Thu 21 Sep, 2006
It went perfectly. No, I’m serious. There simply could not have been a better way that the situation went.
I spoke with my boss, the owner of the company, the next morning. I’d thought about what I was going to say (of course) but didn’t try to script it, because that doesn’t work for me. I just made sure I had the highlights in my mind.
His response: “Before I say anything else, let me say this: I am MORTIFIED that your religious beliefs are a topic of discussion in this office. That is unprofessional. It is wrong.”
See? The absolutely correct answer, right off the bat. I never once, then, or later in the hour-long discussion that ensued, EVER said what my beliefs are. Which, in retrospect, was a perfect way to bring it up. Think about this: WHAT you believe is not, and never will be, an issue. Religious beliefs are protected.
It would probably be more difficult to have this conversation if you were asking for an exception but you won’t reveal your beliefs, and therefore the support for you request. But I’d never brought up my beliefs in teh office — NEVER. I don’t wear particular jewelry. (Although I do have a special ring I frequently wear, it is usually taken for a flower curved around a blue stone, not as the Goddess image that it actually is). I don’t dress in any stereotypical fashion. There is NOTHING whatsoever to idenify me as a witch outside of my private life… and here, on the Internet of course.
My boss also never once blundered by asking me what my beliefs are. He too realized that they are irrelevant, as long as I didn’t proselytize them. He made a point of telling me that as far as he’s concerned, any public conversation about private matters was inappropriate. Sexuality, political beliefs, and religion were all one and the same: taboo topics and not for office discussion.
I was relieved. And reminded of how fortunate I am to have found this haven for a person like me.
Because, of course, this is not the case for many of us who are outed in the work place. I firmly believe that those of us who practice discretion in the workplace will fare better than those (mercifully few) who flaunt their … diversity. Ok, lets be straightforward: their DIFFERENCE. Yes, its annoying when you work in an environment that supports the mainstream and you are safer if you are quiet. Its worse when you are so quiet that everyone assumes you are like them too — so you should join in and participate in whatever they are doing. I’ve heard numerous stories of Pagans being asked to Bible study groups because ‘everyone else in your team is there’ or working for small family owned companies where they are excluded from many important (career-building) events because they don’t fit in.
Fair? no. Legally permissable? much of it, yes.
I didn’t want a fight to happen on my behalf. I took the correct steps, I informed my manager of indirect harrassment, and he and I have agreed to a course of action that includes my asking for different, or further, actions be taken. I was treated with respect.