“She’s a bitch.”
Those were the exact words from someone trying to hire me (or more accurately, trying to pressure me into taking a job). We were discussing how not everyone on the hiring committee had been on board with hiring me (again, did I mention this was before I took the job?) and he told me that a committee member had said, “I don’t know what it is about her, but something feels off. It will probably come out – good or bad – within the next year.” The manager then went on to tell me this had happened before with another candidate and sure enough, the truth came out about a year later.
What shocking truth surfaced you ask? (FYI, I didn’t ask. I didn’t have to because he couldn’t wait to tell me.) “She’s a bitch. Nobody wants to help her, nobody wants to work with her, and a senior manager remarked, ‘we probably should have fired her once or twice by now, but she’s a top performer’ so she’s still here.”
With those words, you’ve just told me everything I need to know about the company. I’m now wondering, if I took this job, what would you say about me when I wasn’t around? If I were aggressive and relentless in pursuing my goals, would I too be labeled a bitch? Why would I even want to come work for the company if one of its employees thinks it’s OK to have that conversation with me? Why would I want to work for an organization that excuses bad behavior because the person produces results? If this is true (and at this point, I’m not sure what I believe) has anyone in upper management considered what this level of toxicity is doing to the company? Does anyone even care?
Now, this is not about disrespecting women, even if it appears there is some of that going on here. It’s not about playing the victim. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazing women and men – and some real duds. I’ve been part of networking groups for women (that I have since quit), I’ve faced my share of discrimination and harassment (and never reported it because really – there are much more creative ways of handling it) and I’ve gotten into a social media argument with one very passionate woman who resorted to name-calling simply because I was defending an article written by a man. I’m not objecting because a woman was labeled a bitch. After all, I’ve been called worse.
I’m objecting because this anecdote tells me more about the company values than you probably intended. I’m objecting because you seem to think it’s OK to excuse bad behavior if it gets results. I’m objecting because you actually think it’s OK to tell me this story, that somehow it will persuade me to come work for the company. Most of all, I’m objecting because if I take this job, I will be subjecting myself to this toxic environment on a daily basis. And I value myself too much to do so.
So, thanks, but no thanks. I respectfully decline your less than generous offer.