Workplace Bravery

Am I brave?  I really don’t think so.  In the spring I attended a global leadership event in which bravery was the theme.  It got me to thinking about whether I am brave or whether I have ever displayed characteristics of bravery. defines bravery as courage.  It lists these synonyms:  intrepidity, fearlessness, boldness, daring, prowess, heroism, pluck, spirit, audacity, nerve, mettle, and spunk.  So, do any of those words describe me?

I’ve never been really sick, survived a horrific accident, never had a baby, never raised a child, never saved anyone from a burning building, never served in the military, or went to war……

I’m  just an ordinary woman with many ordinary jobs which joined together have made for a rather ordinary career.  So what I have done that could ever be considered brave?

Well, when I think about it, I suppose I could be considered a little bit brave.  I guess the bravest thing I’ve ever done, particularly in the workplace, is to be a spokesperson for women’s rights…..sort of, in a way.

I was the first female who was hired by my conservative undergraduate college to be a student recruiter for the organization.  I’m not sure why there weren’t any women hired before, but it was in 1980 and I guess the world was just beginning throughout the 70’s to pay more attention to women and what they could accomplish in the workplace.

I travelled all over the United States, many times alone, to recruit for the college.  Sometimes I was a little scared, but I always stepped up to the task.  When I was 22 I flew to LAX, rented a car, and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu.  I recruited at an event at Pepperdine University.  I really did feel kind of brave then.

Twice during my career while working at private colleges I went to my employer to inquire as to why the men who were doing the same job as I, with less education and experience, were making more than I was.  Both times my salary was adjusted upward immediately.  On one of those occasions another female colleague also was given a salary adjustment.  I was happy that I could help her too.

Several times during my career I been in some uncomfortable situations and had to let men know, even a supervisor or two, that their advances had to stop.  Remember that for it to rise to the level of sexual harassment the attention has to be unwanted, and the other person has to know that it is not welcomed.  And so, there were a number of times that I had to face the music and tell someone to leave me alone, even though it is not a fun thing to do.  I think that it does take bravery actually.

I’m not a women’s libber.  I’m not an activist.  I’m not really all that brave.  But, throughout my career there have been times when I have had to stand up for my rights and those of women in general.  I guess if it weren’t a real issue then the U.S. wouldn’t have had to create such laws as the Civil Rights Act (as amended), and laws against sexual harrassment, etc.

Anyway, looking back over the past 35 years, I guess in my own quiet way, I’ve been a little bit brave.  How about you?  Have you had to stand up for your rights or the rights of others in the workplace?

Are you brave in some other way?  I’d love to hear about it.



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