Recently, the recording artist Drake made the news. Drake, known for giving us flashy rap lyrics, catchy slow songs, and clubs hits, has amassed a loyal following. At this point in his career it seemed as if he could do no wrong.
Consider that, not too long ago, in the rap world, being an authentic writer was a requirement; Unless you were very open about having someone write for you. It was recently found out that Drake isn't always the sole writer of his music, and his fan base didn't skip a beat, even though other artists tried hard to discredit him.
Enter Kid Cudi! One of the latest artists to take a shot at Drake, and others, for their use of ghostwriters. As has happened in previous attempts, I expected Drake to either ignore them, or say a couple of disrespectful lines on a record, and keep it moving. Well, he went with the latter.
“You were the man on the moon, now you go through your phases/Life of the angry and famous
Rap like I know I’m the greatest /and give you the tropical flavors
Still never been on hiatus/You stay xan and perked up so when reality set in you don’t gotta face it.”
These were Drake's response to Kid Cudi. By itself, it doesn't seem all that hard hitting. Then note the fact that Kid Cudi recently checked into rehab for severe anxiety and depression. This, changes the context of his rhyme, and created a stir on twitter. To some, Drake crossed the line.
I don't bring this up to talk about Drake, though his career has been the root of many debates. I bring it up to highlight the importance of understanding which lines should not be crossed in the workplace.
We all have our own preconceived notions about a variety of things. However, we must check those notions at the door when we enter the workplace. Your employer cannot control your thoughts and actions outside of work, but when within those walls, the rules need to be followed.
That means your comments (real or in jest) can be used against you. That said, you need to be acutely aware of the most sensitive lines that shouldn't be crossed. Jokes and discussions about race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability or illness, are all areas that should be avoided. And age; Yes age is another one (ever made any over the hill jokes).
I've taught many courses on harassment prevention, and as obvious as the material seems to me, I inevitably find myself having to take action against a violator.
I know to some, we have all become just too sensitive; way too "PC" for their liking. Understand that the workplace isn't the place to challenge this. It's a place where all efforts are going to be made to create an environment that is not hostile. And employers will be (and should be) very sensitive to this.
I'm sure Drake will be fine. In this social world, our memory only lasts as long as the content remains on the screen. But make no mistake, he will feel financial effects. He can't be fired or put on warning as you might in your workplace, but he's not immune. He is his own brand, and if his brand offends a group of people (the people who pay for his product; provide him with a check; in essence, his employers), then he will lose money.
MY HR Guy Interpretation
In order to not cross that line, you have to know it. Read your employers policy on harassment, and/or bullying. Understand what shouldn't be done, and what could potentially get you in trouble. If the employer offers instructor led classes, ask questions (don't be shy). Better to find out in class, than when sitting in HR for violating a policy.
More importantly, be a caring and compassionate human being at work. Even if you don't agree with the protections that are given to the different groups, respect them. Understand that they are there for your protection as well, as you may one day find yourself in one of these protected groups. But if you aren't about any of that, then at least have the sense to respect the boundaries that are drawn at work.
Finally, be active in assessing your behavior and understanding how it relates to your employers policy, and/or how it makes others feel. I always find that in controlled settings (like reading this blog) it's very easy to understand right and wrong. That is until we become more sensitive to these things, and realize we skate the line everyday.