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upworthy

employment

Identity

My wife surprised her coworkers when she came out as trans. Then they surprised her.

She was ready for one reaction but was greeted with a beautiful response.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Zoe comes out to her coworkers.


Society, pay attention. This is important.

My wife, Zoe, is transgender. She came out to us — the kids and me — last summer and then slowly spread her beautiful feminine wings with extended family, friends, and neighbors.

A little coming out here, a little coming out there — you know how it is.


It's been a slow, often challenging process of telling people something so personal and scary, but pretty much everyone has been amazing.

However, she dreaded coming out at the office.

She works at a large technology company, managing a team of software developers in a predominantly male office environment. She's known many of her co-workers and employees for 15 or so years. They have called her "he" and "him" and "Mr." for a very long time. How would they handle the change?

While we have laws in place in Ontario, Canada, to protect the rights of transgender employees, it does not shield them from awkwardness, quiet judgment, or loss of workplace friendships. Your workplace may not become outright hostile, but it can sometimes become a difficult place to go to every day because people only tolerate you rather than fully accept you.

But this transition needed to happen, and so Zoe carefully crafted a coming out email and sent it to everyone she works with.

The support was immediately apparent; she received about 75 incredibly kind responses from coworkers, both local and international.

She then took one week off, followed by a week where she worked solely from home. It was only last Monday when she finally went back to the office.

First day back at work! I asked if I could take a "first day of school" type picture with her lunchbox. She said no. Spoilsport.

Despite knowing how nice her colleagues are and having read so many positive responses to her email, she was understandably still nervous.

Hell, I was nervous. I made her promise to text me 80 billion times with updates and was more than prepared to go down there with my advocacy pants on if I needed to (I might be a tad overprotective).

And that's when her office pals decided to show the rest of us how to do it right.

She got in and found that a couple of them had decorated her cubicle to surprise her:

LGBTQ, coming out, work

Her cubicle decorated with butterflies.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Butterflies! Streamers! Rainbows! OMG!

And made sure her new name was prominently displayed in a few locations:

empathy, employment, understanding

Zoe written on the board.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

They got her a beautiful lily with a "Welcome, Zoe!" card:

coworkers, mental health, community

Welcome lily and card

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

And this tearjerker quote was waiting for her on her desk:

Oscar Wilde, job, employment

A quote from Oscar Wilde.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

To top it all off, a 10 a.m. "meeting" she was scheduled to attend was actually a coming out party to welcome her back to work as her true self — complete with coffee and cupcakes and handshakes and hugs.

acceptance, friendship, relationships

Coming out party with cupcakes.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

(I stole one, and it was delicious.)

NO, I'M NOT CRYING. YOU'RE CRYING.

I did go to my wife's office that day. But instead of having my advocacy pants on, I had my hugging arms ready and some mascara in my purse in case I cried it off while thanking everyone.

I wish we lived in a world where it was no big deal to come out.

Sadly, that is not the case for many LGBTQ people. We live in a world of bathroom bills and "religious freedom" laws that directly target the members of our community. We live in a world where my family gets threats for daring to speak out for trans rights. We live in a world where we can't travel to certain locations for fear of discrimination — or worse.

So when I see good stuff happening — especially when it takes place right on our doorstep — I'm going to share it far and wide. Let's normalize this stuff. Let's make celebrating diversity our everyday thing rather than hating or fearing it.

Chill out, haters. Take a load off with us.

It's a lot of energy to judge people, you know. It's way more fun to celebrate and support them for who they are.

Besides, we have cupcakes.


This article originally appeared on 04.08.16.

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

How to know the bartender is flirting with you.

A handy guide to answering the age-old question "Is the bartender flirting with me?" went viral on social media this week, and we're here for it.

Titled "Why the Female Cashier Is Being Nice to You" and offering two possible answers (either "She is uncontrollably sexually attracted to you" or "Because that's literally her fucking job you cretin"), the entire pie chart was filled in to mark the latter answer at 100%.


Exeter's Beer Cellar shared the photo alongside a message asking men to please stop trying to kiss their female bartenders' hands.

Also, "don't try to kiss strangers' hands" is just good advice in general. (For what it's worth, calling people "cretins" should probably be avoided, too).

The sign is incredibly relatable for anyone who's ever worked in the service industry — as demonstrated by the replies it got.

From the befuddled to the irritated to the thankful, the replies addressed the reality that people who work in food service face, especially women.

"[As a woman,] you're obviously pressured to give A+ customer service, and loads of people would interpret common hospitality as romantic interest," Charlotte Mullin, the sign's designer, told Mashable. "I wanted to make it clear that female staff are nice to you because they have to be! And, of course, most of us are decent human beings and would be nice to you anyway, but in no way does this mean we're dying for your dick."

That pressure to give "A+ customer service" is partially because bartenders and wait staff rely on earning tips from customers. This kind of harassment is just one more reason to get rid of tipping altogether.

In an industry where workers rely on tips, employees often find themselves in situations where they don't feel comfortable rebuffing someone's advances for fear of lost pay, lower tips, and possibly even employer retribution. It's a sticky situation and one of the major arguments in favor of moving away from that system.

@BeerCellarExe "what does not paying people a livable fucking wage and making them work for tips look like?" - for $800— Ara T. Howard (@Ara T. Howard)1495764814.0

Beer Cellar made sure people knew that yes, their employees get paid a living wage.

Really, that should be a standard worldwide. But until that's the case, remember to tip, and not touch, your bartenders.

Easy enough to remember, right?

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17

Potential employers offering potential employees their professional references should be a regular thing.

Usually when people apply for a new job, they hyperfocus on making sure the potential employer knows they're an ideal candidate. They research the heck out of the company, tailor their resume for the position and practice answering tough interview questions they anticipate the hiring manager might ask.

But a hiring process is a two-way street, up to and including when an offer is made. That's perhaps never been more true than it is now, when unemployment is at a historic low and people can be choosier about the jobs they take. But even in a tough job market, a job interview means you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.

One woman shared a story that took that idea to the next level with a hiring practice that really should be standard everywhere.


Allison Peck shared in a LinkedIn post last year that she'd had a manager offer her three professional references—women who had worked for him in the past—so she could get some outside perspective on what he was like as an employer.

"Why don't hiring managers give 3 of THEIR references to job candidates?" Peck wrote. "This happened to me once and I'll never forget it. I was in the final round of interviews at a company years ago, and the hiring manager asked me for 3 references. Naturally, I provided him their contact info. And he said this:

'Thanks, here are 3 women who have reported directly to me previously and they've agreed to speak with you if you're curious what it's like working on my team.'

When I called those three women, they all had great things to say and that man was one of the best managers I've ever had.

Any hiring managers out there confident enough in their leadership abilities that they'd offer this in the future?"

The fact that the manager recognized that she might want feedback from other women shows an understanding of the dynamics that women can face in the workplace, which is a good sign in and of itself. And that he offered the references without even being asked was also a definite plus.

Ironically, the kind of employer who would offer such a thing the way he did is probably the kind of employer you'd want to work for, without even having to contact their references. But talking with people who have worked for your potential boss before could definitely offer some peace of mind and give you added information you may need to make a decision about a job. It also makes it more likely that you'll both be a good fit for one another, which again is the whole point of the hiring process.

Commenters agreed.

"I love this. When I hire into my team it's something I offer too. I'm still in touch with people who were reporting to me 8-10yrs ago, most of whom have gone on to do some wonderful things and I now consider friends." – Karen Hutchison

"I am with you on that. At my stage of my career, I will max out on salary and the benefits are usually decent. So what I care about is the team and leadership. So when I was unexpectedly let go 9 months ago and started looking all over again, I made it a point to ask about the team leader/manager and any other dynamics if I got to be interviewed by a peer panel. I ended up going with the job where the peers spoke highly of their manager both privately and in group interviews. I just wanted to work where boss actually cares about people more than they cared about managing her/his boss." – John Waldbaum

"Ok, I'm impressed. It would be great if this was normalized, and honestly, it would benefit both prospective hires as well as organizations. Many people get a job and start off excited just to find out that the manager they ended up working with is not exactly a good manager for them. This can translate into poor performance or even turnover. You can only find out so much during an interview that is timed and has set unwritten norms/ expected "etiquette". Normalize reverse references!!!" 😁 – Stanley Molton

"Wow I wish this were done everywhere! Speaking to other women candidates during the interview has never given me the sense they can speak openly (especially if it's recorded), because at the end of the day, they still report to that manager. Now, a manager that does this is demonstrating that there's recognition and sensitivity to what women are faced with in the workplace, and they have confidence in their reputation even behind closed doors." –Larissa Morrell

Resources like Glassdoor have helped provide an avenue for former employees to share their experiences, but there's an extra layer of impressiveness when a potential employer offers you their references themselves.

Reverse references. Let's make it a thing.

Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash, @BrettKlein/Twitter

Australia's minimum wage is an example for us all.

How great is Australia? A relaxed cultural vibe that is progressive, inclusive and seems like a literal day at the beach. They even give us some of our favorite Marvel superhero film actors. Must be tough to make a buck there though, right? Actually, they've got a significant edge on us there as well. Take a look at Australian's minimum wage and how much further it goes for the average worker than for your typical hard-working American.

Australian unions are currently pushing for a 5% increase to the minimum wage to counter inflation. Australia's minimum wage is 20.33 Australian dollars per hour, which is the equivalent of $15.23 (as of the writing of this article).

Meanwhile, Americans are still sitting on the same federal minimum wage we've had since 2009—a whopping $7.25 an hour—while we are also dealing with inflation.

Minimum wage by U.S. state varies—a lot—from $7.25 to $15.90. And most states have different minimum wages for tipped jobs such as wait staff in a restaurant, on the assumption that you'll earn enough tips to make up the base wage. Though employers can choose to pay above the minimum, they aren't required to. And the minimum tipped wage in 17 states is $2.13 per hour.

Let me repeat that. In 17 states in the United States of America in 2022, the tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour.


That's bonkers. And the disparity between states is, frankly, shocking. If you live in Washington state, for example, you're guaranteed to make at least $14.49 per hour in any job, whether you get tips or not. If you live in Idaho—literally the state next door—you're guaranteed $7.25 per hour for standard labor and just $3.35 per hour for tipped employment. So the base pay for a waiter on one side of an imaginary line is four times more than on the other. So weird.

Anyway, back to Australia. They're a little worried about us, and it's not hard to see why.

from antiwork

A 16-year-old Australian on Reddit was shocked to learn that the federal minimum wage here is $7.25 per hour. "There is no way someone can live off that wage even if they're working full time." Yep, nope.

Another Aussie responded to a sign for Buc-ee's, a chain of country stores and travel centers in the southern United States, announcing wages for full-time work ranging from $15 to $17 per hour for associates to $22 to $32 per hour for department leads. To American eyes, in most states, this sign is a unicorn of awesome hourly starting wages for "unskilled" labor.

To Australian eyes, these are the lowest wages they ever see in their country.

Despite Australia having a minimum wage of AU$20.33 ($15.23), most workers actually make more than that. In addition to its minimum wage, Australia has a system under its Fair Work Act called Modern Awards, which establishes base pay and benefits for workers in a variety of industries, from fast food to health and beauty to caregiving.

One caveat: Workers under age 21 can make less than minimum wage in Australia, so teenagers may make significantly lower wages than AU$20.33 per hour (though still not as low as $7.25 per hour). However, the Modern Awards system dictates higher than minimum wage earnings for most workers—even for basic fast-food jobs—for people over 21. For example, the starting pay for a Level 1 fast-food worker over age 21 is AU$22.33 ($16.72) per hour during the week, AU$27.91 ($20.90) per hour on Saturdays and Sundays, and AU$50.24 ($37.63) per hour on holidays.

Not too shabby.

Another Australian pointed out that the amount some Americans pay for a college education is bonkers, in addition to our low minimum wage.

Australians graduate with less student loan debt than Americans, on average, and their student loan payments only start over a certain income threshold (and are linked to the amount you make).

Oh and let's not forget that Australians don't have to pay for healthcare out of their own pocket, either. And they have paid maternity leave of up to 18 weeks at the national minimum wage. And they have a minimum of four weeks of paid vacation time for all employees, on top of paid national hoildays.

But don't Australians pay a much higher tax rate than Americans for these benefits, you may ask? No, not really. According to the Tax Foundation, a single worker earning an average wage in the U.S. pays an average tax rate of 28.3% while in Australia they pay an average of 28.4%—so basically the same tax burden, at least for single people with no kids.

It's not that Australia is perfect, of course. But when it comes to paying people reasonable wages and guaranteeing paid time off and providing healthcare to all, they're light years ahead of the U.S.

Rather than seeing it as a woe-is-us comparison, however, let's look at it as "Hey, look at what's possible!" We, too, could have wages people can actually live on and not go into bankruptcy over medical bills and ensure that everyone gets paid time off so they can actually relax a little. It doesn't have to be some distant pipe dream; it's a matter of collective and political will. If Australia can do it, there's really no good reason we can't, too.