Dear Young Female Professional,

Have you ever worked with this type of person?

“A person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.”

If you answered yes, then consider yourself one of the “lucky” ladies in this world to have encountered a MISOGYNIST… (and yes, I’m being totally sarcastic on the “lucky” part).

As a young female professional, working with a misogynist leader is one of the MOST AWFUL, LIFE SUCKING EXPERIENCES you could ever have in your career.

  • Knowing deep down that you have more to offer,
  • Desiring to contribute to a team, or a special project, in a more meaningful way,
  • Continuously striving to bring your best self to your work, and/or
  • Feeling a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment because your work ties to a bigger strategy and vision for your company.

Then, imagine all of that being destroyed by a person who relegates you to nothing more than his glorified note taker.

THIS is my story.

My experience with “Mr. Misogynist” goes back several years. As a newly promoted leader, I was tasked with creating a new function that supported and enabled strategic initiatives for success, with direct access to our C-Suite and Board of Directors. It couldn’t GET any more high profile.

Then, I went out on maternity leave, and when I returned, the world looked VERY different.

Now, let’s be clear. I have NO regrets whatsoever about having our son and taking maternity leave to bond with him. I’d do it all over again, and wouldn’t feel any sense of guilt or obligation to come back sooner than I wanted to.

Upon my return, my leadership team asked that I support a specific initiative. The initiative lacked alignment on vision and strategy, and an active arms race ensued between 3 VPs/SVPs on WHO would lead the project.. including Mr. Misogynist.

The environment was SO toxic, it seemed all of the energy focused around fighting internally instead of competing externally.

Despite the crazy swirl that ensued, I approached this as an opportunity to create a positive impact. I attempted to stop the political drama and get everyone moving together in the right direction. What could happen if I could help turn this ship around?

The most frustrating thing: doing everything in my power to turn things around, only to have Mr. Misogynist make a snide comment or attempt to belittle me in front of others. When I would attempt to add value, he would publicly devalue my contributions.

Then, something happened that triggered SERIOUS red flags. Having served in my prior life as an internal auditor, I was trained to protect enterprise value. I took my Code of Ethics to heart, and felt a moral obligation to report extremely risky decisions.

I could no longer allow the madness to continue.

As a result, I took a courageous step forward with the support of one of my champions, which set in motion a chain reaction of events, including the end of Mr. Misogynist.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Toxic leaders may put you in a corner, but it’s ultimately YOUR choice to stay there.
  2. Keep doing the right things for the right reasons. As Former First Lady Michelle Obama so eloquently stated, “When they go low, WE GO HIGH.”


Are you struggling at work with a toxic leader? Let’s talk about it. Book a 1:1 career strategy call with Laisha: Book Now