I’m Being Harassed in General, All in Front My Manager, and She Just Lets It Happen

Your Corporate Black Girl

Dear Nikki,

I’m on my fourth corporate job. I have tons of experience with great companies. I choose my current position because I wanted to get involved with communications. I saw red flags from the beginning but overlooked them because I was going to have a black female manager. My start date got pushed back after I had signed my offer letter because my manager said she needed time to get everything together. 

I was never contacted about orientation. I was just told what day to show up. I ended up showing up an hour early. They said the HR coordinator I worked with had gotten fired so that’s what all the troubles were for. Despite the extra week I gave them, I ended up not getting a laptop for a week. I literally sat at my desk and read a book for the first week. My manager barely spoke to me and did not introduce me to anyone. Fast forward into training, and I’m picking up on things fast. I have some high-level experiences with marketing, so I reached out to the marketing VP because I have info on our competitor. My manager freaks out and yells at me as about reaching out to him. I get HR involved, and they tell me I could have been fired for that. 

Fast forward again, and we are leading a project moving our office to Outlook instead of Gmail. My manager won’t let me attend the sessions to become a trainer. She also didn’t get me the software for the first four months of the project. I’ve met with HR, and they are no assistance. People have sexually harassed me, made racist comments all in front of her and she just lets it happen. People have commented on my eating habits (I eat healthy) and how I’m not really that person outside of work. I’m being harassed in general. Do I stick it out or just find a new job?


Washington, DC


Here's the short version... you need to leave this company.  I think you recognize this or you wouldn't have taken the step to confirm your intuition. 

Run and run FAST!

You've seen the red flags, and they continue to flash bright red!! Trust your gut.  This sounds like an extremely toxic environment and an unhealthy one to stay in.

I think a lot of this begins and ends with your manager. She showed signs of unprofessional communication when she wasn't running the lead on making sure that you transitioned properly when you were first hired. You weren't set up with the right tools to be successful out the gate and then she got offended when she felt you went above/around her, when she could have chosen to see the good in the situation. This, along with some of the other details mentioned give me the sense that she may feel threatened by your existence. 

You're a go-getter that can get things done without her having to manage your every move! As a manager, having a free thinker that can work independently is always a plus.  It sounds like you have a lot of experience in your field and you're trying to make strides in advancing your career, like becoming a trainer.... your manager should invest in making you better. That's what real leaders do. They want you to be the best at your game, because that means that they can truly delegate and have the capacity to grow their own careers. 

Leaders build leaders. 

There are other red flags here that speak loud and clear to me. Overall, allowing you to be harassed (sexually, racially, etc) and not take corrective action, is simply not acceptable. If anything that's  been said to you, at any point was offensive, she should have, at a minimum looked into it, asked questions and escalated the situation. Your manager should have your back!

I also think that the company culture as a whole may not be the right fit for you because of/in spite of everything mentioned in this letter... Human Resources says it is a fireable offense to speak to other members of management without going to/thru your direct manager. They'd need to explain this in more detail... 

Furthermore, you mentioned being sexually harassed and that there were racial comments made... if you're in a culture where leadership doesn't promote and demand a professional atmosphere AND true offenses aren't reported, then for me, that's a sign that other things have gone on unreported and this is the company culture for what's acceptable.

Everything in this letter says that you know what you need to do for yourself - trust your gut. Trust that voice in your head. If something doesn't pass "the smell test", then something's not right.

You got this!

Nikki Davis

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Your curly girl manager, just trying to live her happiest life! 

Wife, new mom, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. with 11 years industry experience, 6 years of management experience. Manager a team of men in a male dominant industry, while being the only woman on the team. DIY fashion blogger, a self taught seamstress. Owner/Creator of a monthly subscription service, SewConscious.com

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