You're toxic, I'm slippin' under
Trusting your gut, standing on ceremony, and bowing out
I recently participated in a panel discussion about creating safe work environments for women. I recognize that the word safe is nebulous as we continue to navigate COVID and define our new normal. But we mean safe in the sense that we could freely share our ideas, opinions and show up as our whole selves without the fear of retaliation or career suicide. Creating a safe workspace also means an environment free from the threat of sexual harassment, bullying, and microaggressions.
One would think remote work would have contributed to removing barriers, creating a fluid working environment, but I've found anecdotal evidence to the contrary. For example, most women shared that over the past year: even more cliques formed in their organizations; team meetings happened without their awareness; and new assignments and projects got doled out without their knowledge.
This all while they’re being asked to participate in diversity, equity, and inclusion workgroups.
Oh, the irony.
"Absolutely not. I do not feel safe," one participant said after being asked about her work environment. "I just know anything I say will eventually be held against me."
“I offer up tangible solutions, but my manager overtalks me," another participant shared. "I feel like she discounts what I say, but if someone else says something similar she acknowledges them. It’s infuriating.”
“Try having your boss say to you in front of the whole team that you ‘speak so well’ - imagine hearing that every time you talk,” a third added.
I empathize entirely as many of us have either been there or are currently having similar experiences. But where do we go from here? And what could we do to carve a safe path for ourselves while holding space for other women?
According to a report from SHRM, “The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture: How Culture Impacts the Workforce—and the Bottom Line,” one in four workers reported feeling disrespected and unvalued at their jobs and nearly one-quarter of workers said they dread going to work.
Bottom line: unsafe workspaces are toxic.
If you're afraid to speak up. It's toxic.
If you do speak up and are reprimanded for your opinions or ideas. It's toxic.
If you're overburdened and do the work of three or four people consistently without relief in sight, burnout is around the corner. And guess what? ...it's toxic.
If there's no room for growth or learning opportunities. You guessed it. Toxic.
If there's a mass exodus happening and most people are leaving for the same reason. T -to the - OXIC. Toxic.
I could go on, but you get the point.
If company policy or practice does not help nurture an open environment where differences are celebrated or appreciated, you're probably in a toxic culture.
There are no victims here, simply an acknowledgment that you're not alone. The growing feeling you have in the pit of your stomach or that small voice telling you to get out is there to make sure you stay in alignment with your core values and beliefs — and how you should be treated.
Trust your gut.
I spoke with one of my OGs and she’s been in the “game” for 40 years. FORTY. YEARS. Her best advice: It’s one day, one moment at a time. Read the room, you’ll know if you can be successful in that space or if it’s time to leave.
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So …who else is watching Britney Spears go for hers with this conservatorship battle. Brit says she’s had enough, she can manage her own affairs. Toxic indeed. I’m rooting for you Britney, baby.
And Bumble’s CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, gave her employees a week off as paid vacation in an effort to help with burnout. Yes ma’am. I co-sign that. Can we all take a collective sigh of relief for a mental health break? Now will other companies follow suit or nah?
I’ve been inspired by these messages as of late:
And for those of us feeling scared about it all…
I’ve been listening to good music and reading good books this month:
Thanks so much for supporting InclusivelyHer. As always, thanks for reading. It’s my hope in sharing stories and other bits of information, you’ll be inspired in your own journey.