Chivalry in the Workplace

I’m beginning to get a little nervous for my husband’s generation of men.

It is scary to think that his generation is the last of those men who were brought up to behave in a chivalrous manner.

I like chivalry. It is polite and helpful. It is slightly romantic, and I think I hold men who do such things in higher esteem than those who don’t.

My husband holds open doors for me.  He drops me off at the front entrance to the store so I don’t have to walk across the parking lot.  He brings in the groceries from the car.  He makes sure I don’t leave the house without an umbrella. He helps me put on my coat.  When we are dressed up to go out, he helps me get in the car, and he closes the car door for me.  He holds my hand when I walk across icy pavement in high heels.

While I am clearly the object of his affection and the love of his life, I do notice that he behaves this way with other women, e.g. that he is thoughtful. The door opening thing in particular is something he does for women, but I also regularly see him thinking ahead so that women aren’t inconvenienced.

Unless a guy is disabled or clearly in need of help, I don’t see my husband stepping ahead to hold a door for him. This isn’t expected.

Being married to me, I hardly think he thinks of women as being the weaker sex. I think it is just a part of who he was taught to be, a gentleman.

In this world of workplace equality, I have to wonder what dangers there are in continuing to show a favoritism of this nature toward women. Will it, or has it already been perceived as sexism?

Rather than chastising chivalry, I wonder if the best approach would be to encourage women to be chivalrous, or to take the taboo/weirdness out of men helping men.  In that way, everyone benefits.

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Bonni Titgemeyer

Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award. You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.

5 Comments

Jay

I believe you are missing the point (especially in the WORK Place). Where more and more women are entering the work force. Chivalry can’t be a common theme at work. For instance I work in a hospital where majority of employees are nurses and predominantly women. Some women can hold their own against any man reguarding regular daily duties but some women play the role i.e. “damsel in distress” your a big strong man can you adjust my patient for me while I still have to adjust my own patient many times a shift. So being a man I feel like I have to do twice as much manual labor work as a women (some women have a lot of pride and do their own work, whereas others use form of sexism and want men to do all the hard lifting without even trying. All this while receiving the same pay). Which is why I think chivalry should not be apart of any work environment.

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Lois Melbourne

I am teaching these things to our son as well. I believe it is important, especially in this day when it is easier to sometimes do things for him. At 10 years old he can hold a door open for me :-). This is how we can help the future, get our little guys playing along.

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Jennifer Payne

I love this Bonni! I think there is nothing wrong with being a strong, independent woman but at the same time appreciating the gestures of a chivalrous man. Men should definitely not stop this!

I also like the idea of both sexes being more considerate. I’ve always tried to be considerate to everyone. Just recently after holding a door open for a guy (I was walking into the building ahead of him anyway) he thanked me and then said, “Wait, wasn’t I supposed to do that for you?” It was nice that he recognized and appreciated my gesture, and just as nice that he felt he should have been the one to do so.

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Bonnit

Thanks Shauna.

A special thank-you to Lisa Rosendahl who located this picture for the blog. It’s perfect! The horse is gorgeous. : >

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Shauna Moerke

I like what you say at the end about encouraging women to be chivalrous too. I think we all could benefit from being more considerate and kind to others. And personally, I love the whole opening the car door thing. It felt a little silly the first time because I wasn’t used it but now it makes me smile. And the walking on the side of you closest to traffic thing to block you is sweet as well. Ah, the benefits of dating a southern boy. 🙂

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