my company interviewed a man for International Women’s Day, interviewing when I work in an adult business, and more

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

1. My company interviewed a man to celebrate International Women’s Day

My company has been around for over 100 years and is one of the big ones in Australia. To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) they asked a man who has been with the company for over 40 years for his opinion on how the company has changed how they’ve treated women.

It’s not necessarily a bad article, he talks about how he was one of the first people to hire a woman as a manager, how when he started women had to have their skirts measured to make sure they were not more than one inch above their knee, and how as soon as someone became pregnant they could no longer work in customer-facing roles, but I am absolutely furious that they have asked the opinion of a man before any women.

To me this piece (that they promoted as the number one thing that they did to celebrate IWD) says that they care more about pretending to do the right thing than actually doing the right thing. I don’t understand how anyone could have possible thought “What should we do to celebrate IWD?” and came up with the answer “Interview a man!” as the correct response.

I feel like I would rather have had NO update from my company to celebrate IWD than to have this article about a man’s opinion on women and no one else in my company seems to be upset or taking the same approach. Am I overreacting?

It’s pretty oblivious! I assume their thinking was that they wanted to do a historical look at how women’s place in the company had changed, and this is the one person who’d been there long enough to give the kind of historical overview he did … but yeah. It’s rather stunning that they didn’t think to include women, and instead let a male voice define women’s experiences there.

If you have DEI staff, they’d be logical people to raise this to. If you don’t, you could complain to whoever runs this sort of program, or whoever’s above them. They should hear why this missed.

2. Interviewing when I make adult-oriented leather goods and work with a Leather Pride organization

I was laid off in January, so I’ve started hunting for a new position. (I work in a healthcare-adjacent field.) While writing my resume and cover letter, I’m running into a bit of a pickle. Why? I spend a lot of time running my own business, and hold a titled position on the board of a nonprofit in my area. This sounds great, until I need to elaborate. The board I’m on is part of the LGBTQ community, specifically a statewide “Leather Pride” organization. This is something that, correctly or incorrectly, would come across as risque and inappropriate for the workplace. And my business? Making adult-oriented leather goods, which would absolutely be inappropriate to share with a future employer.

These experiences have taught me a lot, and I’ve done some very good work in both places. (I’ve been on the board over five years, and run the business for over ten.) Not to mention they’re occupying a lot of my current downtime. Is there any way I can bring this information up in a cover letter or interview, and not sound like I have horrible judgement? Also, I worry that three months down the road I’ll get asked how I’ve spent my time off — I can’t be honest and say I’ve spent it making blindfolds and bondage cuffs! If I had the savings or was independently wealthy I’d turn my small business into a full time career, but unfortunately that’s not feasible at the moment.

I’ve been sitting on this letter for a while because I keep going back and forth on it. Maybe I’m being naive, but I do think you can mention that you run a leather-goods business and/or that you are a craftsperson who works with leather, or so forth. You don’t need to specify that the leather goods you make are bondage cuffs.

But even if you can’t hide the nature of what you make (for example, if the business has an obviously risqué name or they’re going to see exactly what it is if they look it up), I’m still not sure it’s such a problem. You’re working in a legal adult business; that’s legitimate work for a legitimate market. This is about business, not your own sex life.

The Leather Pride board work is a little trickier, and I think the answer to that will be really regional and field-dependent. There are some regions (especially places with big Pride events) and fields where it wouldn’t be shocking to see that on a resume. In others it would be too out of place.

But I don’t think either of these is an absolute no across the board, as long as you’re talking about them in professional terms (which of course you would be).

3. Should I be paid for the time I spend calling coworkers to find shift coverage?

I work part-time (about 10 hours a week) as a yoga instructor at a big community fitness center. This is a part-time, hourly position.

As a team, we use a scheduling app that allows instructors to request shift coverage as needed. If no one agrees to cover an open shift via the app, standard practice is for the instructor to send a group email asking for other instructors to cover the shift.

However, in the event that no one offers to pick up a shift after sending a mass email, my boss has instructed us to call each person individually to ask if they can cover an absence. Am I out of line to expect to be paid for a task like this? My list of available coworkers may be 20+ individuals and it takes a lot of time to call that many people. Not to mention fielding the follow-up calls when they inevitably don’t answer the phone and I need to leave a message. I may not be as bothered by this if I wasn’t already doing a bunch of unpaid work for this role (creating music playlists, formatting yoga sequences, attending yoga conferences, and other continuing education).

I recently consulted our employee handbook (for the entire fitness center, not just the yoga instructor team) and there was no mention of policies or procedures for finding shift coverage. Just the following language: “employees are not allowed to perform any work off the clock. The employee must be compensated for all hours in which they work.”

Do I have standing to clock-in when my boss requests that I call each coworker individually to request they cover my shift?

Ooooh, this is an interesting question because it’s an area where what’s legal and what’s commonly done are two different things. It’s incredibly common for some coverage-based employers to expect employees to do this for free. Any reasonable reading of the law would indicate that it’s work that should be paid (since it’s scheduling work you’re engaging in on behalf of an employer) — but in practice, it very often isn’t, so be prepared for your employer to balk if you raise it. In theory, the next time it comes up, you could say, “How should I record the time I spend trying to find someone to cover my shift?” or even just, “You’ll see an additional 45 minutes on my timecard for the week; that’s the time I spent calling people to cover a shift.”

If they push back, in theory you could say, “I do think we’re legally required to pay for that time since it’s work. Could we check with a lawyer or contact the state labor department, since otherwise I think we could get into legal trouble?” In practice, though, there’s real risk to doing this so you’d want to factor that in.

4. Quitting without telling people I’m founding a new company

I’m hoping for some advice on how to quit on good terms without telling my manager anything about the new (biotech) company I am starting. The fact that I’m not quitting for another job and am quitting to start a company will be very juicy news in my workplace, and I’m basically hoping to tell them as little as possible. Partly because of obvious intellectual property issues, but also because I am hoping to start it with another former employee who was both exceptional at her job and very well liked.

This company has a history of bad behavior that’s not the worst, but it’s certainly not good. I wouldn’t put it past them to try to sabotage my efforts or at least smear my name a bit. The new company will be in an adjacent but not overlapping field and I am nearly guaranteed to run into many of these people for for the foreseeable future. Any advice on how to leave gently and cordially without telling them a darn thing?

You’re fully allowed to be vague about what you’ll be doing next! Some options: you are taking some time to focus on some personal projects that you’ve been wanting to get to for some time (if asked for details, you’re “not ready to talk about it quite yet”) … you are taking some time off before deciding what’s next … you’re not ready to share publicly yet but you’ll let them know when you can … you’re going to a small start-up (true) in AdjacentField but have been asked not to share details yet.

Obviously make sure you’re familiar with whatever you’ve signed re: intellectual property, what data you can and can’t take with you, etc.

5. Should I share post-interview accomplishments with the hiring manager?

While waiting to hear back about a job I interviewed for, I’ve since had some big accomplishments at my current job, including getting a stellar performance review. Should I follow up with the hiring manager to share updates like this?

Nope, that’s not really a thing. If you already happened to be emailing them about something else, I could see mentioning something like “Since we last spoke, the space travel project we discussed in my interview has won the ExtremelyImpressiveIndustryAward” … but you’d want to reserve that for stuff that’s truly unusually impressive (a great performance review doesn’t quite hit the bar). Otherwise, though, hiring managers generally don’t want ongoing updates on what you’re doing.

{ 390 comments… read them below }

    1. lyonite*

      It reminds me of a radio station I listen to, which for International Women’s Day was playing covers of hit songs by women. . . largely sung by men. Sometimes you just have to shake your head at the thinking that goes on in these places.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Last week a call came out from our (midsize government agency’s) Parenting resource group for participants in a panel on Fatherhood. I joked to my husband that they should put exclusively women on this panel to complete the circle.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          Fantastic (/*s)

          At least you go forward knowing exactly who the company is I guess?

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*


          This may or may not be worth the capital to escalate to a bigger boss/HR/someone DEI literate in your company if such a creature exists – I would, I’m a little stubborn and have some capital to burn – but it’s at the very least good information to have about your company moving forward.

          But again: oof.

        3. Prof. Monster*

          Another possibility: they hired an actually good DEI person, but then gave that person absolutely no institutional power and routinely ignore their concerns and recommendations. I’ve seen that happen many times.

        4. Temperance*

          Let me guess, the man they interviewed is some kind of VIP or C Suite and they’re doubling down because they had to placate him.

          Or, your DEI group is mostly other white men with a token woman or 2.

      1. EvenMoreAnon*

        Our male DEI manager wrote an article about international women’s day. Our workplace is primarily women.

        1. cabbagepants*

          … is this automatically bad? I’d hope that the DEI manager would be able to speak to DEI issues, including issues for groups of which they are not a part.

          1. Vio*

            It depends. If it’s the only article then it’s pretty bad. If there’s other articles as well, including some written by women and those written by men aren’t being given more attention than the ones written by women then that would be fine.

        2. BlondeSpiders*

          This year and last year, the men who run the DEI dept hosted discussions and panels for IWD and Women’s History Month. Last year, I vividly remember the one manager going through his slide deck, telling us all the ways in which we were disenfranchised. It felt icky, but I didn’t know how to verbalize that.

          This year we have two men running the DEI show. Granted, they have their own intersectionalities as LGBT men of color, but couldn’t they find a single lady to run that panel?

          1. Anon Supervisor*

            To be frank, if my company had a history of mansplaining women’s issues to me, I’d be hard pressed to even try. I would assume it would be like tilting at windmills.

    2. Lonely Aussie*

      Sounds a lot like pretty typical Australian misogyny tbh. There’s a lot of it in Australian culture.

      1. LW#1*

        I was so tempted to paraphrase Julia’s misogyny speech and just comment “I will not be given experiences about sexism and misogyny by this man”.

        1. AmyintheSky*

          All hail Julia Gillard! (And downnnn with all the misogynists that followed her… Abbott, Morrison, Dutton)

          1. Ermintrude (she/her)*

            I’m not terribly excited about Albanese making strides for Australian society gotta say, although he’s done a damn sight better with his cabinet than the above.

    3. Brain the Brian*

      In another example of How Oblivious Can A Company Be, my employer rolled out a new logo on the first day of Pride month one year and didn’t have a rainbow-themed version ready to go until the last week of the month. It was Noticed by some of our largest clients.

    4. LW#1*

      I’m LW#1 and I have an extremely frustrating update.
      The article was posted on our intranet and you can post comments under it and someone replied saying
      “great story Steve, I remember you well. When I originally started my journey with the then [company details] in 1974 I distinctly remember seeing the males in the office walk past the Managers office whilst he was conducting interviews and giving him the thumbs up or down of Female applicants. I must have got the thumbs up. I stayed around till 1980 but as like most women back then when I fell pregnant had to leave as there was no such thing as Maternity leave. Different world and company when I returned in 1989 and a lot has changed even since then.”

      So adding to the flavour of misogyny on interviewing a MAN to give an opinion on how women have been treated, apparently part of the interviewing process was to thumbs up or down someone if they looked good. Also I think it’s worth noting that the commenter has been with the company for only 4 years less than Steve but somehow, those 4 years made all the different to give Steve the edge in having an opinion on how women have been treated.

      I also ended up posting a comment on our intranet story saying “While I would agree that this is a good story to share, is there a reason why we asked a man for his opinion on how women have been treated by IAG? Were no women available? While the story is good and is nice to share, I don’t think this is appropriate specifically for IWD.” and the Executive Manager of the “Culture, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging” team responded and maintaining their position and saying “Hi [name], thank you for sharing your feedback, can I offer you a different perspective on this. International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made (and celebrate as you say) but it is also an opportunity to reinforce what else we can all be doing. Steve’s story really showcases how he stepped up beside women in his roles/career as an ally to actively support them. Bringing about change requires persistence and immense courage by individuals to listen, learn and take action. We want all employees to do this across [company] as promoting gender equality and women’s leadership is everyone’s business – it’s part of the [company] Way and our commitment to a culture that is inclusive and equitable for all.”

      My manager and manager once removed (both women) are furious along side me, but no one cares beyond that.

      1. LW#1*

        I also just realised that I forgot to redact the company name once but I find that I do not care enough to find a way to edit this in case anyone wants to take this further than me.

        1. Reality Bytes*

          Let me join you in naming and shaming Bells Largo’s data management team just did the same thing. Hoping I can be a Friday good news soon.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            Unless its the details of cleaning a home, of course. Then its the poor mens who can’t pay attention to things like their own dirty socks on the floor.

      2. Eyes Kiwami*

        Kind of hilarious that Steve couldn’t “step up beside women” on International Women’s Day.

        That said, the DEI person is saying that you are courageous, and that they want you to be persistent and take action, because promoting women’s leadership is part of the company way! So you should absolutely keep pushing for women to take leadership roles on important symbolic days like IWD :)

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        The fact there is a woman who has been there only four years less makes it worse to me. I assumed Steve had worked there for many years before any women were hired and was comparing the all-male company of the past to the company today. But if there was a woman there almost as long, it doesn’t even have that justification.

        Interviewing one of the first women would be way more interesting too as it would be a personal account rather than “what I observed.”

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Aha, but she was also gone 9 years from 1980 – 1989 because: pregnancy and pesky kids, which cannot be allowed in the company!!
          [sarcasm font]
          I guess the good thing is that they are no longer doing the thumbs up/thumbs down in 2023 when they hire a woman!
          It’s incredibly tone deaf, absolutely no excuse for a woman not to be interviewed for IWD even if they wanted a perspective from 1974.

          1. irene adler*

            I guess the good thing is that they are no longer doing the thumbs up/thumbs down in 2023 when they hire a woman!

            I wonder. At least, at other companies.

            Maybe it’s just done subtly instead of overtly.

            Several years ago, I witnessed a discussion by two project managers regarding which lab tech to hire. One was quite adamant that we “needed a blonde” in the lab. I can’t imagine this mindset ever changed.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              I got a new job in 2000, it was my first Fortune 500 with a worldwide presence and, after a series of chaotic startups, I was happy to work somewhere professional. Apparently, after shaking my hand and telling me to expect an offer soon, my hiring mgr walked into his friend’s office and told him, “I just hired a blonde. Wait till you see her.” I didn’t find out until 7 years later, when none of us worked at that company anymore. I admit I would’ve been gutted to find out earlier. I’ve been hoping that people don’t do this anymore, but who can tell really?

            2. Random Academic Cog*

              20 years ago we had a researcher who managed to hire only statuesque brunettes as his lab managers. I raised an eyebrow when I met the second one, probably jaw-dropped when I met the third one. To be fair, they were all incredibly bright, competent young women. The optics just didn’t sit well.

      4. EPLawyer*

        Ahhh yes, the day to celebrate women’s achievements, let’s make it all about a man’s achievements in supporting women. Because well, we have to reinforce what can more can be done.

        Let me see what more can be done — I don’t know ACTUALLY CELEBRATING WOMEN on IWD.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Just think about how bad things would still be for us women if Steve hadn’t courageously stepped up!

        1. Sigh*

          My organization had a white guy who wrote a book on being an ally to women in the workplace come speak for a major company event on women’s leadership last year. His message wasn’t a bad one, but it still grated on me that it was the keynote.

      5. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        You’d think if they actually regretted the way they treated women in the past, they’d give her credit for the years she didn’t work *only because of their sexist policies.*

        “Sorry Jane, you don’t qualify to talk about sexism at this company, because the sexism at this company forced you into lower seniority than Steve.”

      6. Quinalla*

        Thanks for the update and yikes! I’m really not surprised (just disappointed) there was literally a woman they could have interviewed for this same story and they didn’t. I would not have been opposed to interviewing men & women for the story, but only interviewing a man is really tone-deaf and their response to your comment is ugh. Glad you were able to call it out, my guess is there are others on the sideline who also agreed with your comment but who aren’t going to speak up with the way the culture team responded. No one is every obligated to speak up, but if you can, it is important for the folks watching/listening.

        It is important for allies to have stories so they can be inspired and have examples of what to do, etc. but really on IWD? That’s what you think is the most important thing to showcase? Ugh :P

      7. TomatoSoup*

        Dear Executive Manager of the “Culture, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging” team,

        What a load of CYA BS. You could have found a way to praise men on the other 364 days in the year. Also, it appears you made him the sole focus of the post.

      8. Princess Sparklepony*

        So they could have contacted the woman who worked at the same time as the guy did but had to take time off for pregnancy… That would have been a more interesting article. She could tell those lovely little anecdotes about how they respected women from the get go! /s.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Can we also have a rule that no company gets to do an International Women’s Day post on social media unless they also post their gender and racial/ethnic pay gap data? Bonus points if they explain what they are actually doing to get to pay parity, especially if it won’t happen until decades from now.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        There’s a British bot which was doing this on Twitter – any organisation using the relevant hashtag was checked against its database of publicly available gender pay gap data and RTed with something like “women at this organisation are paid x% less than men and this is a y percentage point narrower gap than last year”.

        It attracted additional comments on those organisations’ tweets, including congratulations for those whose numbers were good or improving.

        1. GraceC*

          I think there was an Irish bot doing that this year as well – it’s a very useful tool

      2. flowergirl*

        Yes. And for technical roles, add: how is attrition of women vs men. Are more women leaving (where leaving includes moving to a non-technical role in the same company)? What are you doing to fight that? It’s easy to pat yourselves on the back for supporting a “girls who code” class, but if these girls who become women find a job at your company and then leave at twice the rate that men are leaving, what are you doing about that?

        1. It Takes T to Tango*

          Whenever a company talks about their diversity stats, it’s interesting to see how granular they get. It’s really easy to massage the numbers with generic stats.

          A few years back, my tech company bragged how we had a higher % of women in the technical divisions than Facebook, etc. A whopping 20%. When rounded up. I noticed that we had 19.6% that year but a bit over 20% the prior year. So we lost women engineers but the C Suite was still trying to push it as something to celebrate.

          They also bragged that women were earning 101% of what men are for the same title/level. They didn’t break down things beyond that, though. How long have the women had that salary for that title/level vs. the men? (If the average male engineer has 3 years tenure and the female engineer has 5, but they’re being paid the exact same, that’s not something to brag about.) What are the promotion rates for men vs. women? (If men are promoted after 4 years on average and women 7, that’s not good.) What are the leadership statistics? (For my division, out of 9 upper management positions, 7 are filled by men. In general, almost all the women managers are outside the U.S.)

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            We had the hierarchy: all male plant managers, all male company VPs, half and half accountants, all female accounts payable (except for a couple of brown guys). If a guy started (a non-brown guy) in accounts payable, they were there for about six months till they were moved up.

    6. bamcheeks*

      how when he started women had to have their skirts measured to make sure they were not more than one inch above their knee, and how as soon as someone became pregnant they could no longer work in customer-facing roles

      Honestly, I find the content pretty awful too. Was he actually angry about how awful and humiliating this was for women, or was it a nice little cosy chat about how far we’ve come, as if that distance hasn’t been fought at every stage by men like Steve? It always reads to me like a warning: we did this to you before, we can do it again.

      1. LW#1*

        His tone was suitably outraged for the interview, but I overall found it to be very back patting in nature as he ends the interview with essentially “after all, I didn’t need to be told that my female counterparts were good at their jobs” (and I’m paraphrasing because I’ve turned off my computer for the night and would not be bothered getting the exact quote).

        If they had done this interview along with an interview with a woman (or even better, a panel of women) to ask the same questions etc, I wouldn’t have had an issue with it. For me it’s the fact that they only did one thing for IWD, and that it was to interview a man for him to give his “first-hand experience” on how women have been treated over the years.

        1. Phil*

          I think what would have made this more interesting than just the interview of the man that was done, or an interview of the female employee who had been there almost as long, would have been to interview _both_.

          That would give the male perspective of “here’s what things were like in the beginning of my employment, and here are the changes that we have made to improve things.” (I am assuming here that this is a male-dominated company, and thus they were in the best position to make changes.)

          It would also give the female perspective of what things were like at the time, and whether the male perspective as given by the other interviewee was accurate, and what (if anything) he missed. It would also give insight on how substantial the changes made by the company actually were, from the point of view of someone most affected by them, and whether they were as transformative as he thought.

          Basically, it would give a comparison of of how much they thought they had improved, and how much they actually had.

          1. LW#1*

            A large part of me thinks that the reason they didn’t ask a woman who’s been an employee for a similar length of time is because the answers that they’d give wouldn’t paint the company in a good light, and they’re trying to whitewash the issues they’ve had by doing the interview with Steve so that he can call out the outrageous examples of measuring people’s skirts so that people won’t be offended that people have still been asked if they’re pregnant before they got a job (which happened to me in 2016).

            1. Phil*

              So I know basically nothing about Australian law (assuming that’s where you are, since you said it was an Australian company), but where I am, it’s apparently legal to ask if a candidate is pregnant, but illegal to not hire based on an answer of ‘yes’, so people are advised not to. If the situation is similar where you are, I’m a little surprised they brought it up.

              Out of curiosity, how would you like that sort of thing to be handled? I can see it being a medium-sized issue for a company to hire someone, have them around for a few months, and then need to take weeks to months off. Would you still find it offensive if they asked _after_ an offer had been extended, so more from the point of view of, “We’d still like to hire you, but this will affect scheduling and planning, so it would be best for everyone if we knew as soon as possible so we can plan around it, make accomodations, etc.”? Or would you still not want them to ask even then?

              1. LW#1*

                Honestly at the time it didn’t phase me, mainly because I was younger and less experienced, but also because I wasn’t pregnant and it wouldn’t affect me etc).
                I believe it’s illegal to ask because the hiring manager was HORRIFIED at the question and very quickly said “You can’t ask that! You don’t need to answer that!” and because I was younger (and hadn’t found ask a manager) I just laughed it off as the manager who did ask was a lovely lady in her late 60s and she explained she was asking because I was replacing the 8th person in the department to go on mat leave in 6 months.
                I had mostly forgotten about my first interview because I’m in a totally different department with all new managers and colleagues etc, but when
                I was reflecting back after reading the dreadful “Steve” interview, I started thinking about how being a woman has affected my in my role etc.

                1. Artemesia*

                  I was asked about my plans to have children during my job interview in 1976 and answered ‘well that is between me, my husband and God.’ I later learned that one of the women on the committee voted for me against the runner up applicant because of my ‘strong Christian faith.’ Still gobsmacked after all these years.

              2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                You ask if there’s anything that would get in the way of the candidate’s ability to meet the project deadline (or whatever) because that’s what you actually care about, not the status of her uterus.

                1. I am Emily's failing memory*

                  Yeah, I’d find it very odd to get a job offer and then immediately be asked about my family planning. Even if the possibility of hiring discrimination has past by then, a woman will tell someone about her pregnancy when she’s ready to tell that someone about her pregnancy. She’s doesn’t need to be specifically prompted about it, as if she’d otherwise forget to mention it.

          2. Anonny*

            Also, they have a big company, presumably they have writers for company newsletters and stuff, and they did one interview… with a man. Like, if they sent out a mass email asking for people to talk about how things have changed with regard to workplace sexism over their careers, I doubt they’d get only one singular suitable response.

        2. MK*

          I agree OP. It’s not that his perspective isn’t interesting, and would be valuable as a minor part of a broader look at the company’s history with gender equality. it’s the fact that it’s the only perspective that’s offensive.

          1. LW#1*

            Thank you.
            I was kind of passive aggressively dog piled in the comments (on the intranet) from people making comments to the effect of “Wow, what a long way we’ve come, thanks for sharing Steve!” and I was kind of staring at my computer thinking, it’s not that it’s not interesting and that it’s not impressive how far we’ve come, the issue is that you went to a man to ask how women have been treated.

            1. londonedit*

              I mean…yes, it’s great that the company isn’t 100% terrible and misogynist anymore, but it seems like a pretty low bar to ‘celebrate’ just because they don’t actively push out pregnant employees and they’re not measuring people’s skirts.

            2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              Ugh. I am sorry LITERALLY NO ONE has your back on this, because you are 100% right. If my company did this, people would be up in arms. Someone would probably start a petition to the CEO.

            3. Green Tea*

              I absolutely hate when companies foster that kind of culture, where respectful disagreement is seen as a betrayal and squashed. There are probably plenty of people at your company who agreed with you but didn’t feel safe speaking up.

            4. Here for the Insurance*

              By centering men and their contributions, what your colleagues are really saying is that women have only come so far because men allowed us to. It ignores the hard, soul-sucking work that women had to do to prove our worth and get the men to be our allies. We couldn’t do it without them because they had (and mostly still have) the power, but they didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts or because they wanted to please us. But that’s how they want to sell it now — “We decided to share our toys with you ladies because we’re just such good guys. Aren’t you grateful?! Yay for men!” It’s condescending AF.

        3. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

          Ugh. If he really was an ally, he would have pushed for a woman to be interviewed instead of/as well as him.
          It reminds me of that story, I think I read it on this website, when there was only one woman in a public panel. A young woman asked what the company was like for women, and the only woman wasn’t able to get a word in because of men saying how great the company was to work for!

          1. LW#1*

            It seems like there’s so many shocking examples similar to this, and companies don’t seem to learn :(.

        4. Chauncy Gardener*

          This really makes me sick. As a veteran who broke all sorts of barriers back “in the day,” as well as when I was a civilian in a male dominated industry, I can tell you that those barriers were broken IN SPITE of the men there, not because of them.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Yeah, this always infuriates me about organisations and institutions congratulating themselves on “how far they’ve come”. It positions progress on social issues as a natural process that ~~just happens~~, rather than being the result of brave and tenacious people fighting what is often very unpleasant and powerful entrenched interests, often at huge cost to their own mental health, work or career progress. It is so rarely accompanied by actual reflection from people who benefitted from the exclusion of others or the times they failed to advance equality.

          2. laser99*

            “I mean, feminists like to blame men for everything, but you’re allowed to wear pants to work now!”

        5. Elenna*

          Ah yes “first hand experience” because obviously the person with the most first-hand experience of this is a man who was there, they certainly can’t interview a WOMAN who might have ACTUAL FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE, impossible! What a thought! /s

      2. Gritter*

        I’m not sure that’s called for. The company may have been very tone deaf in having this interview as their only output for IWD, but there nothing to indicate Steve himself is the bad guy here.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Real allyship means knowing when to elevate the voices of those you’re supposed to be allies with. I suppose it’s possible that someone who’s been a hiring manager and at the company for that long may also not be able to suggest other interview candidates but that just makes it all the more damning.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Real allyship is refusing to be on male only panels — even if they aren’t on “women’s issues.”
            Steve has been with the company 40 years, he couldn’t think to ask – oh hey are women being interveiwed too. If told no, he could have said, yeah you need to talk to a woman about this, there’s this lady who has been there only 4 years less than me.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Yeah, that was my thought around commenting “suggest other interview candidates”. Either he’s simply pleased as punch to be able to pat himself on the back for the company, or he intentionally chose to not stand up for something important.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                or the interviewer ignored his input. or the article editor denied time for a follow-up interview.
                sadly all are possible.

              2. Gritter*

                Or perhaps he just innocently participated in an interview about his experiences and had no idea of the wider context in which it would be used. There is every chance that had he known that it would be the only thing published he would have pushed back.

                1. Chickadee*

                  Even painting Steve in the best light (benign ignorance), he didn’t ask if women would be included, nor has LW mentioned Steve speaking up in the comments after the fact. It doesn’t matter how noble or innocent Steve’s intentions were – allyship needs to be active, not passive, and he is fully complicit with the company’s handling of the matter. He doesn’t get a pass.

                2. Eyes Kiwami*

                  If he has no idea of the wider context of participating in a company-wide panel on IWD, then he’s not bright enough to speak on the subject.

                  And if he was lied to, or steamrolled by the organizers, he had other options. He could have refused to participate in protest. He could have pointed out how far the company still has to go, as evidenced by them interviewing a man for IWD.

      3. Ermintrude (she/her)*

        ‘It always reads to me like a warning: we did this to you before, we can do it again.’

      4. laser99*

        Yes, exactly. There’s also an undertone of “You know, you should be GRATEFUL to us…”

    7. Been There*

      Our national news station ran an interview with 4 men for International Women’s Day. They got a lot of pushback for it too, so much that the ombuds had to run an article on it.

    8. Josame*

      At a company-wide meeting on the day after IWD one year, the company president noted that yesterday was International Women’s Day so he’d like to thank all of the women in the company for their hard work. Then he quickly added that he was also thanking all of the men!

    9. Anne Elliot*

      Our agency lead (a man) promoted a woman to head a flagship, historically significant part of the agency, for the first time in the almost 200 year history of that agency part. The woman was and is high-achieving and hard working and her public promotion was well-deserved. At the next leadership meeting, which this woman was in (as was I and several other women), a coworker (a man) stood up and congratulated the agency lead for having promoted a woman to the position. We were all treated to five minutes on how progressive and visionary our agency lead was to place a woman in that position, with zero said to or about the woman in question regarding her achievements and fitness for the role.

      1. LW#1*

        Obviously because the men at the agency had to do so much extra work to find a suitable woman for the role so the agency and the men responsible for finding a successful woman clearly did an incredible job! [that’s sarcasm in case it’s not clear]

    10. Measure my skirt and I'll bite*

      After reading more of the replies, it feels like there could be a whole post on these sorts of egregiously tone-deaf ‘celebrations.’ It reminds me of a day-long women faculty event I went to as a graduate student. The final panel on Women Faculty and Tenure was 4 older white men talking about how women faculty and promotion had been achieved in their departments. It’s not that none of the men had any relevant experience, it’s that in a seminar series for women faculty about issues women face in academia they couldn’t (or didn’t bother to) find a single women to serve on the keynote discussion panel. At least there was pushback in the room during the Q and A.

      1. Aussie engineering lady*

        I have a similar story. I am Australian woman also and work in engineering for a large multi-national company (for over 25 years now in fact).
        Last year at an Asia-Pacific ‘state-of-the-region’ type event I watched over Zoom where before it started a video was shown to celebrate IWD. It consisted of 30 odd men describing their female colleagues – talented, demure, helpful and always ‘beautiful’. Seriously. I was completely turned off. Not one single woman was even shown in the video.
        These were all from our Chinese colleagues, and I am not sure how culturally this is translatable, but just ugh.
        I sent a very politely worded email to the organiser of said meeting that the video was horrible and completely out of place for the meeting. I got a reply thanking me for my feedback but little else.
        DEI is in my opinion completely talking the talk as they say. No walking allowed.

    11. Timothy (TRiG)*

      As one feature among others, appropriately framed, such an interview might be a good idea. But on its own it’s not great, is it?

    12. dackquiri*

      We had a big racial diversity seminar on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. They invited a white woman who used to be kinda racist but wasn’t anymore to do the keynote. The KEYNOTE.

    13. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I would not mind it at all if it was part of a series including multiple different perspectives that included samples from women primarily, transgender individuals, other members of the LGBTQ + community, women who have worked there the longest, and this was one other inclusive example to get a male perspective too. And even then, it would need to not be billed as the main thing, but just part of the group. But they made it the main focus. It is not bad to get a male perspective, as long as it is relevant and actually contributes to the dialogue and is not harmful. But to make it the only article and the main focus for IWD is completely absurd!

  1. GingerCookie*

    #2 can you just say you do crafting? “You know like Etsy stuff?” And then just say you keep your professional life and your crafting work seperate, but you love learning about new ways to make things :-)

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      If they really wanted to “keep their crafting work separate,” they probably wouldn’t be putting it on their resume at all, though. If it’s on your resume, I as a hiring manager would assume it’s fully open for discussion.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, I don’t put my small crafting business on my resume, because it isn’t relevant to my field (IT). It’s not even risque, it just doesn’t fit. My experience chairing a volunteer run SF&F convention is on there because it is experience in management. (IMO, managing volunteers is harder than managing paid employees, but it still doesn’t seem to count as management experience.)

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Depending on how successful their work is, that might not be fully showcasing their experience though. I assume they want to put it on their resume because it shows skills that a hiring manager would want. Describing it like that would make it sound just like a hobby and I think they might as well leave it off as say that because I don’t think it would give them any “edge,” whereas if this is a successful business where they interact with customers, take customised orders, etc, it might be something that would be worth mentioning.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP2, I’ll suggest the phrases “custom leatherwork” and “adult novelties”. That’s how a former co-worker described a similar side gig.

      As I recall, the top-level of the website highlighted historic-recreation items; the more explicit items were on a lower level landing page. That was promoted separately, so only one domain required, with the “custom” items unlikely to turn up on a cursory visit.

      Admittedly that was a custom web page; it might be impossible to do with your specific vendor site.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I was also thinking the phrase custom Leatherwork, but I recommend avoiding adult novelties.

        1. Owl*

          Agreed, I don’t think adult novelties adds anything I need to know as a hiring manager.

          OP runs a business. A high level descriptor of that business is plenty to put context to metrics and achievements they would want to share, unless they’re interviewing for positions in leatherwork, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

      2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Agree with “custom leatherwork”, and I’d leave out the adult novelties part. I would also frame the board experience as being for the local leathercraft guild, or something vague – my board position also has to be described, but for a different reason (it’s a regional sports org whose name isn’t super descriptive for a long and ridiculous reason). The point of including the experience isn’t the substance of the org, it’s the fact that OP is doing volunteer board work, so I think they can be vague here.

      3. Anon for this*

        Agreed that “custom leatherwork” might be the way to go here. As someone involved in leather culture, I do think Alison’s suggestion to toe a line of discussing leather craftsmanship without sexuality is a little naive–basically all the craftspeople I know in leather are involved personally as well as professionally, and even a cursory glance at their online storefronts, social media, or other crafty internet presence would make it really obvious what they do. But sticking to relatively vague and craft-focused terms would at least mean that people have to ask more questions or dig deeper in their searches to get there. Someone who’s mostly interested in your business practices would have room to ask about e.g. your experience balancing a budget or running ads, without necessarily having to know exactly what you make.

        I also am seeing harnesses around enough these days as fashion items that I bet you could lean into that, if asked what kinds of leather goods you make, instead of going straight to blindfolds and cuffs. “Fashion accessories” reads a lot more workplace appropriate than “adult novelties”!

    4. Kaiko*

      I have a friend who is a leatherworker – she refurbishes seats for motorcycles and vintage cars – and in addition to her particular skills, she also has small business skills. So OP2, what are your small business skills? Do you attend industry shows? Build and maintain a specialized client list? Work with people on custom orders? Know how to source difficult-to-find materials? Navigate the wholesale world? I’m sure if you took the focus off the product (which is still a viable, if non-vanilla, thing to be doing with your life and energy), there are transferable skills.

      Same with the board work (and here I will say that LeatherPride leadership, in conjuction with a small leather-goods business, would track as business-related on a resume), but hilariously, if I was a vanilla hiring manager, I might assume that LeatherPride is an industry board. And if I know what LeatherPride is, then….I, too, know what Leather Pride is. Glass houses, stones, etc.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        This is a good point! I’m sure some people would know enough and be judgey, but capital-C Clueless might do a lot for you here, particularly in conjunction with a vague discussion of making custom leatherwork. Bonus if you’ve done a few extremely vanilla pieces (historical reenactment, or like what Kaiko’s friend does) that you could talk about as if they were representative, if asked for more details.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          Or just make one or two such pieces specifically for interview purposes to talk about, and make sure to have a web page featuring them with a different domain name you can give out. If someone wants to buy them later on, great!

          1. I have RBF*

            I know several leatherworkers who do historical stuff as well as kink stuff – think think like archery bracers, belts, and belt pouches. Plus, some people actually do put spiked collars on their dogs. If the LW’s items include the historical side, they can showcase that for the vanilla resume.

            1. Kit*

              I live within a stone’s throw of my state’s Ren Faire and can confirm, from a bit of personal knowledge and a lot of stories, that there is massive overlap between Ren Faire enthusiasts and the kink community, as well as a surprising degree of overlap in vendors. It’s a very viable approach to take, LW!

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Knowing what it is, and thinking it’s professional enough to include on a resume are two different things, though. I also don’t think people should put church volunteer leadership on their resumes. BUT, if there’s a good example to discuss in an interview, you can say, “I’m involved in a volunteer organization, and in that context, I did X.”

      3. Sun and clouds*

        It could be phrased ‘people with my skill set often make things like XYZ. My company has grown to the point where I am dealing with ABC businesses skills’ Or something like that. If pressed for what OP makes well, it’s a little more niche but successful.

      4. SpaceySteph*

        As a pretty vanilla person, I did not immediately think anything “adult” about LeatherPride until reading the rest of the question and answer; my first thought was that it was an anti-vegan thing. :-D

    5. Anon for this one*

      “Leatherwork” should be fine. Most people will think of belts, wallets, etc. (“Leather goods” is the term we used when returning from a trip to Montreal from the US and needing to declare all purchases at customs. No follow-up questions.)

    6. Aggretsuko*

      As a crafter myself, I’d absolutely ask for the name of the Etsy shop. I dunno about spelling out very many details of what is going on.

  2. Union*

    A few years ago I was flipping through an industry magazine and saw a feature on diversity in the field. Cool, I thought! I wonder who they talked to! Black people are particularly unsupported and underrepresented in the field so maybe—
    It was four white Italian dudes. All of whom lived in New Jersey.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      It’s like when you see photos from a big reproductive rights conference and it’s all old white male politicians.

      1. English Rose*

        I once worked for a large company which wanted views from Black employees. All good so far. Except they simply emailed dozens of employees who they thought had ethnic-sounding names, asking if they were willing to talk about their experiences as Black workers in the US offices.

        I can’t remember all the details of the ensuing car crash, but I remember one was a white Irishman in the Dublin office and another a white Englishwoman working in the London office.

        1. Delta Delta*

          Ha! I had a higher-ed classmate who had a similar experience; she has a first name that drew some assumptions about her race, and has a very common last name (think: Jones or Smith). She was contacted by a campus affinity organization asking her to join. It had sort of an amorphous name, so it wouldn’t have been necessarily clear it was an affinity group. Classmate just thought she was being invited to join a campus group. She arrived on campus and went to the meeting. The organizers were surprised and less than kind when she turned out to be different than they assumed.

          1. Newly minted higher ed*

            wait! did I go to high school with her? her grad career started similarly because the school thought she’d add ‘diversity’ because of her name. she thought she was accepted because of her smarts and potential (on the other side of a PhD I’d agree now) so everyone was disappointed when she started. nope, her parents just really liked the name. she ended up leaving to pursue another career path altogether. she’s a lovely person and doing some good work with health literacy now, but that was a rough period.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              My sister dated a guy who had a common first name, but also a last name that many formerly enslaved people took after the American Civil War. And he was from a majority Black city. When he’d go for job interviews, sometimes he could tell they were looking to make a “diversity hire” & were very disappointed to see this big, doughy Irish American guy.

            2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

              Oooh, maybe not assume that diversity and smarts and potential are mutually exclusive?

              1. Lenora Rose*

                I don’t think Newly Minted… was making that assumption, although the phrasing saying so is a bit awkward, I think the school was.

                That assumption is underneath why many places who hire diversely still somehow end up with an all white 90% male C-Suite.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  That was how I read it too, especially with the additional info that the school was “disappointed” and the person ended up leaving – that the school was a hot mess in too many ways.

          2. Shirley Keeldar*

            Reminds me of an experience a friend mentioned to me—her employer invited all employees with names that they thought were “brown” enough to celebrate Holi. Her name reflects her family’s Afghan heritage. As she put it: “I’m wondering why my name was brown enough to get on the list, my Muslim friend is wondering why he got invited to a Hindu holiday, and all my German/Scottish friends are feeling profiled.”

            How Not To Do It, folks.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Am I being very cynical in wondering if the Irishman had a name in Irish and somebody was so unaware that they assumed name in a foreign language = POC?

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oof, one of my sons has a name like that. It is a Slavic name, that has Greek roots, that I gave him when he was born in Home Country. His patron saint (I was a big believer when he was born, so yes the child had a patron saint) supposedly invented the cyrillic alphabet, to give y’all a hint. We had no idea that it was a Black-sounding name (to some people, anyway) until he started college and every new roommate he’d meet in person would do a double take and tell him they hadn’t expected to see a blond, white guy. Thankfully he hasn’t been picked for a diversity initiative for his name yet. He does not plan to work in the corporate world for the time being, so this may never happen to him, thank dog. (He also has a Slavic last name, so even the corporate leadership in charge of a diversity program might be able to figure it out that he is not the guy they need.)

            1. Not Okay*

              What’s the name? You can’t even tell ethnicity by looking at a person, yet alone their name. Stupid I tell you, just stupid.

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                According to Mr Google, the inventor of the Cyrillic alphabet was Constantine later known as Cyril and his brother Methodius. So I’m a bit confused. It must be some other name.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Yall should’ve asked Mr Google “Cyril Slavic” (I tested that successfully after I saw all the questions, but couldn’t respond because the site was down).

                  The name is KIRILL. I can see where the double l at the end maybe throws people off? Never happened until he started college though. He’s in his mid 20s now.

                  I wanted to change it to Cyril when we came to the US, under the misguided notion that Cyril is a regular American name. (Then again, there was a Cyril O’Riley in the Oz show – but I didn’t know it until I finally saw the show late last year.) But little Kirill wasn’t having any of it, “I am not cereal, mommy.”

                  He does standup and has joked about this mixup in his sets and gotten laughs.

        4. BellyButton*

          At my last job 8 yrs ago they wanted to start a DEI program, a director of HR told me he was going to “get one of each” to head the committee. When I asked “one of each what?” He said “you know a black, a woman, a hispanic?” SMH.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      Well in Boston the Asian mayor/city is being sued for being “racist against white Italians” because she doesn’t want to allow outdoor dining for the North End this year. It’s not the narrow sidewalks, already limited parking for residents, and major complaints from said residents the last two years–according to them, it’s racism. Sigh.

  3. Biotech Entrepreneur*

    OP4, I did the same thing. It wasn’t a big deal. I simply said I was leaving and that I didn’t have a new job yet. No one pried. Since there are so many biotechs starting up, some people figured it out and didn’t care. Once we launched the company, most of our former colleagues were excited for us—they hoped to do the same thing one day.

  4. Zombeyonce*

    #2: Instead of saying you worked on a Leather Pride board, would it be disingenuous to say you worked on a board for Pride? That takes more of the sexual side away from it and would sound far less risque.

    1. DEJ*

      I was also thinking “on the board of a local LGBTQ group” would be simple enough to suffice.

    2. Calanthea*

      I know you didn’t mean it like that but “takes more of the sexual side away from it” is perhaps not a great way to phrase this. Maybe something like “Pride would seem more mainstream.”

      The leather community are fundamental to the existence of Pride parades. It’s not some icky sex thing, it’s part of people’s identity and expression of that, as much as any community that takes part in Pride.

      Obviously Pride has become commodified, AND in the context of job seeking you’re seeking to emphasis the EDI aspects rather than the revolutionary and liberational aspects (which is totally valid!), but it’s worth noting that when people seek to isolate communities associated with Pride and remove them because they are “sexual” and thus “bad,” this is part of a wider discourse that first posits that sex is inherently damaging, that being sexual in public is inherently criminal or pathological (or both) and then uses that to criminalise or pathologise queer people, kinky people and indeed, anyone outside the (ever changeably defined) “norm.” This is what has happened to the LGBTQ community throughout history, so it’s important to be aware of how that seemingly reasonable argument has been used against us for decades!

      1. Parky*

        LOL this argument is fine if you live in a dreamworld. In reality, you inevitably know the connotations that leather brings.

        Besides it is a reasonable argument. Pride has gotten quite extreme since I was a baby gay, so an abundance of caution in the professional world is warranted

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I’m curious where you live that Pride has gotten MORE extreme.
          Typically I see comments about how it’s been sanitized.

          1. LW2*

            Yeah our local pride has a story hour for kids. I’m not seeing this extremism parky speaks of.

          2. DataSci*

            Same. Maybe not “sanitized”, (since that implies it was dirty, which I don’t like) but “corporate”. It’s mostly churches and companies these days.

        2. Disabled trans lesbian*

          Do I really need to remind you that the first Pride was a riot against queerbashing police?

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        This is a great argument, and I fully support it in general.

        However, LW is trying to get a job. A resume and job application are not the places to be fighting for this kind of change.

        1. Melissa*

          Amen. What is true on the internet is not necessarily true in an interview with actual people.

        2. Calanthea*

          Perhaps I could have formatted this more clearly, but I did acknowledge that “in the context of job seeking you’re seeking to emphasis the EDI aspects rather than the revolutionary and liberational aspects (which is totally valid!), ”

          HOWEVER, Zombeyonce would hopefully appreciate being warned that what is an entirely reasonable statement to make in the context of job hunting advice is actually a bit of a dog whistle – a bit like “you should wear high heels and make up to an interview in [X industry]” could be absolutely correct, but if applied outside of that context would be seen as quite a regressive view. Does that make sense?

          The LW is obviously aware that this is a nuanced situation, and I think Alison’s advice is pretty much spot on, but the “no Leather at Pride” discourse is pernicious and I wanted to address it quickly!

        3. Gan Ainm*

          This. Do you want a job or do you want to make A Point. Personally I don’t stake my livelihood on over-optimistic assessments of other people’s goodness, politics, or biases, but OP may decide its worth the risk either to challenge or existing notions, or to screen for workplaces where he/she will be comfortable, etc.

          1. Clever Alias*

            I was going to write a punchy response to “maybe it ought to be” higher in the thread, but you’ve done it so much more eloquently than what I had.

      3. Ray Gillette*

        I get where you’re coming from and am sick and tired of the bad faith “kink is too sexual for Pride” arguments that seem to happen earlier and earlier each year, but this really isn’t the time or place, you know?

  5. Lily Potter*

    Letter 3 is a really interesting question. Somewhat similarly, I worked a part-time job that was sort of self-scheduling. You made yourself available for shift work and managers then decided who they wanted to work each shift based on who’d indicated interest. The software was clunky and you needed to check the site several times a day to see updates and get yourself quickly available for the best jobs. While only, say, 10 minutes a day, that’s roughly an hour a week or 50 hours a year. Theoretically, one could consider the computer time “work”. Reality, of course, was quite different.

    1. ecnaseener*

      My understanding of the post is that scheduling other people for shifts is scheduling work, but not necessarily signing up for your own shifts.

      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        I was wondering about that as well. If you are looking for a sub for your shift, then you are on your own time IMHO. But if you are filling other people’s slots, then it’s a work function. Although some places make the person looking to switch responsible for filling their own shift. Which seems reasonable.

    2. Ciara*

      I’m curious about something that’s fairly similar, which is entering our hours in Workforce. We do it every two weeks, and it’s kind of a finicky process, so takes between 5-10 minutes I would say.

      Sure that’s not a big deal, but it adds up. I worked at a company once that did pay us for timecard entry, but that’s not the case in my current PT job.

      Wondering if anyone knows whether we can push back on this, and get paid for this work-related, admin task?

    1. LikesToSwear*

      Yes, exactly. And that also prevents the problem of needing to pay people for finding coverage.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Right? This is an especially obnoxious set-up, too. Asking everyone THREE times with increasing levels of pressure is ridiculous.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking! How obnoxious. If they can see that there is a shift to cover and they aren’t responding, then they probably don’t want to/can’t cover it. Plus, I also am fairly active in my yoga community. It really isn’t that unusual for classes to get cancelled, especially since the pandemic.

      2. Sara (LR #3)*

        Right?! I’m the LR for #3 and this is just a whole other issue. If no one has “accepted” the sun request via the app AND they don’t reply to the email, it’s likely because they can’t offer coverage for that class and are annoyed at getting a phone call.

        1. I have RBF*

          IMO it shouldn’t be your job, unless you are literally getting paid for it, to find coverage or do scheduling. Scheduling is management’s problem, and if they haven’t hired enough people you shouldn’t have to bug your coworkers to cover for you. I know that there are some crappy workplaces out there that make people do this.

        2. Princess Sparklepony*

          So are you ever able to get people to change their minds? Or are you just wasting every second of your time to try to wrangle a sub?

          And shouldn’t the manager be doing this? Not other teachers. I’d say the teacher who can’t fill their assigned slot would be on the hook for finding a sub. But I don’t know how it all works. Although it sounds like it’s not working well as it is now.

    3. Anon in Aotearoa*

      Yes, indeed, and also how often is each person actually having to do this? Back in the last century when I last did shift work it was very rare for me to have to miss a shift – maybe once or twice in the year I did that kind of work? If you’re constantly looking for someone else to fill your shift, and you’re not getting responses to the first two low-effort requests you put out, maybe that should make you wonder whether this is the right job for you?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The pandemic changed a lot, including the criteria by which people may need to drop a shift.

      2. Parrot*

        I suspect the Venn diagram of “people who have to find their own shift coverage” and “people who can be choosy about finding the ‘right job’ for them” doesn’t have a ton of overlap

    4. Yowza*

      I think it has to be. If paid, it creates a funny incentive to need to call out and find someone. It also seems pretty difficult to police. And, if you say I am available during x times during the week and otherwise put in call out requests ahead of time, then you are only calling out if sick or an emergency and probably don’t have time to find someone anyway and really shouldn’t have to.

    5. Fikly*

      It should be, but it’s incredibly common to have this setup to highly discourage and outright prevent people from taking any time off, be it for health or other reasons.

      After all, if the burden of finding coverage is on the employee, then they are that much less likely to take the time off. It’s the time needed, the fact that the time needed to do so defaults to unpaid – which yeah, is illegal, because this is not an activity you would be doing if you were not working this job, and you (rather than management) are souring relationships with coworkers by having to ask them to change their schedules, to name just a few problems with having it be the employee’s responsibility.

      Brings me back to the job I had that came with a certain number of days off, and then after starting I found that due to lack of shift coverage, I simply could never take any of them.

      1. WS*

        Yes, it’s extremely common in healthcare as a discouragement – if you’re taking a shift off you are not just inconveniencing your co-workers at the time, you have to inconvenience them ahead of time to beg for coverage. So hopefully nobody will ever take a shift off except well in advance in a well-planned and orderly fashion – which the manager will organise coverage for.

    6. doreen*

      I think that depends on the specifics – if someone is sick and calling in that day, it’s the manager’s job to find coverage. The sick person is isn’t coming in one way or the other and I think it’s ridiculous to expect someone who is sick to look for coverage. However, if you always teach the Tuesday 10 AM class, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to be expected to find coverage when you want to take a Tuesday off. Especially since in some of those jobs, you might want to trade- so that if Sally takes your Tuesday 10am class, you might take her Thursday 8am class and if the manager is working out the coverage, they are likely just to look for someone willing to take your class rather than arranging a trade.

      1. Sara (LR #3)*

        I’m the LR for #3 and I didn’t mention it in my original question, but the manager does find coverage when people are sick/emergencies. It’s the planned absences that are on the instructor to find coverage.

        1. Bridget*

          You wanting to take a day off and looking for coverage is not “work” and should be done on your own time.

          1. Riot Grrrl*

            Hmm. I’m actually torn on this issue. When people take time off in white-collar corporate environments, finding “coverage” is almost always done on business time. It may involve only the manager; it often involves some sort of collaboration between the employee and the manager; or any combination of people. But it’s always considered part of the regular workday.

            Should hourly people be held to a different standard?

          2. Starbuck*

            What? Of course it’s work. In reality the norms here might be strong enough to override the legal reality, that this needs to be paid work time (for someone, boss or LW). But let’s not pretend the norm that businesses and managers have come up with for their own convenience and cheapness is how it should be.

    7. Fluttervale*

      In my industry (retail) the scheduling manager schedules to requests put in before the schedule is written. If someone then finds that they can’t or don’t want to work on a day they are scheduled, they can either take the consequence for calling off, OR they can find someone to take that shift and then there is no call off. Generally speaking the consequences of calling out are minimal unless they are more often than twice a month. There are bad bosses of course but this is the general rule.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        When I did retail, this was also the case. It was pretty much the case for all my part-time jobs.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This was also the case when I worked retail – but in retrospect, and reading a lot of letters on here/speaking with people who still work retail, there’s a lot of questionable-if-not-outright-illegal practices that won’t stand up to scrutiny. I think Alison is right, this is one of them.

        I’d be interested in seeing a bigger movement of employees pushing back on these practices. I know why they don’t, it’s a job that consistently emphasizes how replaceable you are. But the cracks in the foundation have to show eventually.

        1. Wintermute*

          Yup, labor laws de facto don’t apply to retail, restaurants and a lot of other low-end jobs.

          I feel like any attempt to fix that is going to require at the legislative level giving enforcement real teeth first, then employees pushing back. As long as it remains a purely civil matter that is only enforced by understaffed and underfunded agencies there’s basically no mechanism to enforce the law.

          Add criminal penalties for wage theft (and why shouldn’t there be? if you steal from the till it’s a criminal matter why is stealing from your paycheck not?!) and give sua sponte investigatory powers to agencies so they can go in digging rather than just weakly follow up on individual complaints and you might see workers willing to self-advocate more.

          Right now it’s a matter of “get fired, maybe get a small settlement in months to years”, if it was “if they fire you for complaining they will go to an actual prison for a fairly long time, and you could see them fined, forced to pay you and all your coworkers, and maybe even jailed for stealing from you” that would alter the rubric a lot.

          1. Chirpy*

            yeah, a lot of things is just going to require white collar workers to stand up on behalf of blue collar workers…because we can’t afford to lose our jobs (which are generally so low pay probably because if we could afford to push back, employers would have a LOT to answer for…)

            1. Wintermute*

              Absolutely, and it’s going to take working together. One unfortunate thing I see is a lot of, well to put it bluntly “clueless activism”. For instance most tip workers want to STAY tip workers, the huge movement to end tip work is mostly done against the wishes of the people actually in the jobs– who estimate their earnings would be cut dramatically and they would face worse working conditions. It’s going to take asking “what are the real issues you face?” and listening, then advocating.

              1. Chirpy*

                yes, and things like unpaid time off or unpaid FMLA – many office workers just do not seem to understand that unpaid time off is the same as no time off for low wage jobs, because these jobs do not pay enough for people to be able to save any money, and therefore even a week unpaid might mean not being able to pay rent. Or eat.

                1. virago*


                  Office worker here — unpaid FMLA doesn’t benefit me, either, as an older and single person with several chronic conditions.

                  Re: pay: I haven’t had a raise in over 10 years, so that has affected my ability to save the money that would provide a cushion during FMLA.

          2. Starbuck*

            “Add criminal penalties for wage theft (and why shouldn’t there be? if you steal from the till it’s a criminal matter why is stealing from your paycheck not?!) ”


      3. Chirpy*

        Theoretically, this is the case at my store, but due to their ongoing short-staffing (and the department head being completely unwilling to switch weekends), there actually isn’t anyone I can get to fill in for me, ever….

    8. Cat Lover*

      It really depends, but a lot of part time jobs run this way.

      Many things in youth sports are like this. I teach skating classes on the side and if we can’t teach a class (let’s say I teach Saturday classes but I’m out of town one week) then I need to find another coach to cover my class.

    9. Bridget*

      I have never worked a job where my boss was responsible for finding coverage if I was scheduled for a shift and didn’t want to do it.

      Not to mention, fitness instructors are usually 1099s, where this would definitely be their own responsibility.

    10. CorgiDoc*

      It definitely should but in my experience with part time work (mostly retail), shift coverage was always on the employee 100%, even for sick days. If you were sick, you had to find coverage on your own and if you didn’t you were expected to come in anyways or be heavily penalized.

      1. Ciara*

        I’m curious about something that’s fairly similar, which is entering our hours in Workforce. We do it every two weeks, and it’s kind of a finicky process, so takes between 5-10 minutes I would say.

        Sure that’s not a big deal, but it adds up. I worked at a company once that did pay us for timecard entry, but that’s not the case in my current PT job.

        Wondering if anyone knows whether we can push back on this, and get paid for this work-related, admin task?

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          Put your hours in when you are working? Don’t do it afterhours. Long ago in timesheet days, I used to fill it out at work. So I was getting paid for it.

    11. Meep*

      I am kind of iffy on this one because of how yoga studies work being completely different than most “shift-based” jobs.

      Typically, you have more freedom to set your own schedule for most yoga studios (the exception being gyms that have yoga offerings) and you keep a large portion of the money based on who comes to your class. Basically, in every yoga studio I have been to, there may be an instructor that covers for another at a popular time/type of yoga or they just outright cancel the class and let their frequent students know. The idea is that it is more of a “commission-based” income where you can make your own hours a bit easier and aren’t earning an hourly rate, but a rate based on your clientele and how popular you are with the local yogis.

      There is also the added need to take x amount of hours a year to keep your yoga teaching certification while it also not being very profitable to be a full-time job. Most yoga instructors I know also have full-time jobs so they tend to only take hours outside that and it is pretty clear on their schedule.

      LW clearly works for a gym if there are scheduled shifts that they need to find cover for, but dealing with the way yoga culture is… :S

    12. Ciara*

      I’m curious about something that’s fairly similar, which is entering our hours in Workforce. We do it every two weeks, and it’s kind of a finicky process, so takes between 5-10 minutes I would say.

      Sure that’s not a big deal, but it adds up. I worked at a company once that did pay us for timecard entry, but that’s not the case in my current PT job.

      Wondering if anyone knows whether we can push back on this, and get paid for this work-related, admin task?

      (Sorry if this is a double-post; had issues w the site.)

    13. NotARealManager*

      In my last “you have to find coverage job”, it was the boss’ job if you were calling out ill or caring for an ill family member (but they gave you grief for it). If it was pre-planned vacation, it was on you.

      In a different “you have to find coverage” job, I was already working my shift, but became so ill I couldn’t physically stand up anymore. My boss still wouldn’t let me leave even though, even though I HAD, through much pain, found someone to cover me. Her reasoning for why this co-worker couldn’t cover me baffles to this day:

      1) We worked in the water typically and ideally, but it was possible to do the job out of the water if needed.

      2) I had been accommodated to perform my task out of the water that day so I could still work (theoretically, until I got too sick).

      3) The co-worker I had found to cover me had gotten a tattoo recently and he couldn’t work in the water either. But as I was working out of the water that day anyway, who cares?

      4) Boss cared. “We made an accommodation for you because you’re sick, but he chose to get a tattoo so we won’t make the accommodation for him. Yes, even though it would solve your coverage problem and you could go home.”

      I quit without another job lined up as soon as the session ended.

  6. Boring Nickname Rachel*

    Re: #5, would it be appropriate to update a recruiter when you’re promoted?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’d think so, yes. The recruiter is different from a hiring manager, and now they’d be selling you as a senior X instead of an X, which could either be more attractive to a company or they could better target you to positions that you’re a fit for.

    2. Reb*

      I’d say a recruiter, yes. A hiring manager, maybe. It might depend on the kind of promotion. As a hiring manager, I think I’d be interested to know that someone got promoted from (say) Engineer to Senior Engineer.

      But it could backfire. I’d instantly think that if we chose that candidate, they’d expect a higher salary. That might not match the budget for the role. And if they got promoted from (say) Senior Engineer to Engineering Manager, I’d be asking myself why they’d gone for that promotion when they were trying to leave – and whether they were still keen to change companies.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yeah, the timing of that would get my hackles up thinking that they were just using my opportunity (and the job search process in general) to leverage into a promotion at their current company.

        1. Varthema*

          I don’t think that’s fair. Most of my promotions have come to me unannounced and certainly not “gunned” for, and even if I’m job-hunting it’d be foolish to turn down a promotion based on the fact that I MIGHT get a job somewhere else. if someone were at offer stage, that might be a bit different, but still.

          1. Antilles*

            It’s not fair, but I also think it’s a pretty likely response for the hiring manager to have – that you were trying to leverage other options to force your current company’s hand.

            I think the correct answer is this: Of course you take the promotion at your current job over the possibility that you might get a job elsewhere…BUT you don’t actively reach out about your new role either and avoid the potential backfires. Or at the very least, if you’re going to let the potential company know, do it in a phone conversation where you can control your tone and immediately frame it as I wasn’t looking for this, I’m still interested in joining Wakeen’s Teapots, so on and so forth.

        2. I am Emily's failing memory*

          If they were just using you as leverage, though, they wouldn’t come back to you with the update, no? They’d withdraw from the hiring process at that point because they’d have already secured the thing they were after.

          It’s not uncommon for people to be promoted in place during annual review season, to reflect that their contributions are now being done at a higher level, without them ever having formally applied for a promotion.

  7. Reb*

    #2, I wonder if you could keep it unclear in your resume (a boutique leather goods business, the board of a Pride organization) and if you’re asked for details in an interview, say something like “To be honest, I hesitated about putting these in my resume, because of course I wouldn’t mention them in the workplace. But I put them in because they’ve given me so much business experience, like …”

    That might reassure people about your professional judgement.

    1. Jessica*

      But…you would be mentioning them in the workplace by giving details during your interview??

    2. Melissa*

      I think this is a great idea. If I were an interviewer, this would make me think “Okay this person recognizes that he’s doing something that is outside the mainstream, he’s got some decent judgement, he’s not going to show up to work in a dog collar.” With those concerns allayed, I would definitely be able to focus on the content— what did he learn and accomplish in those jobs.

  8. Not Australian*

    #1 reminds me of all the times when my father used to get correspondence which began “Dear Mr XXXXX, thank you for your wife’s letter … “

    1. John Smith*

      Even worse is “Dear Mr and Mrs John Smith” as though Mrs Smith doesn’t have her own name. My mother still receives such mail even though her husband died over ten years ago but she thinks nothing of it. I fins it pretty obnoxious.

      1. WS*

        My grandmother was shocked and delighted in the mid-80s when teenage me said that no, of course you don’t have to address mail to “Mr and Mrs John Smith”. She’d been divorced for 20 years and still got all her mail to “Mrs [ex-husband’s name]” even though he’d remarried so there was another Mrs ex-husband’s name!

      2. UKDancer*

        My grandmother Kate really liked being Mrs James Jones and hated being called Mrs Kate Jones so despite the fact it seemed very old fashioned and slightly wrong, we obliged her. She felt it reflected her status as the wife of James Jones.

        Grandmother wrote to my mother Sue (who changed her last name on sufferance) as “Mrs Paul Jones” and my mother sent all the letters back with “no such person” written on and insisted on being Mrs Sue Jones until Grandmother got the message and called her what she wanted to be called. My mother was of the view she’d changed her last name but not her first name.

        We got there in the end to a place where people were called what they wanted to be called.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          When I was a kid (early 1970s) my mother was part of a women’s auxiliary organization for the local hospital. I looked at the membership listing once and was horrified to see every woman was listed as “Mrs. Paul Jones (Sue).” My mother told me she was proud to be Mrs. Paul Jones and I didn’t understand and when I got married….

          fast forward to 1984, when I was planning my wedding, and my mother informed one florist in no uncertain terms that she had a first name and was not Mrs. Paul Jones. And then she got mad at me for laughing. And no, I did not change my name when I was married. I don’t make a huge fuss if someone I know socially calls me Jay Hislastname. I will never ever be Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast. Not ever. I am not his possession.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          In the olden days, Mrs. Kate Jones was what divorced women used, so I can see some folks thinking ONLY divorced women should use it.

        3. PhyllisB*

          Showing my age here, but when I was coming up, only divorced women (who were also referred to as “grass widows”??) were addressed by their first name on correspondence.
          I don’t care if I’m addressed as Mrs. “John” B or for things like wedding invitations Mr. and Mrs. John B, but what I hated was seeing Ms. John B. That one was popular in the seventies when companies thought they were being socially progressive.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Forgot to add that Mrs. John B was still considered correct for widows.
            If you really want to get in the weeds on titles, children were addressed Little Miss for girls, and Master for boys, until they reached the age of 12. Then no titles until the age of 18, when it went to Miss, Mrs., or Mister.
            Now you’ve had a history lesson in archaic etiquette!! :-)
            Now most of f my mail comes with no title at all. That may be the best solution to avoid offense.

        4. TomatoSoup*

          My husband’s grandmother was generally very progressive but could never get past the idea that “Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast” was the only correct was to address correspondence. She didn’t treat me in any way inferior or belonging to my husband otherwise, so I just shrugged it off. I also give latitude on wedding invitations because I’ve seen guestlist stuff get usurped by a parent and they insist on being “proper” by addressing things this way. Anyone else is getting an earful or totally ignored, depending on the situation.

      3. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        It’s weird when people demand that! Once a donor wrote into the nonprofit I worked for, angry that he and his wife were listed as “Mr. and Mrs. Chauncey Pilgrim” instead of “Judge and Mrs. Chauncey Pilgrim.” His title? Very important. His life partner’s actual name or identity? Not sure what you’re talking about.

        (This was, like, 2010? “Judge and Mrs.” wasn’t an option in our CRS so I don’t remember what we did.)

      4. anne of mean gables*

        My husband and I have, in the year of our lord 2022, received mail to Dr. and Mrs. John Smith. We both have doctorates; I did not take his name (first or last!). Literally no part of “Mrs. John Smith” is my name.

        (to be clear I do not prefer to be addressed as “Dr.” – I generally think it’s ridiculous in both professional and social settings. But if you’re going to address my husband as Dr. in your formal wedding invitation, I a Dr. too!!!)

      5. 1-800-BrownCow*

        My mom still uses “Mr and Mrs John Smith” as she thinks this is proper ettiquette and one should NEVER list the wife’s name when addressing a couple.

        I am a cis-female working in a very male dominant field and I manage a team of all males, which according to my mom a woman doesn’t have time to be a manager when they have children at home to raise. My husband started working nights and weekends when we started a family so he could be home during the day taking care of our children. And since the day we got married, I have always been the main income earner of our household (20+ years). I currently make double my husbands salary. Can you guess how thrilled my mom is about all this? Oh and she still send cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. [Husband’s Name] [Last Name]. Still trying to get her point across after all these year…

    2. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      Eons ago, I worked at an all-women’s college. For reasons I will never, ever, EVER understand, the database system we used could not (or would not?) allow us to search by people’s maiden names.

      At a women’s college. Where everyone who went there had a maiden name. And when classmates would write in with news, they’d use the name they knew their classmate by — Mary Maidenname, and we had to try to match that person to a record we couldn’t search by using that name.

      It was a cluster of a problem and I hated it because I was in charge of the class news updates and inevitably, I screwed something up because there were a lot of Mary Smiths and now they were Mary Smith Jones and there were many of them, too.

      I remember thinking, ‘This is the world’s worst system ever for a lot of reasons but ESPECIALLY FOR A WOMEN’S COLLEGE.’

  9. Michelle*

    LW #1 I think we work for the same org. About a year ago, they offered a leadership program to women in a particular field of the organization, mainly focused on how to increase the number of women in that field. For the kickoff event, the keynote speaker was a MALE paralympian. Not a woman. When I emailed the organizer to proclaim my surprise at the lack of a female speaker, they replied that the chosen MALE speaker had knowledge and experience about inequality and breaking into fields that were not minority driven. Of course I was shocked by how completely tone deaf her response was and that coloured my decision to drop out of the program. The company’s overall lack of awareness about how the chosen demographic would view this showed me that while they think they are saying the right things, their actions spoke much louder.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Famously there aren’t any female Paralympians, not a single one.


    2. A person*

      This year our company had a woman from another company come to talk about how great other company was at “women”… I would’ve much rather seen stats from my own company. I mostly makes me guess that my company’s stats aren’t that good.

  10. ProcessMeister*

    If possible, LW2 might be best dumbing it down for the civilians. “Leather Pride? Oh, we work to build relationships between the cattle industry, retailers and individuals who all value the economic and environmental benefits of using traditional, genuine leather rather than artificial alternatives.” Add enough buzzwords and they’ll just think it’s very traditional, very niche and very, very dull.
    It could be worse. There’s many other LGBT concepts that even our most supportive allies might be shocked by.

    1. Bearly Listening*

      People google the names of companies that applicants work for/put on resume, so that could be an automatic “nope” if the discrepancy is caught.

    2. Bearly Listening*

      LW2, I was the hiring manager in a situation like this. We were looking for someone in content/comms, and a promising-on-paper applicant showed up. Not being familiar with their recent employers, I looked them up because it was important to see if the industries were comparable (I needed someone with B2B experience). Let’s just say that I definitely violated company policy by just going to their website to get some info. However, I didn’t give a flip where they worked, it was about how it translated. Ultimately I passed because I needed someone who could convince a millionaire CEO to do business with us, not sell very risqué consumer products. My boss agreed.
      All this is to say expecting that hiring managers won’t check out your company isn’t reasonable, but there are people out there who will take the experience at face value and not judge.

    3. metadata minion*

      There is a significant chance the interviewer will already know what “leather pride” means, at least in passing. It’s not *that* niche, especially in some geographic areas. Giving this sort of answer is going to make you look like you are either lying or being weirdly sarcastic.

      1. DataSci*

        It’s not going to make you look like you’re lying, it IS lying. And it may well get a “exactly how stupid do you think I am?” response.

        1. Riot Grrrl*

          This is exactly right. Forget the “leather” part; the idea that people don’t instinctively know what “Pride” means by now is laughable.

    4. Clisby*

      I’m wildly curious how many “civilians” would not have a fairly good idea of what Leather Pride was, just from the name. (I’m 69, lived the vast majority of my life in the deep (US) South, and have never encountered anyone affiliated with “Leather Pride”, but it wouldn’t be a mystery to me.)

    5. Valancy Trinit*

      This would fool nobody with the ability to use google, and would be actively insulting to a kink-aware interviewer. I dislike the premise that the interviewer needs to be fooled in the first place, though. I once hired a young woman irrespective of the fact that she was wearing a Bad Dragon branded lanyard during the interview. Not all hiring managers are out-of-touch or necessarily vanilla themselves. (I noticed much later that the lanyard was actually a RED Dragon branded lanyard, whoops! At no point did I comment on it to her.)

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        This. I would be surprised if someone tried to convince me that their Leather Pride work was related to the cattle industry, and would ask some probing questions around that.

        Honestly (glancing over at my modest Tom of Finland collection), this vanilla, middle-aged lady would probably manage to accidentally leave something in the background (my ToF stamps? My ToF vodka bottle, the ToF potholders?) to show that I understand and ain’t judging.

  11. Clydesdalesncoconuts*

    LW#2… You sit on a board for a largely under-represented minority group, providing them with consultations and access to items necessary to their mentak and physical well being that are often difficult to obtain.

    1. Angelinha*

      Saying something vague and stiff/formal like this would raise a lot more questions for me than just being straightforward!

      1. greenland*

        Agree! If you’re trying to bring it up, you have to be ready to talk about it. If you aren’t willing to talk about it, there’s no point in bringing it up in a vague way that just invites further questions.

  12. Ivana Tinkle*

    LW1 – My company was similarly off-base for this year’s IWD. All the women were asked to bake a cake to raise money for a women’s charity. Nice idea in principle, but really it’s reinforcing gender stereotypes by essentially asking the women of the office to bake cakes for the men! Why not just ask everyone to bake rather than just the women, so you can be a little bit less sexist on IWD!

      1. Totally Minnie*

        That was actually the big fundraiser for summer camp when I was a kid. We had a Dads Only bake sale where all the baked goods had to be made by dads, not moms.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I worked in a department where two men would compete over who made the best chocolate chip cookies. They were both amazing.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        In my workplace, the best baker by far is a man. We had two really good bakers, one a man and one a woman, but the woman moved to another school.

    1. LW#1*

      It’s amazing sometimes how so little thought goes into these things.
      To me it just seems like there’s not enough women making decisions, or even worse, that that might be in those positions, but aren’t able to shoot down terrible ideas.

      1. Chirpy*

        One of my company’s Glassdoor reviews is “sure, there’s a female CEO, but she hasn’t done a thing to promote other women who didn’t inherit the business into positions of management”

        She did get us very basic maternity leave (unfortunately, still considered progressive in retail) but her bland Women’s Day memo really made me want to comment with that Glassdoor review…or something about why not actually pay living wages…but I still need this job for now….

      2. Some words*

        That the company defended their selection tells me they’re just not getting it. They’re still ignoring the voices they apparently believe only they can accurately represent.

        It brings to mind a slogan I’ve heard from indigenous protesters. “Nothing about us without us.” Simple, powerful and unarguable.

      3. Ivana Tinkle*

        Exactly! My company likes to think they promote equality and diversity, but the reality is, apart from the traditional token female head of HR, all of the C-suite are white men from a privileged background, who are always totally out of touch and off base with anything like this. They set up an equality and diversity committee, but I don’t think they actually listen to anything that comes from it!

    2. Elenna*

      ah yes because as we all know men are fundamentally incapable of baking, it’s just impossible, you can’t ask such a thing of them /s

      1. Chirpy*

        unless there’s money involved, then male bakers will instantly be superior to female bakers. /eyeroll

    3. cam*

      what the heck? Just another example of women doing work that takes them away from work promoting tasks

  13. AlwhoisThatAl*

    #LW2. As someone who is on the hiring board and is having to sit through lots of Interviews at the moment, it would be a blessing and a pleasure to have someone who actually had something interesting on their CV.
    I would be spared the “I have a high degree of professionalism and work hard to achieve and progress the goals……” tediousness and would be able to go “really!” and then enquire about the leather and what you make and if baby powder is needed as with latex and all the other myriad of questions I would have.
    It would be be a beacon of light in a sea of people who “leverage”

    1. Nomic*

      That’s awesome. But how does LW2 figure out if they are interviewing with someone like you or someone that would have an issue? I’m trying to figure out the line to walk so that people like you see the invitation to discuss making cool gear, and those who would toss the resume if they realize “you’re into THAT”.

      Closest I can get is “on the board of a local Pride organization”, or if a more conservative part of the country, “board of a local LGBT organization”.

  14. short'n'stout*

    OP2, if you have the luxury of being able to be choosy about where you work, being frank about your business and your board work should select out employers who would be uncomfortable or unpleasant to work for. However, I gather you have limited savings, so maybe this isn’t the safest path for you right now :)

  15. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (quitting to start your own company) – I think doing it quietly and trying to have no-one find out is the wrong approach. You admitted yourself that there are “obvious intellectual property issues” and that you are planning to poach another employee… trying to do all this under the radar just adds to the impression that you are up to something that isn’t quite above board when it is inevitably found out. I would try to get in ahead of that and discuss it openly (though as Alison says – be sure you are legally in the clear).

    1. Testerbert*

      Why not? Scheduling & managing staffing is explicitly a work task. The handbook says no doing work off-the-clock. The management can’t have it both ways; either they are responsible for sorting out the schedule if people take time off, or they have to pay people for the time spent chasing each other around on the phone. If they are worried about people ‘gaming’ such a system, the management can do their jobs and manage the schedule.

      By requiring someone taking time off to jump through multiple hoops to get coverage, it’s a massive disincentive to actually taking time off. I wouldn’t be surprised if the management also take the stance of “If you can’t get coverage, you *have* to come in”, because they’re too important to DO THEIR JOB AND MANAGE THE SCHEDULE.

      1. Just noooooo*

        Don’t be daft. In an ideal world, sure, management would be responsible for capacity management such that there is coverage for callouts. Realistically, given the size of OP’s workplace and type of work, they cannot schedule above capacity and therefore coverage needs to be found ad-hoc and this isn’t a task that can fall to someone else. Searching for a way to get out of work isn’t an actual work task. Does it suck for OP and their coworkers? Sure. Making a veiled threat to their most likely also non-exempt and underpaid manager is absolutely terrible judgement and would likely get them disciplined or fired. How often is this happening anyway for OP to complain about this? I don’t think I’ve called out of work more than 2x a year.

        I remember when I used to have to call everyone in the cafe when looking for coverage and it’s a pain in the butt but also it took less than 30 minutes of my day, if that, with most of that time just waiting for people to get back to me. I’ve since held other jobs where I did manage capacity, and callouts were just accepted without the need for folks to search for coverage. It’s a huge undertaking by management and the company as a whole both in time and money, which folks may not realize if they haven’t worked in that part of a business before, that genuinely can’t be absorbed as a cost of business for smaller businesses. But distinctly, it’s a different job scheduling capacity versus just calling or texting coworkers to come in.

        This is laughable and supremely out of touch advice that could get OP fired.

        1. mlem*

          Of course schedule coverage is a work task. Just because foisting it on workers — who tend to be abusively late-, mis-, over-, or under-scheduled anyway — is common doesn’t make it right or legal.

          People have the right to have lives, EVEN IF their “small business” or “private-equity run” employer wants to scrape every possible penny out of understaffing and last-second scheduling (that regularly ignores people’s blocked timeframes for things like graduations). “Never take time off” is not a reasonable approach!

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          also it took less than 30 minutes of my day, if that, with most of that time just waiting for people to get back to me.

          Just because it is not an issue for you does not mean that it is not an issue for other people.

        3. Oooppppsss*

          I hate that it is so standard of a practice but agree with you.
          It’s technically work but it’s also asking for a favor and making changes to your established schedule.

        4. Your Local Password Resetter*

          I’m confused, is this a simple and quick task, or a huge undertaking?
          Because as far as I understand it, it’s a matter of running through the call list for an employee, but a massive time- and money sink for management?

        5. NoCoverage*

          This is the correct answer. My husband has been a manager of various cafes for over 20 years, and I used to be a yoga instructor – We have a lot of experience between us in shift work and calling out, and in no universe in the current world will you be paid for trying to find coverage. He can’t even get paid for MAKING the schedule half the time, even though that’s clearly wage theft. But it goes down like this: no work is allowed to be performed outside the store, but if you’re in the store, you’re expected to be fully available to customers and staff at all times. Which means if you need quiet time to sit for a couple of hours and make a schedule, you can’t do that in the store. Which means you do it from home, for free, and don’t tell the boss you worked from home because you get fired. But if the schedule isn’t published in time, you could get fired.

          People who work shift work generally do not have the leverage or financial stability to risk getting fired over a couple hours a work of free labor given to the company, even if they only work 10 hours a week, or even if they’re the manager (who are pretty universally hourly employees, btw, not salaried). It sucks, and it’s how companies get away with it, but it’s financially or realistically pretty impossible to fight it. (This is why we need a lot more focus on ethics classes in business school, but I digress…)

          1. Sue*

            In this example, I do think NoCoverage’s husband should be able to push back about not getting paid to make the schedule – but once a schedule has been made, I think it’s reasonable(ish) to expect the employee to take on the burden of finding coverage if the schedule doesn’t work for them. Assuming they had some input in drawing up the schedule, are reasonably able to request days off in advance, the schedule isn’t made 6 months ahead of time, etc.

            1. Ray Gillette*

              If someone wants to take a day off and didn’t request it in advance, sure. But if they’re sick, how is it reasonable to expect a sick person to do the work of finding coverage? People should be able to use their sick time without having to call in favors from their coworkers. It’s fair to say that the practice is too deeply entrenched to make it a battle worth fighting, but it’s something else to say that it’s reasonable.

        6. Testerbert*

          I’m sorry, but in the scenario laid out by the LW, they’ve *already* got two layers of ‘DIY’ scheduling going on (the scheduling app allowing people to request coverage, followed by an email going out). What purpose can getting someone to phone *everyone* serve other than to waste their time, make the entire affair awkward and actively disincentivise taking time off due to an illness or emergency? That’s setting aside the entire “Let’s casually share your telephone numbers to people you’d rather not have it” aspect of the situation, too.

          Nah, management need to step up and properly manage matters. If that means a few sessions being cancelled due to short-notice illness or other emergencies arising, so be it. You can’t expect on-demand coverage from a workforce you are maintaining as part-time hourly workers, as they’ll likely have other jobs or responsibilities going on.

        7. European*

          What is mind boggling is the number of Americans in this thread that go ‘no, of course you cannot ask your employer to pay you for doing work they ask you to do, that’s not how the world works’.
          ‘t’s a huge undertaking by management and the company as a whole both in time and money’
          yes, that is what you call the cost of doing business. If you cannot afford to pay your employees, you do not have a viable business.
          ‘callouts were just accepted without the need for folks to search for coverage.’
          that is not really going to work for a class with one instructor is it.

          1. Antilles*

            People are saying that isn’t how the world works because that’s accurate in the US, a country with minimal worker protections and a convoluted court system for redressing wrongs.

            The blunt reality is that OP complaining won’t change anything. Best case scenario, the employer rolls their eyes and ignores you. Much more like, OP would get fired.

            Then what? OP is out of work and needs to find a new job. The original studio just shrugs it off and forgets about it. OP eventually finds a new job which by the way probably has a very similar policy since these policies are quite common.

            It stinks, but that’s just the unfortunate truth.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Pushing back could work… but LW should definitely be aware they could lose their job over this. Yes, finding shift coverage is technically work activity and doing so off the clock is unpaid labor, but it is risky to push back. Alison has discussed at length in previous letters the importance of knowing your industry and workplace culture, how much capitol you have to spend, the value of pushing back in numbers, and how much you’re ultimately willing to risk losing your job.
        It’s possible at 10 hours per week LW is comfortable taking on that risk, but anyone in a similar situation needs to assess their own situation in the context of those risks.

    2. len*

      Agreed. Really surprised that advice was given without any caveats about how it might be received (in my experience, very poorly!).

      1. doreen*

        I was , too. Saying something is fine. Saying you think the employer is legally required to pay you is probably fine – but “how should I record the time” and “You’ll see an additional 45 minutes on my timecard” are likely to be seen as presumptuous at a lot of jobs where this would be be an issue. It’s similar with the “we” – “we are legally required to pay” will not land the same way as ” The law requires” or ” I believe the law requires”

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Correct. This is not going to be received well, especially with a presumptuous “we” in there. This could get people fired.

    3. Megan C.*

      I had a similar reaction! The type of place that makes you responsible for finding shift coverage is not going to receive “you should pay me for this” kindly. I don’t see it going well.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I actually wondered about logistics. I assumed a trainer/instructor is paid but the class with the assumption that nearly all classes are an hour long. Even for an hour long class the instructor probably must be there a bit early and perhaps cleanup after, but is paid a flat rate for a class – more as a contractor.

      By the end of the letter, though, I thought perhaps these are treated as part time hourly employees.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        … but I also agree that suddenly changing the way you have been doing things (not claiming the time spent dealing with finding shift coverage) all along and expecting it to work out seems like a bad idea.

        Cluelessness – “off course you’re going to pay me for the admin work of finding shift coverage” – works when you’re a new employee, not when you’ve been there for a while.

        I’d go with “Hey, we’re violating company policy by working off the clock, How can we fix this going forward?”

      2. bamcheeks*

        That was my thinking too, and I was kind of surprised by the comparison to restaurant and retail work. I’d expect any restaurant / retail work to have pretty clear standards for when you’re on and off the clock, and for it to be pretty clear when you’re being asked to do things like check schedules/arrange cover off-the-clock (and I do think that’s pretty outrageous.

        But all the freelance / hourly paid teaching gigs I’ve seen are structured to recognise that a lot of your work will be off-the-clock, eg, X hours contact time, paid at £Y rate, which is assumed to cover lesson planning, prepping materials, any related admin, staying up-to-date with your credentials and so on, or X hours contact time, paid at Y rate, with 25% extra to cover lesson prep and related admin. It doesn’t feel very weird to me to fold “schedule cover” into the “related admin” category. I’m kind of struggling to think how a teaching job would work if it was more like retail/restaurant shift work, to be honest– you’re there for a solid 8 hours and expected to do all your admin and lesson prep during the shift? or there really isn’t any lesson prep or any other admin and you literally just walk in, teach the class, and walk out again?

        LW, how does your gig cover lesson planning, credentials and licenses, and any other admin work? Is is structured in such a way that it’s clear that scheduling cover isn’t included?

    5. Finch*

      Yeah, in all of my experience of doing shift work (it’s been a bit, but that shit sticks with you) this advice would absolutely not work. Is the current system good? No! But the advice given here would get the OP fired.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, this is a way to get fired, not a way to get paid better. There is probably room to push back against doing the work of calling around, but I don’t see any way OP can start putting extra time on her timesheet and keep her job.

      2. doreen*

        I think a fairly large part of the problem is that for part-time shift work , there is no good solution. If the manager changes the schedule around based on people’s changing availability , some people won’t like it because their schedule isn’t predictable weeks ahead of time. If the manager leaves the schedule the same for weeks or months at a time and expects people to find their own coverage when they don’t want to work their normal Friday night shift for some reason , there are people who won’t like that and think they are doing unpaid work by trying to find coverage. And if the manager tries to find coverage , well, I’ve seen people take offense to that, as well since “they shouldn’t call me when I’m not working”.

        1. Testerbert*

          The solution requires management to write a schedule which actually has some flexibility in it for the inevitable times someone is ill or an emergency arises, with an honest conversation with the team about how that can be achieved. To my eye, that means the management either rostering more than the bare minimum of staff necessary (so one person being ill/away unexpectedly doesn’t scupper things) or having some kind of established (paid!) on call rota whereby you can volunteer to be the replacement should need arise.
          Blindly calling people never goes down well, because all it does is teach people to never answer the phone from your manager/colleagues because it’ll just be them demanding/begging you do unexpected work.

          1. doreen*

            I don’t disagree about flexibility when an emergency arises but it’s unrealistic to expect a fitness center to pay two instructors for every scheduled yoga class* , either by scheduling two instructors or by paying someone to be on-call. Especially when it’s not at all clear that the LW is talking about emergencies rather than asking someone to cover their Friday evening shift two weeks from now because they were invited to a social event.

            * A retail store/fast food restaurant scheduling an extra person is different.

    6. Pierrot*

      Yeah, as someone who has pretty extensive non-management experience in the service/retail industry, I begrudgingly agree. In an ideal world, the part time shift workers would not be responsible for ensuring coverage and would be compensated if they were. However, asking to be paid for spending 45 minutes doing this will likely come across as very out of touch/out of bounds, especially for a very part time commitment.It sucks, and I wish that the industry was different. I think that there are ways for LW to push back on this.

      LW3, maybe you could talk to your other colleagues (or ones that you specifically trust) about the overall burden of finding coverage and the amount of time that it takes. If other colleagues agree, you could all approach management and say:
      “We understand why we are asked to secure coverage; however, in practice it is taking up a lot of time and when we have only committed to working 11 hours a week, the extra time spent on finding coverage really adds up.” Then you ask, as a group, if management could come up with another system so that staff won’t have to spend 45 minutes requesting coverage.

      In my experience, 15 minutes would be more reasonable if you’re calling out. 45 minutes is way too long, and the studio needs to come up with a way to ease that burden.

    7. Alex*

      Yeah I’d agree that my shift work employer would not care if they were following the law. And most shift workers don’t have the resources to fight back.

      I questioned an illegal practice similar to this example and the answer was “the law doesn’t apply to us because [absurd reason].” I sent them a link to the law. “Nope.”

    8. Malarkey01*

      I used to love the advice and comment section of this site because it was realistic in the sometimes you’re right but that’s not the way this will work. It was writing to the common person who had a work question not someone who could upend the systemic work culture. I think things have strayed a lot from that.

      I agree that this would never work. Shift coverage is used because you don’t want to work your shift (and yes everyone has lives and things happen, but if you’re working a part time job and someone has done the schedule and then you say those shifts actually don’t work for me, they aren’t going to want to keep you around so shift coverage is your option to take unscheduled leave).

      This advice most likely ends with someone losing their job which I don’t think was helpful.

    9. Clefairy*

      Completely agreed, but all of the folks that work in more professional office environments aren’t going to understand the nuance.

      I think the main issue here is that the company did their due diligence to schedule- it’s the employee who is choosing not to honor the scheduled shift. Now, they certainly don’t HAVE to find coverage, but the company is completely within their rights to reprimand the employee in some way for not working their originally scheduled shift. So the employee finding coverage isn’t them doing work for the company on the clock…because the company already did the work and already scheduled someone. The employee is doing work for themselves personally because they don’t want to be negatively held accountable for missing their scheduled shift. Of course in the case of emergencies, the manager absolutely should step in. But for more routine situations, especially ones where the employee knows in advance that they don’t want to show up…that’s totally on the employee. I’ve scheduled many, many retail/hospitality operations, and when I was younger and less experienced, I would really bend over backwards to find coverage for everyone, and it added hours every single week to my already over 40 hour work weeks- for shifts that, per policy, where in fact the responsibility of the scheduled employees to work or be docked for missing without coverage.

    10. Qwerty*

      OP3 would likely have more success if they focused on the unpaid class prep work and requirements to attend yoga conferences since those are directly related to their work. I feel like AAM’s advice is going to backfire badly.

      Asking someone to take over your shift is the opposite of work – it is literally trying to get out of work. If OP3 regularly has to seek coverage or swap shifts plus has so much trouble that they are getting the third step and needing to call all 20 instructors without getting, then they would be better off addressing the root cause. Maybe that means talking with the scheduler about whatever issue is causing a big mismatch between the schedule and OP3’s availability. Maybe that means talking with the other instructors about a better system for covering/swapping shifts.

      It’s probably also worth checking how often the other instructors run into this issue or if people don’t want OP3’s shifts for some reason. Are they always scheduled in a hard-to-cover slot? Do they not have a good relationship with other instructors? How often do they cover other people’s shifts? When I did shift work, I had the least desirable shift (early morning) so I had to make sure to cover for other people a little more than usual so that they’d be likely to reciprocate when I needed it.

  16. Agnes*

    #5 – Might depend on industry. In academia, which admittedly has a super-long hiring process, if you got a new grant or publication or something, it would be appropriate to update the search committee.

  17. flowergirl*

    My department sent an email on International Women’s Day to remember to buy flowers for the women in your live.! I thought it was so incredibly tone deaf, like we were in the 50s again. Celebrating women by bringing them flowers for being so nice and womanly, instead of talking about equity and discrimination. On LinkedIn my company highlighted some women VPs. Of course absolutely nothing about the many issues that are still there. I’m getting so allergic about all the back-patting. We have a DEI group, diversity is in our company’s values, it’s often mentioned as important, but it’s all “look how far we came!” and “here’s an inspiring story about a woman!” but honestly, yes, compared to the 70s things are better for most women, but compared to the 00s, I think they’re worse for women in my area of tech. And then on IWD you are being told to “buy flowers for the women in your lives”…

    1. Cacofonix*

      I feel this. One company I’d done business with posted pictures of 4 managers who were women … these “lovely ladies are dedicated… etc” I posted a response politely pushing back on their gendered language- just advising them that “lovely ladies” is gendered, based on appearance first not capability yada yada. Recommend changing their post.

      They doubled down, saying the “ladies were fine with it” I just responded back saying that in a public forum from a company and post that promotes equality, I’ll look forward to seeing a post on the “handsome gentlemen” that work there.

    2. just another queer reader*

      This calls to mind “don’t give us flowers, give us justice.”

      And I feel you on companies doing a lot of talking and not a lot of walking. It’s so exhausting. I’m sorry.

    3. metadata minion*

      Apparently this is extremely a Thing in some parts of the world. I work at a university and have had international student employees give me flowers for IWD as if yes, this is just what you do for any vaguely female-shaped human you interact with. I’ve been trying to come up with a better script in response, since I don’t want to go all grumpy on an employee like I would with Joe Random Stranger, but I am in somewhat of a mentoring capacity and it would be good for them to know that this is really not a thing in the US and also by the way *I’m not a woman*.

    4. Aggretsuko*

      My work doesn’t celebrate this day other than someone posts a pic in the Slack channel.

  18. Marie*

    when I quit a previous job someone else who had quit to go to the same company I did gave me the advice of not telling my previous company where I was going. she said it was none of their business as well as the owner of the previous company had a habit of threatening people who quit with lawsuits if they went to similar industries. I knew he had no leg to stand on with me, I was moving into a different sub section of the industry wouldn’t infringe on their business in any way shape or form.

    but just to be safe, and to keep some privacy since my original company was incredibly toxic (it’s been 5 years and I still have legit PTSD from them) I just told everyone I wasn’t telling anyone where I was going because I was superstitious and didn’t want to jinx it.
    luckily I already had a reputation of being superstitions so it wasn’t a far reach for people to accept that. it really did stop any questions in their tracks and made people back off.

  19. Accountress*

    LW2, your business makes pret-a-porter and bespoke leather clothing and accessories. You respond to consumer demands in the larger market for the off-the-rack items, and work with customers to meet their needs for the bespoke items. There is nothing sexual about your work- what happens with the pieces after you sell them is not your business.

  20. Awkwardemic*

    I’ve seen number 5 happen in academia. Candidate emailed to let the search committee know about an important new publication and it was received well. (They ultimately were not hired but that was for other reasons.)

    1. Artemesia*

      This is a real academic thing — it is precisely the thing you would update a search committee on and it is a clear black and white sort of achievement that is primary in selecting faculty for tenure positions. I don’t know that that translates to other professions but it is definitely a ‘go’ when applying for an academic one.

  21. Ugh*

    #1 reminds of the time when I asked on an open thread here about starting a women’s network and was told that it was probably illegal and that I should ask men what their opinions were.

    No matter how progress we tell ourselves we’ve made, there’s still so far to go.

  22. SimpleAutie*

    LW2: I think that Alison got it wrong on this one.

    to be clear, I’m very sad about it but we have a massive, massive backlash happening nationwide against any visible queer identity and your safety comes first.

    I think Alison’s advice *should* be right. But I would not feel safe disclosing what I did. I’d probably leave the board work out entirely and describe myself as a leather craftsman, in your position.

    There are too many people and places creating laws to harm the LGBT+ community right now, and too many people empowered by the existence of vocal, legal oppression.

  23. EPLawyer*

    #4 – be very very careful about that intellectual property part. If you already have concerns, that it is a problem. Don’t just look over what you have signed, spring the bucks to talk to an IP lawyer. You don’t want your start up ended because you got caught in a costly IP fight.

    1. Antilles*

      Especially in light of “history of bad behavior” and “don’t put it past them to sabotage my efforts” – if you’re worried about them vengefully whispering about you, then you should be even more worried about making sure you’re covered from any legal action.

  24. Another health care worker*

    Re the “we could get in trouble” language for doing something that’s illegal but that benefits the employer…this has never once worked for me. I’ve tried it many times on various different issues that violated either law or regulations. The response is either “well, we haven’t gotten any complaints” (i.e. don’t you go complaining now), or “hrmhrmhrm something else moving on.”

    Everyone else I know in health care has had the same results. I really don’t think there’s as much of a consensus as we’re supposed to have regarding following the law.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      “well, we haven’t gotten any complaints”

      Well, I guess it’s time to lodge a formal complaint. It’s also time to start unionizing.

    2. Retail Escapee*

      I actually have a real life example of this.
      About 15 years ago I worked for a California based company, with stores in all 50 states. It was standard to schedule 3 or 3.5 hour shifts (an extra closer, or an afternoon greeter). This was a company wide practice. An employee pointed out to me that *their mom* told them our state had a 4 hour minimum. I assured them we worked for a huge corporation that had lawyers and entire departments dedicated to not violating labor law but I would check.
      Guess what. He was right. Our old district manager was based in another state and had been passing along scheduling standards that were absolutely a violation of state law. We all just assumed it was vetted.
      My district manager had to call an emergency conference call to have all of us immediately fix our schedules and outline the consequence of short shifts going forward. All because one employee pointed it out and I went home and googled it just in case.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Anyone who lives in California or New York and feels unsure about whether their company is behaving within legal standards should ABSOULTELY do some real googling.

        Do this regardless of where you live, frankly. But these places have SUPER specific labor laws, and particularly if you work for a national corporation this scenario is not uncommon.

  25. DFWatty*

    Employment lawyer here. This boss appears to be requiring employees to perform a task integral and essential to their jobs and to the business. That’s compensable, regardless of what the task is.

    1. doreen*

      But is getting coverage really a task that’s integral and essential to the business? What if the reason that employee A is calling around looking for someone to cover a shift is because employee A doesn’t want to work one of their scheduled shifts ( not because they are sick) ? I’m sure the employer would be perfectly happy if no one ever wanted to be off on a day they were scheduled to work and I know when I had this sort of job I would look for coverage maybe twice a year. It’s hard for me to see something that may rarely happen and only happens as a result of the employee wanting to change their schedule as “integral and essential”

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        The worker themselves qualifies as integral and essential, and so their absence would fall under this definition.

        Wanting to change their schedule and asking around is different than a situation where you’re informing your employer that you will not be there. If you will not show up whether there is coverage or not, then getting coverage is integral and essential. At that point, the reason doesn’t matter. If your manager is offloading the task of finding a body to replace you when it would normally be their responsibility, that is compensable.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          So we learned that labor laws may not be enforced due to the huge power imbalance between employee or employer… Even people who think employees should follow laws are ‘ too online ‘. our culture is bananapants

  26. kristinyc*

    For OP #2 –
    Not sure exactly what type of role you’re looking for, but there are some very niche leather companies that would love to have someone who understands/uses their products. My dad has been in the leathercraft business for more than 40 years and has owned his company for the last 20. His company sells leathercraft supplies to/at most major craft store chains in the US, as well as other small businesses/crafters. While they’re a growing business with 50+ employees – he struggles to find people who can do the job (sales, marketing, production, whatever) who also are interested in leather/know anything about it. While his company doesn’t specifically market adult products, I’m positive people are using his leather to make them. You might be a customer even! All that’s to say – there are companies who would see your background as an asset!

  27. Becccccca*

    #3, I think that if you were to call out because you were sick, or if something urgent came up, then I would fully expect the manager to find coverage.

    However, if, say you were scheduled to teach a class a week or two out, but decided you wanted to take that day off, I don’t think it is unreasonable to try to find coverage.

  28. Hiring Mgr*

    When I last worked retail jobs (a long time ago) the general practice was if you called in sick or had scheduled a day off in advance, the manager would arrange coverage. If you were just looking to trade shifts though, you would arrange that yourself.

    It doesn’t sound like asking to get paid for that would go over well, I certainly wouldn’t be mentioning the state labor board over this

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this. I have the same experience. My first few jobs when I was in high school and college were in retail.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      The weird thing about the letter scenario is they already have the app-based way of trading shifts and whatnot. I think if coming at it from a more general sense “call around and get coverage”, the manager in the best of light is thinking “well you don’t need to call EVERYONE to get a taker”, and thus the task is much smaller than what OP describes. Or should be, most of the time. And sure, maybe.
      But if they’ve already got the app where people can pick up extra shifts if they want, AND they’ve got the mass email, by the time they get to calling version of things, it’s pretty clear there aren’t ready, willing takers. So you actually probably do have to either call a lot of people, or spend some time trying to convince someone, which makes it a more onerous ask than it might superficially sound like.
      Legally speaking, it’s work, but in a case where it’s one or two 5 minute calls once in a blue moon, it’d seem not worth pushing back on. But in the scenario in the letter, it sounds like this is a significant amount of work any time it happens, which is what puts it into worth pushing back territory. I acknowledge the reality it still might get someone fired by bad managers who are indeed intentionally foisting this on workers. So it’s up to LW to decide if they want to potentially deal with that. Still, as long as everyone decides they’ll let this go, it’s going to stay status quo that managers don’t consider this work even though the law does.

  29. Pierrot*

    LW3– while I agree 100% that employees should be compensated for time spent ensuring coverage, as a former service industry worker, I doubt that pushing back as an individual or asking management to pay you would go over well. It could come across as unreasonable or out of touch, which to be clear is not how I feel at all, but unfortunately the burden of finding coverage does often fall on the employee.
    Mentioning the legal issues, even discretely, could escalate the situation or sour your relationship with management. So I agree with Allison’s sentiments and interpretation of the law, but I sadly disagree with the advice (unless you are okay with the potential consequences).

    I think a less risky approach would be to see if any of your colleagues also feel burdened by the expectations around securing coverage. If other coworkers are frustrated by this system, you can approach management as a group and basically say “We understand why you are asking us to secure coverage, but in practice we are finding that it takes upwards of an hour to do this. It’s a significant amount of time to spend on something that’s not compensated. Can we talk about implementing different system to ensure coverage that would be less time consuming?”

    You can even come up with ideas and bring them to management. If you don’t feel like you can approach this as a group, that makes things a bit more difficult but I think you can still talk to management as an individual and just say, “Last week I spent 45 minutes trying to find coverage, and that’s a significant amount of time for me since I have only committed to working 11 hours a week. I am wondering if we can come up with a way to ensure coverage that is less time consuming for staff.”

  30. Exme*

    If you are going to follow any of the advice in #3, start with the lawyer and get very clear on your goals and how far you are willing to take this fight and what you’ll do if fired.
    There is 0% chance the result of adding hours to your timecard is the company deciding to change industry-standard policy with that one conversation with your low-level supervisor.

  31. silly little public health worker*

    L2 – what healthcare-adjacent field are you in? I’ve worked in LGBTQ+ health in a major city for a LONG time, and I feel like that detail matters re leather pride. If it’s, like, outreach, sexual health, health education – I feel like that’s a bonus! If it’s case management, billing and finance, epidemiology – might be worth treading more carefully. Also, the organization and context will be important no matter where you are. If you’re applying to positions in major hospital systems with more conservative HR screening staff – even if you’re applying to a relatively progressive department – I’d keep it off, but if it’s like a small public health org, choose your choice. Either way, if you say that you’re an independent leathercrafter I can’t imagine that being an issue.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    Do the people who get asked to fill in get paid also? I would make it known that I’m always willing to trade shifts, then just sit back and let the cash roll in as I work on one request after another.

    “Yeah boss, it took me eight hours to figure out if I could work those shifts, and that was for three different people, so that’s why the extra 24 hours this week”. :). /s

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Only if your employer is the one texting you and they require you to either be on call or perform an immediate action.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        In this situation though the OP is asking if the time they spend on these calls to coworkers should be paid. If it were paid for the OP wouldn’t it be paid for whoever OP is contacting as well? They’re both doing the same “work” (working on OP’s schedule)

  33. BellyButton*

    I am so grateful to the man in #1 for explaining to me how much better I have it now than my mother and grandmother did. There is no need for me to continue fighting for equality and my human rights.

    /sarcasm (in case that isn’t obvious to everyone)

  34. Anonymous Koala*

    Shift work LW- I agree that you’re probably not going to get far by adding hours to your timecard out of the blue unless you’re committed to finding an employment lawyer and dying on this hill or rallying your coworkers and pushing back as a group.
    But could you just….not do the calling around? What happens if you tell your boss you did what you could to find coverage and couldn’t find anyone? Or if you’re just unavailable outside your shifts? When I did shift work we definitely didn’t put 100% of our efforts into this sort of unpaid labor – it was very much a lip service sort of thing and we returned problems with shift scheduling to sender.

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      Yeah I think the issue is that the OP’s boss wants 3 levels of communication and thats why she wants to be paid. It’s one thing to put the info in the app and later send an email. heck you can probably have a template email that you adjust with the correct dates/times and just send a mass email to all 20 people. But to have to call each person on top of everything else. Thats a lot.

      I also want to know when and how much is this happening. Is this for planned time off. If so that should be on the manager. Like if OP says in 1 month I can’t be scheduled for X days then the manger should be the one finding coverage. But if its more last minute, like I have to take my dog to the vet and the only time was during class, then yes I can see that being on the employee. But really it should not entail 3 different types of contacts.

      1. GreenShoes*

        I think it’s 3 different types of contacts only if the first or second don’t get a response. That’s not unreasonable in my opinion.

        I’m honestly a little surprised that the OP is actually calling all 20 people. Don’t you usually figure out who the best people to call are and sort of ignore the rest?

        Tom has another job on Tuesday, Fergus is usually looking for trade himself, Betty owes me a day from last month, Moe never trades, Stan will take the shift – but he won’t want to trade one of his, Wakeen is usually willing to work a double, Billy’s mad at me since I won employee of the month for the 3rd time in a row, and Veronica never shows up for a trade.

  35. GreenShoes*

    I’m also curious as to how this would work. If the theoretical shift worker said “Oh, I’m going to start logging my hours that I’m spending finding trades” how quick of a jump would it be for management to solve the problem by saying “No trades once the schedule is published” or “All trades must be arranged during scheduled work time only” and/or “No unscheduled work time will be authorized for arranging trades” all of which would really be not great for everyone.

    Essentially they’d have to pay under the law (although I’m not sure that this would be considered actual work time since the trade is voluntary but for this post I’ll assume it is considered work under the law).

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is basically why it’s standard practice to just ignore it. Because technically, that’s exactly what should happen – or management should arrange all shift trades and find all coverage. It’s easier for everyone to just quietly agree to do things off the books.

      The issue is that it’s so standard, most employees don’t realize they’ve agreed to it. And might not otherwise.

  36. Glazed Donut*

    LW3, from the tone of your letter, it sounds like this work environment isn’t the best fit for you–given you specify creating playlists, etc. as additional layers of unpaid work. I wonder if, instead of raising this particular issue with your employer, there is another yoga studio you’d be happier teaching at?
    I say this as someone who worked in education — there were some environments where I LOVED making lesson plans, PPTs, etc during my home time, and others where I was resentful. It was the resentful places that, after leaving, I realized how overall miserable I was and should have left sooner.
    Just a thought! Maybe there are no other yoga places around, or places that don’t pay as well, or don’t offer times that you’d like– but perhaps that, too, should be taken into consideration before raising this issue.

  37. Cacofonix*

    #4 on not telling people at work where you’re going after you quit. “Eh, I’ve agreed to keep my new role confidential for now” said breezily worked easily for me more than once. I’ve said this while changing jobs, leaving to start my consulting firm, quitting without a new job lined up to take an extended break. Easy to double down for the oddballs who press.

    No one deserves to invade your privacy. Same goes to all the waitstaff who ask what you have planned for the rest of the evening. I curse that question and that they seem to make these pour souls ask it. “I’ll be digesting this amazing meal this evening.”

  38. MamaSarah*

    LW #4 – Perhaps you could quickly steer the conversation to other life events? Like, “my son and his wife had a baby a few months ago, so I’m going to visit them.” Or if you have some travel planned, you could chat about that? Best of luck with your new gig!

  39. gmg22*

    Re LW#1 and clueless displays for Int’l Women’s Day: Our CEO wrote an all-hands email that started with him admitting that he usually forgets important holidays unless his admin staff — both women — remind him, and then went on to lean heavily on the fact that our nonprofit was co-founded (30 years ago!) by a woman. This is a card that our otherwise-male-dominated old guard has always LOVED to play, despite the fact that said co-founder retired more than a decade ago, has since also retired from our board of directors, and her presence then is just not all that meaningful to any of the women working here now. (The male half of the co-founding duo is still tenaciously present but in a vaguely defined role, just to give you a sense of who we’re clearly supposed to understand as the TRUE founder of the org.)

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      It took me way too long to see this reference!
      Once again, if something happens in a sitcom, it’s a red flag of what not to do in real life.

  40. Abogado Avocado*

    LW#2, if you work in the U.S., you might wish to consider applying to and working with healthcare-adjacent organizations that receive Ryan White Part A federal grant funding to provide services to persons living with HIV. That community of people will definitely NOT look amiss at your adult-oriented leather work, nor your service on the Leather Pride board. Indeed, the orgs receiving Ryan White funding will think it a plus.

    If you aren’t sure whether there are organizations in your community that receive Ryan White funds, you can go to the Health Resources and Services Administration ( and search for your metropolitan area. There also will be a Ryan White Planning Council in the area that covers your community that will determine how funds are allocated. (You may want to search “Your State Name” AND “Ryan White Planning Council” to find the local group.)

    Good luck and let us know what happens!

    1. Performative gumption*

      Agree with this. As someone who has spent a couple of decades + working in UK HIV and sexual health I wouldn’t bat an eyelid to your interests and if anything they would be a positive point in terms of understanding and engagement with the communities we serve.
      However I know other more traditional areas of medicine this would be problematic. I think be careful what you share dependent on the culture and I hope you find a good fit for yourself.

      1. Performative gumption*

        I should add – sadly problematic
        Personally, it’s no one’s business but yours

  41. Office Cheetos*

    Allison-can you do an open thread on clueless ways Women’s Day was celebrated? There’s so many stories here in the comments. Our own CEO dedicated the day to his wife and mother of his children, who works “tirelessly making sure our needs are taken care of.”

  42. cam*

    #LW 1
    I always recommend a book (written by Australian researchers) called The No Club.

    The No Club started when four women, crushed by endless to-do lists, banded together over $10 bottles of wine to get their work lives under control. Running faster than ever, they still trailed behind their male colleagues. And so, they vowed to say no to requests that pulled them away from the work that mattered most to their careers. This book reveals how their subsequent groundbreaking research uncovered that women everywhere are unfairly burdened with “non-promotable work,” a tremendous problem we can—and must—solve.

  43. just another queer reader*

    #2: as noted, I think it really depends on the organization/ role you’re looking for.

    In more progressive orgs, I think being on the board of a local LGBTQ nonprofit and running your own handmade craft/accessory business that’s oriented to the LGBTQ community could be an asset.

    At my company… I don’t think it would be seen as an asset. Maybe you could get away with “local community festival organizing board” and “side business making handcrafted items.” But I would imagine they’d ask some follow up questions just to make small talk (“oh cool, what festival? I wonder if I’ve been!”), and then it could get awkward.

    I wish we lived in more of that dream world. :/

  44. Ex-prof*

    LW #2, it depends so much where you’re hiring. When I think of some of the places I’ve worked:

    1. small church-affiliated college: They would actually have been pretty cool with it as long as it didn’t become a public relations issue for them
    2. big state university: Same
    3. public school system: Nope, uh uh
    4. large urban youth hostel: NBD

    I think it largely comes down to how the population your prospective employer serves would reacti fi they knew about your outside work. (If backpackers from Germany found out it would be NBD, if the 9th algebra class found out, that would not be a fun day.)

  45. Jack Russell Terrier*

    I teach yoga. The LW mentions the large amounts of unpaid labor they do.

    I think this is context that Alison is missing. Yoga studios, like nonprofits, are notorious for buuuutttt missssssion to justify unfair treatment.

    I barely worked at a studio myself because of this. I went online before the pandemic. I’m in my Fifties. This is one of the main reasons so many yoga teachers are in their Twenties. They’ll put up with running themselves ragged around town, teaching for pennies on the dollar (when you add up travel and prep time) and being pushed/guilted into doing more and more work.

    It’s something the yoga community is talking about and starting to confront. It’s not easy because, like restaurants, a studio overhead is large and often the margins are small.

  46. TomatoSoup*

    LW #2

    Are the things you have learned from your business and board role: a) directly relevant to the role you’re applying for AND b) those things are not demonstrated elsewhere in your experience?

    I don’t think the business or the board are per se inappropriate to have on a resume. However, I can see people associating Leather with sex and getting uptight about it. It’s not fair but bills don’t pay themselves, so sometimes we share only what we need to.

  47. Silicon Valley Girl*

    For #2, the leather pride groups I know of are nonprofits that do a lot of valuable work in the community, so it’s no stretch to simply say you’re on the board of a LGBTQ nonprofit & then describe what you do & any achievements (balanced budgets, increased fundraising, outreach to new communities, increased membership, etc.).

    And I definitely agree w/the suggestions about just calling your side biz “leatherwork” & focusing on things like “crafted specialty items & grew sales 10% year over year.”

  48. LaLa*

    #1 – Just to play devil’s advocate, a measure of societal progress is often when the other group supports the cause; ie when whites support racial equality, when the religious majority support religious freedom, when straights support LGBTQ, when men support women’s rights… So sure, they could have obviously gone a better way than interviewing a man on Women’s Day, but at least his support and recognition of it is a sign that we’re not fighting against each other.

    1. Chirpy*

      The devil doesn’t need more advocates. Sure, having men support women’s rights is important, but especially on a day specifically for *celebrating women*, they need to be a supporting role, not the main role.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      No, just, no.

      If you’re giving a speech about racial discrimination it’s not a plus point to have the only speaker be some white guy who says ‘hey, things used to be worse!’.

      If you’re doing a day about disabled rights it’s not a plus point to have an able bodied neurotypical go ‘well at least things are better now!’

      Because it’s erasure. It’s like saying ‘sexism doesn’t exist because we put in equal pay laws! Aren’t we nice!’. It’s transferring the onus of the day/movement away from the real issues and onto mollifying the feelings of people who do not belong to those groups.

    3. Anon Supervisor*

      You know, I’m all for hearing from men about how they’re fighting the patriarchy (because it hurts them too), but if all they’re going to do is point out how bad it used to be for us and “aren’t you grateful that you can wear pants to work now and won’t get fired for being pregnant” while ignoring the fact that most women still don’t get equal pay for equal work nor do they get paid maternity leave or bodily autonomy, their “ally-ship” really doesn’t mean that much to me. Yes, we can acknowledge how far we’ve come and still advocate for better. If dudes really want to help, they need to talk to other men about how they can make more room at the table for women and POC.

  49. Rebecca*

    Re: LW #4 – I’ve had a few people say things like “I’ll let everyone know my next move once I get settled” and I’ve started to use this myself. Some people will not be able to stand this but TBH that’s part of the fun.

    The advantage of this is that it’s sort of open-ended in terms of why you’re leaving/where you’re going, plus if that’s all you’re saying, you can’t be accused of starting the “very juicy gossip.”

  50. Spicy Tuna*

    For #4, in my career, I have found most people are vague about what they are doing. In once case, I was friendly with a woman who was leaving to get her PhD. For some reason, she really didn’t want people to know this. Because she was vague, her boss thought she was unhappy at work or that he had done something personally. After she left, he mentioned several times to me that he felt terribly that she had left and that it might have something to do with him. I finally told him she was getting a PhD. He was so relieved that it wasn’t something he did.

  51. 1-800-BrownCow*

    LW #1, my company did a little better. They asked myself (cis-female) and a male coworker to both be interviewed for IWD. I did have several people ask me why they included his comments (HR told me it was fairer to include perspectives from both sides) and why his comments were listed before mine (I have no idea and did not read too much into that). However, a few complained they used this male colleague as I’ve heard several complaints from other women that he doesn’t treat them equally. He often interrupts them in meetings and will turn done all ideas or suggestions made by females only.

    Sadly, I had a couple female employees complain to me that IWD is not fair as it excludes men, so there’s that as well… As the only female in my department, I found it ironic as well.

  52. dackquiri*

    #2 – It feels hard to give advice because Pride in general is weirdly more contentious than it’s ever been. I can think of times where rainbow signage was rare because of the taboo, but I can’t remember places *banning* them. I feel like if any healthcare-related workplace is trying to do any kind of fence-sitting on LGBTQ inclusion, it’s going to be vulnerable to bad actors exploiting wedge issues. You’ll filter out a lot of bad fits if you include it. Maybe that’s a little idealistic and high-standard-y to say, but if you did work in this field, I imagine it’s not an *un*important thing to look for in an employer.

    And healthcare is also a field where you have to professionally use worksafe parlance to discuss topics generally considered by most to be NSFW. (I have been in interdepartmental meetings where I’ve had to describe various specific complications of placing IUDs, in detail.) The person who can use clinical, professional language to do it isn’t the one being inappropriate, the one who can’t handle the discussion is. This a great opportunity to demonstrate your ability to do so (e.g., “Leather culture has a rich history as a part of gay culture; it felt like a great opportunity to lend my talents to”.)

    But that’s just me (queer man, luckily in a very queer-affirming workplace, and currently not undergoing the pressure of a job search), please take this with a grain of salt.

  53. Lily Potter*

    LW#3 – finding coverage for absences –
    Expecting an employee to find coverage for planned absences is a normal thing at all jobs and isn’t something for which one should expect extra payment. However, it’s also NOT normal to expect an employee to make 20+ phone calls (really? who answers the phone any more?) as a part of finding that coverage.

    Something else occurred to me too – is the LW an employee or an independent contractor? I know that some yoga instructors do classes as a “gig” thing rather than being employed by studios. If the LW is being paid as an IC, there’s all kinds of OTHER things wrong with how this scheduling is done.

  54. LP*

    I haven’t read all the comments regarding OP3 but I worked for years as a fitness instructor and I find it hard to understand the expectation to be paid for time finding coverage for your class. And this sort of work cannot be compared to a retail job or other shift work, in my opinion. My time was pre-apps for this sort of thing – it was all phone calls (initially ONLY phone calls!) or emails. And honestly it was just part of the job. As for the other prep time/certification maintenance, my understanding was always that the high rate we were paid was to cover that – this is not a typical hourly job. So if I was paid $30-$50/class (and maybe more), that was why, not because I was literally worth $50 for that one hour I was in the studio. Maybe it wasn’t meant to cover finding coverage (or maybe it was, as that was part of the job expectation), but that should have been a minimal amount of time in the grand scheme of things. Obviously if I had to call in sick last minute, then yes, it was on my manager to cover – that was part of their job. But for planned absences, it was on me. Although also, if I was really struggling I’d contact my supervisor and they’d try and help, but that was not the starting point. Maybe things have changed (I haven’t taught in years) but at least back then it would have been very, very odd to expect payment. This is just not typical shift work, at all. It’s often coming in to teach a one-off class.

  55. Mark*

    #1 – I have just one question. Are there women who have worked there for 40 years? If yes, then I 100% agree that this man is not someone who should have been interviewed But if no women have been there this long, to me it’s a question of asking a 4-decade employee their opinion, not a matter of asking a male their opinion.

  56. Barry*

    Actually a career-related update can be a good reason to follow up with a hiring manager, if it’s valuable. For example, a new certification could be a great reason to standout as a candidate

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