I recently started a job at a medium-large corporate HQ. I don't think the job or industry are relevant as this is more about the confusion I have with workplace politics. The job is in the USA and I did not grow up within the States so some of my confusions may stem from my background.
During my first few weeks of work, I was invited to join workshops and employee resource groups that were provided. Many of these resource groups are held during my lunch break so I attend many different ones frequently. My favorite ones provide donuts. Some of these groups are for certain minority groups that I am not a part of but there has never been an issue with me joining them as there are plenty of other regular members who do not match the descriptions of the groups.
However, last week my office held a menopause workshop. I am a biological man, but I was interested in joining this workshop out of curiosity and interest in the matter as I'm uninformed on the subject.
I was the only man who attending the meeting which surprised me as most workshops were very diverse. I also arrived a few minutes late which made it awkward when I joined the meeting. I quickly went to the front and grabbed a few donuts before taking a seat with the others. This workshop was led by an employee who shared her experience with menopause invited all the attendees to ask questions or share afterwards.
Genuinely, I really enjoyed my time at the workshop. Menopause was something new to me as that type of education was never provided to me in my home country growing up, something as trivial as this was new and fascinating to me.
I believe I made a faux pas at the meeting during the time for questions. I asked how I could tell if a Woman is experiencing menopause, that way I could offer my support or help to them if they ever needed it due to their menopause symptoms. For the past twenty minutes I heard stories about how difficult of a time it is for Women. What was meant to be an innocuous question led to a palpable change of spirit in the room. The proctor let me know that it isn't really my concern when my coworkers are experiencing menopause. This made sense to me, but I could still feel everyone else in the room looking at me, so I apologized for the question and pleaded for the proctor to share more stories about her menopause to get the attention off of me. This did not help either as I was asked to leave the room, and I immediately complied.
This meeting was last Friday and this Monday I was called into a meeting with HR right away. It was me, and HR rep, and the proctor of the meeting. I profusely apologized and explained my intent for going to the meeting. However, the proctor insisted that I attended the meeting just to eat their pastries and make sexist remarks. HR assigned me weekly sensitivity training that I don't mind at all.
My problem now resides in the day-to-day office experience. This week all the Women and most of the men have been very cold and short with me. What can I do to resolve the tensions with my coworkers?