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Inappropriate clients treatment.

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Has anybody had any expereice of when a client has been racist/sexist casually in a conversation. I've experienced a racial slur before (not at me) in a conversation but at the time did nothing as I was very perplexxed and wanted to stay professional. However, joke or not and regardless of a persons age i will NEVER let this happen again. To what extent i am unsure (obviusoly nothing physical) but I will not brush over it in future.

I would like to know if anyone has had any experience dealing with this in the past? How did you/how would deal with this?

Thanks

Replies (28)

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By Mr_awol
02nd Jun 2020 16:54

It would take quite a lot before I put them in their place. I am lucky in my client base I suppose in that there aren't many that I don't like, let alone get offended by.

Then again I'm not all that easily offended and I live in a fairly straight talking community where you casual prejudice is common, despite there being no intended malice. My father in law, for example, loves a particular restaurant and before lockdown he would go there regularly, spend a long time chatting to the owners who he really gets on with, etc. Despite this, when he talks about the place he regularly mentions the somewhat irrelevant fact that "it is a couple of gays that own it" which he quickly follows up with "but they're alright though".

I have had the 'why should I pay my tax they'll only give it to immigrants' type of comment from clients and I normally just move on without really acknowledging it - something along the lines of 'unfortunately we all have to pay whether we agree with how they spend it or not' etc. If someone went full daily mail on me I'd have to put a stop to it but I would try to avoid an argument and just tell them I didn't agree with them and didn't want to talk about it.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
Giraffe
By Luke
03rd Jun 2020 11:47

Mr_awol wrote:

It would take quite a lot before I put them in their place. I am lucky in my client base I suppose in that there aren't many that I don't like, let alone get offended by.

I have had the 'why should I pay my tax they'll only give it to immigrants' type of comment from clients and I normally just move on without really acknowledging it - something along the lines of 'unfortunately we all have to pay whether we agree with how they spend it or not' etc. If someone went full daily mail on me I'd have to put a stop to it but I would try to avoid an argument and just tell them I didn't agree with them and didn't want to talk about it.

I have also had the immigrants comment and ignore and move on, or have said "well, we won't go there" and moved on.

At the end of the day their opinions are not my business but I won't be agreeing with them or entertaining them.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Andy Reeves
05th Jun 2020 10:44

Just because you personally are not offended, doesn't mean what is being said is not offensive.

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
02nd Jun 2020 17:21

How will you stop it happening again?

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Replying to memyself-eye:
RLI
By lionofludesch
02nd Jun 2020 17:37

Say "bu99er off and don't come back."

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By paul.benny
02nd Jun 2020 17:29

"I'd appreciate if you would refrain from making such remarks in future"

adding if necessary

"The firm* has strict anti-racist policies and I wouldn't want either of us to fall foul of them"

(* or substitute my professional body if you're a sole practitioner)

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RLI
By lionofludesch
02nd Jun 2020 17:31

Ach - it's all a question of degree, is it not ? If there was no malice in what was said, I wouldn't pick a fight.

On the other hand, if there was, I'd just complete the work I was contracted to do and tell him to go elsewhere.

There's a guy at the rugby club who's openly gay. He gets a lot of comments from the squad but there isn't one of them who'd say that he's not their mate. It all depends on the context.

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By Truthsayer
02nd Jun 2020 18:50

I hear the occasional such comment from clients, but I couldn't care less.

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By SXGuy
02nd Jun 2020 19:11

Surely by not acknowledging it and maybe ignoring it and moving on from the subject they would get the hint and probably never do it again? That's what I find anyway.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Southwestbeancounter
03rd Jun 2020 15:09

Yes, agreed. I've had some young lads come in as clients and make some sexual innuendo towards me (I'm female by the way) and instead of responding I've just totally ignored them so they think that it went over my head or else I'm a prude but either is fine with me!

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By taxwizard
02nd Jun 2020 20:07

Yes I had one recently where a potential client mentioned the N word (it wasn't directed at me). I was stunned for a moment but just continued the conversation.

Luckily they never became a client.

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By mrme89
02nd Jun 2020 20:58

People hold these views, sadly.

It is us who are the professionals. Ignore the comment, remain professional and do the work you are asked to carried out.
If the client continues or oversteps the mark, then you need to put them in their place by saying your firm is an organisation that believes in equality and doesn’t appreciate such remarks. You’ll find that they’ll probably by highly embarrassed when it’s pointed out to them.

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By New To Accountancy
02nd Jun 2020 23:20

This is just another part and parcel of dealing with people, clients or not. I don't take much notice or offence. I just revert back to business and skim over it. People can say things they don't mean sometimes if they're feeling uncomfortable and will kick themselves afterwards.
Policing others behaviour isn't something we're entitled to do but if we have been requested to do work for them then this should be the focus I feel. If you feel a line has been crossed though, I'd just disengage.
I am used to just listening now and not making judgement or opinions because the meetings will take longer, - and I just want to get the work done. I also am still fairly new I feel, so I have to work hard during the meeting to make sure I've asked the right questions, got the right data etc etc so nothing else can fit in!

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By bernard michael
03rd Jun 2020 09:43

Was this a generational issue where an older person may not realize the offence they cause under current situations and may only perceive it as banter ?
If so ignore it this time but try and educate them if it happen again

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Replying to bernard michael:
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By taxwizard
03rd Jun 2020 11:08

bernard michael wrote:

Was this a generational issue where an older person may not realize the offence they cause under current situations and may only perceive it as banter ?
If so ignore it this time but try and educate them if it happen again

Yes in my case it was someone who was retired and said N for N when trying to explain what the N stands for. I am not black but belong to ethnic minorities yet I was really offended. Unfortunately, racism is still prevalent but it is more subtle now. I sometimes wonder if I didn't get a deal due to the colour of my skin rather than my personality or fees.

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By alfredpennypinch
03rd Jun 2020 12:36

I think we all have to have a threshold for what we consider to be acceptable behaviour from our clients, especially if we have employees who we expect to interact with those clients.

My office, my rules, obviously; and if a client oversteps in my office they will be asked not to. If they don't like it, that's their problem. Having said that, I can only recall one instance of a client saying something unsavoury in my office (sexism) and on seeing my wince he apologised and it didn't happen again so nothing needed to be said.

But even in going to the clients' premises, it has to be somewhere you can send any employee without fear or favour and I will seek to educate a client who makes me or an employee uncomfortable even if it's at their own premises. I would also disengage if they have a problem with that.

It's not always the client, though and I do think there is something generational about the level of tolerance and how it is expressed. About 15 years ago when I was myself an employee, the partner sending me out to a partnership client sat me down to "warn me" (his words) that one of the partners was gay. On arriving at the client, I was met by the, presumably, heterosexual partner (nobody ever thought to tell me what his sexual preference was) who also felt the need to inform me that his business partner was gay.

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By bernard michael
03rd Jun 2020 14:22

Apropos of not a lot
Aeons ago I was doing research into chocolate manufacture and worked in a company where 98% of the staff were coloured or european. The banter then used would have got everybody arrested these days being racist, sexist and homophobic. My closest friend there was in a lowly job making drinking chocolate and he used always to call me a honkey b&&&&&& . I last ran into him at a convention and he was a Justice minister in the Bahamas.

I do miss that place and times

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By coops456
03rd Jun 2020 16:43

Now more than ever, it is not enough to be quietly non-racist. Now is the time to be vocally anti-racist.

Unfortunately bigots generally take silence as agreement. Recently our biggest client mentioned "all the Ps at the cash + carry" and I am ashamed to say that I didn't object.

At the end of a yoga class, a woman was talking about her day trip to Brighton - "I like the town but it's full of gays, can't stand 'em". Her casual throwaway comment was a punch in the guts to me, and nobody said a word. I never returned to that class.

I don't agree that intolerance should be accepted as part and parcel of life. Hate speech - even disguised as 'banter' - is the thin end of a very dangerous and harmful wedge.
In my previous life I worked for a large bank and nobody would dream of such behaviour. I was out and proud and able to bring my whole self to my work without fear.

@Degan89 (OP) - I'm with you. I will no longer stand by and be complicit.

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By Degan89
05th Jun 2020 12:08

Thanks for sharing personal experiences. Some interesting responses here of which some i agree with and some i disagree with, but it's all contextual i guess to a certain extent.

In hindsight you can kick yourself about why didn't you just say that or act in a different way and that's OK. Because without hindsight and reflection you wouldn't learn how to improve yourself, others and change the way you act in the future.

@coops456 - It's comforting to see someone on the same page amongst others. Now more than ever is a very important time to change our attitudes towards matters like this and other surrounding issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and other prejudices towards people in and outside the workplace. It should not be tolerated.

A bit off topic for an accounting forum i know, however the importance of this is immeasurable.

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Replying to Degan89:
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By Simpleton2
05th Jun 2020 12:18

In the moment it is so hard to do something, so many doubts occur "did they really just say that", "maybe I misinterpreted it" or "they might of just misspoke". Add that to a common inclination to avoid conflict and it is a lot easier to feel you should challenge this sort of thing than it is to actually do it.

In private I would probably just distance myself from what is said, hoping to make it clear that I don't actively agree and then if I can not do business with them. After all it takes a lot of work to actually change someone's opinion about something and unless it someone I care about I doubt I have the commitment required to make a difference.

However when comments are within a public forum, they do need to be immediately challenged and confronted so that a perception is not built up that such views are welcome.

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Replying to Simpleton2:
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By bernard michael
05th Jun 2020 12:36

Simpleton2 wrote:

In the moment it is so hard to do something, so many doubts occur "did they really just say that", "maybe I misinterpreted it" or "they might of just misspoke". Add that to a common inclination to avoid conflict and it is a lot easier to feel you should challenge this sort of thing than it is to actually do it.

In private I would probably just distance myself from what is said, hoping to make it clear that I don't actively agree and then if I can not do business with them. After all it takes a lot of work to actually change someone's opinion about something and unless it someone I care about I doubt I have the commitment required to make a difference.

However when comments are within a public forum, they do need to be immediately challenged and confronted so that a perception is not built up that such views are welcome.

and what is the definition of misspoke?
Perhaps something I shouldn't have said but now I've been caught out I want to justify ??

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By john hextall
05th Jun 2020 10:51

I think very often people do this as a way of testing where you stand on something and believe, for the good of the relationship, it is as well to let them know, as politely and pleasantly as possible. Sometimes, a quizzical look is enough to get the job done. You might get a reputation for having no sense of humour but to not respond at all sends entirely the wrong message, in my opinion.

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By Rgab1947
05th Jun 2020 11:26

Happens often in many countries. Sometimes unwittingly, at times not meant but it happens.

Select which battles you want to commence.

Personally I would rather protest at what happened to Floyd. Thats a battle worth fighting.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
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By DuncanM
05th Jun 2020 12:10

My personal view is what happened to Floyd is intrinsically linked to this sort of behavior. It normalises prejudice which leads to a society simply accepting this as the way things are. It is the responsibility of everyone to stand up to racist or misogynistic behavior in any form, whether or not taken in jest, whether or not you are acting in a professional capacity. Society will only change when everyone takes responsibility for it doing so. Washing your hands saying it's not my problem, i'm not offended, is as much of the problem.

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Replying to DuncanM:
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By SBS33
07th Jun 2020 16:25

Absolutely right - if you stay silent when someone expresses a racist (or sexist / homophobic etc) comment, you are guilty of allowing racism to continue. You become complicit. Now is the time to STOP racism - and call out ANYONE who displays it, even if it's just a one-word epithet.

I am shocked that so many on this page say they would do nothing and carry on. To those people I say you are either racist yourself or else you have no integrity - for you the money the client brings you is more important than changing the racist society we currently live in. Shame.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
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By bernard michael
05th Jun 2020 12:27

Rgab1947 wrote:

Happens often in many countries. Sometimes unwittingly, at times not meant but it happens.

Select which battles you want to commence.

Personally I would rather protest at what happened to Floyd. Thats a battle worth fighting.

Would there be as many riots if he was white ??

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By pauljohnston
05th Jun 2020 12:39

We have a policy that if any client displays rudeness or racist/sexist comments to our staff or contractors inc the company that provides reception services he/she/they get an immediate dis-engagement letter along with a letter stating why. We wont take them back either. Our staff etc are the most important part of our business.

If it is a casual remark aimed at anyone else I dont have much time for that person however if it is in the vain "all men are useless" then it normaly brings a laugh then I can tolerate it. Along with calling me an old boy (64 today) that too brings a laugh too.

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Replying to pauljohnston:
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By Jfg
12th Jun 2020 15:15

So, it is ok to be sexist but not racist? Hmm.....

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