To address or not to address: Colleagues making fun of me

I am feeling quite hurt to have learned two co-workers I actively sponsored and supported have been actively making fun of me in a private message thread.

Some more context:

  • The men we work with got complained about because of their actions, but I am actively being made fun of, including how I talk, my positivity, and who I am as a person.
  • They don't know I know. Our Compliance Team discovered it and flagged it to me as violating our employee handbook. Our Compliance Team didn't realize I was the person being talked about because they were mostly focused on inappropriate comments about male co-workers.
  • I am in regular meetings and private syncs with these individuals due to the nature of my role and theirs.
  • I was the only woman they made fun of but the only one senior to them in the organization.

As you can imagine, this was deeply hurtful to learn, and it's hard to imagine carrying on like normal at this moment. Should I address it?

Absolutely. Your feelings are valid and it wouldn't serve you well to sweep it under the rug. I don't know what your role is, what your company structure is like and how everyone else is, but recommend you speak to your manager and involve HR. I personally would keep my distance from them moving forward. Remain professional, but keep it at that.Also, if it's any comfort, most times when people do that it's really about them and their own insecurities than it is about you.
There are three things here:1. Addressing it or not - definitely address it! For all the possible reasons in the world, bullying must be stopped as soon as discovered, and mockery is a form of bullying (mobbing, actually). This has already been flagged, help Compliance do their work and make sure not only those people learn the lesson, but everybody else too.2. How you personally feel & react to it: Remember they are not making fun of you. They are expressing their fears and shame and complexes in the only form they mocking what they are not / cannot do. So when I say "don't take it personally" I mean it - this has nothing to do with you. So there is no reason to be defensive, ashamed, angry or anything. In fact, this is the moment when you can prove compassion by serving them a lesson without being emotionally involved (once you deal with it internally).3. The decisions you make after this: you might choose to alter how you behave in the workplace or go on the self-doubt path. Don't. If you choose to behave differently in that (or any other) organisation, it should be because you want to adapt in order to achieve what you set your mind to, not as a response to immature responses from some individuals. So please think carefully and make sure you don't respond to this by making decisions that will have a negative impact on the future you.These things happen. People will always love or hate you and you cannot afford to live based on their inputs when they are ridiculous.
Cristina, this so spot on!!