I recently spent two weeks at my company's offices in Budapest, Hungary. However in the open-floor office of forty or so people, there are two prominently displayed posters of models happily taking off their clothes (not showing anything, but they're half naked). Personally, I find this really uncomfortable because I think it's objectifying women and it doesn't seem to reflect well on the professional nature of the company. Plus it's a male-dominated company (only two women out of forty in that office) and I'm concerned that it may discourage women from working with us if that's the first thing they see.
That said, there are several factors that are making me hesitant to talk about it with HR:
- I'm a man. I feel like if I were a woman, I could say that I felt like I was being objectified and thus the office was an uncomfortable workplace. I don't think they would take it seriously if I, being a man, say it. Sad but true.
- I'm the first full-time American employee in the company and this is a European office. I've heard the stereotype that Americans are too "prudish" and are too uptight about nudity compared to Europeans, which I suppose could be the reason I'm uncomfortable about it (although I would say it's for other reasons). Although I'd like to think that a company would respect the cultural differences of all employees, I'm concerned that being the only American among 40 Hungarians will mean that it will be seen as an unreasonable request because to them it is perfectly normal and that I'm just a "prudish American."
- It's not my permanent office. I have worked a total of three weeks in that office over the past four months. Although it was "my office" during that time, it's not mine for the other three months that I wasn't there. I'm not sure if it's appropriate to request that they take down a poster they often see, but I rarely see.
- It's a poster from one of our clients. Our company has maybe a dozen of them from a variety of retail industries, such as home decor, winter clothing, and general merchandise. These two posters are from our only fashion client. We don't have posters, or indeed any publicly displayed memorabilia, from any of our other clients. It seems to me that they are there solely for the sex appeal with the rationale that it was from a client. I'm concerned that this rationale, weak as it may be, will justify its presence over my concern.
Although my situation may be somewhat unique, I'm hoping that the reasons behind my indecision are general enough that I can get a good answer. For a variety of cultural reasons, plus the fact that I'm not a regular in the office, I'm not sure if I have the right to bring up that a part of the office environment makes me uncomfortable, or if I would be taken seriously if I did (whether that fear is legitimate or not). Should I bring it to HR anyway or would it be better to live with the status quo of those who regularly work at the office?