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Ask L2: To speak or not to speak, that is the question.

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

"I'm torn do I wait until after my annual review to start pointing out the failures?"

Disclaimer: Identities are kept confidential. The advice given here should be taken at your own risk. If you are having true mental or physical issues, please seek professional assistance.

The start-up company I work for hired a rookie CCO. I reported to the CEO, and now I report to a misogynistic, power-high, idiot, frat boy.

So similar story to yours, his initial move is to demote his whole team because he doesn't like the titles we have and it's not a big company. I'm a change agent. I'm proud of it even though it has cost me jobs. I'm torn - do I wait until after my annual review to start pointing out the failures? Do I trust the CEO? Do I wait because I'm a single mom and say something after I have a new job? I'm torn.


That’s a really hard place to be in, no question. You always have to do what’s right by your family first, and there’s no right answer for you. Sometimes what’s right for your sense of justice may not seem like it aligns with what’s right for keeping food on the table. I wish that was a choice that no one ever had to make, but that’s not reality. There are some questions that I think you have to examine before making any choices about what is next.

What is your job security within the organization? Does this person have the ability to terminate you without notice? Do you have allies who would help secure your role if you do start making waves?

What’s your personal runway? If you do make the decision to lean on the side of what’s right rather than what is comfortable, do your kids eat if you lose your role? Do you have documentation to support what you have experienced should there be retaliation? Are you comfortable with the total unknowns of how someone might react and how long that gives you to make alternate arrangements?

Are you ready to hit the job hunt hard and walk away? And, if you have decided that it’s best to just move on, is there value to you personally in the stress and emotional turmoil that will come with being the squeaky wheel? Some companies won’t be fixed, and you will do a whole lot of work for the same personal edification that you will get by just putting your notice. It might require patience and some tongue biting, but I’m not one to encourage you to shoulder the emotional burden of fixing something that is going to change back as soon as you’re gone.

No matter what you choose, your family comes first. Your children have to eat. I’m in a unique situation that I work for myself and my clients are well aware of who I am. I can be as loud and obnoxious as I want because it doesn’t change if my children are going to eat. There is no shame in staying quiet if it’s the right thing to do for your kids while methodically planning the next steps that get you out of there. I’m in your corner!




I was just in a similar situation. I weighed the options, as well as my relationships with the company. There were more issues than just the bullying I witnessed and experienced by the new CEO, but that was the main focus for me as it's a hard thing to experience, especially when your care about your coworkers. My confidential feedback to the owners (whom I thought I had a great relationship with) ended up not being confidential and I was retaliated against by the CEO. I knew this was a risk when I decided to act, and despite having a rough few months, I don't regret speaking up. I ended up leaving the company, and less than a month …


Emily Black
Emily Black
Dec 07, 2022

I love how realistic this advice is. Not everyone has the privilege of just up and leaving though we all might want to at times. Thoughtfully weighing the pros and cons, and doing what’s right for your family’s reality - just being given that permission - is so powerful. I have definitely guilted myself for staying quiet in the past because our reality was, I needed a paycheck. Best of luck to OP.

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