My Manager Says He’s A Male Chauvinist!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about male chauvinist label:

My manager is not engaging with me and has claimed to be a male chauvinist. I reported this to his superior. Does she have to report this to her superior?

Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

The HR policies of your organization probably say that if you make a complaint about a gender related issue, it should be forwarded higher in the chain of command. However, most organizations require the direct supervisor to do some cursory investigation at first. It could be that is being done. Or, it could be it was done and your manager doesn’t see a need to report higher. Another option is that your manager has reported it higher but the decision was to take no action. Consider contacting your manager’s manager, if a week or more has gone by, and ask if you can answer any further questions about your complaint. (That might remind her that you’re waiting!)

Your manager should not have said he is a male chauvinist. But, the context in which it was said, how many times he has said that or something similar, what actions he has taken and whether he has treated all women differently than men, would be a big factor in organizational responses.You mentioned that he is not engaging with you. An effective manager should be involved with employees, communicate with them and show concern about work and their development.

I can understand your frustration and disappointment if that isn’t happening. Sadly, often it DOESN’T happen. Or, it doesn’t happen to the extent that one or more employees think it should.There is no law or regulation about it, just as there isn’t a law or regulation about how complaint reporting should be handled. Nevertheless, most companies would take a complaint about it seriously, since it can have an impact on how well work is done. You may find that your manager will never be very engaging. However, you should certainly document and report any specific and directed activity that shows that his feelings of male superiority are having an effect on how he treats women compared to men. However, before it gets to that place, don’t give up on trying to have more congenial, supportive relationship with him. I don’t know what that would involve in your work. Consistently saying hello, smiling, asking questions and forcing a bit more conversation can sometimes at least wedge the door open a bit.Most people become engaged about things that interest them or make work better.

Consider attempting a better communication pattern by talking about work improvement, good things you’ve heard about your work section, or ways in which you’re going to improve your own work. Avoid making your conversations only about what needs to be done, only about problems or only about things you want or need. That can be discouraging to managers who feel pulled back and forth already. Save those (except for essential needs) for after the relationship has become stronger. I’ve never understood why managers would allow a barrier to build up between themselves and employees, when an open style accomplishes so much more. But, I know well that it can happen! Hopefully you will find some resolution without a major complaint investigation–which often just creates a bigger barrier. Best wishes to you with this matter. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.