Nading: Professionalism matters

Mackenzie Nading

Sometimes you have just gotta wonder what’s wrong with people.

Last week, Nancy Sebring, the former superintendent of the Des Moines Community School District was caught using her school email account to exchange more than 40 emails with a male lover. As one can probably guess, these emails were not exactly family-friendly or school-friendly, as they allegedly contained explicit content. This was in violation of the district’s Internet-use policy, and more obviously a violation of common sense, leading to Sebring being forced to resign a job offer in Omaha, Neb.

These cases aren’t rare.

It seems like every day a new sex scandal in the professional world is unveiled. Some head honcho of a company, business or school has been doing a dirty deed unbeknownst to everyone else, until one naughty picture, text message or email slips. You would think Sebring would have learned from the countless violations that preceded her. Nothing good comes out of mixing your sex life with your business life, ever.

This nasty little mix can be easily avoided if employees would remember one thing: Professionalism must be upheld in a work environment. I don’t care what job a person may have; they are an employee of some business, and that business is counting on them to uphold themselves to a standard that represents that business in a positive light.

I’m sure the Des Moines School District is very honored to now have the words “explicit emails exchanged with a male lover” attached to any Google search that is done on them thanks to Sebring. Even when you think your job is insignificant to whatever higher company is paying your salary, think again; the way you act while on the job matters.

We always hear about these high profile cases about high profile individuals, but this nonsense isn’t isolated. Just last week, I was walking across campus, when what to my wondering ears did I hear, but a wolf whistle ringing from the seventh floor of Larch, which is currently under renovation.

My eyes wander up to that window where two construction workers are leaning out and gawking down towards the sidewalk where I’m standing. I’m dressed for work, which consists of an over-sized cotton polo and khaki Bermuda shorts, and this leads me to the conclusion that either these men are unbelievably bored, unbelievably blind or unbelievably inconsiderate.

No matter which they may be, the lesson to be learned from Sebring applies to these construction workers as well: Watch how you act when you’re working.

The behavior of those workers wouldn’t be acceptable in any other office setting. Employers behind cubicles must contain their affections for others when sitting in their office. Yes, it may be to save themselves some face since wolf whistling inside a crowded office space would cause some embarrassment. But they also don’t do it to show professionalism and respect while they are on the job. As an employer you are representing your place of employment. Just as Sebring defaced the name of the Des Moines School District, those construction workers are defacing the reputation of their employer as well.

Any job, no matter how big or small, should be performed in a professional manner. We take so much time to highlight the scandals of those who are employed in highly established positions, why not put that kind of influence on blue collar jobs as well. Just because you’re standing in a seventh floor window doesn’t mean I didn’t hear you, and you’re tossing that professionalism, and the respect I had for you, right out that window you are leaning out of.

Next time you’re on the job, whether it’s outside in a hole in the ground, or stuffed inside a crowded office space, have some dignity and exude the professionalism your job deserves. You never know who could be watching, listening or reading your emails. And to those construction workers who found it necessary to express their feelings via wolf whistle: Next time, say “hi,” compliment me on my oversized polo and “camp counselor shorts” and give a nice smile. That might actually get you a date; I’m not so sure one of those wolf whistles has ever gotten anyone that far.