"We want someone with PWT" said the Managing Director of the agency I had recently arrived at. 

I was a young HR Manager who was tasked with bringing in a new front of house assistant for the agency. My shortlist had some great candidates and my preferred candidate apparently did not meet the "aesthetic" criteria for the role.

"PWT?" -.thoughts ran through my head - ."what had I missed in the briefing", what's this thing that had eluded me in all the time I'd been doing HR"....

"Sorry R, what's PWT? I asked?

"Pitch Winning Tits" said the married Managing Director.

"Oh, ok...I said.

Thoughts ran through my mind - "how do I play this, what impact will speaking up have on me, who the fuck is this idiot and why does he chat shit like this?"

“No. I don’t think I won’t be using that criteria”

"R, that's totally inappropriate and offensive language. Perhaps you feel comfortable to speak candidly with me in this way, if I’ve given you that impression, then I’m sorry. It’s not ok with me”

I think you need to step away from this process and I’ll take care of it” 

My confidence came from knowing that I was in the right and also because I had strong influence with his boss.

I hired my preferred candidate - he was great for the agency. The Managing Director left a little while later and the agency became a truly great place to work because he took his toxicity with him.

Having risen to quite a senior level in the industry, I saw more of that behaviour, but as I got more senior, got better at stamping down harder. I'm no longer working in agencies, but my work keeps me with top leaders in the industry as a coach and advisor.

My advice - always do the right thing. 

Even if the consequences are hard, have the courage to follow your conviction.

It will be scary sometimes to stand up for what you believe in. Don't let that stop you.

Be smart - take counsel from trusted friends/colleagues and go together in solidarity, if need be.

The right thing to do is on your side.

The times are a changin’ - this shit will not fly anymore and we are in this together.

Peace n luv.