Height discrimination can be infuriating, frustrating and worst of all can knock your confidence. While not all of your colleagues (and if you’re lucky, none of them!) will discriminate against your smaller stature, unfortunately many petite women are treated as children in the workplace. Head patting, patronising voices and inappropriate jokes or nicknames are just a few of the symptoms of a co-worker in need of some manners, but as is usually the case, anger won’t solve anything. Take a look at our top tips for preventing and dealing with height discrimination in the workplace.
Prevention is the Best Cure
If you’re feeling your best, the smallest jokes can be brushed off without affecting your self confidence. Looking your best is the first step towards building confidence in yourself. By taking care of your appearance and wearing petite clothing that fits and flatters your figure, you immediately lose that childlike appearance. If you don’t like wearing lots of makeup or petite dresses and skirts, you can use very soft and natural makeup and still wear petite trousers so long as they are tailored and not ill-fitting.
Once you’ve got your look sorted, make sure that your body language exudes workplace confidence. Stand up straight, maintain eye contact during conversations, practice a firm handshake and make sure to project your voice so you don’t got unheard in meetings and office conversations.
Finally, make sure that when you do speak up in the workplace that you’re fully contributing to the team effort. If you’re good at your job and add value, the respect of your co-workers will come naturally regardless of your height. Ask questions, make suggestions and share your experiences to ensure you’re remembered and respected by your colleagues.
What if The Discrimination Persists
If, despite your best efforts, a colleague is still treating you in a patronising or discriminatory way, there are a few steps you can take to deal with the situation. Firstly, if your colleague is also a friend that’s making an insensitive comment or acting in a way that makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, face it head on. Speak to them privately about how their comments or attitude is affecting you in a negative way and make sure they understand that their behaviour should change if you’re going to stay friends.
However, if you don’t have a personal relationship with the offending colleague and having a private talk with them about their behaviour affects you negatively, don’t be afraid to press the issue further with a manager or even your boss. Taking the complaint higher is usually an effective way of stopping discrimination in the workplace quickly.
If the worst has happened and it's your boss doing the discriminating, remember that you’re not alone and that legal action can be taken under extreme circumstances of workplace discrimination. No-one should have to suffer discrimination in the workplace, and height discrimination should be taken just as seriously for petite and professional women.