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Ask L2: Toxic Non-Profit Situation

“Is it worth the risk to my career to leave an honest review about how crushingly toxic and stifling the environment is?”

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.

I am in a toxic non-profit situation. Love the mission, the work is complex and interesting, and everyone works very hard and is also very smart.

However, the president is just an awful manager. Manipulative, pits people against each other, pushes everyone so hard, values cost savings over people's sanity, micromanages anyone who doesn't work the way she does, and shames people who try to implement boundaries (yep, that's me). I've even gone so far as to go to the board, but nothing has changed.

I plan to leave as soon as possible. The catch is that I fantasize about leaving a blistering review on Glassdoor about my experience. The problem is that it is a small organization, so I would be easily identifiable. The president is extremely well-connected, and in private people acknowledge how incredibly difficult she is to work with. In the nearly two years I have been there, I'm the fourth longest-tenured employee of 13 full-time staff.

Is it worth the risk to my career to leave an honest review about how crushingly toxic and stifling the environment is? I feel like people should know, but I also worry about being perceived as the 'difficult' employee should word get around that it was me who 'went public,' so to speak. I feel like I already took a huge risk going to the board, so the damage may already have been done.


I know that feeling. You’re planning your revenge before you’ve even exacted your plan. You want to not only get out, but you want your closure too. It’s nice to have control and think you can plan out this situation. But what’s the goal? Is getting the last word that important?

If the goal is to make sure that no one else ever works for that horrible organization, then that’s valid. You also have to accept that there’s no way to ensure that. If the goal is to get the last word, though, that’s never as satisfying as we think it will be.

My dad always used to say that people like that would get what’s coming to them, but you’re not going to give it to them. The universe will take care of it without your help. You don’t have to be involved. You have bigger and better things to worry about.

That said, though, you can still write your letter. Get it out. File it away. You would be surprised how cathartic that can be.



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