On Wednesday, we published a story about allegations of sexual harassment and sexism—and one woman's fight to get the agency to address those allegations—at Seattle City Light. On Thursday night, we received this e-mail from a former City Light employee, who gave us permission to publish it here.
I was forwarded your article and just wanted to briefly comment on it. I worked in the Customer Energy Solutions Division for 30 years (retiring 4 years ago), and immediately recognized many of the behaviors described in the article - women in the workforce being referred to as "Babe", "Sweetie" or "Honey"; unsolicited shoulder rubs, etc. Though by no means are all the men in the division guilty of this behavior, it has been going on for years by some who don't seem to realize or care that their words and/or actions are not welcome and may even be perceived as offensive and harassing. Now that "Jasmine" and others have been brave enough to speak up about their discomfort with this behavior, the Division and the Utility should act. As mentioned in the article, the remedy requested had not been to punish anyone, but rather to require anti-sexism training. There is a level of arrogance in those who assume a woman would not mind being called by diminutive names in the work force, or that they would "welcome" an unsolicited shoulder rub. Those who perpetuate these behaviors should be made aware that assumption is wrong.
I would also like to mention my support of "Jasmine", who I do think has been incredibly brave in coming forward and continuing to pursue this issue. I think many women in the Division have felt uncomfortable for years, but did not complain because they thought they'd be called hyper-sensitive or "bitchy". Now that so many have signed a petition that demonstrates these behaviors are offensive, the Division and the Utility need to act. I supervised "Jasmine" for 2 years before I retired and know that she is not prone to hyperbole. She is thoughtful and measured and it's past time these issues are taken seriously.