APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today she helps out Anna whose male colleague makes lewd comments aimed at her and an entrepreneur who wants her new toy business to grow.
Q: I work in a large industrial environment that is dominated by men, and although I can generally hold my own, there is one male colleague who is so unpleasant to me that I’m starting to dread going into work.
He sneers at everything I say and makes lewd comments about women, though I can tell he is aiming them at me.
How do I raise this issue without undoing all the hard work I’ve done in making sure I get on with the rest of my colleagues?
Anna, via email
A: This makes my blood boil as it is a form of sexual harassment. It’s not always about sex – it is about power, aggression, manipulation and using language to make people feel uncomfortable. You do not have to put up with this.
As with all bullies, you have to stand up to your colleague. This might mean standing your ground when he makes a derogatory comment – you could say: “Please don’t talk to me that way, I find your comment very offensive.”
Or it might mean confronting him in private after an incident and explaining that you find his language unacceptable, and while you don’t want to take it further, if it doesn’t stop then you will have no choice.
Sometimes people don’t realise the offence they are causing until they are told, and once told they stop. If he does not, your only other choice is to keep a record of everything your colleague has said that has offended you, take it to HR and ask them to deal with it in a confidential way.
The bottom line is you do not have to accept this behaviour to try to fit into your environment. If someone spoke to you like this in your own home you wouldn’t stand for it, so why stand for it at work?
Be a boss
Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.
It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!
Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.
Q: I’ve been on furlough for most of the pandemic, so I created a shop on Etsy and made kids’ toys to sell over the Christmas period – and it went so well that I couldn’t keep up with orders!
It got me really excited and now I’d love to make it my full-time job. But I’m nervous about the leap from hobby to business as I’m definitely not an entrepreneur. Plus, I still need to cover my rent and bills.
Do you have any advice?
Jess, via email
A: Well the great news is you already have a business that is proven, so you are an entrepreneur! You’ve spotted a gap in the market, brought out a product people want and sold it.
Now you have to decide if your side-hustle can be turned into a business that will generate enough money to pay your bills. First, create a simple business model. This is about identifying three things: cost, quantity and growth.
What does it cost to make your product and to sell it, and how much can you charge for it? Is it possible to make enough toys to keep up with demand, and if so, what effect does that have on costs?
Finally, how can you grow your customer base and market your business so more people hear about it and want your toys all year round? You will also need to get your finances in order.
You should work out how many toys you’d need to sell a month to cover your living costs, plus look into a government start-up business loan.
The good news is that you have a regular income at the minute, so you have time to make sure your plan works before you leave the security of a full-time job.
- Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email [email protected]
Compiled by: Claire Frost
Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.
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