The Boss Has the Wrong Idea: Confidential Role Material for Julia Smith

Case Solution

Katherine Coffman, Kathleen L. McGinn, Judith A. Clair, Katherine Chen
Harvard Business School ()

“The Boss Has the Wrong Idea” is a conversation exercise for two in which an MBA student seeks the advice of a mentor in her field on how to deal with an incident of sexual harassment in the workplace. The case consists of two confidential role materials: a paper for student Julia, describing her troubling experience with her boss during a summer internship, and a role for lead mentor Lee, who mentions that Julia expects him to advise her on a complicated situation. . Julia’s Story presents a detailed (fictional) first-hand account of a young woman’s experience in a competitive male-dominated company. Her narrative offers a compelling demonstration of the nuances and challenges associated with the experience of sexual harassment in the workplace. Because it is written as a conversation exercise, the case not only provides students, faculty, and administrative staff an opportunity to reflect on how to address (and prevent) sexual harassment in their own organizations, but also an opportunity to focus on the hard. conversations that require these topics. What is the best way to offer support and guidance? What strategies are there to listen effectively, ask questions, and give advice in sensitive and emotionally charged situations?

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