In this post, we explore 17 awkward 80s moments that would generate outrage, or even legal action, in today’s world.
Lack of Workplace Diversity
Oh, look, another middle-aged white dude in a suit! The 80s corporate landscape was predominantly white and male-dominated, with entire departments frequently lacking a single woman or person of color. This absence of diversity may have seemed ‘normal’ back then, but fast forward to today, and inclusion is not only a buzzword but a business imperative.
Unfortunately, blatant and unchecked sexism was the norm rather than the exception during the 80s. If included in the workplace at all, women were frequently pigeonholed into secretarial or supportive roles, while men soared up the corporate ladder to the highest-paid and most prestigious positions.
With fewer campaigns for political correctness and little backlash for inappropriate humor, 80s office jokes often crossed the line into offensiveness. Japes that targeted certain genders, races, religions, or cultures were part and parcel of office banter. Such conduct would be frowned upon today, possibly leading to job termination.
Forty years ago, office bullying was frequently dismissed or conveniently ignored. It wasn’t uncommon for employees to suffer abusive behavior from their colleagues or superiors without repercussions or an outlet for complaint.
Poor Work-Life Balance
We hear this term a lot nowadays, but such a concept would have been alien in workplaces of the 80s. With no allowances for family responsibilities or personal well-being, employees were frequently expected to sacrifice their personal lives for the good of the company.
Excessive, cut-throat competition was often encouraged in male-dominated 80s workplaces, with employees pitted against each other in an attempt to increase performance and force them into working harder for longer.
Before scientific studies highlighted the medical risks of working long hours hunched over a computer in a cheap chair, associated health complaints were commonplace. Long-term problems like back pain, deep-vein thrombosis, or carpal tunnel syndrome plagued 80s workers, even if accurate diagnoses weren’t always made.
Offices of the 1980s were characterized by strict hierarchies, which often hampered communication and innovation. Lowly employees never had a forum to voice their ideas or concerns and feared a backlash from superiors if they upset the ‘status quo.’.
Zero Mental Health Support
Today, terms such as ‘burnout,’ ‘PTSD,’ and ‘depression’ are commonly used, but during the 80s, the importance of employee mental health was largely overlooked or diminished. Stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues were rarely acknowledged, and workers were expected to suffer in silence.
Discrimination Due to Sexual Orientation
Unfortunately for LGBTQ+ employees of the 1980s, open discrimination based on sexual orientation was prevalent, with very little legal protection available and little chance of repercussions for the perpetrators
No Remote Working
In the 80s, a lack of digital communication meant that the concept of remote work was virtually unheard of. Employees were expected to be physically present in offices throughout the day, even if their work could technically be done elsewhere.
A groundbreaking trend in the 80s, casual Fridays were an exciting end to the working week that allowed employees to ditch their formal attire just before the weekend. It was frequently considered a huge perk!
Blatant Sexual Harassment
With women’s rights and gender equality yet to progress to modern standards, 80s workplaces were notorious for sexual harassment.
In many industries, it was a pervasive issue that was completely ignored or quietly downplayed. Subsequent lawsuits, heightened awareness, and changes in societal attitudes have made today’s workplaces far safer and more comfortable.
The 80s certainly wasn’t a time of environmental consciousness, and little thought was given to recycling, conserving resources, or adopting sustainable practices.
Increased awareness regarding our impact on planetary health has led to a dramatic shift in company policies, with many aiming to reduce waste, lower their carbon footprint, promote energy efficiency, and include sustainability as a crucial part of their business model.
Gender Pay Gap
In the 80s, significant differences between salaries for men and women were rife and rarely questioned, even when women did the same job as their male counterparts.
While this pervasive problem has not been eradicated even today, advocacy for pay equity has gained traction, leading to essential conversations, less oversight, and legislation that attempts to close the gap.
Many employees of the 80s worked incredibly long hours, often without proper overtime compensation. The competitive work environment and disregard for a healthy work-life balance promoted a ‘burnout culture’ in which workers slaved away regardless of detrimental physical and mental health impacts.
Fixed Working Hours
There was little wriggle room regarding working hours in the 80s, with the standard 9-to-5 routine being the norm. Employees were expected to clock in and out at specific times, which was stressful and sometimes unachievable for those juggling family responsibilities.
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