Okay, face it. You’re female and despite the inroads we’ve made as a gender it’s still a man’s world. And because you work in a man’s world, sex is going to come up at some point or another. I have been told I’ve used it to get my name on the door. I’ve been accused of hiding behind a maiden name in an effort to disguise I was married to the partner. It has also been suggested I was sleeping with various men in order to get what I wanted. All blatantly false! Could I have stopped any of these nasty rumors? Not likely. I think it’s just the nature of men and women working together.
But years ago, I made a few self-imposed rules:
No physical contact.
I don’t hug men I work with. We can win a new piece of business and I will high five. No hugs. Period. Even with this rule in place, I’ve been accused of sleeping around to get ahead.
Whenever possible, I like open doors. I worked with a CMO once and we had a kind of brother/sister banter and would razz the heck out of each other. We were working on a pitch and he said, “Come on in and close the door” to which I replied that’s how rumors get started. He said, “Ah, they’ll happen anyway, we have work to do.” Sure enough, he ended up being one of those supposed flings.
Watch how you dress.
It won’t help if you dress inappropriately. You’ll just fuel the fire. America has gotten fairly lax with business dress codes. Tight dresses and cleavage in the office will only fan the fires of the rumor mill. That’s why I love jackets. It dresses up jeans. And you can take it off after work if you’re going out.
I don’t think I’ve ever really mingled with male bosses after hours. Sure there are client dinners and events, but those are business. I can’t say that I’ve ever played a round of golf or just hit the bar after a hard day with the boss. The closest thing to doing something after work was a walk home, but even then it was a threesome, not a tete-a-tete.