Charlie Sull – Is Your Workplace Toxic?

March 23, 2023

According to the most recent “Women in the Workplace” report from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, the gap between men and women leaving their jobs is the largest it has been since the report was first published eight years ago.  For every female director who is promoted, two women at the same level of seniority choose to quit. The report states that women are leaving companies that fail to deliver on “the cultural elements of work that are critically important to them.”

Culture is our lived experience of work, and for women today, the lived experience of work isn’t great. For example, the Women at Work report by Deloitte published this year finds that 10% more women are experiencing; harassment, microaggressions and exclusion at work compared to a year ago. Overall, this is an increase from 51% to 59% of women. 

To understand how pervasive toxic cultures are, Charles Sull, cofounder of CultureX and Donald Sull, senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and cofounder of CultureX analyzed the language that 3 million U.S. employees used in Glassdoor reviews to describe their employer between 2016 and 2021.

What they found is a gender gap in men and women’s experiences of toxic workplace cultures. Overall Women spoke more negatively than men about most elements of culture, including work-life balance and collaboration. The largest gap between the genders however, is for toxic culture, which they define as a workplace culture that is disrespectful, no inclusive, unethical, cutthroat, or abusive.

On today’s episode Charlie Sull joins us on the show to discuss these issues.

Even if employees don’t quit, employees in toxic environments are more likely to disengage from their work, exert less effort, and bad-mouth their employer to others. Sustained exposure to a toxic culture increases the odds that employees will suffer from anxiety, depression, burnout, and serious physical health issues.

Given the impact toxic workplace cultures can have on our mental and emotional well-being, it is important we understand how to solve this issue.

Here Charlie shares what we can do.

Action One: Be nicer to people – dilute the toxic culture.

Action Two: Report toxic behavior to HR, if you witness it or it is happening to you.

Action Three:  Take reliable data to senior leadership and keep talking about it to ensure senior management realize that this is a problem and place the item on the agenda of the CEO.  Don’t lose your voice.