SEX FOR WORK? NO THANK YOU!
I graduated from campus in 2016. For two straight years, I struggled to get a job I worked for. I had studied Public Relations in campus. So to survive, I had to work odd jobs to get by. Then in June 2019,while working as a waitress in a local restaurant, something amazing, or not, happened. Now I have always been one to give my everything in whatever job I get, and this one was not an exception. There was this middle aged gentleman that I served that day, and he said he was impressed by my work. His dressing, phones, laptop, cologne and everything around him loudly spoke affluence. He looked like those people I saw in movies who own billion-dollar-worth companies.
He was eloquent, cultured and sophisticated. He asked me my name and we got to chat about something that was being aired on the restaurant’s TV. He said he was impressed by my level of intelligence, and was surprised that I was wasting all these brains working in a restaurant. I, being one who never wastes a chance, did not hesitate to tell him that I was a Public Relations graduate, and have been “tamarcing” to get a job, hence I could not despise any that comes my way. He quickly said he has a meeting in a few minutes time, and that he will come back tomorrow so I can tell him more about myself. That night, I did not sleep. I envisioned myself working in a big 20-storey-building with offices fully stocked with coffee, cream, sugar and snacks. I envisioned myself getting a job where I would travel in and out of Kenya for high level conferences and meetings. My vision did not go to waste.
Next day, same time, the man showed up. Dressed articulately, sharply and delicately. I served him coffee, afterwards he asked me to share my credentials with him via his email. I did not hesitate to do so. He was further impressed that I had distinctions from school. Fast-forward, I landed myself a job in XYZ Company, the largest investment firm in Eastern and Central Africa!! What I had envisioned was half of what I got to experience. That was a life I never thought I would ever had. I was given a car, a house on mortgage, dressing allowance, because all this are key in giving the company a good image. Two months down the lane, the guy came to my office, said he wanted to see me. He is the HR Director in the office. Told me he loves my work ethic and that my input in the company cannot go unnoticed. He started moving towards me saying he wants to hug me to congratulate me for being a dedicated employee. My whole body became stiff with fear and rage. I only read about such things as sexual harrasment in work places in books.
I couldn’t imagine it would ever happen to me. He started to unbutton my blouse. I asked him to stop, and that he was infringing on my personal space. That did not stop him. He continued unbuttoning my blouse, and then started caressing me. I told him I would scream and that he would be in trouble. He started laughing hysterically, and told me that he is the boss in that company, and decided who stays and who leaves. He also told me that I should see it as a way of thanking him for giving me that highly coveted job. In a minute, I had to ask myself whether I’m willing to risk being fired if I fail to give in, and watch my dream job slip through my hands in a split of a second, and go back to hustling doing all manner of odd jobs, washing toilets, fixing seweries, crazy hours of being a waitress; I’ll leave you to name it all, or just give away my dignity, and then keep the job, and life moves on. Remember I hustled 2 years before I got this job. Remember I come from a very poor family, and the only person they look up to, to change their life, is me.
But then again, I thought about living with all the guilt, shame and disgust of having to have sex with someone against my will, so as to keep my job. I thought about all the other young women who will have to go through this “giving the favour back”, and I could not imagine. So as loud as I could sound, I screamt my lungs out saying, ” Mr. B stop touching my breast!!!”. I screamt so loud, my throat became sore. Then it dawned in me. I could be fired, and the power that this man has, I may never be able to get a good job ever again. Several staff members began streaming in to my office and got Mr. B with my blouse in his hand. Things did not go as I thought. The dispute resolving committee of the company took up the matter, and to my utmost shock, Mr. B got fired. But I kept my job, because of my dedication and hardwork, and not because I decided to give in to a man’s hormonal urges. If anything, I was honored for my brave act, and was given another role that was in charge of Employee Welfare in the Company.
Dear ladies, please do not give in to having to have sex with a man so as to keep your job or get a promotion. Doing that is supporting this bad cycle. Instead, make sure you are exceptional in your work, make sure you are so good at what you do, so that even if you speak up and they threatened to fire you, they cannot imagine to lose such an asset. This managers and CEOS are not demigods, that you should be afriad of. Let’s break this cycle.