Lessons from the Couch Test

Lessons from the Couch Test

Slap him or ignore the comment and walk away?  Is this the time to take a stand?

I laughed it off but wondered, “Is this what everyone thinks?”

It was the second time in my short career a white male made the comment, “I guess you passed the couch test,” when I was hired or chosen for a job.

In both cases the men who hired me were complete gentlemen and never made an inappropriate suggestion or move.  As my career progressed, it was the enlightened men and women who were supportive and influential.  The insecure stood in my way, or tried to.

inner-light-2

Over thirty years ago I was a whistle blower.  While reading new-hire files, including the interviewers’ notes, this comment in the file of a young woman is burned in my memory,

“Heavy thighs, otherwise attractive.”

It was a pivotal moment for me.

The Senior V.P. of Human Resources, my boss, was encouraging this type of comment or it would have been eliminated from the file.

Not only was it inappropriate, it was illegal and could have gotten the organization in big trouble.  I went to the highest ranking person I knew at the corporate level to report it.  I figured it might be the end of my employment with that organization, but I was not willing to work for this person.

The corporate attorney got involved; files were scrubbed of such comments; some disciplinary action was taken.

As for me, the organization structure changed and my Training Department moved out of Human Resources and began reporting to the Director of Stores.  Supportive, enlightened people who believed in me protected me.

From the outside, my decisions to take or leave a job probably make no sense.  Often my jobs were out-placed, downsized, right-sized or eliminated.  When the leaving was my choice, it very well might have been prompted by witnessing the abuse of power or a violation of human rights and the inability to look the other way.

inner-light-3Earlier this year I was reminded to stand in my light and own it.

When you allow others to see the light in you, it reflects on everyone around you and everyone benefits.

I hope that my light reflects my desire for  equal rights and the compassionate treatment of all human beings.

 

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