good morning gentlemen

being female is exhausting. it’s not just the monthly visit from Aunt Flo, the accompanying mood swings, the oil slick on my forehead by noon (this is daily). it’s the steady drip of tomASSfoolery that dulls my sensibility to behave with couth requiring me to release the Kraken.

today’s winner of the tomASSfoolery award is a male colleague who began his email with “Good Morning Gentlemen.”  n addition to the white male senior leaders, the email included two women, the client and myself.  i was appalled. this is not an oversight. it is not be excused, explained, or dismissed.  the problem here is too often women are not at the table, not included in decision making, not part of the discussion and this person was blatantly dismissive of the fact that he addressed an email to women with an inappropriate salutation.  after calming myself, i fired back a response:

Please note that there are two women on this email; one of them works for the CLIENT. I am sure you did not intend to offend, but addressing the email with Good morning Gentlemen is offensive.  I would be remiss if I did not bring this to your attention.


He responds:

I apologize.

Just thought that if the note was addressed to men and the ladies were cc’d I could do it that way. Now I have learnt something else.

Sorry again and I will also try to excuse myself with CLIENT.


i left it right there. i didn’t continue the lesson, direct him to sensitivity training, turn him over to the D&I director or HR. i was dissatisfied with his response. let’s suppose i sent the email, “Good morning ladies,” knowing i had two men on the cc line. would the men take offense? write me a snarky response? would they forward my gaffe to others? am i being overly sensitive? and what does the other woman on the email think?

when i send messages, I address the audience “ladies and gentlemen” or “team” or “Louis, Shelley, et al.” such that they know to whom i am directing the comment. perhaps i overreacted. perhaps my hackles are up because as a black female looking at sea of white males daily, being marginalized, treated like “the help,” and overlooked is far too common.  perhaps this comment just needed to be made.


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