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clients are ignoring our male receptionist — Ask a Supervisor

A reader writes:

I’m the co-owner of a small enterprise which beforehand had two receptionists, Alice and Becky, each ladies. Lately, Becky has gone to part-time, and now we have employed a brand new male receptionist, Charlie. The issue is, members of the general public persistently fail to acknowledge that Charlie is the receptionist.

The receptionists work a staggered schedule so we normally have just one, however throughout busy occasions we may have two on the similar desk. When each Charlie and Alice are working, clients most frequently strategy Alice first, and normally will solely go as much as Charlie if Alice is already talking with another person. In a number of circumstances, they’ve began to type a line to attend for Alice until Charlie waves them down and calls them over. When Charlie is alone, now we have a a lot greater charge of individuals being unable to determine who to talk to (this virtually by no means occurs when Alice and Becky are alone). In two circumstances, we had folks stroll previous the desk into the again workplace space and strategy the closest girl for assist.

Probably related data:

* They’re positioned at a desk throughout from the doorway, so in an effort to move by means of the realm folks should move by the desk.
* Along with gender, Charlie is black and each Alice and Becky are white.
* The receptionists additionally do admin work and assist with paperwork after they’re not helping clients. As a result of the purchasers strategy them inconsistently, Charlie finally ends up doing extra of this work and fewer buyer help regardless of having the identical job title.
* The desk is labeled “Receptionist.” I moved the label to a extra outstanding place, but it surely hasn’t appeared to assist.

Clearly I want to stop this, however am unsure the place to begin. Most of our clients will not be regulars, so this isn’t one thing I can strategy with them individually.

Yeah, persons are socialized to see ladies as helpers and in help roles — but it surely’s fairly wonderful that Charlie is proper there behind the receptionist desk and persons are nonetheless queuing as much as wait for a lady or can’t work out the place to hunt assist in any respect. Charlie’s scenario is the inverse of the ladies who’re assumed to be help workers after they aren’t! It could virtually be humorous if it weren’t so exhausting.

As is so typically the case with sexism, you’re going to need to search for work-arounds. The 2 that appear prone to have essentially the most impression:

1. How huge is your Receptionist signal? If it’s a small nameplate (like the type that sits atop a desk), are you able to get a lot bigger signage — one thing measured in ft, not inches — that claims “assist desk” or “please verify in right here” or comparable? “Assist desk” would possibly even be a helpful change in language as a result of “receptionist” continues to be female-coded in a whole lot of brains.

2. Speak to Charlie about what you’re seeing and ask for his concepts. At a minimal — and it will most likely do greater than the rest will — it’s best to ask him to be extra assertive about saying “I can assist you over right here” or “I can assist the subsequent individual in line” or “good morning, how can I assist?” and so forth. However he might need different concepts too, and it’ll be good to enlist him in serving to to resolve the issue.

I wouldn’t be stunned if race is taking part in a job too — with folks discovering white ladies extra approachable than a black man, subconsciously or in any other case — and hopefully the above methods will assist there as effectively.




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