I manage a team in a very old school company where I have all male direct reports and one younger, female direct report who is a new hire. My new hire female dresses very stylishly, but it's a bit much. She looks great for a day outside the office, but for work, the skirt is always a little too tight, the neckline a little too low, the dress a little too short, the heel a little too high. The men on my team are constantly talking about her figure and how great she looks, and honestly, it's distracting for everyone. They are starting to associate her only with how she looks and not her contributions, half the time because they are staring at her body and talking about her instead of doing work. It's not like she's showing up to work dressed completely inappropriately, but as her manager, I felt like I needed to address it. (And as a woman in a male dominated company for several years now, I've always gone the extreme opposite and dressed conservatively as to not call unwanted attention to myself.)
I decided to bring it to my Associate Director to ask for advice. He said he thinks she looks fantastic and doesn't think it's a problem. I asked if he noticed people on the team were distracted by her clothing, talking about her regularly, and if he heard the way they were speaking about her, and his response was this, "Here's the thing. Some women are smart - like you. Some women are pretty - like her. Everyone needs to work with what they have to make it in this world. You are working with what you've got and she's working with what she's got. Now go out there and do you and let her do her."
He said it so casually and matter of factly, like he had been explaining to me something so simple - like how to submit an expense report or microwave a bag of popcorn.
I sat there with my eyes literally bugging out of my face thinking what just happened?
I decided to take a PTO day the next day. I have no idea how to address what happened with my boss or how to speak to this woman on my team about her appearance.
My new hire is a bright, driven woman and I was worried she would be discounted for the way she dressed, and not only did my boss degrade her to nothing but pretty, he made me nothing but smart in the process.
I don't really want to back to work tomorrow. Or ever.
What do I do?