It’s Not Me!

April 3, 2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s Not Me!

by Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA

I was recently out to lunch with a colleague. There was a TV running in the background and during a lull in the conversation, I could hear an advertisement for a program showing later on a cable network. My jaw dropped, and my eyes bulged at the degrading vulgarity that I overheard coming from the television. My companion said, “Why so shocked?  I hear way worse when I go to a meeting at my engineer’s office.” My head spun back to face him and I asked for more details. He conveyed an unbelievably disrespectful series of comments that left me momentarily dumbstruck.

When I recovered enough to speak, I asked, “So what did you say?” to which he replied, “Nothing. He’s an a-hole. The woman he was talking about was not in the room. There were a dozen men at the table. Everyone just laughed it off.”

I said, “If that man’s peers don’t stand up to him, he will not see what’s wrong with what he said. He will think all the men laughing agree with him. He will not change his behavior. He could be saying that about your employee, your wife or your daughter.”

My companion said, “Look, it’s business. I’m not going to take a big stand and screw up the relationship. I don’t talk that way or feel that way, but what do you want me to do, punch him in the face over it?”

I said, “Look at it this way…let’s say 5% of the men in the construction industry are these types of scumbags and 90% of the men in the industry laugh it off while the last 5% of the men stand up for the people being degraded. Because of the 90% pretending its acceptable behavior, the 5% defenders look like the big jerks instead of the 5% who actually are the jerks! And that’s why women are in the mess we are in for as long as we have been. Not so much because of the small group of men harassing or disrespecting women, but because of the huge group of men who are aware of it but do nothing to force the culture to change. Men like you should be making it very clear that such comments and behavior are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated and business relationships WILL be broken over it.”

To which my companion countered, “Wait a minute, wait a minute…you are WAY OFF BASE with this rant…the percentage of scumbags in the industry is probably more like 30%.”

After a long glare, I said, “Then you, sir, and your colleagues, have your work cut out for you. Throughout my career, I have heard good men say, ‘It’s not me! It’s not me!’ But if you stand by and let it go on, then it is you, too. Counter the comments. See something, SAY SOMETHING!”


The power to ELIMINATE disrespect, harassment, inequity, discrimination, and degradation lies in the hands of everyone who sees it, hears it or knows of it. It can stop INSTANTLY if the quiet mass stands up and holds the culprits IMMEDIATELY accountable for their words and actions.  Let’s encourage the whistleblowers as they are the heroes of the #MeToo Movement.


Do you think it’s not you? Prove it TODAY!


Author’s Bio:

Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, is a past president of AIA New Jersey and the Architects League of Northern New Jersey, as well as the founding chair of the AIA New Jersey Equity in Architecture Committee.


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