They’ll say it was “locker room talk.”
Whitney Sharpe, the vice president of a recruiting and staffing firm, was recording a conference call with employees of a potential client when one of them accidentally shared their screen incorrectly – showing their direct messages instead of the intended demo.
“When a vendor accidentally shares his group Teams chat, and it’s all nasty things about me. It’s 2023 can this stop,” the 28-year-old wrote in a viral video, which has racked up nearly 14 million views.
“It’s rough being a woman in a male-dominated field,” she added in the caption.
Instead of ignoring the situation, she addresses it head-on and impressively sets boundaries, calling the men out.
“First of all, if we’re going to continue working together, I want to work with a woman sales representative because I don’t want to have to see locker room talk about myself when you’re sharing screens,” she stated, repeating herself again after that.
In the background, it seems that one of the men refers to the messages as “inexcusable” and apologizes.
The Post has reached out to Sharpe for comment.
She told TODAY.com that the messages included “some pretty unkind things” about her – specifically that she’s an “effing bombshell.”
Despite realizing what had happened, the men were prepared to carry on as usual and ignore the situation – but Sharpe was not about to let it go.
“The man on the call who was sending the worst messages, when he realized (what happened) he went off camera,” she said, adding that she assumed he needed to “collect himself” and “figure out a game plan.” “And the game plan that they had moving forward was, let’s just ignore this and not address it. And if I didn’t say anything, they weren’t going to address it with me.”
Speaking up took an immense amount of courage for her, she recalled, explaining that she just wanted to get the words out “clearly and calmly.”
“My mind was going, ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, just get the words out,'” she said.
While she admits she could have been “a lot harder on them,” but didn’t in fear she would be labeled as “emotional,” a stigma that haunts women in the corporate world.
“I think as a woman in the workplace, we’re often labeled emotional,” she said. “I really didn’t want them to be able to say that I was emotional in my response.”
“You handled that in such a fantastic way. You showed your maturity and acted far more professionally than them,” one user championed Sharpe.
“Tremendous strides were made just by saying something,” commented another. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that!”
“Wow. You did this without a quiver in your voice. QUEEN!!!!” cheered someone else.
“Love that you called them out! You deserve respect,” wrote one user.
“She handled that so much better than I would,” admitted one person.
“You were too nice, should have switched your account to another vendor and made sure they knew why,” someone else chimed in.
Even Shark Tank star and American businesswoman Barbara Corcoran praised Sharpe’s bravery, writing, “You rock!”
Higher-ups at the company reached out to formally apologize, although it left Sharpe feeling that it was more of a PR crisis move than anything. She claimed the response to the offensive messages lacked empathy – the head honcho didn’t even ask if she was OK.
“A response coming from empathy, as opposed to being in defense mode,” she said, adding that it “didn’t feel genuine whatsoever.” “That probably would have been a better PR strategy.”
In a following clip with 1.3 million views, Sharpe shared a formal emailed apology from the person who serves as the head of US sales. The person declined Sharpe’s request to work with a woman employee, claiming there was not someone “skilled” enough.
While the message noted how “unprofessional” the incident was, Sharpe slammed the company, captioning her viral video, “How to not apologize in corporate American 101.”
Now, Sharpe is partnering with organizations like RAINN, an anti-sexual assault non-profit, and working with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which protects employees, in order to educate herself and use her platform of over 57,000 followers well.
She added that she doesn’t “want to ever be giving the wrong advice.”