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I Was Demoted.

Written By: Lauren Howard

I was demoted.

And that wasn’t even the worst part.

When my boss brought me this exciting new organizational change (his words), I only said, “Okay,” and made up some way to make it fine.

I just needed to get off of the phone and take time to process.

The day before, I reported to the CEO, and now I report to the guy who reports to the CEO who I trained for the last several weeks.

My reaction then? To beat myself up for not seeing it coming.

In reality, I shouldn’t have had to anticipate it. They should have been transparent with me about the plan. If they weren't, it's because they knew I was being screwed over.

But that? Still not the worst part.

I had taken on a huge amount of responsibility and ownership. I had worked hundred-hour weeks without a day off, and I had only really asked for one thing throughout the process: I didn't want to hire my boss. I would do all of the hard work, put in all the hours, miss time with my kids, build things while being woefully underpaid—I’ll do it all. I just don’t want to hire my boss.

I had clearly set that expectation. It was the only thing I think I did right.

I was told I was worrying about nothing. My place was secure. I was overthinking things! C’mon! They loved me! I was so valuable!

But that? Still not the worst part.

The worst part was that they denied it was even happening.

The functional implications of this decision that affected me and no one else in the company? In my head! Entirely!

Simple geometry wasn't a thing.

The direct line that connected me to the CEO was now an angle.

And then the narrative formed.

It wasn’t a demotion! How could I be so negative about this? I’m just a pessimist. This was what was best for the company and for me! Wasn’t that totally obvious?

I was the problem.

My attitude was the problem.

My response was the problem.

If I were the current version of me, I would have walked and let them pick up the pieces. It would have taken me maybe 30 seconds to put in my notice.

I would not have given them the space to explain and triangulate and create a narrative that put the onus on the only female executive in the company.

But back then? I let them make me believe that if I were ready for more, they would have given me more.

You know, the more I was already doing and providing and creating.

I’m not mad at myself for it because I love that version of me for everything she was and wasn't. I needed her to get to where I am now.

Now I'm on a mission to call this crap out any time it comes up and let other women know.

You are not the narrative. You are valuable and strong, and if that's a problem for them, come talk to me.

You're not difficult. You're TeamDifficult. There's a difference.

Image by Elisa Ventur via Unsplash.


Founder & CEO at elletwo


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1 comentario

Jennie Van Heuit
Jennie Van Heuit
03 nov 2023

Thats brutal. Gaslighting is so awful… and so prevalent. I’m sorry that happened to you. Thank you for sharing this.

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