczki, so I’ll take your work that they’re usually not kosher. Unless your job duties don’t normally involve picking up the occasional pastry for staff, I don’t really see this as a big deal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the occasional holiday treat at a job, even if the holiday isn’t your own and is religious. I brought in Hamentashen for my coworkers on Purim, because my grandma’s recipe makes 5 dozen and that’s way more than I can eat. When asked, I explained it was Purim. I’ve had a boss bring in Kings Cake complete with small plastic baby when I worked in Louisiana. It was her grandma’s recipe and it was amazing. As long as no one is pressured to participate, I’m a “bring on the baked goods” kinda person. However, I do understand why being asked to facilitate an activity that you can’t participate in would be frustrating and isolating.

      1. UKDancer*

        Love Hamentaschen. I used to have a Jewish colleague in my last company who always made them to grandma’s recipe and they were to die for. I would eat far too many of them because they were so tasty and good. Life needs more Hamentaschen in my opinion.

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Yes to all of that. I’ve always thought the one cultural thing we can all share without getting into appropriation territory is FOOD. And in many instances, food items that started out as religious may have evolved into just cultural or regional goodies over the generations.

      3. iglwif*

        The last time I saw a display of Paczki in a grocery store, the boxes had a hechsher on them. So clearly there’s at least some market for lard-free ones. I did not buy a box on that occasion because I was about to be late for rehearsal, and I regret it now because they never reappeared!

        I’m almost always in favour of bringing baked goods to the office — I used to work in an office with a wide variety of cooking styles, and I absolutely brought in my extra hamantashn, chocolate caramel matzah, and honeycake and I absolutely ate my co-workers’ Christmas cookies and so on.

        I do think I’d be a bit annoyed if I were specifically sent out to purchase something the person sending me knew I couldn’t eat, though.

    6. Tesuji*

      I feel like there’s not enough information here to know if being offended is reasonable.

      I mean, is part of your job’s duties picking up food for the company, and you’re offended because it’s a pastry with Christian/cultural significance that you’re not a part of?

      Or, does this kind of thing have nothing to do with your job, and the boss decided to deliberately force you to do this because you’re Jewish?

      I have wildly different reactions to those two situations. (In order, ‘eh’ and ‘holy crap, what an AH’.)

    7. Introvert girl*

      As a Polish person with Jewish roots living in Poland I can attest to the fact that not all paczki are made with lard. Catholics here eat them before Lent but Jews with Chanukah.

  8. V*

    For Black History Month there was a social hour and the food served was fried chicken and watermelon.

    During a planning meeting for our Pride month social hour at the same company the team leaders rejected having drag queens perform because “we don’t want people to think we’re that kind of gay, that we just party all the time.” As “that kind of gay” I felt truly welcome. That was over ten years ago, yay respectability politics paving the way for the current shitshow.

    1. ferrina*

      “we don’t want people to think we’re that kind of gay…”

      Just….what? They’ve actually strategized on which gay stereotypes they’d like to represent and/or perpetuate?

      1. FroggerMan*

        Unfortunately, there’s a lot of in-fighting within the LGBT community, especially nowadays. I’m not sure if that the issue V was having, but it’s not uncommon for one type of queer person to look down on other types for frankly arbitrary reasons.

        1. Galadriel's Garden*

          Yeahhhh this, unfortunately. Bi-erasure is a pretty good example…and no one has been crappier to me about my sexuality than gay men, and that includes being hypersexualized by straight men :/

      2. JSPA*

        That was more common than not! The early NOW people were split over the “lavender menace” of lesbians, and despite drag queens, transgender people and BIPOC femme gays all being way over-represented at the stonewall riot and the earliest pride events, the “socially acceptable gays” spent untold hours and sums trying to ensure a more socially-acceptable look at so, so many parades and events. (Especially in the AIDS pandemic era, despite how fierce ActUp was being, in saving lives, including lives of closeted, socially-acceptable doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, etc). The whole “intersectionality” concept took quite a while to blossom (and is perennially in the crosshairs of people who’d rather see internecine fighting and division). I do not miss a thing about those days (including my own attitude, which was not…judgement free).

      3. just another queer reader*

        Yeah, this is 100% a thing.

        Looking at queer history, there’s always been a push and pull between the assimilationist types and the queer liberation types (I might not be using the exact words here)

        So in the 50s there was the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis. Both of these groups took the approach of dressing in suits or skits (per gender) and generally looking “respectable” as a way to accomplish their goals.

        The Stonewall riots were be the exact opposite. There, some of the most marginalized members of the community – trans people of color, drag queens, homeless youth – fought back against a police raid. A lot of the activism that came out of Stonewall was more on the liberation side, ignoring the social norms and existing power structures.

        Many have argued that the campaign for same sex marriage was a lot more on the assimilation side (“love is love! we’re just like you!”) – possibly to the detriment of the community as a whole; there are so many more issues facing the community but a lot of people think everything is solved because the gays can marry now.
        *while the same sex marriage campaign as a whole was pretty assimilationist, others have noted that the need for same sex marriage arose out of the AIDS epidemic; especially in the early days, there were so many tragic cases where a person’s family cut off their partner and entire community, because of the lack of legal protections which would have been conferred by marriage.

        (apologies if you weren’t look for this! but I find queer history absolutely fascinating.)

            1. Dawn*

              You use an “i” surrounded by two angular brackets. It’s HTML code, you can also look up “text markup HTML” and it’ll show you how to do the basic ones.

              1. Dina*

                Ideally you want to do em surrounded by brackets instead of i – that’s the current HTML standard.

                Same with strong surrounded by brackets for bold text!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Just above the comment box is a link to the site’s commenting rules. If you go to that page and scroll down past the rules, there’s a section that shows how to use html code for italics, bold, strikethroughs, and blockquotes.

      1. JSPA*

        Outside of vegetarians, it’s probably hard to find a food that’s more (nationally and internationally) loved than fried chicken.

        But all you have to do is serve fried chicken because today is tuesday, and tuesday is fried chicken day…as opposed to serving it because it’s juneteenth.

        And serve watermelon any other day.

        If you feel that a meal is the right way to honor the holiday (which, frankly, no, not every holiday has a food-tradition, nor needs one) I guess you could reference Galveston (and the original juneteenth) with a choice of shrimp or veg gumbo (Galveston’s a seaport, and gumbo has some considerable African influence, without feeding into a stereotype).

        But now that it’s a federal holiday, I’m hoping there will be more “obviously a day off” and less “google says fried chicken and collards and watermelon at the cafeteria.”

    2. just another queer reader*

      A couple years ago the pride group wanted to do drag bingo as a social event during pride month, and the bigwigs shot it down.

      I didn’t feel strongly about drag bingo… until it was forbidden. That got me riled up.

      (Drag bingo was eventually allowed the next year.)

      1. EPLawyer*

        How is drag bingo different from bingo? Do the little old ladies wear sparkles and boas? Because c’mon its bingo, I don’t care who is reading the numbers, just don’t let anyone win before me.

        1. JSPA*

          Oooh, if you’re going to be in Pittsburgh on a night with OUTrageous Bingo, and if you can get tickets (they generally sell out in advance), and your Covid exposure tolerance allows hours in a large packed room, you owe it to yourself.

          It’s at Rodef Shalom, so it’s lovely, and a fun time, and a diverse crowd (with drag supporters and people from the neighborhood and people who support the Shepherd Center and of course, hard core bingo people.)

          Parking gets miserable–misparking on streets with fancy houses will get you ticketed or towed–but it’s in a walkable, bus-served, easy-to-find location near the universities. (I happened to be visiting Pitt, and got to take in a bingo some years ago.)

        2. epizeugma*

          It’s usually a full drag show with comedy numbers, songs, lip syncing, dance numbers… and also bingo.

    3. Empress Matilda*

      “I mean, it’s okay to be gay, as long as you’re not THAT kind of gay. We’re perfectly accepting of your lifestyle, and as long as you look and act and talk just like the straight people!”

      *barf*

      I’m sorry that happened to you, V, that’s pretty gross.

    4. Anonsy*

      I’m sorry friend about the Pride stuff.

      Having similar issues with my company not wanting to stand up and say that they’ll lose people in some of the offices they have in other states if the more terrible legislation goes through. Company wants to be an ally and celebrate that they have queer diversity, but won’t support us where we desperately need it.

      1. AnonEnby*

        Garbage like this is why I’m not out at work. It’s not safe. (I’m nonbinary and bi/pan. Nobody who is going to use this against me gets to know. I’m relatively anonymous here.)

        My company has ONE out genderfluid/genderqueer person in our entire business unit and while we had a talk on LGBTQ inclusivity…I don’t see anyone making any noises about things. Or acknowledging the state of the world. It’s good not to have to talk about it at work, but the silence is scary. I am halfheartedly expecting to be spoken to about using the LGBTQ flag version of our logo beyond Pride month during my performance review.

        I am using that as a litmus test currently but I may need to change it, depending on what happens next. I have not SAID anything and they can’t prove anything. But the current situation has me very worried.

    5. St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research*

      Your manager must talk to my principal.
      We just had our staff Black History Month luncheon. Did they go to any of the amazing Black-owned restaurants in our city? Of course not. They did, however, order the “seasonal” fried chicken and collard greens from a white-owned restaurant.

  9. Snarkus Aurelius*

    After George Floyd died, a clueless colleague of mine at another agency thought hosting an open forum on racism was a good idea. It was a spur of the moment type thing that she (as agency head and white woman) wanted to do herself.

    The event ended with two POCs in tears, and a third POC stormed out. How do I know all this?

    ***Because that dumbass agency head shared it as an “accomplishment” during a DEI seminar except she left out the reasons for the tears and the storming out!***

    1. ferrina*

      Ugh. OldJob did something similar. An allstaff meeting several months late where the 90% white, 90% male C-Suite asked POCs to share their thoughts and experiences. The company was the pinnacle of subliminal bias in hiring, and literally every Black employee was entry level (because the Black candidates for higher positions somehow were never the executives first choice).

      This was the same company where the CEO swore to me that our customer base had representative diversity, when I had the numbers from multiple studies we did to show that we were pretty much catering to white women. He looked at the data and said “yes, but you just aren’t capturing the high numbers of Black customers we have.” And he used his imaginary numbers when representing the company, even selling customer bases that we didn’t have. The kicker is that we were a “data-driven innovations” company

    2. Anonsy*

      Bless her heart, we had a white woman at ours say “I didn’t know racism was still a thing!”

      (I mean I’m glad she was opening her eyes but wow.)

      1. St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research*

        We had a Well-Meaning-White-Woman Teacher stand up in front of our school’s Black History assembly and ramble on for five minutes about this amazing thing she had just discovered – that all humans originally came from Africa! We’re all the same, you guys! There’s no such thing as race!
        This was to an audience of about 85% students of color.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        A former co-worker who spends every winter in Florida in a gated commnity and rarely leaves it because the amenties are all contained within told me with a straight face that racsim in Florida was almost non-existent because they never experienced any. (White wealthy couple from Canada)

      3. OtherBecky*

        HOLY SHIT.

        I grew up a sheltered white kid in the South, and I had that moment of realization (accompanied by tears and a feeling of betrayal/unfairness) around age 8.

    3. Devo Forevo*

      My CEO at the time called up one of our clients, “interviewed” her, and then made us email out the “interview” to the entire mailing list without vetting from anyone else. It concluded with the client being quoted as saying she had not experienced any racism at our nonprofit. I almost rage-quit on the spot.

      1. NotBatman*

        Holy hell. There are so many stacking horrors in that one, I don’t even know where to start.

  10. Brain the Brian*

    Not exactly a “celebration,” per se, but my company rebranded ourselves on the first day of Pride month one year and didn’t have a rainbow (or otherwise Pride-themed) version of our logo ready until the final few days of the month. This was Noticed by some of our largest clients…

    I’m not the biggest fan of corporatized Pride, but there’s a bare minimum to avoid looking clueless, and we definitely didn’t make it that year!

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Are you saying making a rainbow logo is the bare minimum?
      Speaking as a gay man, I’d actually prefer if a company did nothing than if it changed its logo to a rainbow but did nothing else.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Eh I disagree.

        I am also not a fan of the corporatization of Pride, but given the everything going on right now I do appreciate even the smallest indications that people are normalizing the existence and cultural impact of Pride.

        I used to think putting up a rainbow was nothing until I was with a sixty year old gay friend and we drove to an outlet mall where every store had some kind of rainbow decor up, and he started crying. We can’t take visibility for granted, even if it is the bare minimum.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Totally an area where there’s a wide range of opinions.
          My take on it is that there are enough places that do a rainbow logo AND some kind of donation that my bar for the minimum effort has gone up.

        2. Anonsy*

          I feel the same as this. In today’s day, where so many of us are under attack, visibility is the first step. So many kids are growing up in a world where things are more accepting AND where the laws are once again tightening the noose around us. They need this visibility as much as those who never had it as kids.

          But I would like those same businesses to donate money, sponsor speakers and events, and in general fight for their employees who are lgbtq to have the same benefits as their cis straight employees.

          1. Vito*

            I live in the most FACIST state in the US. A state where the governor keeps talking about how “Free” the state is as he bans books that he feels are unacceptable for children to read. He works against companies who DARE to speak against his policies. The latest thing I read is that a politician is working to pass a bill to make it illegal to speak about their period in school. This is the same state that wants to require female student-athletes to provide their
            menstrual information to schools (to keep the dreaded trans-gender students from competing).

        3. Owl*

          Absolutely same. These companies do not five a flying poo about us. Doing something useless and performative is not helping. I eye-roll every time I see one.

        4. Dawn*

          Yes, this. I grew up before there were rainbow flags anywhere unless you lived in San Francisco or Toronto’s gay villages and I absolutely appreciate the normalization and visibility of them even in the absence of anything more substantial. And I feel fairly upset about it when people who did not grow up during that period say that companies should just get rid of them.

          1. Just graduated art school*

            Younger queer here – I wonder if part of the disconnect is that during that era putting a flag up was more of a risk and because of that was more likely to actually mean a welcoming environment for queer people? So they could be used as a way to find safe places to be queer.
            Part of my frustration with the logos is being in a city where rainbow colored logos are a default to the point where it can be part to tell where it is safe to be open and where it’s just a performative rainbow and they are going to discriminate against you anyway

        5. Just graduated art school*

          Idk I’ve dealt with enough homophobia and transphobia from rainbow flag covered places I kinda have to disagree. if your flying the flag to make me feel welcome and than are just going to turn around and discriminate against me I would rather you didn’t. You can’t have it both ways – get credit for being pro queer and than not do any of the actual work to be pro queer.

      2. Elle*

        Same. Sick of rainbow logos from people and entities who do nothing to support or defend us the rest of the year.

      3. Atropellos*

        Yup. Just own your uselessness, don’t waste time with a token rainbow logo that is entirely meaningless. It’s missing the point completely. You SHOULD look clueless when you are clueless.

      4. Sleeping Panther*

        I think the execution error here was more in not having the rainbow logo ready to go until the month was almost over. There’s a range of opinions on whether a rainbow logo is an acceptable minimum just in this thread, but not having it ready or using it until the very end makes the company look like they don’t care enough about their LGBTQ+ employees enough to remember even that small of a gesture.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Yep, this was it. It certainly made me as an LGBTQ+ employee feel… very much overlooked.

      5. Brain the Brian*

        Speaking as a fellow gay man, it’s quite literally all my employer can do that it’s not already doing. We have offices in a number of countries where being gay is illegal, so consistent supportive policies across the organization aren’t really possible, but they are internally supportive where the law allows it — including at our HQ in the U.S., which is where I work. Because we’re a U.S.-based organization, we can get away with a rainbow logo even in countries that continue to outlaw LGBTQ+ people — but nothing more substantive than that. In all that context, it was particularly disheartening for me as an LGBTQ+ person that the company failed to execute the one supportive thing they could do consistently across all of our offices — especially given the timing of our general new branding rollout.

        1. Dawn*

          Y’see, I’m not sure I buy this argument – I’m not opposed to rainbow logos, I believe that normalization is a good thing – but companies so consistently flout the law in other ways and brazenly get away with it (especially in countries where bribery solves anything) that it’s hard to credit it when suddenly, following the law is necessary to them.

    2. Emma*

      Oh, I hate the rainbow logos. I’d have a lot more respect for a company that left their logo as it was, but put out a short blog post on a topic like “here’s what we’re doing to make our company a better place for LGBT+ colleagues” or whatever.

      The only people whose usage of a rainbow logo I actually approve of is the local fire brigade, because they do a huge amount to help out with our Pride event.

      1. OtherBecky*

        Genuinely curious: what’s your opinion on places of worship or other religious organizations that do this? Does it make a difference whether it’s just during Pride or year-round?

  11. MsMaryMary*

    I’ve posted about this before, but in the mid-2000s my former employer actually served fried chicken and watermelon in the cafeteria to celebrate Juneteenth.

    This was a large employer, thousands of employees, and at our headquarters in a major city.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      What was the entertainment, a minstrel show? Golliwog dolls to take home to the kiddies?

      Yeesh.

    2. Anon for this*

      Last year, for Juneteenth, one of our site managers circulated an email to his team suggesting ways to celebrate. Great! Except…he suggested a picnic and included recipes for fried chicken, watermelon desserts, etc. Yes, of course he was a white male. *face palm*

    3. Clovers*

      My college cafeteria had collard greens and fried chicken on February 1st one year, when they never served those normally. I wish I knew who made that decision so I could spell out “You are a racist” in cod or something.

      1. Nina*

        Sorry to be clueless, but I’m not from the US and only just discovered the awesomeness that is collard greens (also they grow like weeds in my garden) – as a white person should I not?

        1. Can’t pass again*

          No, collard greens are delicious, but I think the issue with the cafeteria is that they are reducing the desire for recognition of Black Americans and their achievements and furthering the fight for diversity and inclusion to mere food traditions. Kind of like a company who should be paying their employees a fair wage, but only provide them with a pizza party. Watermelon and fried chicken have a problematic image within Black American history due to some truly disgusting marketing/advertising in earlier decades.

        2. Grim*

          A white person eating collard greens is fine. It’s just food. Especially if they grow in your garden and you like them, it would be silly not to eat them! A (presumably American) college cafeteria suddenly serving collard greens and fried chicken on a date historically associated with Black freedom and emancipation is less fine. It looks like somebody tried to think of a way to celebrate or commemorate Black people and Black history in America, and the best they could come up with was “let’s serve these foods that Black people are stereotypically supposed to love, which have been associated with Blackness and poverty in a racist way.” Of course, these foods are delicious, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with enjoying them, it was the timing and the implications of that situation that made it racist.

  12. Ann Perkins*

    I have two:

    A Black History Month potluck celebration in which our office of almost entirely white people was asking to bring food. The food signup list wasn’t just an empty one that people could sign up with whatever they wanted to bring, it was one where the food was listed out. The food listed was collard greens, mac and cheese, etc. The DEI council was in charge of this celebration.

    At the same workplace, I had two children while I was there. This was a small employer so I was not FMLA eligible and my maternity leaves were unpaid. There were no baby showers for me, which was fine as that’s not something that I would expect at the office, except that promptly after I delivered baby #2, a male colleague whose wife was pregnant was thrown a baby shower for their second child. I made the mistake of looking at my email periodically while I was on leave and got the baby shower invite within a week of me giving birth. (I will note there was an office manager changeover around that time and the new one was much more warm and fuzzy than the previous one, but obviously the optics were terrible.)

  13. The Research IS The Party*

    Related, when I worked at a alt-weekly newspaper, the publisher came into the journalist/designer area one time and asked why it was so quiet, saying since we were a fun paper, we should have more of a party environment going while we did our work…work like research, fact-checking, phone interviews…y’know, they kind of work that’s easy to do in a party environment.

    1. cam*

      typical money bags publisher expecting underpaid people in a declining industry to have fun at work while being underappreciated

    2. HeraTech*

      I call your fun environment and raise you a fun performance evaluation.

      One year at a previous job they updated the form used for our annual reviews. Instead of being evaluated on my actual work performance, my review now included a mysterious new rating for if I was “fun”. My department was understaffed and overworked. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t much fun to work with.

      We were also rated on how “hungry” we were. *eyeroll*

  14. Beka Cooper*

    Oh I’ve got a good one. I was hired as a preschool teacher at a local daycare for $12/hr in about 2013 or so, and when the owner was onboarding me, she mentioned that there was a chance to get a raise (and I think a promotion of sorts?) if you did a chapter-by-chapter book study, where you discussed what you learned with the director after each chapter, and got a $1 raise when you finished. She mentioned that a current employee was working through it at that time.

    Several months later, I heard from that teacher that she had completed the book and meetings with the director only to be told that the daycare did not have the budget to give her a raise at that time. We all knew it, there were only about 10 teachers at this place and we all had rotating lunches during naptime so we knew everybody’s business. Not long after, we had an all-staff evening meeting where the director proceeded to praise and celebrate the employee for her accomplishment at finishing the book and then presented her with a miniature toy trumpet so that she could “toot her own horn”!

    I was so appalled and I later left due to lots of other “we’re family” type toxic workplace traits and the fact that preschool teacher had never been my goal in life anyway.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a doc. In my last job, I was a team lead and should have had a team of two or three CRNPs, an admin, and an RN. For a while I had a team of me and an RN, and at the same time took on additional educational responsibilities for the whole office which should have reduced my clinical time. My boss kept saying “you’re a one-man band!” One day he noticed the look on my face and switched to “a one-woman band!” When we finally backfilled the two CRNPs positions, he told me he was sending me a gift of appreciation.

      It was an Amazon package with a little toy in it. A one-man band. Not a wind-up toy that banged the cymbals or anything – a cheap plastic 3″ tall thingamabob. I did not feel particularly appreciative.

      Same boss for Doctor’s Day that year gave us all wooden boxes with glass tops that had our names and the company logo engraved on them. Each box had 12 small compartments with something that was clearly designed to hold a specific object. I could not for the life of me figure out what the heck it was. Turns out it’s a box to hold your watch collection. He was the only male doc. The rest of us were women. I have one watch. It’s an Apple Watch. While I’m sure some women do have watch collections, it’s definitely more of a guy thing among our generation.

        1. Spleesh*

          I don’t even own A gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate and entire rack.

          What am I gonna do with a gun rack?

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah my grandfather had one of those in a cupboard and we struggled to work out what it was for. We didn’t know what to do with it when we were clearing the house because nobody in the family had that many watches. We sold it in the end and it fetched more than we expected. Someone obviously thinks they’re valuable, I’m just not sure who.

      2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I actually have one of those and bought it for myself! I use it to store the charm bracelets that I hang on my purse and my Disney magic bands (that I have decorated from the trips)…. I own no watches.

    2. ferrina*

      I worked at a daycare, and I can confirm, this kind of nonsense is 100% true and normalized.
      Twice I had assistant teachers who flat-out told me, who was team lead, in front of the administrator that they would not do what I said. One said I was her granddaughter’s age, so she didn’t have to listen to me. The other said “I don’t like you. There’s nothing you can do to change that, it’s just your personality.” (I had gotten consistently strong performance reviews, had a strong reputation for building great classrooms, and had done literally every conflict resolution trick in the book to try to work with this teacher). In both cases, the admin shrugged and told me to deal with it. (Both times I quit).

  15. zolk*

    Employee recognition – where I work, there’s an annual staff appreciation day where you can nominate staff members or groups for different awards. The process is onerous and requires a lot of paperwork including endorsements from senior management.

    In the past I’ve tried to nominate people in our area only to be shot down by the exec suite. Most years, the winners are all senior leadership/execs. It’s pretty demoralising.

    After a while I stopped trying to nominate people because there was no point putting in the effort if I was always going to be shot down. Our highest performing people are never recognised for their work.

    1. zolk*

      Semi-related: central HR sends out emails explaining various religious holidays as they approach but they always exclude Christianity. I’m not religious and I emailed in because by excluding this one religion they’ve instead centered it as a “default”, which I don’t think is okay. They’ve never changed this. In my opinion the practice others any non-christian religion instead of celebrating and recognizing them.

      1. ferrina*

        Ugh. Or the classic move of scheduling big meetings on religious holidays (while being closed only on Christian holidays).
        Last year my company scheduled an all-staff meeting on Yom Kippur. Thankfully one of our Jewish team members pointed it out and they were mortified and moved it. This year we’ve got a core calendar with holidays from all the major religions, and they appointed a main scheduler who is supposed to ensure nothing gets scheduled on those days.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I had a required meeting scheduled on the first day of Rosh Hashanah one year. Sigh.

        2. Baphomet*

          Public school calendars are Christian Privilege Exhibit A. Major breaks are centered on Christmas & Easter. Sometimes Chanukah and/or Passover happen to align with the Jesus holidays, but if not, tough.
          Nonetheless, the Christians persist in howling over the perceived injustice when the winter break is called that instead of Christmas break.

          1. Eat My Squirrel*

            My daughter’s school actually gets all the major Jewish and Muslim holidays off in addition to the Christian ones. I wish my work did that.

      2. NeedRain47*

        Just like the Dewey decimal system, which is still used in most public libraries. He centered christianity, gave it a wide range of call numbers, and stuck everything else in “folklore”.
        (not exactly, but this was the main idea.)

        1. Dewey? Hardly knew ye!*

          Not sure if it makes you feel better that the Library of Congress classification classifies the Bible under the section BS

        2. St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research*

          Librarian, can confirm.
          (200-219 Basic “What is religion?” stuff)
          220s: The Bible
          230s: Christianity
          240s: Christian theology (Oh you thought that was already covered? Nope)
          250s: Christian religious orders
          260s: Christian “social and eccelesiastical theology (what the heck? how is that any different than… you know what? forget it)
          270s: History of Christianity (come on dude, seriously?)
          280s: Various Christian denominations
          290s: Other religions (Yup EVERY other religion is stuffed here. Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Wicca, Taoism, Bah’ai, classical religion, all of it gets jammed together in “Other.” Delightful.)

          1. OrigCassandra*

            Library-school instructor, routinely use this in org-of-info and metadata classes to destroy any vocational-awe illusions among students about librarians being above bias.

      3. Ozzac*

        There’s also the fact that different branches of christianity put different emphasis on the various festivities, plus the fact that the calendar isn’t always the same (the one I remember is catholic and hortodox easter that are almost a month apart).
        So it feels not only that christianity is “default” but the specific christianity followed there.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I went to a company retreat years ago and attended a workshop on preventing and addressing burnout (healthcare tech company, so predisposed to overwork from every angle). At the end I pointed out that the company stressed their commitment to work-life balance and self-care in every newsletter. And every employee recognition available went to people who went “above and beyond” and came in on their days off/worked past the usual end of their schedule/took on extra unpaid responsibilities. I suggested that this was perhaps a mixed message and that fully paid premium subscription to the Calm app wasn’t quite enough to promote actual self-care.

    3. Skippy*

      We had an otherwise tone-deaf manager who did one smart thing: He brought a bowl, pencils, and slips of paper into a meeting and asked everyone to write down who they thought was doing a good job and should be recognized. We folded them up & threw them in a bowl, and he pulled out some number to read. Someone got a gift card, but what was more meaningful was the spontaneous bottom-up element. (Not sure if it was explicit or implicit, but managers above a certain level were not in the bowl.)

    4. KT*

      My company does a lot right and one of the big things: senior managers and execs aren’t eligible for performance awards like this. We have 4 a year for our “core values” that are decided on by the previous years winners, but no one from exec can win. I love that.

  16. Constance*

    In a company-wide town hall last month, one of the division presidents began his presentation with, “And a happy Valentine’s Day to all the mothers and daughters out there.”

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I can only think of when exec used to host monthly cake & coffee for all with birthdays that month. Due to scheduling, all the September & October birthdays were together, & there were a lot of us. He asked why, and got an explanation of all the holidays that are 9 months before and how our parents really celebrated them.

  17. DisneyChannelThis*

    Birthday month with the #2 in command, shared birthday cake celebration for all birthdays that month.

    Following month, birthday for #1 biggest boss, shared cake celebration for all birthdays that month AND a specific fancier cake celebration on #1’s actual birthday.

    Rest of year? 0 birthday recognition.

    1. Clefairy*

      Jesus. I feel like it would have been better to just have cakes for the two execs and no shared birthday cakes lol

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        I agree! The shared cakes make me think they do know the optics are bad here but rather than try and fix it they just slapped a few extra names on the cake….

  18. The ETL Guy*

    My department used to hold weekly praise meetings, where each team would nominate a particular person from another team for having stood out as contributing. Unfortunately, it ended up that a particular clique of senior members and managers were often the ones being praised. On top of that, people were frequently praised for working unpaid overtime, showing up sick, or other questionably praise-worthy behaviour. The rewards were also incredibly insignificant – think Funko pops or little office gadgets.

    This led to several people submitting anonymous questions to our CEO as part of an all-hands, all of which were given extremely political non-answers. After this, the CXO in charge of our department used the next meeting to berate everyone for airing out our dirty laundry, saying that anonymity is only for criminals and cowards. I missed it, but it was described as having a very “the beatings will continue until morale improves” kind of energy.

    The meetings continued for a little while with a kind of enforced rotation to ensure everyone got some commendation, but ultimately died out due to the expense of wasting a full hour of an entire department and the decreasing attendance rates.

  19. Saint Dorothy Mantooth*

    I was once part of a large networking organization specifically for women in my field. At my first “Women In [Industry Name]” luncheon, the keynote speaker was a man who began his remarks with something like “I have a strong wife and was raised by a strong mother, so I know the value of strong women in advancing a man’s career.” I was gobsmacked.

    Later, when I was chatting with a friend on the organizing committee, I casually asked about the choice of speaker. She said, “If we didn’t feature men, no one would care about what we do.”

    1. Fishsticks*

      Similar situation for me, except that our speaker was at least a woman… who spent nearly all of her speech talking about her twin babies being the greatest accomplishment of her life and how essential her husband was in her success.

  20. KHB*

    I don’t know how “egregious” this is, but it feels pretty clueless and is rubbing me the wrong way. My employer – which has never done anything for International Women’s Day or Women’s History month in the past – has put out a call for women across the organization to make short video clips of themselves talking about their experiences, accomplishments, etc., so they can edit everything together into a longer video and share it across the organization to “celebrate” us. I guess they mean well. But this feels weird to me, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on why:

    – Something just seems wrong about “celebrating” women by asking women to do more work.
    – As my employer, they should (but don’t) already have a pretty good idea of what my accomplishments are, so if they really wanted to, they should be able to celebrate those without any further input from me.
    – It feels like they’re fishing for compliments from us about how great the organization is for women – so more a celebration of them than a celebration of us. (In actual fact, it’s a pretty OK organization for women, but it has problems with sexism the same way that everywhere in the world has problems with sexism, and I doubt they’d be thrilled to get videos from people pointing that out.)

    1. Worker Bee*

      Yeah, this sounds like an attempt to make a nice PR video to promote how “inclusive” the company is to women. Definitely missed the mark a bit.

    2. Retail Dalliance*

      This is a really excellent point. In many of the instances where my organization has chosen to celebrate IWD, women end up leading the charge, doing the work, implementing the ideas, setting up, cleaning up, etc. Then it somehow makes it into our newsletter as a success to be celebrated. “Look how much we care about women! Here are pictures of the awesome women’s celebration we held” [missing the words “planned, orchestrated, implemented and managed exclusively by women”].

    3. Aarti*

      I feel this as a POC. Why is it MY responsibility to educate you, you the one that done messed up.

    4. Clobberin' Time*

      No they don’t mean well. They mean to promote themselves as being “supportive of women”.

    5. ursula*

      I would be very concerned that the company would end up using those clips in some kind of public self-congratulatory or promotional way. 100% with you on your concerns.

      1. KHB*

        That’s a good point. I’d been assuming that the video was just going to be shared internally, but they don’t actually say that.

    6. Allornone*

      well, did they specifically say share only good experiences? Because if they didn’t, perhaps a few would be willing to highlight the darker side of being a woman- harassment, systemic sexism, mansplaining, etc.

      1. KHB*

        They gave very little guidance on what they wanted from us – there are some questions for us to answer, but they’re so open-ended that they’d take hours to answer properly (e.g. “What has your career path been like and how has it evolved?”)

        And I guess that’s the biggest thing that’s bothering me about this – the idea that it’s possible to boil my whole experience as a woman in the workforce down to a “short video clip.” Like, where do I even start?

        I already decided that I won’t be participating, mostly because I’m not comfortable appearing on camera. But it will be interesting to see what kind of uptake they get.

    7. bamcheeks*

      To be honest, I have rarely seen a good EDI celebration event/activity and this is why. It’s either centre the privileged group, or ask the marginalised group to do extra work, and the aim is always, “aren’t we doing well!” Give me sustained, properly-funded, senior-management-supported investment in EDI every single day or fck off.

    8. just another queer reader*

      This feels EXTREMELY par for the course for corporate DEI.

      “Make us look good and never mention the real problems.”

    9. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      Presumably they’re paying you to do this additional work, right? Or alleviating your workload to give you time to do it?

  21. Dinwar*

    It’s not about International Women’s Day, but: The worst I’ve seen was the company celebrating religious diversity by having a panel of folks from the four most populous religions discuss religious diversity at our company. As a member of a minority religion it did not encourage me to speak up about my concerns or experiences.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I once sat on a panel for a national organization focusing on a interdisciplinary health care. The topic was cross-cultural communication. I was asked because I’m Jewish (which I didn’t realize until we were in the middle. I was dumb enough to think it was because I am a national expert at teaching communication). One of the suggestions for talking to Jewish patients/clients was to ask them about any recent anti-Semitism in the news.

      I am not, I repeat not, making this up. My contribution to the panel discussion was DO NOT DO THIS.

      1. Tos*

        WOW-I’m guessing the person who made this statement needed every bit of your communication know-how to come into play.

        Glad you were able to manage this and survive to tell the tale.

  22. ElizabethJane*

    Not my company but in 2020 a very large well known craft supply company (in its industry) located in the south sent an email with “Happy Juneteenth! To celebrate here’s a discount on white fabric. Isn’t white just so beautiful and pure?”

    And while I’m paraphrasing slightly, I’m not at all exaggerating.

      1. ElizabethJane*

        I don’t but if you search “msqc Juneteenth” there’s blog posts with screenshots.

      1. LTR FTW*

        Oh damn now I see that it’s Missouri Star Quilting. I can’t find the screenshots… but if it’s true it’s extra disappointing for me, since I have always loved their stuff. Sigh.

        1. shedubba*

          Ooof. I didn’t see this when it happened, but I did see a post around that time from a black quilting friend who said she wouldn’t be buying from MSQC anymore. That explains it pretty clearly.

        2. J*

          It turned out there were a lot of microaggressions along the way once that incident happened, and in their response. I’m a quilter in Missouri (finishing one this weekend in fact) but they’re now officially on my “Do not shop” list after that incident.

    1. Alice Ulf*

      O – O

      …sorry, I think that’s going to be my default expression for the rest of the day. Maybe the year.

    2. The Original K.*

      You should see how big my eyes just got. I didn’t even know they could get that big.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      This is kind of thing is so weird because how did NO ONE realize it might look bad? Like, having a sale on black fabric would’ve felt odd too but at least they could try to do some kind of “black is beautiful” thing. Just have a normal sale and don’t make it weird!

      1. ElizabethJane*

        This is what was so odd about it. They did (still do? I don’t get their emails anymore) a “deal of the day” type thing and that was their choice for Juneteenth. They could have picked literally anything else and just ignored the date and it would have been better.

      2. Leenie*

        As a casual observer, my assumption would be that they’re stridently, proudly racist and sent the exact message that they intended to send.

    4. Jackalope*

      In the summer of 2020 when all of the BLM protests were happening, our local newspaper (normally fairly astute about this sort of thing) had an interior decorating article titled “Bring More White Into Your Life”. It was awful.

  23. Fourth and Inches*

    My company made a big push for D&I initiatives in 2020, so our local site created a D&I group. Their introductory event was a panel discussion of… white men. The first speaker talked for a long time about how the bullying he endured as a child was just as bad as any kind of racial discrimination faced today. Since this happened during 2020, it was a virtual event and I logged off in the middle of that guy’s monologue. My colleagues said the rest of the panel wasn’t much better.

    1. Worker Bee*

      Wow, that’s really tone death of the company. This sounds like the kind of thing Michael Scott would have done in the office as one of his cringe worthy, tone death diversity day initiatives that always fail to miss the mark.

      1. Cass*

        Ok I know I’m sidetracking, but this is a genuine question I’ve been dying to ask my whole life: why do so many people, including you Worker Bee, pronounce or write “deaf” as “death?” I see and hear it ALL the time, including my own family, and I have always wondered about the reasons!

        1. She of Many Hats*

          tone deaf means not hearing the not being able to hear the difference between musical notes. You can’t hear the tones of the music.

          In the rest of the world it means not getting the nuances of a situation. In these instances it not being able to tell the difference between one’s ego and the elephant in the room.

          1. Llama Identity Thief*

            I think Cass is saying she knows of the phrase “tone deaf”, she just sees a lot of people replace “deaf” with “death” in general, and is wondering if there’s anything specific behind that.

            1. NeedRain47*

              it’s just that people hear it said and don’t see it written. (or don’t read much.)
              There are a TON of phrases where this happens, it’s sometimes called a “mondegreen” altho that’s specifically for song lyrics.

              1. Crooked Bird*

                My father-in-law used to say Alzheimer’s as “all-timers” and hospice as “hospith.” This wasn’t a speech impediment–he and my mother-in-law both said it and I got the impression their neighbors in the retirement community did too.

        2. ThisIshRightHere*

          one reason (not saying it’s Worker Bee’s reason) is that many people conflate the pronunciations of “th” and “f.” I know many people for whom deaf and death are basically homophones. Accidentally replacing one for the other in writing would be no different than transposing their/there or pole/poll

      2. Liminality*

        Bahahaha! I love the autocorrect that turned ‘tone deaf’ into ‘tone death’! It really does kill the tone, doesn’t it? :D

      3. Firestar*

        I know you meant tone deaf, but death does kind of work because name and shame and that company won’t make it out the other end well, or at all

    2. ferrina*

      My old company did the same thing! They held a panel with the senior leadership (C-Suite) about diversity, specifically diversity in leadership. In this panel of about 10 people, they claimed that they were very diverse because:
      -One person was a woman
      -One person was Asian
      -One person had been raised in foster care and was from a non-upper class background (this was the woman).
      Which meant 80% were white men from an upper class background. They thought this was diversity.

  24. WellRed*

    Our HQ about two years ago threw a baby boom party to celebrate the unusually high number of babies born that year. I’m happy child free and live in another state but I couldn’t help think of all the potential trauma this could cause for some.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I could see having to hear about and attend separate baby related events over and over to be a lot more upsetting for someone struggling to conceive rather than just one large event. Single event a lot easier to skip/have the dentist that day/etc. One and done.

    2. SereneScientist*

      Yiiiikes. I cannot imagine what that must have been like for anyone in your org who *can’t* have children.

  25. Worker Bee*

    I work remotely. We had our first all office in-person social event since the pandemic started in late 2022 at a local bar. The purpose of this event was rather unclear, but it appears this random party was being held in honor two manager level employees who had recently died unexpectedly, but also was to celebrate the close of some successful projects. It was a weird gathering since it was a kind of fun get together, but it was supposed to be to honor the recently deceased which this event ended up in reality having very little to do with that. The part I found very tone death about this gathering was that around the same time that the managers gave a brief speech in remembrance of our lost coworkers (which also weird is they were both too young to die of natural causes yet they didn’t tell us how either one of them died so unexpectedly), one of the managers also gave a speech thanking us for our hard work etc. During this speech he lauded how the company had hit record profits for our segment of the business this past year thanks to our hard work. This was nice to hear, but was particularly tone death given most of us in attendance were low hourly wage temp workers (illegally classified as temp workers…most of us have worked here for years) barely making ends meet and the company does not share any of these record profits with us other than some of the top team of us hourly people getting a $300-500 end of year bonus. The manager making these comments was, of course, a well-paid salaried employee of the actual company we perform work for.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      two manager level employees who had recently died unexpectedly, but also was to celebrate the close of some successful projects.

      These two things … do not go together.

      1. allathian*

        Only if the celebration was in the style of a wake to celebrate the life of the deceased rather than a mournful gathering of remembrance, and the managers had been instrumental in completing the projects or something. Then I could see the point.

        I must admit that I vastly prefer wakes to the mournful celebrations, at least as long as I’m not one of the chief mourners. Every funeral I’ve ever been to, with the probable exception of my grandpa’s funeral when I was 5, I’ve found it almost impossible not to burst out laughing during the funeral service. I know it’s an absolutely inappropriate reaction and I’m not proud of it. I can only guess that it’s a reaction provoked by anxiety (I’m not religious at all and churches, especially old ones that were built before the Reformation and originally consecrated Catholic, have an aura that makes me extremely uncomfortable), and would undoubtedly in previous ages have been called hysteria.

        1. Susannah*

          I heartily recommend you watch one of the best half hours in comedy every produced – the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode called “Chuckles the Clown Dies.” Mary laughs as well….

    2. Firestar*

      ok are you doing this on porpoise (tone death instead of deaf) though again it does fit

  26. Accidental Cat Mom*

    When I was a teacher my school district always held a back to school “celebration” for our first work day back before the start of the school year.

    We were a large, urban school district with some of the highest children poverty rates in the country and many teachers had to work second jobs to make ends meet.

    The celebration one year consisted of all staff driving to a local college stadium being forced to play a trivia game where the hundreds of teachers had to download an app on their phones and answer the questions virtually.

    The questions turned out to be all about the leadership staff so we could “get to know them,” but they were all wildly out of touch and highlighted how well paid they were compared to us struggling teachers.

    Memorable questions included
    “What country is the superintendent’s favorite place to visit?”
    “Which leadership person has season tickets to hometown NFL team?”
    “Which classical instrument does the chief of curriculum play?”

      1. Accidental Cat Mom*

        After trivia the superintendent performed what I could only describe as a short one-woman teacher play about growing up in New York, including doing a racist impression of Puerto Rican bodega owners (think of an offensive PR caricature yelling “Hey, mami!”)

      1. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

        The week after that letter, our CEO shared about making his two houses more efficient.

      1. Accidental Cat Mom*

        Hogwarts is much more organized and functional than that place. The stories I have!

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Even apart from how it indicates their wealth, I’m also wondering a) how anybody would know those things about people they probably don’t even work that closely with and b) how anybody could think this wouldn’t seem pretty narcissistic? The comparison with Gilderoy Lockhart is an apt one.

      (I’m also kinda horrified at the idea of teachers working in an area with high rates of child poverty having to work a second job. I mean, I’d be horrified with that for any teachers – or anybody with a full-time job really – but the reality is that poverty can often have a pretty high overlap with kids who struggle with school and who have other issues so…they really need their teachers to be fully focussed on them and it must be hard to spend sufficient time planning and so on if you are also working a second job and if there are a lot of students with additional needs, etc, which can overlap with poverty, then additional planning time is necessary.)

  27. Peanut Hamper*

    I don’t know if this counts, but my company had a chili cook-off yesterday. Trophies were awarded for “tastiest chili” and also “spiciest chili”. So far, so good. The winners received hand made trophies.

    The trophy for the tastiest chili involved a wooden spoon painted gold and mounted on a stand.

    The trophy for spiciest chili? The same, but instead of a gold-painted spoon, it was a gold-painted toilet.

    It could have been a gold-painted plastic chili pepper, but no. We have to keep comparing Mexican food to toilet-related things. I’m sincerely tired of this.

    1. zinzarin*

      Well, chili’s not even Mexican food, so I’m not sure why you’re making that connection. And spicy food–if you’re not accustomed to it–can create issues in the digestive tract. While I wouldn’t consider it work-appropriate, a toilet trophy for a spicy food contest isn’t so much tone deaf as it is gauche.

    2. Mari*

      Ok, that’s terrible … and yet…

      I kinda see where they were coming from – I mean, capsaicin DOES do a number on your digestive tract, and the hotter the chilli the more likely you are to…. spend serious time in the washroom?

      I mean, TOTALLY tone deaf, and serious “What WERE you thinking???”, but probably not intended as a slight.

      1. Nina*

        Look, is this a US thing again? I’m about as white as they come (my least English ancestors are Russian and Swedish, yes Christmas is tense) and can and have happily eaten whole scotch bonnets or birdseyes, or a jar of pickled jalapenos, with no issue.

        1. Boof*

          It really can be irritating to the intestines and thus cause diarrhea. Sensitivity may vary. I still agree a toilet is in bad taste (har har) mostly because gross

    3. WellRed*

      This bugs me because people went to the effort to make and bring in chili and the toilet feels insulting. I also don’t like talking or thinking about food and toilets at the same time. A chili pepper would have been much better!

    4. DataSci*

      Chili is Texan, not Mexican. Agreed that associating food of any sort with toilets is unpleasant, but I don’t see the racist element you’re suggesting. (The time I won the “hottest chili” trophy I wasn’t trying for it, just using my usual recipe trying for tastiest. That’s what years in Arizona will do to your palate! It was a mounted soup ladle with a hole burned through the bottom.)

  28. IWDWTF*

    This past IWD, my workplace’s social committee put on a fundraiser where they sold roses for you to offer to a woman in your life.

    The proceeds of this fundraiser go to fund future social events including an upcoming golf tournament.

    I’m told that it’s a tradition in some European countries to give women flowers on this day (we are not in Europe), but something about hijacking a day originally about protests against sexism to raise money for a golf tournament, without any mention of the systemic sexism that still exists, really bothered some of us.

    1. LtBarclay*

      Yeah I was in Italy on IWD several years ago – at the time I had never heard of IWD. Got given a flower randomly. I didn’t know what to think about the holiday – at least seen through my US eyes, it made it seem like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day instead of an activism-type day.

    2. cottagechick73*

      I can only imagine that none of the women were invited to play in the gold tournament – SMH

    3. Emma*

      This isn’t the case in any European country I’ve been to. It is the kind of thing that tone-deaf men at European companies might think is a good idea, though.

      1. DataSci*

        A former colleague from Eastern Europe (it’s been eight years, I forget where exactly) said the flowers were traditional where he was from.

        1. Laura*

          Bread and roses.

          It’s sad and functionally illiterate state of things that what women get is a flower and a cookie, instead of the living wage and the work/life balance that the bread and the roses stand for.

      2. WS*

        Traditional in Russia and some other Eastern European countries, and I’ve seen it in Italy though it wasn’t as widespread.

      3. Anonymous in this one, just in case it's recognisable*

        I’m from a country in central europe, and while I don’t know about all the country it’s common in the area around here to give flowers (or something else the woman might like). Quite a lot of companies give flowers to female customers that day, or have other gifts.
        Some get a bit creative, for example the baker giving out flowershaped cookies instead of real flowers to the customers, but it’s a nice thing. Doesn’t help much with sexism etc, though, so I’m not 100% sure it’s really in the spirit of the day.

  29. poutinerie*

    I wouldn’t call this clueless, but well-intention and misplaced enthusiasm for DEI… here goes:

    I work on the marketing team for a small organization supporting our region’s university/colleges. We had a company wide DEI review and the review asked why we don’t post on our external channels about days of importance like IWD, Black History Month, etc.

    Our entire org is 90% white so we got orders from up top that every team would split up tasks and learn about these various days/weeks/months of importance. That didn’t happen and it all landed on my team to research, decide the content, and post. It got out of hand quickly. We’re not American but felt pressured to post and celebrate days that are outside of our country or region – think Martin Luther King Day. I pushed back on that as much as I could with some success. We felt like judges trying to figure out what is the equivalent of Christmas to every faith and what can slide as not a major day for that faith or group. Sometimes we had capacity to really dedicate ourselves to a specific day or month, other times we couldn’t and it felt uneven and unfair.

    It was very educational on many levels but ultimately I felt like my very white team became gatekeepers of these days and we were constantly walking on eggshells trying to meet this mandate from the report while avoiding tokenism.

    The intent of the DEI review was good, but in the end new leadership at the top asked us to stop and I am forever grateful for that. Running this content was the most stressful part of my job for two years. I had confusing feelings about wanting to be an ally but hating a task that was suppose to show allyship.

    Moving forward we only post externally about days that directly relate to our work/service offerings as that feels more genuine. We are also trying to focus on having diverse imagery in our everyday external messaging as well as hiring diverse candidates and speakers for our events. We continue to share days of significance on our internal channels and communication streams, and there is less pressure felt by my team and others thanks to this. I’m not sure if this is the right solution, but it feels more appropriate and genuine to learn internally and change processes internally instead of pushing something out for the sake of it externally.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I get why you assume good intentions here, and good intentions are not at all adequate for DEI initiatives. It’s a pretty thin good intention to do something that needs resources without providing resources.

  30. Quinalla*

    My (male) boss bringing only the women employees in the office roses for Valentines Day. He meant it as a nice gesture and the flowers were being sold by one of his kid as a fundraiser, but at the time I didn’t know why but it felt icky though I didn’t say anything as I did know he meant well.

    For breast cancer awareness day, had a company that gave all the women cookies with a little card to raise awareness. Again, meant nicely and as a way to raise awareness, but men can get breast cancer too even though it is much rarer. Should have been something given to every employee!

    Wanting to call the company holiday/winter party a Christmas party. I get it, Christians or folks who celebrate Christmas even if not religious think winter party = Christmas party, but there are plenty of people who do not celebrate Christmas! They have it in their face enough, please not at work too :( (And yes I celebrate Christmas, I’m agnostic – brought up Lutheran.)

    1. Delta Delta*

      Breast cancer awareness kind of grinds my gears. I’ve had several friends and relatives who have had it, and some of them have died. I think it’s fair to say that I – and probably pretty much everyone – is well aware of breast cancer.

      1. anon for this*

        As someone who has had breast cancer, I absolutely despise Pinktober and everything that goes with it so I would not have been happy to receive that cookie. I am most certainly aware of breast cancer.

        (I will say that I know some other people who have had breast cancer enjoy the bonding that comes with the pink ribbons, walks, etc, and I would never take that away from them–I just personally find the performative aspect of “awareness” very uncomfortable. And it seems condescending to say the least for a workplace to have an event like this.)

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I am always irritated by awareness initiatives that do no more than say “this exists!”

          Like, at a minimum post an infographic telling me what symptoms to look out for, or how to support a member of the group, or *something*.

          1. DTC*

            Me too! Makes me think of how in elementary school, there would periodically be initiatives to bring “awareness” about learning disabilities…some of them were substantial and had a positive effect. Other times, it didn’t go beyond “don’t say these kids are retarded! That’s hurtful! He’s autistic/dyslexic/special”… with the result that kids who were being made fun of for being “retarded” were NOW being made fun of for being “special”. Knew one kid in middle school whose default insult for anything she didn’t like was “SO autistic”. Awareness accomplished!!

        2. My Dear Wormwood*

          yeah, this is why I dislike RUOK Day as “mental health awareness”. It’s supposed to encourage people to ask each other if they’re ok mental health-wise, which is probably a good thing for mild problems where what you need is mostly social support. But if you have serious mental illnesses…treatments are horrendously expensive and usually only work for a subset of people. RUOK Day just felt aggressively pointless when I was failing treatment after treatment and spending $17k a year on it (yes, I did the maths because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.)

          If someone had actually asked me I would’ve cried.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Pinkwashing irritates the crap out of me, as the daughter of a survivor and someone who is at high risk herself.

        1. carcinization*

          It upsets me as a person whose dad died of colon cancer before the age of 40. That type of cancer also has a day and a color (and I believe it’s dark blue, not brown), but it’s definitely not recognized by most businesses!

      3. SMH*

        My friend was working in an office and they had several of these types of recognition for women. The men received golf outings and gift cards, women received buttons for breast cancer awareness and cheap trinkets for appreciation days. One day my friend is in the reception area and the admin has brought in the latest item for breast cancer awareness a fake pink flower with a message attached.
        My friend, not realizing three higher ups were coming out of a conference room, ‘Oh is this our annual reminder that the higher ups are focused on our breasts.’ The three men stopped and finally my friend made eye contact with them while they stood there frozen. ‘Your breast cancer awareness stuff arrived.’ And she walked off. No one ever received the flowers and breast cancer awareness wasn’t recognized again but they still kept receiving trinkets of little to no value for other reasons.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Please tell your friend that a stranger on the internet is standing up applauding her!

      4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        I hear you about the gear-grinding impact of “raising awareness” about something that most people are already too well aware of. Especially when the awareness-raising is ineffective — gives vague, insufficient, or non-actionable information, or no actual information at all besides “this issue exists.” Double-especially if the awareness-raising is counterproductive — gives wrong information, contributes to a problem it’s allegedly trying to solve or undermines other solutions.
        I am actively mad about “mental health awareness” messaging that is stigmatizing, bullying, manipulative, or gaslighting, for instance; that is the last thing people with mental health difficulties need. Or those “share the color of your underwear and no other information to raise awareness of breast cancer” type games.

        Research-backed expert opinion is with me. A 2017 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Stop Raising Awareness Already,” “implored organizations in the social sector to move beyond awareness objectives in their work, because awareness-raising efforts are expensive, labor intensive, and unlikely to result in better outcomes. Such campaigns typically have one of three kinds of results: They reach the wrong audience and therefore have little to no effect; they cause backlash; or, in the worst cases, they cause harm.” (Quoting from a followup article “The Science of What Makes People Care) …echoing many other experienced people working for social change.

        1. UKDancer*

          I think it’s much better if it tells you something practical to do. My company usually does a talk for International Men’s Day in November which is focused on testicular and prostate cancer and usually involves a speaker from a charity explaining how to check yourself and what the symptoms are so that people know what they’re supposed to look out for and what they should do. I think this is quite helpful because it’s practical and gives people instructions.

      5. Quinn*

        I think continued awareness is necessary, and I hope it never stops, no matter how ill-conceived individual awareness campaigns might be. Not everyone is on the same timeline or at the same level of awareness.

        1. Kloe*

          You mean like sitting a video on heart attacks on Women’s Day that laments that it’s usually unrecognized in women because it’s not often talked about and most people don’t know that symptoms are different between man and women while an actors acts out the male symptoms?

          (No, the video didn’t give the symptoms for women having an heart attack either.)

      6. J*

        It’s a huge thing in the survivorship community to roll the eyes. (Disclosure: different cancer survivor but most with my cancer go on to get breast cancer as a result of our treatment) Awareness months work best if you have a specific thing to make people aware of. Colon cancer screening guidelines recently dropped, breast cancer as a secondary cancer, for blood cancer I most recently celebrated by sharing updates in survival rates for myeloma since most people still assume instant death sentence and with new meds it’s a game changer. But all of those things…are not things I’d bring to a workplace celebration unless I was a medical provider. My workplace is, but not with cancer but that’s the energy we bring with each annual campaign.

    2. rayray*

      It’s bizarre to give cookies for cancer awarness – there are sooo many other forms of cancer that we need to be aware of and watch for.

      One thing I do like that my company has done and actually has scheduled to do again, is having a mobile mammogram screening clinic come to the office. It’s part of a local big healthcare group, the mobile will be at the office and you can sign up for a time to go get a mammogram from medical professionals. THIS is how we acknowledge breast cancer, not by giving out treats.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Agreed, cookies for breast cancer awareness is so weird and actually pretty tone-deaf.

      2. Nina*

        My previous workplace had a ‘winter wellness’ thing that involved ‘here are vouchers for free flu vaccine, any pharmacy in the country will recognize them, go get vaccinated, there are spares, go get your partner and/or kids vaccinated, do it, this is cheaper than paying for sick days’.

        1. European*

          Maybe the problem here was that the free vaccines were framed as extra gifts, not as normal health care benefits included in the employment package. My employer offers influenza vaccination for employees and their families. I think it’s great and I always get my whole family vaccinated. I live in a European country, where the public health care covers influenza shots only for elderly and chronicly ill people. I do not especially fancy the idea of having seasonal influenza. Also, I work in the health care industry and visit health care professionals in hospitals. I know that you can have the influenza without symptoms (just like other upper respiratory tract viruses). I would hate to be an asymptomatic carrier and infect someone, a patient or a relative in the lobby, or staff who I am visiting, unknowingly.

    3. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      We had a “Winter Festival” one year alongside various Christmas themed things.

      Cue outrage about “not being allowed Christmas” and refusal to take part in any events, even the Christmas ones.

    4. zolk*

      I’m constantly trying to reframe our holiday party before the winter break as just that and my bosses keep calling it a christmas party. :(

        1. BubbleTea*

          Does it always fall around the last week of December? Because there are (at least) three months of winter, so that’d be a heck of a coincidence if it’s not because of Christmas.

    5. TomatoSoup*

      Calling it a “holiday” party is basically just dropping a fig leaf over it being a Christmas party. In some years, Christmas might overlap with other groups’ holidays and in other years they don’t. I know there’s New Year’s but that feels like a reach unless that is the theme of the party.

      1. BeachMum*

        I’m responsible for our company’s holiday party.

        I took a loose poll of employees and we’ve decided to change the party to early November, which is when the company was founded. From this year forward, we will no longer have a holiday party. Instead, we’ll have a [Company Name] Anniversary Party. Given that the owners and a few staff are Jewish and given that everyone is so much busier in December, I think it will make everyone happier.

    6. mlem*

      In something of a success story … years and years ago now, I asked my supervisor about the upcoming group gathering. I said if it was a Christmas party, I would decline, since I’m not Christian. To her and our manager’s credit, it’s been an end-of-year gathering ever since.

  31. Reality Check*

    I once worked as a reservation agent for a limousine company not far from NYC. For Administrative Assistant Day or whatever it’s called, they took all of us out for a huge night on the town. Dinner, play, dessert in Little Italy, then clubbing all night. Never mind we weren’t administrative assistants. It was hard to turn that down. But then Bob, the one male reservation agent on our team, wasn’t allowed to come because he’s a guy.

    1. NotRealAnonforThis*

      Similar a few jobs ago. I am very much not an administrative assistant and actually kinda suck at that skill set.

      Guess what? I still got to go out, as did all of the rest of the women regardless of what they did.

  32. Delta Delta*

    Not a celebration, per se, but clueless enough I will never forget it.

    I live/work in an area that’s not very racially diverse. I was in court one day in April with a colleague. Another attorney showed up for a hearing. He had just come back after being away for a week visiting his family in Puerto Rico – where he was born and raised. We chatted about his trip, and clueless coworker tries to get into the conversation. Finally she says, sort of at top volume, “I bet you’re super exited for Cinco de Mayo coming up!” Attorney asked why and she said, because you’re Mexican, like from Puerto Rico! Silence.

  33. FroggerMan*

    Not sure if this is the spirit of the request, but I was given a cake and a little party to celebrate my hard work, after I had been fired!

    Backstory: I was told I was being fired because I wasn’t a good fit, though it was actually because the executive assistants didn’t like me (That email stung to read). I was asked to stay a few extra weeks though, since my replacement couldn’t start until then. Halfway through my “notice period”, they did the cake thing. I think it was just to thank me for working longer, but it was just salt in the wound to me. It took everything in me not to question everything right then and there.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      “We’re firing you because we don’t like you, but would you please stay a bit longer until your replacement starts?”

      Arkell vs Pressdram.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It’s always too late when you think of the perfect comeback. Thank them and then pack up the whole cake to take home with you.

  34. Helvetica*

    For Women’s day, in my Eastern European country, your male colleagues will usually band together and get every woman flowers. Sometimes, a single flower – a single tulip.
    It is a strongly rooted tradition and I loathe it in a country that has one of the biggest gender pay gaps in Europe and where people think we have gender equality. I currently work in a different country where this did not happen but yes, it is very much John Oliver’s “How Is This Still A Thing” every year.

  35. Student*

    Two incidents, same company:

    (1) Celebrating Black History Month with a picnic. Good idea, so far!

    Picnic featured watermelon, grape soda, and fried chicken as the provided food.

    I did a full-body involuntary cringe when I read that on their poster advertising the picnic. I did not attend.

    (2) Celebrating woman’s history month by trying to highlight women’s experiences. Good idea, so far!

    They decided to highlight women’s experiences by doing something that I have to assume was meant to be social-media-friendly. The most charitable assumption I can make is that it was conceived by somebody who may not actually be a human, but is perhaps a space alien in disguise, or hundreds of bees in a rubber man suit.

    They put a bright red chair in the lobby of each of the main buildings on the corporate campus. They put a banner up next to that chair that said, in giant letters:

    SIT
    LISTEN
    SMILE

    The expectation was that some random woman in that building would decide (of her own accord; no coordination occurred) to sit in the red chair in the lobby. People walking by were supposed to… talk with her about her experiences? Take a photo with her? It wasn’t really clear, but that seemed to be the implication.

    There was no desk provided on where she could work while waiting for people to happen by. The chair was a cheap metal one that had been painted red for this purpose, so uncomfortable. There were no chairs for other people to sit in. The lobby in our building was just an entry foyer – there’s not usually people there. You can’t even enter the building unless you have been granted access on your corporate ID card. And the banner really just made it seem like corporate wanted the women to… sit, listen, and smile.

    I rolled my eyes very hard, but didn’t say anything to anyone. Never saw anyone in the uncomfortable red chair in the empty lobby.

    My manager, a guy, pulled me aside of his own accord while this was going on. He wanted to get my opinion on it. He told me he was specifically asking me for feedback because his daughters had informed him, in unrelated conversations, that it is extremely sexist to tell women to smile. He had taken their admonition about this to heart. He wanted the opinion of a woman who worked there, because he was considering complaining up the corporate chain about the event. I gave him a thumbs-up to that idea and confirmed that yes, it is rather sexist to tell women to smile.

    I told him that the colorful chair & banner instructions made it look more like a toddler’s time-out chair than a celebration of women.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      hundreds of bees in a rubber man suit

      I honestly think this is a great description of a lot of the worst bosses I’ve read about here! Thank you! (I will be using this!)

    2. Empress Matilda*

      Wait, so their idea of celebrating women’s history is…to take women away from their jobs and put them on display in the lobby? With nothing to do, other than the instructions “Sit, Listen, Smile?”

      That is APPALLING. There are not enough swear words in all the languages of the planet, to describe how offensive this is. I just…not even joking, I just honestly can’t.

      1. Student*

        Yep! You will be completely surprised to learn that this was a company with demographics that were heavily weighted toward white men, especially in charge.

        I would be offended by it, but at the point I saw this woman’s month “event”, it was a minor irritant compared to their other hi-jinks that impacted my daily job. At least with this one, I could just walk past it and ignore it. The list was just so long of casual sexism and racism, I was pretty hardened by this point.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Whoa. That is such a WEIRD thing for someone to come up with in the first place anyway, but the execution of the whole event is just bananas. And…what on earth did they think some woman was going to talk about while sitting in the chair? I would have given anything for someone to have sat in the chair all day playing Candy Crush or something, just waiting for someone to ask her about her life….

    4. Relentlessly Socratic*

      My inner performance artist would have used the instructions and the red chair for some commentary on menstrual stigma.

    5. Sunshine's Eschatology*

      There have been a lot of good (terrible) ones posted here, but
      “SIT
      LISTEN
      SMILE”
      has a special place in my heart! It’s so WEIRDLY bad!

    6. TomatoSoup*

      At least your manager was open to feedback from women, not arguing about “good intentions”, and then took the lead on bringing the complaint to higher-ups, instead of blowing it off or telling you to complain. I know this is a low bar to cross but people are constantly shimmying under it.

    7. Single Parent Barbie*

      >>>>>The most charitable assumption I can make is that it was conceived by somebody who may not actually be a human, but is perhaps a space alien in disguise…

      Alan Tudyk in Resident Alien runs your DEI committee

    8. Shirley Keeldar*

      SIT
      LISTEN
      SMILE

      Also, don’t forget to tilt your head a little bit like a dog who is puzzled but still hoping for a treat. Because that’s what women should do.

      1. Millenniiaa*

        I would have been very tempted to add some more dog commands after hours:
        SIT
        LISTEN
        SMILE
        ROLL OVER
        SHAKE
        PLAY DEAD

    9. OtterB*

      I think the red chair may have been a bad copy of something I have heard positive things about, a “Sit With Me” program sponsored by the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT). The point was to make it visible that there was a need to listen to women about their experiences in the field and provide some encouragement and structure for conversations. But the implementations I heard about were at conferences or workshops in times and locations where a lot of professional networking would be occurring, and the purpose was explained in one of the early conference sessions. *Really* not the same as an empty lobby with no other conversations or places to sit.

  36. Hotdog not dog*

    One year for Administrative Professionals Day all the women in the office, regardless of their actual job title, were given a small flowering plant. I am a plant person, but mine went straight in the trash.

    1. WS*

      I’ve seen this happen, too. I was an “administrative professional” there but a little succulent was given to every woman in the office and none of the men, some of whom WERE administrative professionals! My mother loves succulents so I collected the unwanted ones for her. The practice nurse gave hers to one of the front desk guys, which he really appreciated!

    2. I've Got The Vapours*

      I get the sentiment but my inner gardener suggests the compost as a better destination. Let it decompose and help grow something you do want.

  37. Diatryma*

    I used to work in a lab that had potlucks, but no food-safe space to eat except the office where the four senior techs worked. The three less certified folks either intruded on the space meant for doctors, which featured no food-tables and few chairs, took their our potluck food and ate in the staff break room several closed doors away during our individual staggered lunch breaks, or intruded on the space meant for the senior techs, which had, again, no tables, no spare chairs, and four people who grazed on the potluck throughout the day.

    It was not a friendly and welcoming lab.

  38. Tantallum99*

    For Administrative Professionals day, my last company made the celebratory event a ‘spa day’ to include manicures and a massage (they hired someone to come to the office and do this onsite). They also gave each admin a gift card to a beauty store. All of the admins were female, and it first of all assumes all women are into that stuff and second, implied they were so worn down by taking care of their (mostly male) supervisors they were owed one half day of awkward pampering. At least after the cringeworthy spa morning they all got to take the afternoon off.

    1. Aarti*

      Eeeyugh on site? I dont feel comfortable with massages in the first place and you think I want to do it on site in front of people?

      1. TomatoSoup*

        I’m guessing this is a chair massage. Fully clothed and the massages are back, shoulders, arms, hands and necks. Nothing below the waist or on one’s front. There are still potential problems, but just wanted to make sure we’re working from similar mental pictures.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          This has been my experience with office massages – you just sit in the comfy massage chair and they work over your (fully clothed) upper body (back only). But ours are offered to everyone and are entirely optional.

          I love a good full-body massage, but I’m not doing that at work either.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes, I’ve had those at airports. Pre-Covid I used to go to The Hague a lot on business and they had a chair massage facility at Amsterdam airport with a special chair to sit in. After a long day of work meetings it was always glorious sitting down and having the knots worked out of my back for 20 minutes before the flight, meant I slept soundly when I got back home. Clothes definitely stayed on though and the massage was restricted to the back and shoulders and neck.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Yikes, as somebody who absolutely hates being touched (possible I may be on the autistic spectrum), this would be an utter nightmare for me. (To be honest, for a long time, I thought spa days were a “you have to suffer for your beauty” typed thing; I think I was well into my 30s before I found out that people actually enjoy them.) I would literally be rigid for the entire thing. I tend to freeze if anybody touches me, except for things like shaking hands.

  39. Anon for this*

    This one didn’t happen to me, but a former manager who happened to be a Vietnamese-American woman married to a Korean-American man. They had three adorable little boys.
    When the youngest boy was in preschool, his class had an event where they went around and talked about holidays that were important to different cultures. When the teacher got to my manager’s son, she kept mentioning things about various Chinese holidays. The little boy was very confused and asked why she was including those holidays for him and she said “Because you’re Chinese!” Hoo boy. My manager was LIVID when she heard about it.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Hoo boy, indeed. Oh to be a fly on the wall when your manager handed that teacher’s you-know-what to her.

      1. Anon for this*

        I actually walked in on the tail end of her conversation with the school. It was pretty much everything you’d expect.

  40. Pumpkin215*

    I used to work in the office at a construction company. On “Administrative Professional’s Day”, the owner would walk around, proudly, with a tray of potted flower plants and hand out one to every single woman in the office.

    There was one admin for the company. But every single woman, regardless of position, got a plant. My boss was the only female manager and she would put hers directly in the trash.

    This isn’t a “look down on admin” post because they bust their butts at their job! The other women in the office viewed it as tone deaf because we were all assumed to be admin on that day.

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      I once got taken out to lunch once for Administrative Professionals Day. We had three women in various admin roles and I was not one of them but I was invited. My boss told me to never turn down a free lunch so I happily went.

  41. Not so Junior Lawyer*

    I once worked in a law office where the partners got the memo to take their admins to lunch for administrative professionals day…but made them plan it.

    One joked to me that she should order herself flowers too.

    1. rayray*

      If I were asked to plan my own lunch, I’d order delivery from my favorite place and either ask for the afternoon off, or to have a private room where I could eat without disruption for an hour so I could also watch tv or take a nap.

      1. irene adler*

        Just have it delivered directly to your home. After all, they want you to celebrate something, right? Home is the best place to do that, IMHO.

        If anyone balks, then they can do the planning next year.

    2. sub rosa*

      I always hated that day at work. Of course, when I started working office jobs, it was
      still called Secretaries Week and “the girls” all got gifts and lunch out on Secretaries Day.

      We were admin assistants (literally our job title) so we “didn’t count” on Secretaries Day. Our boss told us so, to our faces. Still, it rankled to hear about the nice lunches the other women in my friend group got to go to, since I was basically living off of the cocoa and soup packets in the breakroom.

      Then when they changed it to “Administrative Assistants Day” I was working somewhere else as a receptionist, so I still didn’t count. (The two pretty blondes in the office got flowers and got taken out to lunch; one was a project manager and one was the bookkeeper, but I digress.)

      When it became Administrative Professionals Day, I was a data entry clerk at yet another job, and therefore I didn’t qualify, which was fine because my manager (a woman, for a change) thought the whole thing was BS. The pretty receptionist got loads of flowers and candy, of course, and all the front office staff got taken out to lunch. Good for them! I was at that point really kind of over it, until I learned that they made almost twice what I was making – because my job basically only existed because they refused to learn to use computers.

      I am super over the whole Administrative Professionals Day. If I ever have an assistant, I’m just going to give them a free day off and let them enjoy it, rather than participate in the gross playing-favorites game of who got what for whom.

  42. Bad diversity*

    The large public library system I used to work for would close all the libraries one day a year for an all staff meeting. One year, this meeting was supposed to be focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

    The problem? The venue they booked for the meeting was our city’s former Native American residential school, and the students who used to live and attend school there constructed the building that we were using. We had a diversity day in a building that was constructed using the slave labor of indigenous children.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Ugh, not just the slave labor, but, at least in my state, the residential schools were also a primary tool of destroying Native American culture and languages and making the population LESS diverse.

    2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Man, I thought plantation weddings were the peak of “and no part of you thought this was definitely the wrong venue for this event?”

    3. St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research*

      There are some truly horrible stories on here, but THIS is the one that made me audibly gasp “Oh no no no no no no no”

      1. nonprofit llama groomer*

        I should have read your reply before posting because you put what I was feeling into the words I wanted to say. It’s so bad.

  43. Former Retail Lifer*

    My husband’s former company had a “diversity day.” There was a workbook handed out. Everyone on the cover photo was white.

    1. Onward*

      Our company did one of these types of things for employee appreciation day. This was a company of like 500ish people at the time and everyone on their little handout was a cartoon white person. When I pointed it out to HR, she pointed to one cartoon person and said “but that guy has a beard!”

      Yes, I stand corrected. No issues with racial diversity because at least there’s a dude with facial hair.

      1. Millenniiaa*

        I’m cackling. This reminds me of the former job that counted my coworker as part of our corporate “diversity” – because she had tattoos and a pierced nose.

    2. I've Got The Vapours*

      Probably not the case here but it could make sense to highlight that diversity does not only equal different skin/eyes/hair etc.
      I say this in the sense of highlighting that not all people from England speak King’s English, not all people from Asia are Chinese, not all people from [insert region] are “the same” etc. etc.

  44. Random Bystander*

    Well, this is thankfully far in the past, and the perpetrators are no longer in management (not that this was the reason, but it probably did not help). Skip to the end for background, if you want.

    So–here we were, overwhelmed with the level of work (along with a few really recalcitrant co-workers who were of the opinion that if they were exceptionally lazy the expectations would be lowered) and required to work overtime every week. So what did management do to “improve morale”? Why, Mandatory Fun Day, of course. Mandatory Fun Day had a theme … Gilligan’s Island. Bring in food (pot luck style) with a tropical theme. Play games based on Gilligan’s island. Smile, **** it, this is Fun Day. (The “mandatory” was not part of the official name of the event.) So imagine a potluck (meal for the day) which is almost exclusively fruit/dessert and nary a bit of protein to be found, but you cannot leave to get some real food because “we are all in this together! we are having fun!” So yeah, mandatory fun while thinking about how the work was sitting there undone so that you could do skits in front of your co-workers in teams of five based on scenes from Gilligan’s Island, do a trivia quiz based on Gilligan’s Island, play other games loosely based on Gilligan’s Island and eat food that probably exceeded the normal sugar intake for three days without being able to get something of substance. If ever I had a need for rum, that would have been the day!

    Background:
    At the time, we had recently become employees of Corp B (after original company, Corp A was purchased by Corp B) and we had new jobs–at the time of the purchase, we were given packets with the job offer at a take-it-or-leave-it basis. As things progressed, it appeared that people who’d been given supervisory roles because they had been in supervisory roles under Corp A were *really incompetent* with the roles under Corp B. We got to a point where we were on mandatory overtime, 5 hours per week, along with micromanagement about how many extra hours if you worked less than the complete week (along with complete misunderstanding of overtime rules–if you took PTO for one day, you were required to work 32+5 hours + put in 8 hours for PTO, all of which would be paid at straight time because your work hours were still under 40; if you took two days off in one week, you worked 24+4 hours + 16 hours pto–yeah, you had to use the full PTO for the day you were off, plus work some extra hours at straight time. Our new boss after this thankfully understood how overtime is supposed to work for hourly folks and said, “no, that is wrong–if you take a day off, you may work up to five hours extra on the other four days but you only have to charge the PTO for the balance to bring you back to 40 at the end of the week”.

    1. ferrina*

      Oh, the “You’re overworked, so we’ll force you to take time off to ‘relax’ while your work gets farther behind.”

      I had a boss that wanted to boost the team’s morale, so we did a team retreat. We were supposed to spend two days talking about our interests, skills and collaborating on a vision for the team. Nice idea. In reality, I was working 50 hr/wk and had two kids under age 3. I was one of two team leads that my boss managed. My boss refused to move any of my deadlines, though she moved several of my colleague’s so my colleague could “focus on the retreat”. So I had to spend an extra 6 hrs a day in retreat meetings, still working my full week, with taking a break from 5-7pm to pick up my kids from daycare and care for them. (it wasn’t uncommon for me to work 8am-5pm, then 8pm-11pm).

      Then my boss scolded me because I only came for 30 minutes of the “optional” happy hour.

      1. allathian*

        Tone deaf… I’d probably have been fired for swearing at the manager if that had happened to me.

  45. Jen from Dead to Me*

    So called motivational speakers who participated in race across the Atlantic in a small boat they rowed. Okay, fine for learnings around grit and determination. But presentation turned into a lecture about diet and exercise, mostly aimed at married white males where the wife is taking care of everything household related (meal prep, childcare, etc.).

    1. Elle*

      My company just had a motivational speaker who rambled on about Nike’s business processes, made up many facts about Leonardo Da Vinci, and said the word “prostitutes” within ten minutes of beginning his spiel.

      Where do they get these people?!

        1. Gumby*

          This *does* sound exactly like something Jeff and Lester would do. (Though I believe only Jeff lived in the van…)

  46. cam*

    I worked in a university. International Women’s Day was put on the calendar and it was suggested that women could organise a morning tea. Then there was the event including a panel of guest speakers who were women, none of whom were paid…

  47. 2ManyBugs*

    Shout out to the grocery store I worked at that decided to have an “Employee Appreciation Day” …by putting up a potluck sign up sheet. And that was it. No extra time to GO to the “potluck”, and nothing else either.

    Our floor manager signed up to bring paper plates and napkins.

  48. CowWhisperer*

    I worked at a global retail establishment that sent out a bulletin board about “Christmas Around The World” for the break room. That was tacky enough, but the fact that Hanukkah and Ramadan were listed as Christmas traditions (between two countries) was wrong.

    The HR person who put it up needed an in-depth discussion from employees to conceptualize the problem.

    A few months later, someone re-used a PowerPoint set up for Women’s History Month to celebrate Black History Month and never proofread. We know this because February 14 was Mother Teresa. Well, WAS Mother Teresa until I made one for Katherine Johnson and replaced it. My HR rep might have understood that one….. but I wasn’t up for another discussion.

    1. icedcoffee*

      hoooooooly shit. Why use “Christmas around the world” when “winter celebrations around the world” or even “holidays around the world” is RIGHT THERE?

      1. TomatoSoup*

        It would have to just be holidays around the world. Due to how the Islamic calendar is determined, holidays will move in relation to the Gregorian calendar. Ramadan can be any time of year. Jewish holidays also move a bit as well, but usually only give or take a month. This is why anyone trying to make an office party not only about Christmas by displaying a menorah may be “celebrating” a holiday that hadn’t started yet or had ended weeks ago.

        1. icedcoffee*

          Oh, that clarifies some things for me. I had thought there was, like, a winter/fall-ish Ramadan and a spring-ish Ramadan. I knew it moved around because of the moon, but I had thought it was more like the Jewish calendar. Thanks for the note!

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      “Hanukkah and Ramadan were listed as Christmas traditions (between two countries) was wrong.”

      OMG. Excuse me while I retrieve my jaw from under my desk.

  49. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

    Last year my workplace held an end-of-fiscal-year employee appreciation dinner on Yom Kippur (a very important fast day for Jews). For the most part my workplace is good about inclusion, but they’re obviously kind of lacking in religious diversity…

    1. CommanderBanana*

      My last org scheduled a mandatory all-day all-staff meeting on Yom Kippur, and when I pointed out to HR that at least three employees wouldn’t be able to attend, her response was that since the one employee she knew was Jewish had left a few years earlier and he used to put the Jewish holidays on the calendar, she just assumed that no one in this organization…of 100ish people…in a major metropolitan city on the East Coast…was Jewish.

      1. icedcoffee*

        My high school scheduled a class trip during Passover (not great) and had us stay overnight at a place that was a bible camp in the summer (awkward). We were a secular school that rented space from a Jewish temple and ended up observing Jewish holidays in our closure schedule, so surely the administrator knew that Passover was coming up.

        It would have been okay if they had communicated *any* dietary restrictions to the bible camp. Instead, the bible camp served us pepperoni calzones for dinner.

        After dinner, one of the (Jewish) teachers gathered up all the Jewish students (and me the vegetarian) and we went to the grocery store for something we could actually eat.

  50. Rocket Raccoon*

    OK, now my snarky self wants to celebrate Women’s Day by sending our one female employee (out of 4) home with pay and letting the guys pick up her slack. They’ll really appreciate her after that!

    (No I won’t really do it.)

    1. 1LFTW*

      As I understand it, that’s very much in keeping with the original spirit of IWD, which originated in socialist and labor movements.

      I was introduced to IWD by a local public radio station. All the announcers kept wishing everyone a Happy International Women’s Day, and after awhile I clocked the fact that only the male announcers were on air that day, which seemed weird… Then one of them explained a bit about the history, and mentioned that all the women at the station get the day off to mark the occasion.

  51. J*

    For Administrative Professionals’ Day, I had reminded my boss (head of office, I was his personal admin) that the day was coming. I offered to prepare for it (he declined), I made a list of plans he could follow through on, HR offered to coordinate it. The morning of he told me he’d done nothing and I needed to make it happen but then I could take the afternoon off.

    I went into planner mode, ordered food on my credit card for him to reimburse, got a cake, got decorations and lunch went perfectly. Except he made me sit back in the closed office and sit next to his phone in case he got a call, while he told everyone in the lunch event how great he was for planning this. Then he sent all the other admins home. Oh, except me. He instead decided to go continue his affair with the individual in the office downstairs (AND TOOK THE LEFTOVER CAKE) and made me sit next to his phone for the rest of the afternoon. I never even got a slice of cake.

    30 days later I had an offer in hand and gave my notice. I didn’t exactly care about the day but I sure cared about the disrespect on that day. His affair didn’t work out; he got divorced, new affair partner eventually took out a restraining order on him and it blew up publicly as these were all public officials.

    1. allathian*

      I can’t help but feel a bit of schadenfreude for what happened to your creepy and inconsiderate ex-boss.

  52. BellyButton*

    I don’t know if I will ever be able to pick my jaw up off the floor after reading these.

    I am horrified.

    1. TPD Specialist*

      Yep. My mouth is getting dry from hanging open so much! And I’ve never physically cringed so much in one afternoon before this.

  53. Felon Appreciation Day*

    Boss was a blustery alpha bro and made a big deal about Veteran’s Day, inviting local Vets to the office (think like public service office) for free donuts and coffee as a public outreach campaign and invited the local paper. It was actually great in theory but he chose not to acknowledge the three of the women on staff including me were OEF/IOF combat veterans. And he knew, he just didn’t like being reminded. Instead, once the local journalist arrived, he made a big fuss over this one client of ours who was a well-known local con man who of course showed up to the festivities. This guy wasn’t a veteran but instead served time in prison because of a Ponzi scheme targeting disabled veterans and their families but our boss gave a big speech about this dude’s sacrifice and valor. The whole thing was dripping with secondhand embarrassment and “who’s going to tell him? I’m gonna tell him” vibes.

    1. Labrat*

      Oh, I hope the article/news segment was at least satisfactory. “Local Business Owner Duped by Conman”, anyone?

  54. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    This sort of fits the category. Sort of.

    My very first office in was in the early 90s at a commercial real estate office. The bulk of the agents were men (in fact, my office had no female agents). They attended a business breakfast one day in December 1990 for those in the industry and many of the agents noticed that a female agent from a different company had had her breasts reduced. She had a been a “fan” favourite for a while for her looks and ample bosom.

    When they returned to the office, full of vim and vinegar as young guys in their late 20s-early 30s are when making money, they decided to hold a minute of silence for the lost breast tissue of that woman. They were indeed in a circle, heads down, hands clasped in front.

    It was December 6th, 1990 and we were in Montreal. For those who don’t know, they held a minute of silence for surgically excised breast tissue on the first anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, where the shooter killed 14 women, because they were women in engineering.

    I was appalled and complained. I got nowhere.

    1. Sleeping Panther*

      Some of the comments up-thread have made me cringe myself inside-out, but *this* is the first one that’s stopped me in my tracks. I’m *aghast.*

    2. My Dear Wormwood*

      I made a noise like 90’s dial-up internet connection at the minute of silence and THEN came to the anniversary paragraph. I just…what. what the fork.

  55. Not kidding*

    Big name national food company published a list of recipes for Kwanzaa that included
    .
    .
    .
    Dixieland Peanut Pie

    1. TomatoSoup*

      Why are people like this? Of all the recipes out there on the internet, that’s what they picked? Was the recipe at least better than Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa Cake?

      1. Not kidding*

        I’m sure it was delicious. And, in a way, I guess, marked a very significant experience among certain parts of the African diaspora.

        (I should say that this was on the proposed list and I managed to nix it. Also on the proposed list: Cajun Blackened Chicken. Yes. Those Cajuns. Acadians. French Canadians.)

  56. KDO*

    At my (very large, recognizable) tech company last year, they honored four people for International Women’s Day, and three of them were men.

  57. Polar Vortex*

    My company’s bringing everyone back to the office and they’re trying to entice people with a ton of free lunches/breakfasts/team outings with food for the next month or so. While Ramadan starts, of which we have a number of people celebrating that in our office. Who of course are all in our more entry level positions and the ones who our execs are trying to make happy with all this food.

    Our DEI stuff continues to swing and miss every other at bat.

  58. Upper Learning*

    Just last week we received our annual invitation to the Administrative Professionals’ day brunch. Of the 70+ people who received the invite (and receive it every year), only 3 are “administrative” in any capacity. The rest of us are just professionals. Every year when we get this invite, we explain to those in charge that while we appreciate the gesture, it’s mildly offensive to many of us and they would be better served by having an appreciation event on a different date. Employee Appreciation Day, for example, would be a great neutral alternative if you must tie a brunch to an arbitrary holiday.
    Last year, the majority of us did not attend out of protest, so this year we were told that attendance was expected because the powers that be did not feel appreciated.
    Adding to this is the fact that we recently hired an external consultant to assess issues of staff morale, and they reported that many staff felt burned out and that their work was not respected. Imagine, feeling as though your work isn’t respected when you’re told annually that you’re an administrative professional and should work to make the higher ups feel good about giving you an offensive brunch!

    1. BellyButton*

      “the powers that be did not feel appreciated.”

      “WHY DON’T YOU APPRECIATE US APPRECIATING YOU!”

      JFC if I don’t laugh I am going to cry.

  59. text your ex and hit the gin*

    When I worked for a mid sized tech startup, they were constantly putting up flyers and displays around the building for various “holidays.” They were usually pretty inoffensive, like a wall of post it notes to write down what you’re grateful for on “world happiness day.”

    Except for the year that a bunch of flyers went up about “Mental Health Prevention Month.”

      1. text your ex and hit the gin*

        They were pretty quickly taken down and replaced by ones about “Mental Health Awareness,” which is still a completely meaningless phrase but at least less…threatening.

    1. JustMe*

      Hahahahahahahahahaha that’s like when I see posters about “Supporting Breast Cancer.” We’ll be passing out carcinogens after the staff meeting for anyone who is so inclined…

  60. Leaf Ericason*

    At my last job the company got very into veteran/military appreciation when those holidays came around. The last year I worked there the company had someone who they said was an expert on the military represent the company externally and lead a committee internally.

    The problem was that this “expert” had a very public stolen valor scandal in the past and he had never actually been in the military. He only pretended to have served and be a decorated veteran who was injured in combat.

    Our industry does a lot of contract work with the government and employs lots of veterans and military spouses. This expert getting hired hurt and angered a lot of people I worked with. They were angry about getting lectured or having the military explained to them by someone like him who had lied. The company did eventually backtrack after the holiday but this did a lot of damage.

  61. Grad School Attempt 2*

    My old office (in the southwest US) liked to throw small celebrations for holidays. In order to be inclusive, they made sure to do holidays like Chinese New Year and Diwali in addition to the usual American and Christian ones. I’m Jewish, and one year they threw a small Rosh Hashanah celebration, which served challah and blintzes, but *not* apples dipped in honey, which (at least to me) is the most traditional Rosh Hashanah food (“for a sweet new year”). The office meant well, and was really trying, but the celebration as a whole made it really clear that they didn’t know anything about Rosh Hashanah. I laughed about it at the time, but I also remember thinking that nothing has ever made me feel more like an exotic outsider than having my office genuinely try to celebrate a holiday from my religion, and then getting the details of it wrong.

  62. Lorna*

    Worked for a well known computer manufacturer in Ireland 20 years ago, who fancied themselves hip and forward thinking. It resulted in someone in Marketing coming up with a sales incentive, where the highest performing team would win a trip to Berlin/Germany. They called the incentive “Blitz your way to Berlin”

    The Polish and German teams were not amused and HR had to step in. It was wild!
    They renamed the event “shark week”

    1. Silver Robin*

      This definitely hit the morbid funny bone for me, child of Soviet Jews. Definitely poor taste, but I am going to be chuckling about it for the rest of the day. What were they thinking??

  63. Kelly Clinton*

    My husband’s first job out of college was an entry level administrative assistant position at a Fortune 500 company.

    For Administrative Professional’s Day, he and the other male admins were not recognized because his company thought the holiday applied to women only. It’s been over quite decade since he worked there but he told me at the time that the men were mad at getting left out and the women felt patronized by it.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        At a previous job for Administrative Assistant Day the female assistants got bouquets of flowers and the males received bottles of champagne.

        Fortunately I had a large jam jar I could use as a vase.

    1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

      Laughcrying. I’m one of two people in my office with the title of Administrative Assistant. I’m a woman; the other is a man. Guess which one of us the Big Boss offers to take to lunch each year?

      I work directly for the Big Boss, while the other person has a different immediate supervisor. We do different things and work in different areas, but it still burns my toast.

  64. J Pants*

    This made me think of all of the supermarkets that were advertising their Passover groceries with social media pictures of tables set with challah, rolls, sometimes a country ham…

    1. TomatoSoup*

      There’s a Hanukkah ham ad floating around the internet somewhere. Our local whole foods offered Passover catering last year. More specifically seder catering but only the first night of passover (the whole shebang is 8 days long outside of Israel). No one is expecting WF to get kosher certification but the package included multiple bready items and none of the food items you need for a seder plate or the ritual foods for during the haggadah. Anywhere else that is offering catering for a seder will at least give an option to order them. It was their Easter package with brisket instead of ham.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        If you google “Hanukkah ham ad” it’s the first result.

        How do people, in the age of the internet and basically all of the world’s knowledge available in your pocket, not know these things?

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      One of our local grocery stores has repeatedly put the leftover hamantaschen out with the Pesadich foods.

      And one year I was delighted to see gefilte fish in the hospital cafeteria during Pesach. Delighted, that is, until I tried to eat it, and realized it was a cold matzah ball on a plate with a little lettuce.

    3. DTC*

      The year before I started, my college cafeteria, in an attempt to do something nice for Jewish students, held a big special meal with all kinds of traditional Jewish foods, held on…Yom Kippur.

      The student body is about a third Jewish. The school tried to open a dedicated kosher dining hall a few years later, which went about as well as you’d expect.

  65. Oops*

    My employer made a generic International Women’s Day post on social media, mere weeks after a huge sexual harassment scandal had been blasted all over local and regional media. Not a great look.

  66. LK*

    At my org, for Administrative Professionals day, all the regular admin support staff (all women) were always gifted fancy bouquets. I like flowers, but I could only ever enjoy them at work, because they always had lilies and I have cats. It turned out that the shipper/receiver, who was the line man in our bargaining unit, always received a Visa gift card equivalent to the cost of the flowers, but no one noticed because his job was so separate from ours. It didn’t come out until another man was hired for a regular admin support position, and then a fuss was rightly made, we were given the choice between flowers or gift card, and everyone chose gift card. Since then, they don’t even bother asking, just give the gift card.

  67. I have RBF*

    Ethnic Holiday Cluelessness

    At one university employer (that should have known better), they would have celebrations of things like Cinco de Mayo, St Patrick’s Day, and more. Held in the afternoon, they involved food and drink, including alcohol, and corresponding music and entertainment.

    So far so good, right? But for Cinco de Mayo, they had the staffers that put it together (mostly white) in sombreros and mustaches, as a costume. Sometimes they had blanket ponchos, too. Cringeworthy.

    They did the same type of thing for other holidays. At least they dragooned some Indian staff to do Divali.

    1. Harried HR*

      One of my biggest pet peeves it the US celebrations of St Patrick’s Day…if you gave a pint of green beer to any self respecting Irish person they’d throw it at you !!!

      1. UKDancer*

        I know. I still remember the post about the chap who was most indignant that his Irish member of staff didn’t like being pinched on St Patrick’s Day and she walked out of the company as a result. He wrote to AAM and thought he was in the right. The commenters strongly disagreed! Talk about complete ignorance and lack of sensitivity on his part.

  68. HannahS*

    When I work a 26 hour shift, the attending physician “supervises” me from home. They can earn up to $3000 on that shift. I earn about $150–less than minimum wage. For medical resident appreciation day, we each got a canvas tote bag with the department’s name written on it. We all joked that it’s for carrying around the weight of the crumbling healthcare system.

    1. Firestar*

      uh you might want to report them, they owe you a shit-ton of money for each time. (though you might want to consult an actual lawyer, as I am in no way qualified to give legal advice, just someone who hates these kinds of injustices and is always rooting for the glassbowls to get what they deserve)

  69. Still appalled*

    At a former company, the biggest celebration of the year was the Office Olympics, in which randomly assigned teams each chose a country and then competed in various challenges.

    In year 1, this was a fairly straightforward event with office-chair racing, lip-syncing, etc.
    In year 2, it mutated into a multi-day festival of offensive stereotypes.

    For the opening ceremony, Team Cuba constructed wheeled rafts and pretended to row them across the parking lot. Other team members chased them, dressed as border patrol agents. Team Jamaica wore rasta hats and dreadlock wigs. Among them was the VP of HR, who carried a giant smoking joint fashioned from a tiki torch.
    Later that week, Team China brought in their young children and had them sit in the middle of the office and pretend to make shoes.

    These are just a few of the lowlights. No work was performed all week, as every employee was consumed with earning points for their team. Some teams didn’t do anything racist. They came in last.

    In year 3, the Office Olympics were canceled.

    1. icedcoffee*

      HOW were there so many people who so enthusiastically threw themselves into large projects displaying their racism? Just think what they could do with all that effort towards actually doing…literally anything else.

      1. Oregonbird*

        They push the button, hear the scream, and push the button again because it feels so good not to be the one screaming.

  70. Anonymouse for this*

    Once, at a large nationally known law firm, women associates were invited out to our annual lunch with the women partners. Which usually was just a small, pleasant, fun affair where they would give us career advice, etc. This year, they told us that the *male* partners had told them to talk to us about our attire. Because apparently some clients had complained that we “dressed too much like the secretaries.” Now, mind you, we had a casual jeans-and-t-shirt dress code. So, I’m not sure how lawyer jeans were supposed to look different than secretary jeans. Of course, we wore formal attire for client meetings, but so did the secretaries. We were so mad. Some of the women pointed out that our male colleagues would wear ripped jeans and muscle tees. A number of the women partners acknowledged that was true, and that in fact, the worst dress code violators were men.

    That was the shittiest free lunch I ever had, even though the food was probably excellent.

    1. BellyButton*

      “I assume all the woman are secretaries, unless they are wearing a suit. They can’t be offended if they don’t let us know!”

  71. Anon for this*

    A place I worked at had a “holiday” celebration. Thankfully, I wasn’t able to attend, but I was at the office the next day and got to hear all about it. For context, I am Jewish.

    The office had an admin and a receptionist. Both of them were generally very nice people. However, they both pulled me aside to tell me (and show me pictures) of the wreaths they put on the office doors. Now, wreaths are really a Christmas thing. Yes, there were tiny Christmas trees in the lobby, etc. You all know how it’s all really Christmas stuff no matter how “holiday” the party is. Fine. However, both the the receptionist and the admin took pains to tell me “don’t worry” (?) because the wreath on MY door and the other Jewish person’s door had blue ribbons. The one who did the ribbons seemed to be looking for praise for this, like “look how inclusive I am” and I was just gobsmacked. Blue is not the official color of Judaism and making a Christmas wreath “Jewish” is rather offensive! Of course, there’s also the identifying people by religion aspect AND it was right at a time of surging antisemitic attacks in the US.

    I was mentioning this all to a coworker I’m friendly with and learned that the admin had ALSO put a full nativity display in the hallway, which my coworker complained about until it was moved into the admin’s office.

    1. icedcoffee*

      Right up there with Hannukah balls on the tree! The nativity scene blows me away, why are there professional admins who know nothing about hr bare minimums?

      Compulsory Christmas celebrations are one of the top things I do not miss from working in an office.

      1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        Probably because they aren’t HR folks? It makes me think it would be good if schools offered HR basics or something though.

        1. icedcoffee*

          I had genuinely thought that a certificate in office administration had some degree of coverage of workplace laws, because my last office manager had compliance under her job description. So I assumed that some sort of HR basics was part of the coursework for her degree. Looking around though, the ethics courses for office administration or office management are limited to PII, recordkeeping, and less about people. And if it’s only a single day of your one class on “office management” you probably can come away with the idea that it’s not that important.

          1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

            Ah.. admin does not equal office manager in this case. more of the person who preps meeting rooms, refills the printer paper, does miscellaneous tasks, and maybe assists the executive and office manager with coordination type stuff (follow up emails, etc.).

          2. Pointy's in the North Tower*

            Administrative assistant usually doesn’t require any college (at least in my US state), and the pay typically reflects that.

    2. Amy*

      Reminds me of the time my son came home from kindergarten with a blue Santa Claus drawing. To be inclusive, all the Jewish kids were given only blue crayons for their Santa Claus.

      1. allathian*

        That’s… words fail me. I’m furious on your son’s behalf. Admittedly I’ve learned most of what I know about Jewish traditions from reading this blog, and the only Jewish people I know are secular/atheistic Jews who don’t keep kosher or celebrate Jewish holidays in a way that would interfere with their work schedules, but this is simply unacceptable.

  72. Staff Un-Appreciation Week*

    We have a Staff Appreciation Week each year. Usually there is programming throughout the week, ranging from free financial literacy/planning seminars to a volleyball tournament and picnic. All you have to do is show up. Until this year. THIS year, HR has decided to ask the staff to put forth proposals for staff appreciation week, and then ask their own departments to fund those proposals, and then execute those proposals themselves. So the theme for this year’s staff appreciation week appears to be “ask the staff to perform additional unpaid labor.”

  73. Decidedly Me*

    For IWD a few years ago, our sister company did a webinar that interviewed different women in business – all good there. The interviewer/host, however, was a man that was high up in the company… There are thankfully quite a few women in high positions in the different companies in our group, so the choice is even more odd. I didn’t attend for a multitude of reasons, but was told by someone that did that the whole thing felt quite cringey. I suspect they received a lot of feedback about this as this never happened again.

  74. icedcoffee*

    My company generally does a decent job with DEI initiatives, which is why this one took me by surprise. We have an optional book group that reads and discusses books about a DEI theme, usually by someone from that underrepresented demographic. The books are nominated by members and then we vote.

    This month, for women’s history month, our selections include two male authors. One is a history that does look pretty interesting and appropriate to the prompt; it’s queer women’s history and the author is a cis queer man. The other is historical fiction set during ww2 (because of course) that…I guess qualifies the prompt because one of the characters is female and it is technically during a previous period of history? Tbh it won a bunch of writing awards but mostly looks like airplane fare.

    I’m hoping it was only included because the group leader wanted a minimum of four options. Otherwise, uh, odd choice.

    1. BellyButton*

      My suggestion: Why Women Are Blamed For Everything: Exploring the Victim Blaming of Women Subjected to Violence and Trauma

  75. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

    This wasn’t an official celebration, but it’s an example of something intended to be celebratory that ended up being incredibly clueless and harmful.

    Years ago I worked for Major Religion A community center. We had a professional development day with about 100 people in attendance. Our leadership team had a guest speaker come in. She did not make an impression for the majority of her talk as I remember only what happened at the very end. An important detail of this story is that it took place during the Trump administration.

    In the morning, the speaker said at the end of the day she was going to ask all the first generation immigrants to come into the middle of the room to “celebrate them.” The rest of us would form a circle around them and she would say a blessing. I believe her intent was to create a welcoming and safe space for immigrants during a time that they often did not feel safe. Non-immigrant, cisgender, white me naively thought, “Huh, what a nice idea.”

    When it came time to do this, there was a palpable feeling of tension in the air. I then realized this was a bizarre, clueless, and potentially harmful thing to do. A group did gather (definitely not all the first generation immigrants in our community, and I totally supported those who opted out). The speaker lit candles and started the blessing, and told a story about how people from Major Religion B often welcomed those from Religion A. A woman not in the circle then very loudly and angrily started yelling that her family was a victim of crimes from those in Religion B, and resented that story. It was so, so uncomfortable. The speaker said she honored her story too, but any sort of celebratory or sacred vibe the speaker had been going for was gone.

    I later asked a coworker what the experience was like and she said she felt very exposed rather than celebrated.

    Our leadership team must have okayed this. I can’t imagine doing something like this now.

  76. Mildred Fierce*

    One of my old workplaces would encourage us to wear pink shirts on “pink shirt day” (which is a day to promote anti-bullying). Nice sentiment however anyone who did not wear a pink shirt was harassed and bullied by their colleagues for the entire day.

  77. MiseryMoo*

    This one made our local news. It was Black History Month and one of the government agencies did a scavenger hunt with various activities. One of those activities was “have a conversation with a Black colleague” and even better, you had to list their name.

    1. ferrina*

      Tell me you have no diversity in your workforce without telling me you have no diversity….

    2. different seudonym*

      Fuckin’ A. There are others that are more frightening (office olympics…very “let’s get torches and march” vibe), but this is just so nakedly objectifying.

    3. BreakingDishes*

      I’m picturing everyone lined up outside the office of the one Black employee . . .

  78. Dark Macadamia*

    Not exactly a celebration, but I worked in a school district where our snow make-up day (it’s a day off unless we close for weather earlier in the year) always “happened” to fall on Good Friday. One year we had to work that day and a coworker lost her MIND. “Why do the Muslim students always get special treatment and Christians don’t???” The “special treatment” in this case was that they had to take an absence for religious observances and make up anything they missed – aka the same thing Christians would have to do if they chose not to work on Good Friday that year.

    She was not impressed when I pointed out that having school scheduled around Christian holidays by default is the actual special treatment, and being treated the same as other faiths for ONE day isn’t actually discrimination or oppression.

  79. Different name for this*

    Many years ago, I worked in a school that was completely full of evil bees. (Not literally. My classroom was literally infested with ladybugs, though!) To give some context to the level of dysfunction and turn-over:

    I was an August hire. The principal needed to replace both math teachers in a hurry as the previous two had quit. The year before, both math teachers had also quit. At the end of my first year, the other math teacher quit.

    I came back for a second year. This was a mistake.

    So anyway, I quit at the end of my second year with noting else lined up. I was in my twenties.

    They threw me and the other teachers who were leaving a “retirement party” at the end of the school year, complete with a framed picture of the school, a live plant, and various thoughtful little mementos to commemorate our wonderful careers at the school full of evil bees. This was done with a straight face and no sense of irony, even though my “retirement cohort” was mostly people in their twenties who were clearly quitting rather than retiring and maybe one older person who was of a traditional retirement age and might actually be leaving the workforce.

  80. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    Not racist or sexist like so many of the comments, but still clueless. For Employee Appreciation Week we didn’t even get the stereotypically bad pizza party. No, we got a high school homecoming-style dress up week, which we were supposed to participate in and take pictures (even the people working from home!) to show how involved we were as a team. One day was wear your favorite sports team jersey or t-shirt, which almost everyone participated in because t-shirts and jerseys were normally against dress code, but none of the other days had participants. At all. One day we were supposed to wear pink, another day was Hawaiian shirts, etc. We thought this high school celebration was infantilizing and that it was incredibly cheap of our Fortune 100 company to not spend a dime on its employees for Employee Appreciation Week.

    1. Annie N. Mous*

      Is your company a publicly traded healthcare company with a three letter name? Because that’s what my company does and it does not make me feel appreciated.

  81. NotMyUsualName*

    I work in the UK. Corporate cafeterias seem to think it is a good idea to offer themed food to celebrate particular events- in theory, maybe, but they get it so very wrong they need to stop:
    – a beef curry to celebrate Diwali
    – on another Diwali celebration mislabelling the meat-filled samosas as vegetarian
    (For anyone not familiar with Diwali, it is a major Hindu celebration, many Hindus are vegetarian for religious reasons, those who are not vegetarian very often do not eat beef because the cow is sacred)
    – “Oriental” noodle salad to celebrate something, perhaps Chinese New Year
    – “Pimped Chips” to celebrate Black history month; this was literally the only item on the menu celebrating Black history month, specifically labelled as being there for that purpose
    (This is a compilation of offences across two different canteens).
    I have sent various emails to the people responsible explaining why I felt they had not made the best choices.

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      That first one didn’t compute for me right away and I thought, “Sigh, curry, yes rather stereotyped…WAIT.”

  82. Another Jewish Party-Goer*

    Years ago, a former job decided they wanted to make their office “holiday” (read: Christmas) party more inclusive. They did this by requesting that I bring my menorah and light it at the holiday party.

    For non-Jews, lighting the menorah is the one part of Chanukah that is a religious observance, not just a cultural tradition. The menorah is a ceremonial artifact. There are specific times it needs to be lit, specific prayers that need to be said, and specific ways it needs to be treated while it’s burning.

    When I declined to bring mine on a day that wasn’t even during Chanukah and light it in the middle of the afternoon, office higher-ups threw a fit. They were trying to be inclusive of me! Why was I being so difficult?

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Let me guess… it wasn’t even Chanukah when they wanted you to do this, right?

  83. Cookies for Breakfast*

    Mine is kind of the opposite of the “condolence corner” in a recent letter.

    At a past workplace, the CEO enjoyed upping the “faaaamily” vibes by mentioning employees’ personal milestones in his weekly newsletter and all-company meetings, and inviting everyone to send public appreciation messages to celebrate them.

    I’m reasonably confident everyone who got a shout out was asked for their consent beforehand, which at least is a positive. And I’m sure he meant well…BUT. Every single milestone was an engagement, a wedding or a newborn child. Every. Single. One. And at least once, in an all-hands meeting presentation, the slide with photos of employees’ babies had text along the lines of “Looking forward to more [WorkplaceName] babies soon!”. Cringe times ten.

    I found that tone-deaf. What about those who are single, choose not to get married, or don’t want to / can’t have kids? Surely there are other milestones that are just as worth shouting out, so others can be happy for you and get to know you better if you want them to (a degree, a new pet, a new home, success in a creative hobby…heck, even a birthday). Since that workplace was very much the “bring your whole self at work” kind, and many people were not shy about sharing anything that was going on in their lives in public channels, the CEO’s choice of what was worth celebrating felt very intentional.

  84. StillinNonProfit*

    I worked for a small non-profit (I know, I know) a number of years ago. The ED was a former HR rep for a call centre. Their idea of staff recognition because we had no budget, was to reward staff (their favourites) everyone a sticker with their picture on it and called it “The (TheirName)Shine” award. Good times. I lasted about 6 months.

  85. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    I read “ Please share in the comments.” as “ Please shame in the comments.” And it’s the same :)

  86. Quokka*

    Not exactly a celebration, but once there was discussion around reducing teacher stress/burn out by getting 1-2 massage chairs to go in the central staff room.
    Withstanding all the issues of over 200 staff and 1-2 chairs, If I had time to spend 20mins in a massage chair, I wouldn’t be stressed enough to need it!
    Funnily enough, no schools have massage chairs in their staff rooms.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Ugh, this reminds me of something in my school. Again not a celebration, but…tone deaf. It was about a year or so ago and we had a staff talk on “resiliance”. The guy giving it gave an example of a restaurant owner who, when his business was closed due to the pandemic, switched to take-out/delivery and ended up making way more money than he had previously and decided that when he reopened, the sitdown restaurant would be only a sideline and he was going to focus on the take-out/delivery side of the business. The implication was that if you were positive and resilient, you’d find a way to have disasters like covid benefit you.

  87. Kate*

    In the opposite vein, a colleague of mine was successful in pushing her organization to put up a social media post for Hanukkah.

    Should have been straightforward, right?

    Except apparently the two senior managers chosen for the photo “didn’t realize that Jews have *happy* holidays” and thus are pictured lighting two hannukiot/menorahs somber and hands clasped like they are going to a funeral.

    1. friendly office Jew*

      I don’t think lighting the menorah somberly was the problem here! Lots of people are somber during those prayers. Having two gentiles playact a Jewish religious ritual, on the other hand…had no one introduced them to the wonder of stock photography?

  88. irene adler*

    Not a celebration, but clueless, nonetheless.

    One Monday morning, the CFO called me over to her office.

    She asked me how my Easter was (was yesterday Easter? I wasn’t aware). Had I done anything special with my family that day? Before I could respond, she told me all about her family’s Easter meal and how wonderful it was.

    Then she handed me an empty, flatted box. It had “rice pilaf” printed on it (It may have been Rice-A-Roni brand).

    “Here, Irene, you people like this sort of thing, don’t you?”, she said. “This was one of the dishes we ate. I know you’ll like it. We really enjoyed it!”

    My family is of middle eastern descent. We aren’t Christian.

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      “You’re from a culture that’s raised rice dishes to an art form, right? You’ll love this crappy Westernised boxed version!”
      As for “you people”…

  89. SPB*

    My (male) friend worked at a place where, for women’s day, all women were given a single flower. That’s it. His direct manager gave him one too, since he’s gay, “which is kind of like a woman too”.

  90. Tilly*

    Black History Month Lunch & Learn – they served sweet tea, watermelon and chicken. Our sole black executive spent the time chatting about how he’s met Michael Jordan and Michelle Obama and other examples proving how he’s in a tax bracket way above the rest of us. And ended the session by stating how our EV program is hooking him up with free charging infrastructure at his house. Bizarre.

  91. TomatoSoup*

    For Employee Appreciation Day, I was denied a PTO request because I was required to attend the festivities. The festivities in question consisted of everyone shoving into a tiny room (we usually ate at our desks) to hear some higher up that no one recognized give a bland speech and eat lunch provided by the agency. Lunch was a gigantic “party sandwich” packed mostly with pork products and coleslaw. At least 25% of the people in the office either didn’t eat pork or any meat for religious/cultural reasons. This included me, so instead of using my own PTO, I had to stand there with a scoop of coleslaw for lunch.

    Later on, someone came by and dropped a lapel pin on our desks. Nearly no one in the office wore suits to pin them to and the rest didn’t want to. This was an appreciation gift every year and when new people started, they’d open up a drawer full of dumped pins. This was the same agency that wouldn’t let employees buy their own Mr. Coffee for a nonpublic office because it might look like we were wasting taxpayer money.

  92. Willow Pillow*

    A director at an old job brought my team a big box of chocolates in January to thank us for working through high volumes… And then went on about the company’s “biggest loser” competition coming up. Worse yet, he got annoyed when the conversation meandered to gossip about past participants and I excused myself from my desk.

  93. ExplainiamusMucho*

    For International Women’s Day this year, I got a newsletter telling me that this very progressive organization would only feature women sources for the whole month of March! After which all pictures, speakers, and sources in the rest of the newsletter were – you guessed it! – men.

    I mean, most other outlets automatically only uses one gender when they need sources (just the opposite one). So at least the organization had a point. If only the execution hadn’t been so absurdly bad…

  94. ferrina*

    The company had an open presentation on Islam to recognize the start of Ramadan. It was given by two Muslim staff who happened to work on the same team. They gave a basic overview of Islam and Ramadan, and also talked about why Ramadan is important to them personally.

    It went really well until they opened it up for questions. The SVP who oversaw their team started asking things like “Yeah, but why do you want to starve yourself? I like bacon too much to do this. It’s so funny that you fast. Make sure your productivity doesn’t slip” (which was extra ridiculous, because they both had stellar reputations for high performance). They tried to respond diplomatically, but he just kept mocking them. HR was in this meeting and did nothing.

    Both of the presenters left the company within 3 months (which was the company’s loss- they were incredible at their job). The SVP continues to stick around, and continues to behave the same way and has a thick stack of HR complaints.

    1. I was accidentally the A*

      I once had a graduate student employee work for me who was observing Ramadan, but I didn’t know. He fell asleep a few times in the office during his shift. During some meetings, he looked very tired. His work was still getting done, so I just assumed he was extra busy with his studies. I kept offering him coffee and snacks etc, and ate snacks during some of our meetings. He couldn’t even have water and our office was frequently uncomfortably warm.

      When he finally told me he was fasting for Ramadan, I felt terrible because I had no idea, but also relieved that he was not getting really sick or burning himself out with work.

  95. MadAdmin*

    For administrative professional’s day, which my male boss called “secretary’s day”, the three male CEOS in our department made a big deal about “getting their girls flowers” (this was in 2016, btw). All four of us admins had more education and professional credentialing than those particular executives did so there was a lot about that place that irked me. Finally, Administrative Professional’s Day comes around and they bring two giant wheelbarrows full of mulch and manure into our white-carpeted lobby along with three giant bags of tulip bulbs, saying we were given the day off to go plant the tulips around the existing landscaping since we all “loved gardening”. The company dress code at that point was still stockings, heels, skirts, and suits and I was in a linen pantsuit that day. None of us ever mentioned gardening. Ever. At all. In any way. They just thought women loved gardening. When buildings and grounds came by to get the gardening materials out of the lobby and let it slip that our bosses eagerly asked if they could use the mulch and wheelbarrows “prank”. The joke was on them because the CEO and VP were fuming about the stains on the carpet from the wheelbarrows. I quit shortly after that anyway.

  96. Regina*

    I had to report my first supervisor at an old job to HR because she – a white woman – repeatedly used racial stereotypes against me – a black woman. She was constantly trying to get me in trouble for my “bad attitude,” and insisted I was bullying others by saying things like, “Gotcha,” “Understood,” and “Again,” over email. She even told me, “the rules are just different for you and you’re going to have to work really hard for the team to trust you.”

    I was swiftly reassigned to someone else and she never apologized. She didn’t even speak to me for about two months. So imagine my shock when just a few weeks later she led a company-wide training on micro-aggressions and implicit bias in response to the George Floyd protests. When she asked for examples, I spoke up first.

    I basically said, “As a black woman, I’ve had people ASSUME I’m being hostile when I’m not, or speak with a “sassy” dialect, when I don’t.”

    She glared at me. I smiled at her. Then I quit two months later with severance because they wanted to avoid a lawsuit for all the other crap they put me through.

    1. DivergentStitches*

      Wooooow I’m so sorry you went through that!

      Mine isn’t nearly as bad – I was in a training class where the trainer (a woman in her mid 40’s just like me) was trying to get the audiovisual equipment to work. The majority of the class was new grads, so early to mid 20’s.

      I was helping her with the equipment because I knew what she was doing wrong.

      She said to the room at large, “is there anyone under the age of 35 who can help me?”

      I just said “Wow.”

      A year or so later when the company’s DEI book club started up and we read a chapter about ageism, I told the story. Guess who was on the call (lol). She spoke up (I hadn’t called her out or anything) and said she does tend to discriminate against older people herself and that she’s working on it.

  97. Bunny Girl*

    I worked in an emergency veterinary hospital during the pandemic. Yes I am traumatized.

    We had been doing “such a good job” that he got us “free soda.” First of all… But second of all, we found out the “free soda” was expired soda he had taken out of the vending machine. Everyone went outside and smoked that day.

  98. HomerJaySimpson*

    I’m in the Navy, and an aircraft carrier that’s been suffering a rash of suicides had a visit from the MCPON (the highest ranking enlisted guy in the Navy) who help an all hands meeting in which he told people to just get over it. “Lower Your Standards” is a direct quote from his speech. It pretty well summed up what he thought about the junior sailors who were so miserable that they thought they had no better options: just… stop thinking you deserve any quality of life because at least you’re not actively being shot at!

  99. Art3mis*

    I was at a company for 10 years and was leaving because my husband and I were relocating to another city. At the time remote work was not allowed for the type of role I was in and we didn’t have an office in the city we were moving to. I gave about two months notice, and a few weeks before I was leaving, I was tasked with picking up a cake for a contractor that was leaving after having been on our team for six months. And yes, you guessed it, he got cake, but I did not. Nor did I get a card. Or anything. No one even told me not to let the door hit me in the ass on the way out.

  100. DivergentStitches*

    This was two workplaces ago. They started a DEI program, spearheaded by the CFO. This is the Midwest so there’s not a lot of diversity. This program began with a book club after George Floyd was murdered. It was a great book, it touched on lots of different kinds of diversity such as older people, disabled people, LGBTQ+, etc. We had a lot of great discussions.

    Many of us were encouraged and started talking about ways to expend the DEI initiative with ERG’s, a LGBTQ+ forum, etc.

    CFO announced that the ONLY DEI initiative that would be moving forward was for racial issues.

    Which, that’s important, to be sure, but myself (disabled) and other diverse employees were very disheartened.

    I wound up leaving that employer partly because of that.

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      Making sure your diversity initiatives are not at all diverse is really something.

  101. Anna Badger*

    I once worked for a company which had an office in an internationally famous institution that you have probably heard of, and their activity for Black History Month was to put “African and Afro-Caribbean inspired” food on the canteen menu, including a “tomato rice” so insipid that one of my colleagues who was of West African descent spent the afternoon muttering “this is an insult to jollof” over and over again in tones ranging from fury to despair.

  102. poutinerie*

    This doesn’t answer the question at all, but I imagine many here would enjoy this Twitter account: https://twitter.com/PayGapApp

    This bot account looks at companies that tweet the hashtag #IWD2023 and shares what their publicly available pay gap is. It’s perfection. Enjoy.

  103. Millenniiaa*

    We had 2 women start work on our team the same day, and they quickly became friends. About 3 weeks into their tenure, it was B’s birthday. Our team is pretty low-key about birthdays – we post a happy birthday message on Slack (if the honoree has opted in) and people add their own greetings there. Sometimes someone brings in treats, either for their own birthday or for a cube-mate’s, but that’s really it.

    Well, A planned a DAY-LONG birthday extravaganza for her new pal. She decorated her cube with streamers and balloons, brought in cookies, posted signs about said birthday cookies, gathered the team to sing, then also asked the office ukelele club to come serenade B with another “Happy Birthday” midafternoon. The whole thing made me so uncomfortable; it’s not realistic to do that for everyone’s birthday on a team of 40+ people! Nor does everyone want such a spectacle – and did she even know B well enough to tell if B would have wanted it?

    But here’s the really egregious part: B is of Indian descent (and A is not, nor is anyone else on our otherwise pretty diverse team). A bought BINDIS and passed them around for people to wear to “celebrate” B. I …. yikes.

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      Oh dear, that last detail shifted it from “not ideal” to “oooooh noooooo”

  104. STFU*

    Not a work celebration, but the other week I had a male colleague (who routinely talks over all the women in our team) tell me about how he was writing an essay all about feminism and why men should care about it, and would I like to read it and here are all the points he’s covering. Even when I explained to him that, as a woman who exists in the world and also ran a feminist online magazine for 2 years, I’m pretty clued up on why men should care about feminism, HE KEPT TALKING for another 20 minutes and ended by offering to let me read the essay.

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      had a male coworker who believes he is a feminist man-splain how to recycle… complete with picking up the offending item and placing it the bin. I had been out when we finally got a recycling bin and instead of stopping at “oh, we got a bin, it’s by the printer” he felt I needed a demo.

  105. Cait*

    My university once decided to celebrate Black History Month by interviewing black students about their college experience. Each interview included the question, “What sport do you play?”.

    1. allathian*

      Oh no… As if Blacks couldn’t get to college on academic merits.

      I’m a bit peeved at myself that I missed a recent exhibition in my city on Black academics in Finland. They exist, even in a country where less than 5% of the population is POC.

  106. Mustachio*

    My office did monthly challenges, and one was Movember (raise awareness for testicular cancer by growing a mustache). There was a significant monetary prize for growing the best mustache (voted by colleagues). There were smaller prizes available for wearing sports attire.

    Every year I made it clear that this was sexist BS and made a mustache that I wore in a photo to be entered in the contest. When I raised objections, inevitably there would be laughs about how some women could grow mustaches, ha ha ha.

    1. LTR FTW*

      When my office did a “no shave” Movember about 10 years ago, a woman I work with didn’t shave her legs for the month and wore skirts the whole time. It was glorious.

  107. Sftba7*

    Former job (very large, publicly traded) had a women’s leadership business resource group. Some of the events? Wine tasting, with a lesson on how women could feel confident picking the bottle of wine at a dinner and golf lessons. Which hey, I’ll take the afternoon to go drink some wine, no matter how misguided it might seem.

    But the straw that broke the camel’s back for me is the swag they gave out at one of the events – compact mirrors with the name of the group written on top in what looked like lipstick.

  108. TippyToes*

    I worked at a daycare center at minimum wage. when they had a fundraiser, each member of the staff had to “donate” a cake. then we were required to do the secret Santa with a $35 budget set by the owner. then “donate” $25 to the owners as a “show of appreciation”. All of this took place in November-December, and nearly the entire staff worked part-time while paying for their own children to attend that daycare at a 50% discount, so most of our paychecks were less than $200 weekly, and they were well aware of that. in In February, the owners bragged about how they were taking a week vacation to Aruba with their children, and bringing along a +1 for their kids as well, paid for by them, of course.

    To show appreciation for the staff, the owners rented out a room at a restaurant, then charged us $20 a plate plus $35 for each +1. They were angry no one shows up and they had to pay for the room from their own pocket and said we appreciate all they do for us. I wasn’t there very long,

  109. Coverage Associate*

    2 from workplaces that didn’t understand the traditions around Mardi Gras, Holy Week and Easter.

    One, a Mardi Gras party a day late, so on Ash Wednesday, a fast day. This was my roommate’s government employer. It was potluck. She brought bottled water.

    Then my own employer had the “Easter” potluck on Good Friday, another fast day. I would stay on several more months but was very unhappy. I brought bread of affliction. (I used Hebrew on the sign up sheet.)

  110. TippyToes*

    Sorry for the typos, the comment feature of this website doesn’t seem to work well. I meant they said we DON’T appreciate everything they do for us.

  111. A person*

    A couple IWD’s ago our workplace decided that the best way to celebrate women was to provide feminine hygiene products in the bathrooms… which in itself isn’t bad, but that was all they did (and really just focused on one site that didn’t have it yet – and there are only 3 women at that site and we all pretty much handle our own hygiene products) and then they spent all day talking about menstruation. It felt really weird… this workplace is all people that have easy access to hygiene products and can afford them so it just sort of felt belittling? I don’t know how else to describe it but it wasn’t great. They redirected to menstruation every time someone tried to ask about pay equality stats or how we retain women in a male dominated industry.

    I don’t think there should be shame around women’s biology, but it felt like a smokescreen.

    1. ferrina*

      “Yes, I’m aware that I bleed, but I don’t bleed money. So about that pay gap….”

  112. nmitford*

    I used to work at a large, non-profit corporation in Washington, DC. Because it was a non-profit, those rare times when the company provided any type of celebration it was always done as cheaply as possible.

    So, we had a series of big new business wins, so management decided to have a party and give everyone lunch to celebrate. The food would represent the states where our new clients were located (barbecue for Missouri, for example). The big challenge was that there was no place in our building that was large enough to hold all the employees at the same time. Our annual all-hands meeting, for example, was always held in a ballroom at a nearby hotel.

    So, management decided to have the event on the plaza between our building and the next. Outdoors. One the hottest and most humid day of the summer. In Washington, DC, the heat and humidity capital of the Mid Atlantic. At noon, when the sun is brightest. On a plaza where the only shade was from a couple of spindly little Bradford pears. The one concession to the weather was that they would allow us to wear jeans instead of business casual, if we wanted to. Trust me when I say that jeans are the last thing you want to wear in Washington, DC, in August is jeans.

    Somehow, I got voluntold to participate. It was hotter than Hades that day. The temperature was in the 90s and the humidity was 60%. I wore a sundress, and it was stuck to me by the time the event was over. My makeup melted. My hair was soaking wet under my straw hat.

    The employees got their food and went back inside to eat at their desks, in the blessed air conditioning. The volunteers stood outside and sweltered for hours.

    One of the unanticipated consequences of having an event like that outside, wafting the aroma of delicious barbecue down the block, and not having any additional security on site, was that we also fed any number of tourists, homeless people, and workers from other businesses who saw free food and decided to partake. At a certain point everyone who’d been drafted to man the different tables decided that none of us was being paid enough to argue with the freeloaders.

  113. Chauncy Gardener*

    A million years ago when I was an officer in the (US) armed forces, I was invited to join the officer’s wives club. Because I am female. Not sure they had thought that through very well

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My husband’s PhD advisor was the first woman tenured in her department (Ivy-equivalent R1 university, early 1980s, science field). Shortly after she was hired, she received an invitation to join the Faculty Wives Club.

      She wasn’t married at the time.

  114. ThisIshRightHere*

    What about that one letter where the OP’s company celebrated Black History Month by sending out a fried chicken recipe and then sharing the fun fact that white people actually invented the dish?

    P.S. I demand to know why fried chicken and watermelon (specifically, and exclusively) make their way into every tone-deaf demonstration of African American cuisine? Like…when was it decided that this group of people would forevermore be represented by these two foods?

    1. WorkerBee359*

      I understand the stereotypical aspect. But I live in the south. Everyone I know, regardless of race, loves good fried chicken and watermelon. I just thought of it more as a southern cultural thing.

    2. LearningIsFun*

      I recently learned the answer to this: fried chicken and watermelon specifically were used in pre-1860 ads to imply the Black people enjoyed being slave, complete with racist charicitures of Black children. There are pictures of such ads floating about on the internet, though I won’t link them here. Very grim stuff.

  115. A person*

    A manager in our company answered bigoted comments directed towards another employee by making the bigot do a presentation (topic of his choice) on something about diversity. The presentation was pretty offensive (something along the lines of “the risks of aids in the gay community” based on old data and extremely biased views). The manager saw nothing wrong with the presentation and thought it would be wrong to discourage him by telling him that his presentation was inappropriate.

  116. They call my Ishmael*

    I remember either letter or a comment in an open thread about a worker who quit because their colleagues wouldn’t stop pinching them during the company’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

    1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

      It was a letter. I think it was the boss who wrote in. The woman who quit was the only employee of Irish descent, expressed that she found it offensive was harrassed all day. OP thought the woman was in the wrong.

  117. New Senior Mgr*

    A male coworker made the suggestion (in a team meeting) that women bring and serve lunch for all the male staff on the Friday before Father’s Day and the men would reciprocate on the Friday before Mother’s Day. Surprisingly a majority of the team thought it was a nice “inclusive” idea. Serious eye roll.

  118. nmitford*

    Another story from me.

    Lack of employee recognition kept surfacing in employee surveys, so HR decided to implement what they thought was a foolproof system to ensure that every manager made an effort to recognize employees. On designated work anniversaries (three years, five years, ten years, etc.), employees would receive a packet, containing a catalog from which employees could choose a gift, that could be personalized by the employee’s manager. Managers were instructed to make the giving out of these catalogs part of regularly scheduled staff meetings to that recognition was public. HR’s job was to hand out the packets to managers in advance of the anniversary date.

    My five-year anniversary rolled around, and one day I came back from lunch to find an envelope in my chair with a Post-it on it saying, “Jane, this is for nmitford’s five-year anniversary,” with my name spelled wrong.

    Inside the envelope were the following:
    1) The catalog of gifts
    2) A sheet with instructions to managers telling them how to personalize the packet by handwriting the employee’s name on the envelope, handwriting a note of appreciation to the employee on a little greeting card, and making a short speech at a staff meeting. There was also sample language for the note of appreciation and the short speech. The sheet ended with, “Please be sure to remove these instructions before you provide this packet to the employee.”
    3) A blank greeting card that the manager was supposed to fill out.

    So, yeah, that’s how my manager celebrated my five-year anniversary — she simply tossed the envelope on my chair and walked away.

    1. Marcona*

      Hah! I similarly once accidentally received my own “X years of service” plaque in the mail – it was supposed to go to my manager to present at a team meeting. It also included a whole brochure on how to recognize an employee – that mostly read like advice for an alien on how to pretend to be human. Smile! Plan out what you’re going to say in advance! Mention some specific thing they’ve done well/contributed! It also had a section on how employees from different generations like to be praised. Millennials and Gen Z apparently appreciate a social media shout-out! Barf.

  119. sara*

    During construction of a new wing, my team and I had to work graveyards a few nights a week over several months plus do my regular day shift, and somehow not accumulate “too much” overtime. We were all so sleep deprived and behind on work… We weren’t involved in the actual construction but had to be there for safety/security reasons basically…

    To celebrate the opening of the new wing, everyone got coffee mugs… Our names were on them with a label printer (because they left them on our shared desk area, not that they were at all personalized). And then we realized that actually the whole company got the same coffee mugs… And only full-time staff actually got them, too, not our part-timers who went above-and-beyond to basically keep our department vaguely functioning while we were all exhausted…

  120. Caz*

    It was breast cancer awareness day, and I work at a hospital. I thought maybe they’ll use this day to hand out self-checking literature, raise awareness about mammograms, dare I hope do something to let people know that breast cancer is not just a cis-woman issue? Nope, they just sold curly pink wigs. I seethed quietly.

    1. Anon for this one*

      If I had gone in for cancer treatment, bald as an egg, and seen the chemo nurses wearing pink wigs for breast cancer awareness, I would have absolutely LOST IT.

  121. I don't need a theme to eat food*

    A former department I worked in INSISTED that we had to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, despite the fact that not a single person could explain what that day represents. Because they wanted an excuse to have a salsa making competition and eat chips and salsa.

    I thought eating chips and salsa was a plenty good enough reason to have a salsa competition, but I was overruled because apparently you have to have a theme for a party. My current department has a chili cook-off every year, because we like to eat chili. The theme is chili.

    1. St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research*

      “The theme is chili.”
      Not related to an egregious celebration per se, but this reminded me of our school’s recent Winter Dance. There was a lot of time in the PTO meeting spent trying to decide on an appropriate theme, and I just kept asking, “Isn’t the theme…. Winter?”

  122. anon for this*

    Once I worked at a large membership organization with a lobbying department that took away our scheduled New Year’s Eve/day holidays (and told us in late December) so we could “get ready for the legislature to reconvene”… and we were supposed to be excited about it.

    The vast majority of the org didn’t work on the political side of things or with the legislature. Many of us had made holiday plans months in advance that we were expected to cancel.

    There was a mass resignation in Q1 of that year.

  123. woman in tech*

    For international women’s day at one of my previous companies, they did an after-work quiz asking trivia questions about all the women in the company. Which is already terrible. But, I heard afterwards (I did not attend this event) that they had a question about me – even though I never agreed to it, or indeed knew it was happening.

  124. Dawn*

    I worked once in a company where everyone was drastically underpaid, except the executives, who were drastically overcompensated. This business was a government-mandated service and was largely funded by public utility money.

    Every year they held a massive “Christmas Gala” and bragged about how expensive it was. When everyone was underpaid. And how they were giving out $10,000 worth of “door prizes”. Attendance was effectively mandatory.

    The kicker is that it was also an awards ceremony, and the vast majority of the awards were being given by management to management. And the so-called door prizes were, in fact, given to award winners. So while almost everyone there was making less than a living wage, the high-earners patted themselves on the back and handed out expensive iPads, game consoles, and other “prizes” amongst themselves, in front of a lot of parents who couldn’t afford nice gifts for their children.

    In case anyone was wondering, that company shut down years ago after their primary project and raison d’être was pulled by said public utilities, about a year after I (one of their top performers – no brag, they posted everyone’s performance numbers in the cafeteria every month – yeah) had moved on.

      1. Dawn*

        Yeah, I was sorry for my former coworkers who were still there because they needed the job, but no tears were shed for the frankly incompetent and toxic management.

  125. Maple Bar*

    That CEO example reminds me of the Ryan Ken tweet: “Sometimes I swear I’m reading a post about a reliable used car and the whole time it’s a man wishing his wife a happy anniversary”

  126. ceviche*

    My company planned a huge software implementation ON DIWALI last year. We have nearly 300 IT people and 90% of them are from India. We had to work the entire weekend. We had critical implementation problems and at least 40 people worked nearly around the clock all weekend. I don’t celebrate Diwali but I love my colleagues and I am still SO angry on their behalf.

    We had a holiday celebration dinner two weeks later. It was nice, but it did not make up for the tone deafness of scheduling the biggest project of the year on the biggest holiday of the year for most of the people who had to support it. We would never, ever have scheduled it on a white Christian holiday weekend.

  127. Queer Columbo*

    while not technically a celebration, a former workplace regularly made our semi-annual sexual harassment training a game called, and i wish i was joking, alas, i am not, “no-no bingo” with actual physical prizes.

    “no-no bingo” involved a printed bingo board and our HEAD OF HR calling out the various things you would normally see in a video training session. should you give a coworker underwear? slap your answer on the board!

    you will be shocked to know that that company is now defunct. rest in restlessness.

  128. Tabbycat*

    During the pandemic, the already massively dysfunctional veterinary hospital where my husband works flooded then developed a mould problem. After an email saying don’t worry about your respiratory signs, the mould’s been tested and isn’t “deadly” failed to stop staff leaving in droves, most (but not all) staff received a small tangerine. Written on the peel with a sharpie was the message “You are appreciated.”

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      I really feel that this needs to enter the lexicon alongside Captain Awkward’s “sandwiches of love” and “African violet of ending a friendship.” “Tangerine of clueless appreciation, anyone?

  129. Usagi*

    I can’t go into too much detail without giving up my anonymity, but at ExJob, there were cafeterias scattered around the campus. The company is big on diversity and inclusion (and is in a city that also feels strongly about it), and so part of that was that the cafeterias would serve foods related to various global holidays and months dedicated to different groups. I can appreciate the sentiment, but sometimes it was… not great. Some examples:

    For Black History Month one year, they served fried chicken and watermelon
    For AAPI Month, they served sushi (I’m Japanese, from Japan. I know I’m biased but that was not sushi in the least)
    I can’t remember the specific holiday, but for a German holiday, they had pfeffernüsse, which, great, but the little card said pebernødder, which is Dutch. To be fair, I personally wouldn’t know the difference, but we did have many German and Dutch employees who complained
    For Pi day one year, they served “humble pie.” From what I could tell, it was similar to water pie? In case anyone isn’t familiar (I wasn’t until a coworker explained it), it’s a Great Depression era pie that was relatively inexpensive to make, i.e., humble. But the way it was explained was that “poor people eat it.”

    Yeah… our Food and Bevarage Director was there for years and years too, and never really got in trouble for anything like that.

    1. UKDancer*

      I don’t know what water pie is but Humble (or Umble) pie traditionally contained assorted offal stewed and baked in a pie. It’s much older than the depression and “umbles” was an older word for offal. So not something a lot of people would choose ideally and probably it was mainly eaten by poorer people.

      I guess if you’re British it’s probably evolved into something like steak and kidney pie which is quite popular (not sure if this is a thing elsewhere)

      I wouldn’t do either for PI day. If I were making pie for a lot of people I’d make an apple and raspberry pie – much more appealing.

    2. Anna*

      Pebernødder is Danish, not Dutch. Dutch is pepernoten. But I’m happy to learn that Germans and Danes also have them, they’re great.

  130. Waving not Drowning*

    A workplace from many many years ago.

    Workplace morale was – not good – for a variety of reasons, but a big one was feeling under appreciated.

    We had a big celebration planned, it was the 10th anniversary of our workplace. Big function, all staff involved in the planning and coordinating. All our clients invited, Board of Directors, local politicians (we provided apprenticeship opportunities). I’d worked there for 9 1/2 of those years, I’d worked up from Receptionist to running Payroll for around $1million at that point.

    Big round of speeches – the Chairman spoke, and said wonderful things about the Director. The Directors wife was presented with flowers to thank her – she did not work for that organisation in any way shape or form. The Director spoke, and his 2IC was thanked, and his wife was presented with flowers to thank her – she also did not work for that organisation in any way shape or form (but was best friends of the wife of the Director). No other staff were thanked for all their hard work, the unpaid overtime, the pulling miracles from our butt on a regular basis. We were not acknowledged at all. Staff – not happy, lots of muttering, but hey, we’ll keep our mouth shut.

    The next day we’re in our round table meeting, and we’re going around the room each saying positive things about the previous nights function. Morale was starting to raise. Then we got to the Director. He crossed his arms, and his only comment was “my wife didn’t get a name tag” – he had NOTHING positive at all to say. His wife didn’t get a name tag because she didn’t want to wear one – there had been one created and she’d rejected it when the Admin person offered it to her.

    There was stunned silence in the meeting, Admin tried to defend herself, but morale plummeted even lower than it was before, and most of us dusted off our resumes and started job hunting (I was out of there 2 months later – within 12 months over half the staff had left).

  131. OrigCassandra*

    At a library conference held at an institution of higher education, the (white male) president of the said institution kicked off the conference with an official ceremonial welcome.

    It was pretty standard-issue stuff, nothing amazing but nothing problematic, until he started winding down. “And,” he said, “I’ve always wanted to do this to a roomful of librarians!” He then ostentatiously shushed us.

    SHUSHED. US.

    Librarianship, of course, is a feminized and heavily stereotyped profession. So, in less than five seconds this president embarrassed his institution with the trifecta — sexism, stereotype reinforcement, and power-tripping.

  132. AnonForThis*

    A couple of years ago my organization’s volunteer DEI group celebrated Hispanic Heritage month by having a taco cooking lesson on Zoom. Yes, the presenter was a Latina (not our employee, we don’t have any Latinas in the org) but they could have done literally anything else to actually celebrate HISTORY and instead they chose white people taco lessons.

  133. Dawn*

    I’m a teacher so, yeah … Teacher Appreciation Week.

    One year, we were taken out to lunch and allowed to either order the $7 special (cup of soup and half sandwich) or share a full lunch with another teacher. At the time, I taught at an alternative high school for boys with emotional disabilities, so many of my colleagues were very large, muscular men (we had to physically restrain students who were a danger to themselves or others, so athletic men tended to self-select into that, not smallish women like me) who could easily polish off a 20-piece chicken bucket by themselves, so to say that this was inadequate was an understatement. Though it was kind of funny watching these giant men nibbling on their tiny sandwiches (we were all friends and had a good laugh about it afterward).

    In 2020, Teacher Appreciation Week happened during lockdown. I received notification from the post office that they had a package for me that I owed postage on. I wasn’t thrilled at going to the post office in the throes of covid, but down I went, and it was an envelope from my school with several pieces of random candy shoved in it and a drawing by a kid I don’t teach. They didn’t put enough postage on it, so I owed six dollars for the privilege.

    My favorite, though, was the year they got the idea to do breakfasts for the teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. Sounds nice, right? If they’d set up in the faculty room before the day started, yeah, it would have been. But they decided to make a show of it by rolling a breakfast cart around the school and serving us during class. So I’m in the middle of teaching my 7th grade and in comes a cart laden with breakfast foods and I’m told to pick what I want. I’m still not sure what they expected me to do? Fix myself a massive breakfast, sit down in front of my class, and eat it while a dozen hungry kids watch me? It illustrates the essential problem with Teacher Appreciation Week: It so often misses the mark by not even beginning to realize/acknowledge what our jobs actually look like. It is unconscionable to me, teaching as I do in a rural high-poverty district, to sit down and eat a meal in front of students when I cannot share with them, to say nothing of the fact that I had a lesson fully planned for the day, and my indulgence would have thrown off my plans for the rest of the week. I sent the cart away.

    1. insult to injury*

      This reminds me of when our job that used to give us gift cards for the holidays decided to give us gift baskets instead during the pandemic.

      I had taken a day off, was burned out and looking forward to sleeping in. I was rudely awakened, very early, by the delivery person.

      I had to sign for the package because the gift basket included a bottle of wine.

      I don’t drink and don’t like being around alcohol due to trauma from growing up in a family with alcoholism.

      I was stuck with the bottle until I could figure out what to do. We were working from home and I couldn’t bring it back in. I could have theoretically given it to someone else, but it’s really important to me to not enable others’ drinking.

      That was not a conversation I wanted to have with leadership… I looked up the website and could not return it. The situation was finally resolved, but ugh. (Resolution details omitted for anonymity… )

    2. nonprofit llama groomer*

      This one made me angry! Please tell me what region of the world you are in (without specifying a country if you need to be anonymous). I assume USA, so if you are, then please share the region of the USA (Midwest, Southeast, Mid Atlantic, etc.) you are in, if you are comfortable with that.

  134. Catwhisperer*

    This International Women’s Day, I was told that I wasn’t getting a raise because my salary is too high compared to others at my level. This is my first performance review since I was hired, so the message was essentially that I, a woman, negotiated for too high of a salary during my hiring process. I found it particularly ironic given that women are statistically less likely do salary negotiation, which contributes to the gender pay gap.

    The kicker is I found out later that I’m actually below the median salary of people at my level.

    Happy IWD to me!

  135. Chuckles*

    I used to work in a public (U.S.) school district that had a long tradition of baby showers and gift-giving for staff and teachers who had babies during the year. All-staff announcements were sent out, newborn photos emailed, money collected for gift cards, surprise classroom shower events, etc.

    That was for women. When men became fathers, it was radio silence. The first man to dare to take the shiny new parental leave benefit was made fun of behind his back, ostracized, and quit the next year. And the staff member who adopted a baby was completely ignored.

    1. The flip side is also annoying*

      Interestingly, my mother experienced exactly the opposite!

      When she was in graduate school, every male student who had a baby got a party celebrating it and everyone was very “yay, new baby!” But when my mom had my brother, it was crickets — no-one said anything and everyone completely ignored the fact and she felt very isolated about it.

      Isn’t it annoying the many ways that groups can mess up supporting their members? Sigh….

  136. Ardys Paramount*

    I worked as a teacher for a private religious school for about nine years. The parents were in charge of Teacher Appreciation Week, which usually amounted to thank-you notes, perhaps some baked goods brought in.
    One year, someone got the bright idea of “thanking” us with a gift basket of “things teachers could actually use in their classroom!” – so our baskets contained a plastic ruler, a memo pad with a cheerful apple design, a bottle of Elmer’s glue AND a glue stick, pencils, a pink eraser, a staple remover…

    As the band and choir teacher, glue sticks were not high on my list of needed items.

  137. Fiorinda*

    This is very small beer compared to the examples above and mostly a case of really awkward cultural misunderstanding, but when I was working at the university we once had a newish lecturer who’d come from the US, who leaped into the month of April by wishing everyone a ‘Happy Anzac Day!’ at least once per day and trying to organise a WWII-themed party on 24 April (because of 25 April being a public holiday).

    I have a complicated relationship with Anzac Day at the best of times, but I was also the only person in the Department with any kind of connection to the Services – and even that was only via family members – so I was the one delegated to quietly sit down with her and explain to her what Anzac Day actually is and what it commemorates (and from which World War). She’d misosmosed it as Australia’s equivalent of the US Independence Day and been terribly confused about why nobody seemed to want to celebrate it. Nobody was offended, we all just felt awkward and confused ourselves, but she felt very embarrassed and the party idea was swiftly forgotten.

    1. baribaby*

      Ok, this wins the cringe award for me.
      It’s not racist, sexist, or homophobic, which is nice. But oh *yikes*

  138. ChrisH*

    We had some company-wide team-building thing (sigh) and at some point it was decided the managers of each department should be celebrated (sigh). They named each department, and the employees cheered. But my department is top-heavy, with 6 managers in the core staff of 8 who manage numerous part-time employees who weren’t present. So when they got to my department, there were just 2 of us to cheer for them. My coworker did; I did not. They decided that something went wrong with our department and tried again. Once again, my coworker cheered and I did not. Finally they moved on.

    I did not get in trouble, although the director was rather annoyed with me.

  139. BeeMused*

    Once when desperate for work, I took a temp job at a company that manufactures plastic bottles (mostly your basic single-use single-serving water bottle, but also laundry detergent bottles, etc.). The elderly founder/CEO provided fridges all around the cubicle farm with bottled water, and DID NOT want to see a reusable bottle or tumbler on anyone’s desk–that’s the level of commitment to creating garbage this company had. Although there were quite a few non-Christian employees, the holiday celebrations were expressly “Christmas” parties, treats, etc. A big thing was wrapping your whole cubicle with Christmas wrapping paper. It was so wasteful and gross, and non-Christian employees felt pressured to join in. I needed the paycheck, but I did not feel good about working there.

  140. The Leanansidhe*

    I work at a University. At the beginning of pride month, they announced an update to the campus map so now there is a tab showing gender-neutral bathrooms. It’s completely wrong; the one closest to my office has been a gendered men’s bathroom for at least ten years. Impressive that a brand-new project manages to be that deeply outdated. Of course we’ve heard nothing about them actually creating more gender neutral bathrooms (and as an nb person I’d very much welcome this).

  141. Hydrangea McDuff*

    I worked for a company with six or seven regional branches. They did not do holiday bonuses (except for sales staff) but would send a gift because it was “more personal.” The first year I worked there full time they chose a handmade glass Christmas ornament made by one of the the employees at the “home office” as her side gig. Truly she made beautiful, delicate objects and I hope her Etsy is thriving, but she had to make like 200 of these on deadline, which she later confided to me was horrific and she didn’t sleep for weeks. Then, tragically, they were not packaged well enough and most arrived broken. So: as a young person I would have much preferred a small bonus equal to the value of my colleague’s work and the UPS shipping costs to my home, instead of a box of broken glass and crumpled paper.

  142. anonymous higher ed expatriate*

    When I worked at a well-funded institution, our director would bring in fancy pastries once a month during our staff meeting for everyone with a birthday that month.

    My the time my birthday month rolled around, our staff meeting was the same day as an outdoor winter event on campus, so they decided that month that we would just walk over together and have the free smores and hot cocoa instead.

    It ended up pouring rain, I felt obligated to go as a birthday person. A few brave staff went along anyway. Our meeting ran a little late, so by the time we got there, there were no smores due to the rain. There was one tent set up with other attendees already crowded under it. The hot chocolate was already nearly gone, and what was left was cold and watered down, ugh…

  143. Numbat*

    With my workplace I once attended an International Women’s Day breakfast. It was hosted by and a fund-raiser for a domestic violence organisation, so the speeches and whatnot focused on that. Depressing, but fair enough. The next bit I don’t blame the organisers for, but the people they got to run this bit; there was a silent auction. Of sporting memorabilia. Ok, fine. But not one of the featured athletes was a woman. And after staring at the overpaid male sports stars for a while, it was also apparent that plenty of them were also known for perpetrating abuse or less than respectful treatment of women (E.g. high profile affairs). Nobody bid on anything.

  144. Numbat*

    My best friend was asked to bring a cake to work for international women’s day. She brought a cake with a large chunk already cut out of it, and a note stuck on it about the pay gap. She is my hero.

  145. Zulema K*

    This is perhaps more of a December story, but here goes. The end of year celebration planning committee planned for an all-org Secret Santa in which each person was assigned someone to purchase a small gift for. They wanted to bring the full team together in the holiday spirit and foster connections across the organisation. A few issues with this:

    – Our organisation had grown quite large with several sites, and not everyone knew one another, so there were high chances you would draw the name of someone you knew nothing about (I did).
    – They included ALL staff in this exchange, including cleaning and facilities staff, whose pay was far below that of the planning committee. Participation was mandatory.
    – They had no back-up plan in case someone showed up to the event without their gift. (In past years, the C-suite had purchased a set of back-up gifts to hand out so no one went home empty-handed).

    Several people reached out to the committee to let them know the challenges with this plan (namely including teammates for whom this would be a financial burden, and making it mandatory). They said they didn’t want anyone to be left out and kept it mandatory for all.

    On the day of the event, at least 1/3 of the team didn’t receive any gifts, people received deeply impersonal gifts (plain mugs, cheap earbuds, etc) and had no idea who to thank, and there were tears shed from those who had sacrificed to bring a gift and received nothing.

    We have never done a whole-team Secret Santa again.

  146. A Mechanic*

    Oooh, I was hoping we’d get this!
    I have nothing egregious, only an Instagram post that made me roll my eyes: I work at a nationwide company (not the US tho) that is fairly big (not as big as they’d like to think…). Think of us a car dealership, but for bigger machines – as you can imagine, the non office side is very, very male dominated. As in, I know all the female repair techs personally – and I need one hand to count us. Anyway, for Women’s Day, they posted a picture of three women in work wear, but they were very obviously office folks put into work pants – the hair, the fingernails (as much as I love long nails, they’re just not practical), everything. They captioned it with something inane, like “We celebrate the women in the garage as well as on the office” or something. All in all, pretty inoffensive, but I’d much rather they used a different picture…

    1. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      This is akin to those “learn a musical instrument” stock photos where the clarinet is upside down or they’re trying to blow down a cello >_<

  147. spruce*

    IWD in my office a few years ago. A man went around the office and handed out all women roses. I declined mine and said this was about women’s rights, not Valentine’s Day. He proceeded to explain to me that in his home country (Romania) this was traditional, and he just wanted to share his tradition. He got so annoyed and when he did it again the next year, made a whole show of avoiding me, loudly saying “Spruce doesn’t like flowers”.

    1. Silver Robin*

      The tradition is tokenizing and sexist and it makes me roll my eyes every time.

      Women protesting in Petrograd on March 8 kicked off the Bolshevik revolution. They were mobilizing and had a huge influence on history! Do I care for the USSR? No, but the women were marching for bread, wages, equality…to have that political power reduced to flowers and chocolates…ahejfkgieksjfh

  148. Trust me, I’m a doctor*

    My department is in a different building than the rest of the company, but it’s all on a private campus. For an employee appreciation event, my company offered horse drawn carriage rides around the campus. Not only did nobody on my department have time to take a ride ourselves, but the horses emptied their bowels just as they were passing by our parking lot. Several people in my department drove through horse poop because – who would expect that? The best/worst part was that the wagon was carrying the whole HR department when the horses did their thing. The department that organized the event watched it happen and didn’t do anything. We didn’t feel appreciated, to say the least.

  149. In Equitable*

    Not exactly a “celebration”, but an example of extreme cluelessness.

    Our staff meeting contained a “DEI Corner” where different staff volunteered (or were asked) to give some kind of DEI related information. Someone (I think the white male “DEI Lead” of the group) had the bright idea for people to share “the story of my name”, which only seemed to apply to people with “ethnic” names. So a small subset of staff were asked to talk about how they got their “interesting” names. The best was a woman (born outside the US) who got volunteered and basically said “my name isn’t special where I come from, it’s quite common, my parents liked it, just like all your parents presumably liked your names of ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Robert’….which would be considered “interesting” where I’m from”.

    Once the group ran out of non-anglo people to put on the spot, they stopped doing it of course.

    1. Silver Robin*

      That could have been a lovely thing where people look into the origins and meanings of their names and share… Even the most common names have a history. But no, they had to go an use it to exoticize people. blech

  150. Gotta be anonymous*

    Our International Women’s Day panel took place right after a decent size layoff and reorganization was announced. One of the panelists was a woman who had just been moved out of her leadership role and replaced by a man (this is so new that the changes were announced but not effective yet). Clearly she had to be professional about the whole thing and didn’t mention that in the discussion, but it was a giant elephant in the room.

  151. Good Enough For Government Work*

    Yeah, I completely get what you mean. One of my favourite jewellery sets was made in honour of the Suffragettes, and I’ve had to retire it — I hope only temporarily.

    I hate giving ground on this. Instinctively, it feels like we should fight to take these symbols back. However, I’m a cis bi woman and I work and socialise very heavily with queer people, who don’t always all know me that well, so I took the decision that it was more important not to make other people feel unsafe around me than it was to try to ‘reclaim’ the symbolism.

  152. Still Has Questions*

    Not a specific event but my last company did what everyone else did after summer 2020 and said they were going to do better about hiring diverse people. They specified that they would try to hire people based on race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc etc. At the next company Zoom meeting, I sent in an anonymous question asking how they would do that when most of the things they listed were things you can’t legally ask about or were things no sane person would admit in an interview. I just got a vague non-answer.

  153. CallYourMother*

    Oh yesssssss! Sadly, I see I am not the only one, but we had a women’s history month event and it was unbelievable tone deaf. Here is an excerpt from the actual email:

    The Planning Committee has organized a wonderful event in recognition of Women’s History Month, which will focus on the theme “Recognizing Women through the Voices of Men”. In order to celebrate women, a panel of distinguished men will speak about the important women in their lives that have served as an influential figure to them.

    Not only is it women through the voices of men (Bwahahahaha!), but also, men who would definitely be talking about their moms or grandmas right! Ultimately, it was cancelled, probably due to feedback. Just amazing. It seems fake, but I have receipts.

    Also each heritage/history month, posters would be display, which somehow were always insensitive. For Pride, the poster was very…sensual with people dressed…like the Village People… For Caribbean heritage month, the poster was a white family walking along a beach with a cruise ship in the background with Caribbean men playing steel drums. WHO APPROVED THESE?

    Twice other offensive ideas were successfully shut down. One was senior leadership using wheelchairs all day for Disabilities Awareness Month. Another was for Pride, in which coworkers would film themselves saying nice things about their gay colleagues (potentially outing people) and draw a picture honoring them. The pictures would then be put together, in what people began calling the Quilt of the Gays… just wow!!

  154. A Finn*

    The largest hospital district in Finland wanted to appreciate the nurses’ work. They employ almost 10.000 nurses. The nurses are underpaid, and the clinics are very understaffed, even under normal circumstances, and their working conditions got much worse under Covid and afterwards. There has been a large resignation wave of nurses in Finland.
    What did the management invent to show their appreciation? They sent all nurses a link, where they could print themselves a thank you card! Available both landscape and portrait! If you had a sticker sheet, you could also print yourself some stickers saying “Well done”!

    1. TomatoSoup*

      I never thought I’d hear something worse than “inspiration rocks” handed out to underpaid, overworked US nurses. We appreciate you, so here’s a rock that you can lug around with you to know that we appreciate you.

  155. The Queen*

    I do some social media work at my job, a privately owned company. I wanted to post an image for International Women’s Day talking about how women are equal and congratulating the women who have brought us to the point where we are but it was vetoed by the higher powers because it was “too political” and we “didn’t want to offend people.” Huh? Who is offended by women’s equality? Do we really want them as customers?

  156. SleepyWolverine*

    Customer Service appreciation week in a health insurance call center. That year, the call center reps at the main office in Miami got to log off for a 3-hour long lunch catered with Cuban food from one of the best places in Miami, door prizes…the whole shebang.

    I worked in the secondary office in another city. We had to cover the phones for the Miami team, and were told we would get our appreciation lunch at a later date. Six months later, we are allowed to clock out for half an hour of cold cuts and chips while some drone from C-suite looked us in the eye and told us how much the company appreciated us.

    It also counted as our lunch break, and there was not enough food to even go around.

  157. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

    I worked for a nonprofit (as most job horror stories begin…) that laid of 30% of staff and then decided the best way to boost morale was to hold a staff appreciation party…and make it a potluck!

    Like, I get that they didn’t want to throw an expensive party after laying off so many people, but in no way should “staff appreciation” and “prepare food on your free time and bring it in for the entire office to enjoy” ever be in the same sentence. How about make the execs make food and bring it in?

  158. anon for this*

    For Administrative Assistants Day (a “holiday” that must die), my company used to order snacks and cheap wine and give us a little token like a mug with the company name on it. One year they decided to jazz it up by hiring ballroom dancing instructors and making us learn the mambo and cha cha. But they were all couple dances, so our 95% female admin staff got to deal with shouted instructions like, “Decide which one of you is the guy!”

  159. anon for this*

    Another sad entry from the actual DEI department. They started sending emails acknowledging various religious holidays. We’re in NYC, so you can bet that somebody at the company is celebrating each of these, but the majority is some stripe of Christian. Usually it’s a brief description of the holiday, and very often includes what to eat and where to get it. (It’s NYC–you can get the food.) Last year for 3 Kings we got links on where to get the best King Cake in the city and one link to a recipe. I like cake. That is fine. This year, we got a very earnest bible story explaining in detail the story of the wise men to an employee population that almost certainly knows the story and no cake links. (We don’t get stories from the Koran or the Baghavad-Gita, just food links.)

  160. Apple*

    Not super egregious, but I work in a large company in the auto industry- so definitely male dominated. Up until 2021 there were 2 women on the 24 person North American executive team. When those two women were here there would be a mass email reminder about IWD, a webinar with industry interviews, and a showcase on our intranet all month with interviews of women working in the manufacturing plants and labs. Ever since those women left in 2021, there has been nothing, not even a quick email.

  161. The Eye of Argon*

    It being St. Patrick’s Day, I can’t help but remember the unfortunate young woman who worked at that awful office where her coworkers kept pinching her because she wasn’t wearing green, and totally disregarded her wishes to be left out of the “fun”.

    She got so upset that she quit right in the middle of the meeting, and then her awful manager wrote in to AAM basically wanting to know if she could give her a bad reference for being a spoilsport. Unfortunately for her, everyone from Alison on down through the comments was on the former employee’s side.

  162. Van Wilder*

    The women’s network at my office once sent out an email about a *bake sale* to raise money for *men’s health* (it was November.)

    I work in a professional office adjacent to finance and we never had a bake sale before or since. There was no fundraiser for women’s health.

    I don’t know who decided that it was a good idea for a professional women’s network to encourage women to lean into gender stereotypes while also fundraising for men.

  163. Triumphant Seal*

    I worked in an ad agency where sometimes mid-senior level people would fill in at our clients’ companies when someone went on parental leave. I gather it’s easier for the clients to fill those roles temporarily with someone already very familiar with the work. These roles, however, became notorious for the clients then poaching the agency staff filling in (often the clients paid more). One guy, a clear leadership favorite widely known to make more than most of us women in the same role, filled in at a client and then came back after the parent leave was done without jumping ship. Leadership decided to throw a deeply tone deaf welcome back party complete with a cake and pressure for everyone to thank this guy for not taking a new job. I’m a strict rule follower who doesn’t like to make waves. Even with an understanding of the unspoken politics of attending, I walked in, rolled my eyes and immediately left the room. I left the company not long after that.

  164. Thisishalloween*

    Federal government employee been waiting to tell this one! In honor of women’s day, the DEI lead authored an article on how every successful man has a successful woman behind them and how amazing it is that women give birth, wear high heels and be beautiful, AND work…

  165. Violet*

    A few years ago my company set up a International Women’s Day panel with four or five female upper managers so we could ask them about their careers, experience with sexism, advice, etc. Our male site director was acting as the organizer. Every time someone asked the panelists a question, even if they directed it to a specific panelist, before handing over the mic he would give his own answer first. Someone would ask something like “Sherry, can you elaborate on the experience you just mentioned where you experienced sexism in your early career from a male client. How did you handle XYZ?” And before handing Sherry the microphone he would go “well, I’m not a woman, hahaha, but if I may interject, …” and then go off for 10 minutes on his own story.

  166. SkinFlint*

    I once worked for a medical association. Every year, we’d have an introductory get-to-know you meeting between full-time staff and that year’s elected President of the organization. One year, the new prez was a dermatologist from Beverly Hills and we got a delightfully overlong slide show that included photos and descriptions of his Lakers tickets, his exclusive neighborhood, and his recent vacation to Hawaii. It was so tone-deaf that it ended up lapping itself and being pretty dang fun by the end. We used the term “Lakers seats” as shorthand for years, because the good Doc was just so tickled to sit near Jack Nicholson that he had to share with the office drones making $40k a year to work in a Chicago mall suburb. This was supposed to endear him to us … but it kinda did! Not the way he hoped, but what are you gonna do.

  167. Meredith*

    I have two- For Hispanic Heritage month several years back, my company’s HR team organized a presentation during lunch in the office, highlighting stories of our colleagues from Hispanic backgrounds, particularly those who are immigrants. The whole presentation would have been really wonderful, except that they began with a slide full of photos of our Hispanic colleagues, many of whom were not Hispanic, and no one was asked first if they wanted to be featured. They also failed to include many white-passing colleagues who are in fact Hispanic.

    And- The first year that my company (in the US) recognized Juneteenth (a celebration of the date enslaved people here were legally freed), our company President sent an all staff email commemorating the holiday along with a little context of what it is and why we chose to observe it. A manager in the company who was born, raised, and educated in Europe, and presents as white, replied-all to the email, claiming herself to be a history buff and offering some more “interesting facts” on the topic. These “interesting facts” ranged from tidbits about how her home country was known for treating their enslaved persons “the best in Europe!” to general musings on how it’s odd that Americans are so hung up on race because in her home country, they “don’t talk about it and it’s not an issue!” This inspired a f