While Whitney Sharpe, a 28-year-old recruiting and staffing professional from Boston, was on a Zoom call last week with potential clients, they accidentally shared a screen they weren’t supposed to.
The screen showed messages in Microsoft Teams between three potential clients — all male — talking about Sharpe in “an unfavorable way,” she told BuzzFeed News. Sharpe wasn’t comfortable sharing the contents of all the messages but said in one she was called a “fucking bombshell.”
When the 15-minute meeting was over, Sharpe recorded herself calling the men out and then posted it on TikTok.
“First of all, if we’re going to continue working together, I want to work with a woman sales representative because I don’t want to have to see locker room talk about myself when you’re sharing screens,” Sharpe says in the TikTok at the end of the meeting.
One of the men she was talking to responded, saying it was an “inexcusable mistake” that should have never happened. “Apologies on that,” he is heard saying in the TikTok video Sharpe posted.
The TikTok has garnered nearly 2 million likes since Sharpe posted it. Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank commented, “You rock!” Other comments read, “Ya know, I’ve still not heard the words ‘I AM SORRY.’” Another person wrote, “THIS IS AMAZING.”
“I was horrified because I have worked so hard to get to the point where I’m at in my career,” Sharpe told BuzzFeed News. “I’m a vice president at my company and I’m one of the highest-up women at my company. And I feel like I have to work so much harder to prove that I am smart because of the way that I look, and it was just really disheartening to be in a call with a potential vendor where they’re not valuing my company. They don’t really value what I have to say. They value what I look like.”
Sharpe saw the messages at the beginning of the meeting and said she wanted to remain calm, to make the men question whether she had seen them. But calling them out was “nerve-wracking,” she said.
“I was just trying to get through it as calmly and professionally as possible,” she said. “The last thing I wanted them to be able to say is that I’m just emotional. I didn’t want them to be able to say that. I was just focusing on getting the words out calmly and not crying.”
Sharpe, who has worked in the IT staffing and recruiting industry for eight years, said she’s faced sexual harassment from early on in her career. Once, she said, a male client told her to sit on a couch next to him, and when she did, he put his hand on her thigh. When she removed it, he told her not to “be like that,” Sharpe said.
“And that’s my very first memory of it all starting, and then incidents like that just kept happening,” she said.
A few days after the exchange, the client’s vice president of sales emailed Sharpe and told her the company didn’t have any women “skilled enough” to work with Sharpe, according to another TikTok she posted. Sharpe told BuzzFeed News that the CEO of the potential client’s company called her and apologized, but she felt like the apology was “cold” and “didn’t feel sincere,” because a lawyer was also on the call. None of the men from the original call have apologized to her, she said.
In a follow-up video posted on TikTok, Sharpe said this potential client will not actually become a client. She told BuzzFeed News that her company has been supportive of her and is letting her to start a women’s leadership committee.
“I cannot work with a vendor and my company will not support a vendor who doesn’t support women in business,” Sharpe says in the TikTok. “It’s just not going to happen.”
Sharpe said that the company should “maybe not hire misogynistic pricks to represent their company out in the field. Maybe hire smarter people who know how to share their screens since that’s part of their freaking job.”