Cookies for the Office: A Nice Gesture or A Bad Career Move?

February 17, 2012  |  

Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional surprise of homemade cookies or cake in the office? It’s a nice, sweet gesture from one colleague to the office for all to enjoy. But according to a Forbes article, it’s possible that for women wanting to establish a solid professional image in the workplace, bringing this sweet treat to share with the office may be a bad idea for your image.

“It’s certainly an overt gesture,” Ellen Lubin-Sherman, New York-based business coach said to Forbes. “Baking cookies or bringing in treats does nothing but demonstrate your femininity. It sends mixed messages about your performance and can do serious damage to your reputation and gravitas. The next thing you know, you’ll be donning an apron.”

Most people who bring in treats for the office simply thought they were being nice and friendly. Perhaps they had hopes of bonding with their fellow employees or wanted to celebrate a colleague’s birthday in a special way. But Lubin-Sherman firmly asserts that bringing in baked goods can quickly be associated with motherhood and domestic duties, and that is not an image most of us want to portray in the workplace.

“If I saw my doctor in her office and we were talking through a difficult medical problem and she offered me a brownie she had baked, I would be very, very nervous,” she said. “I want my doctor to be reading medical journals on the weekend—not baking. She, and all women who want to be taken seriously in the workplace, should keep her baking to herself.”

Offering baked goods to a patient or a client may not be the best move, but office treats for employees is another matter. Linda Henman, president of executive strategy firm  Henman Performance Group, tells Forbes that the days when women must hide their homemaking skills are over.

“I think that the notion that woman have to worry about gender questions like this is absolute nonsense,” she said.  “Modern companies care about one question and one question only: can you deliver results?”

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