Risky Women by Megan Ragsdale – purchase now on Amazon

woman smiling while carrying a box of desk items with two men behind sitting in a conference room

Knowing when to stay and when to get the hell out

I want you to leave. That’s right. I want you to pack up your dead plant, those dusty birthday cards your office mates gave you three years ago and walk right out of that office! 

Not enough women leave when the party is clearly over. We’ve started to confuse tenacity with insanity and fight to hang on to jobs that clearly doesn’t want us. Why, when all that does is chip away at our confidence, make us feel resentful of the world, and distract us from the power and potential we used to know we have? Are you happy where you are? Are you working in a role that brings you closer to your potential and long-term fulfillment? If not, what have you done about that? The way I see it, if you are unhappy and unsatisfied in your job, you have three choices:

1. STAY AND FIGHT AGAINST THE ORGANIZATION TO CREATE CHANGE

Yes, it’s noble, and it’s what I did for a long time, but little actually changed. I’m not saying that organizations can’t change; I’m saying that they’re too slow, and we don’t have time to sit around and wait. If your organization doesn’t understand how to make the workplace welcoming and supportive for you to grow your career, it doesn’t deserve you. Sure, we can keep trying to fight the good fight, but it will take us a hundred years to get the corporate monoliths to make the 180-degree turn to be fairer and more equitable, so this isn’t the best way to go if you’re unhappy with your current situation. I want you to go where you can thrive, but that may mean giving up on your current position and turning to option number two.

2. LEAVE YOUR CURRENT JOB AND FIND A NEW ONE WHERE YOU’RE VALUED

Not enough women leave when the relationship is clearly over. We confuse tenacity with insanity and fight to hang onto jobs that we don’t actually want. Why, when all it does is chip away at our confidence, make us resent the world, and distract us from the power and potential we used to know we have? I don’t want that for any hardworking woman trying to make her way in the business world. 

If this is the right option for you, remember that there are healthy ways to leave, and then there is burning the whole goddamned thing down. You don’t want to do the latter. Just making the decision to move on is empowering. It puts you into a new frame of mind that will inoculate you from feeling the same level of rage and despair at the usual bullshit because you know you are destined for greater things. Shame on your company if they didn’t realize this was coming after dragging it out for months or even years. Making a plan like this allows you to make your current role work for you, not against you. 

According to “Women CEOs of the S&P 500” by women’s advocacy group Catalyst, women held just 6.6 percent of the 500 CEO positions in 2021—that’s only 33 out of 500 people, despite there being a record number of women in the workforce before the pandemic. None of those S&P 500 companies were founded by women, and only two companies on the list have female cofounders. That’s not because 50 percent of the population isn’t smart enough, daring enough, or capable enough. It’s because women operate within a business system and a culture that does not make it easy or even accessible for us to climb that high. You cannot imagine the gaslighting, double standards, and different rules you must follow compared to your male colleagues. So, what do we do about it? That brings us to option number three.

3. QUIT AND START YOUR OWN BUSINESS

Most women won’t do this because they consider it too risky, but I’m convinced it’s the best option for many of us. The way we are forced to do business today is set up so that women can never reach their full potential. Ever ask yourself why there are no female equivalents of Elon

Musk or Steve Jobs? Why are there more S&P CEOs named Michael or James than female CEOs, period? Why do female business founders get less than 3 percent of available funding for their businesses? It’s because gender parity in our current workforce paradigm doesn’t exist. We have to build it, and the only way to catch up is by betting on ourselves, taking a

risk, and doing business the way we want to do business.

That may sound scary because it’s probably been a while since you’ve been in touch with your true self. You’re covered up by layers of self-doubt and years of armor to defend against micro and macro work aggressions, societal expectations, and the constant stream of negative chatter in your brain, all while you rush around busily attending to all the things that need doing. You probably haven’t sat in silence with your own thoughts in so long that you don’t remember what you like, what makes you happy, or what you want from the rest of your life.

We are at a pivotal moment in our time as women. The world cannot afford to lose us from the workplace. Not only does having more women in leadership positions improve performance, profitability, and innovation, but women leaders are role models for creating psychologically safe work environments where people can be themselves, learn, and make mistakes without fear of retribution. Looking at business through the lens of women will help us create companies with stronger cultures, businesses that focus on impact as much as profit, and initiatives that involve collaboration, not only across departments, but around the world.

The one major commodity we all have is time. Don’t waste it in a place that doesn’t appreciate you or value you. Organizations don’t get it, and they probably won’t get it any time soon, but you have the power to control your own destiny if you chose to take it back. I’m going to help you de-risk the risk of leaving and getting what you want. 

This is an excerpt from my new book Risky Women: How to Reach the Top Levels of Leadership or Know When It’s Time to Get The Hell Out. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Porchlight.

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