Bully at Work Moody Boss Karma Office Gossip No Picnic Back stabber Plug your Ears Moody Boss

Frustrated by a Flirt: Female Point of View

Dear Office-Politics,

I am a 26 year old male working in a British bank in India. When a female boss flirts in the presence of male subordinates, would it be considered professional? By flirting I mean twirling hair, biting lips, looking deeply into the man’s eyes, fondling earrings etc. Is this flirting by a female boss considered acceptable and professional?

Frustrated by a Flirt

jennifer glueck bezoza

Dear Frustrated by a Flirt,

You ask whether it is acceptable and professional for a female boss to flirt. The short answer is no. Sexual gestures and behavior are simply not appropriate in the workplace. Furthermore, when an individual in a position of authority – whether male or female – flirts in the workplace, it could be experienced by subordinates as workplace harassment.

As I read your description of this female boss, who twirls her hair, bites her lips, looks deeply into mens’ eyes and fondles her earrings, I am not sure that her behavior is intended to be flirtatious. It may be that this woman has nervous and fidgety habits, of which she is not completely conscious. Alternatively, it may be a learned habit for her to use feminine wiles to influence others (not as a way to make sexual advances). That being said, her twirling and fondling of her hair and earrings does sound as if it could be distracting and irksome.

Here are some questions and actions to consider as you approach this situation:

    1.) Does this female boss treat men and women differently?
    2.) Does her behavior make you feel uncomfortable?
    3.) Does her behavior impact your feelings of safety in the workplace?
    4.) Does her behavior impact your ability to do your job?
    5.) Has this woman ever made sexual advances toward you and/or another subordinate?
    6.) If so, did she make any promises in return for accepting these advances?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it may be appropriate for you to offer her feedback that her behavior makes you uncomfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching her directly, you may consider talking to HR personnel. And if you don’t yet feel comfortable approaching HR, you may want to document her behavior and any specific incidents you perceive to be inappropriate. Having a written log will serve to protect you in the long run should you eventually decide to take action. I hope these questions and suggestions prove useful.

Thank you for writing Office Politics.


Jennifer Glueck Bezoza, MA

Jennifer Glueck Bezoza has an MA in organizational psychology from Columbia University and a BA in psychology and humanities from Stanford University. She currently works in Organizational Development for the largest not-for-profit home health organization in the country where she focuses on succession planning, leadership development and coaching. Previously, she worked for GE Commercial Finance and HR consultant, Towers Perrin.

  1. One Answer to “Frustrated by a Flirt: Female Point of View”

  2. See Feedback comments here:

    By Franke James on Jun 9, 2007

What's your advice?

(You can also tweet it to @dearOP)