Written By: Lauren Howard
I was demoted.
Except, if you asked the people who did it, I definitely wasn’t.
The company was restructured! They were bringing in more hands! I was making something out of nothing. This is what we all wanted, right?
That’s what they said, at least.
I didn’t remember saying that I wanted any of that.
Yesterday, I reported to the CEO. Today, I report to the guy who reports to the CEO, but nothing has changed?
Did geometry and angles evolve recently without anyone telling me?
The org chart that’s in black and white in front of me looks like I’m lower on it. Am I losing my mind?
That’s really what it felt like.
But again, they repeated that I definitely wasn’t demoted. This was better for everyone and didn’t have anything to do with me. There was absolutely nothing to the only female executive at the company being bumped down a peg.
Except it didn’t feel better for me. It felt like I had worked myself to the bone for the last several years only to be demoted when we started to see results from our work.
That was NOT what was happening, they said.
My whole world felt destabilized. I couldn’t think straight. Not because of what had happened but, in hindsight, because I was repeatedly told that it wasn’t happening.
Then the narrative started to form. Not that I had been demoted but that I wasn’t a team player because I questioned it. I was bringing such negativity to this huge moment for the company, and it reflected so poorly on me.
I should have quit then. I should have stood up for myself and not let them make me feel like my reaction was the problem. But I had a lot of growing and changing to do before I would be capable of that. I stayed for almost an entire year longer trying to fit into this picture that they promised me existed.
Those experiences are what pushed me to start questioning how women are treated in the workplace and how this narrative of the “difficult” woman even started.
I love that version of myself because without her, I wouldn’t be this version of myself.
She's why I'm #teamdifficult.
But she deserved better. If you're in a similar place, you do too.
Founder & CEO at elletwo