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Posted by Jennifer Carter
I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but really struggled as to how to explain this and wanted to be cautious about preserving the confidentiality about the company we left. With that said, I won’t ever refer to the company name…….I will just state that it was the high tech industry, a large company and I was a senior female executive. Secondly, I can only speak through my experiences (and the two other ladies that own KoraVera who left) and explicitly state that I am sure there are some good companies to work for (somewhere out there!) . My background has been in finance where I worked for large companies prior to joining the high tech industry. Sadly, I had similar experiences, although less extreme, probably because I was in non-executive roles.
One of the hardest decisions I made in my life was to leave. I walked away from really good money......Money so good that I may or may not ever replicate. But, you know what the best lesson of my life is that I have learned? I am SO MUCH happier......... Making less than 1/10th of what I earned before. How can that be?
You know that saying money doesn’t buy happiness? It is actually true. We get so caught up in our bubbles though, that we can’t see straight, as I didn't for a long time......We can’t grasp that concept, until something bad happens. How do we pay the bills? How do you just make a change like that in life? For most people, that makes sense. I was blessed because I saved some money and had the opportunity to finally find myself again and what makes me happy. For the record, I am a 42 year old female. My partners are also in their early 40’s.
So what did it? I’ll be honest with you. The money was great. For years work was good. I knew the politics were bad but I kept my head down and worked. I stayed away from any “drama”. At least that’s what I thought I was doing......But as I started to progress up the corporate ladder, the drama seemed to increase. No matter how much I told myself, keep your head down, keep working, problems were arising. I quickly learned that I needed to stay true to myself. I was always that way in life. Disciplined and a straight shooter. Rule number one, never sacrifice yourself for anybody. Rule number 2, maintain integrity and treat people well. But those principles were becoming harder and harder to uphold………Why? What had changed?
What changed is simple now that I look back. As you climb up the corporate ladder (I was a number 2 position in our department), you become much more exposed to the decision making process and ultimately, the VALUES that drive those decisions. At the end of the day, if you are a public company, those values are really one statement – increasing shareholder value. You can increase shareholder value many ways – but what I realized is that it really was just all about a small select group of people at the top, looking good and preserving their jobs to make millions from stock options. No amount of money in their pockets would ever be enough. At that level, something else takes over their life. When you have $20M in the bank, it becomes nothing and greed becomes the primary driver. Those people were so far removed from any normal scope of life, it was sad. Furthermore, they would do anything, literally, to preserve those jobs and dollars coming in, even at the expense of their own well-being. They had no perspective on life, ethics, values, people, etc etc. So here I was, a young woman, exposed to the levels they would stoop down to, given orders and ultimatums that I had to follow through with, that violated my ethics and value system on every level possible. Again, this is just my experience.
Secondly, I was a woman. For those men reading this that don’t discriminate, I applaud you. We know not all men do. But for those of you doubting this still exists in corporate America, unfortunately yes, it still does. The sad reality is that the word “no” coming from a woman is perceived very differently than if it was coming from a man. The reality is that any reaction from a woman is perceived as emotional. And the best part is if you don’t show any emotions, you’re a “bi&***”. You really can’t win. I sat in many meetings with a dozen executives always being the only female in a room that couldn’t speak football. Because yes, they would spend the first 20 minutes of a meeting discussing football while I sat there in silence trying to fit in. I can honestly tell you that I had to work triple as hard as a man for the same recognition and then some, only to be denied multiple opportunities because I was the wrong sex.
At the end of the day, I was miserable. Sacrificing myself, my character and my value system literally was making me physically ill. But the money was great! And that my friends, is the lesson of my life that has turned everything around for me. I was creating disease in my body because I was not happy. My soul was damaged. I wasn’t myself. I was stressed out. I never felt as an equal. I couldn’t sacrifice my value system for a job anymore. My bank account was happy but my body was breaking down. So I asked myself. Is it worth it?
There is a lot more I have to blog about when it comes to this topic. We haven’t even hit the surface. If you have similar experiences, please reach out and share your story.