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S2E14: Navigating Toxic Workplaces: Adrienne Farr Shares Strategies to Survive and Thrive Through Adversity

Workplace toxicity is an issue that plagues many sectors, impacting employee wellbeing and performance. Our latest podcast episode features Adrienne Farr, a seasoned professional who has faced such issues across advertising, acting, film, TV production, and magazine publishing.

Adrienne shares her ordeals with abusive bosses and sexual harassment, alongside the strategies she employed to surmount these obstacles. She remembers her time at an advertising agency, marred by a boss’s constant yelling and disregard for employees’ space.

Despite these hardships, Adrienne showed remarkable resilience and professionalism. Her story exemplifies the formidable inner strength individuals can harness in tough conditions and acts as a beacon for those in similar straits.

The podcast also touches on the dire financial and emotional impacts of health insurance in the US, how it can chain people to toxic jobs for coverage, underscoring a dire need for systematic change to protect workers’ rights.

Furthermore, it explores the once-normalized sexualization and harassment in the entertainment industry, with Adrienne’s insights offering a valuable perspective on these deep-seated issues.

Adrienne’s narrative and coping mechanisms deliver vital lessons for both individuals and corporations. By coming forward, she inspires resistance against workplace mistreatment and advocates for the establishment of healthier, more inclusive work environments.

The episode is a stark reminder of the importance of prioritizing employee wellbeing. Toxic work cultures can severely affect mental health and productivity. Employers bear the duty to create safe, dignified workplaces, a point Adrienne’s experiences highlight crucially.

The call to action is clear: recognize and act against toxic workplace indicators, foster respect and inclusivity, and make concerted efforts towards better work cultures. Adrienne Farr’s journey through various challenging work scenarios and her tactics for perseverance offer guidance and hope for those facing their workplace difficulties.

Listen to Adriennes episode about toxic workplaces

Watch Adriennes episode on toxic workplaces

Read Adriennes episode on toxic workplaces

Gina
Host
00:00
Hey, circling back to Adrian, you were here All our listeners who you are, what you’re going to chat with us about, where you’re calling from all the basic details that everyone is dying to know about you, adrian.
Adrienne
Interviewee
00:14
Well, okay, so I’m Adrian Farr. We’re talking about the Toxic Workplace, toxic Work Environments, and I have had several, and I’m calling in from New York, woo-oo.
00:28
New York in the house, new York in the house and I’m a writer and editor. But I’ve been in so many different industries. My very first job out of college was as an administrative assistant in a Fortune 500 advertising firm. I’ve done acting. I’ve done independent film and independent. I don’t know if there’s such thing as independent television, but television like behind the scenes, like the production coordinator, production manager, stuff I’ve done. I’ve taught kids at after school services programs and the last 10 to 12 years I’ve been writing and editing and magazine publishing.
Gina
Host
01:10
That’s fine Well yes, okay, so take us on a journey. What was you want? To? Tell us a little bit about some of your most toxic workplaces, and then we can figure out how maybe we could have done things differently. Or let’s just see where our journey takes us.
Adrienne
Interviewee
01:28
Adrienne, let’s see where our journey takes us. Okay, so right. The first job and it’s like it gets murky which one came first, which one came second. But these were in my late 20s and the first crazy experience that I had was at an advertising agency. Not the one that I got right after I graduated from school, it was like I was in between jobs. It was probably right after, actually, 9-11, which has just passed us and I was trying to get because I had been acting for a while and I wasn’t making any money and I was trying to get back into advertising, which you know, when you leave a field, it’s kind of hard to get back in when you’ve been going for a few years. So I ended up getting this advertising job that I do not even remember how I found out about it, but it was basically three employees besides myself the owner of the company, his wife and then this woman is the best way I can describe her just this woman who worked there.
Gina
Host
02:37
What did she do there.
Adrienne
Interviewee
02:39
What did?
Gina
Host
02:39
the woman do there.
Adrienne
Interviewee
02:42
She was sort of like in an admin position. She was very quiet, very meek and I don’t have any evidence, but I think that I’m sure that she was getting some abusive language from the boss. Because eventually, what happened was I was only there for like two weeks and I remember speaking to this guy on the phone because I’m trying to do like you know, call in. You know he wanted me to change some ads around and you know somebody couldn’t run something. They’re called make goods, so when you can’t run something, the client calls you and is like okay, well, we could put it here. It has the same rating. So that kind of thing was going on.
03:31
And so I was doing my professional Adrian advertising stuff. And the guy on the phone was like wait, did you get a real advertising company before? And I’m like what do you mean real? Isn’t this a real advertising company? Well, yeah, I did. And then he’s like you are way too nice and professional to be there. He’s like I give you two weeks. I give you two weeks.
03:57
What did you think when he said that? I was just like why are you saying this? He was like just trust me, I give you no more than two weeks in this place and I lasted like two weeks because the guy who ran the place was nuts. He was literally he would like dance, crazy dances. And then I just was at my desk and I heard him screaming and cursing at this woman who I didn’t know was his wife at the time I found out sometime within the two weeks that it was his wife but I mean like cursing her out, calling her stupid bitch and all of this, and why did you this and why did you that? Oh yeah, and it was not only something I think that she had done at work, but then it somehow morphed into a conversation about, like what was going on at home. And I mean it was just like I was just like what the entire hell is going on here. He never spoke to me like that, but I’m also somebody who is like don’t, can you curse on this?
Gina
Host
05:00
Fuck yeah.
Adrienne
Interviewee
05:03
So I’m always. I’m also like that person, don’t fuck around and find out. I have that kind of energy.
Nicola
Host
05:11
So there is a there is an Australian saying that says we’re not here to fuck spiders.
Adrienne
Interviewee
05:17
I don’t. What does that mean? I don’t get it.
Nicola
Host
05:20
You know questions we all have have no answers to. But, in summary, what it means is like we’re not here to fuck around. We are here to get shit done. We’re not here to fuck spiders.
Gina
Host
05:34
Okay, got it, thank you, australia, thank you, thank you, yeah, so anyway, I get that energy. Like I get that energy, adrian, because before I moved down here to Florida, I was living in Harlem and this guy was like, was like nobody ever fucks with you. And I was like, yeah, I know he’s like, he’s like you. You, it’s like one of those guys you know living in Harlem. There’s always like a couple of older guys who are always like out on the stoop, kind of like they’d been there in their, in their either their Brownstone or their apartment for like 30 years or something insane, like insanely long. And there was this one guy that was like I see you, nobody fucks with you. And I was like that’s right.
Adrienne
Interviewee
06:15
So I get that energy like give me a break, so anyway, so that’s just. That’s really it in a nutshell. There was no reason for me to stay there. It was crazy and I just decided to leave. And one I had one conversation with the, with the woman that was an admin, where she was like I hate this place, I just want to get out. But it was sort of like I think she was there because she felt like she had to be in. Nobody else would hire her. So after I left, I found out about a position and I called her to tell her and she acted like she did not even know me. This was like a week and a half later. What?
Nicola
Host
06:55
the hell.
Adrienne
Interviewee
06:56
I know I get the. I was like hi, so remember, when we were talking yeah, and then it was like it was just like one word answers, but I think the guy might have been standing right next to her so I was like, well, okay, goodbye, click. I just never like that you have no idea.
Gina
Host
07:13
She just disappeared like a part in the wind.
Adrienne
Interviewee
07:16
I don’t even know what happened.
Gina
Host
07:20
So what was the final straw? That you were like if this place, I’m not coming?
Adrienne
Interviewee
07:24
back. Well that. And then he paraded in one day with some young girl and he like had her by the hand, taking her all I don’t know what he was showing her. He was like showing her the office, but I’m like he’s holding her hand, he’s, like you know, bouncing around, like he’s just so happy to be in her presence, and I’m like, wait, doesn’t his wife? Like, isn’t his wife in that office right there? It was just enough, it was enough. And the only one thing he said to me one time is I was eating lunch after like the normal lunch hours. It was like maybe two o’clock and I was hungry, I hadn’t eaten, and so I got lunch and he’s like you know, I thought I saw you eating before and I’m like, yeah, no, you didn’t see me eating before.
Gina
Host
08:10
Who cares.
Adrienne
Interviewee
08:10
Well, it’s after lunchtime, and then I’m like well, I’m hungry now. And then he said you know, you seemed really nice in the interview. Like I guess he thought that he was going to be able to, like, you know, treat me as a really nice in the interview, but you’re not really who you seem. And I’m like well, neither are you.
Gina
Host
08:31
Oh my God, I love this exchange, that’s hilarious.
Adrienne
Interviewee
08:34
Oh yeah, that was it. I don’t even remember. If I told him I was leaving, I certainly did not give a two week notice. Hell, no, no. So I just no-transcript.
Gina
Host
08:45
So you just left. Okay, so that was your first touch with toxicity, which brings us to your next. I have a feeling it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.
Nicola
Host
08:55
I feel like all of this is getting worse.
Adrienne
Interviewee
08:58
Yeah, they’re all kind of bad. So they were this other place, this architectural firm that I worked at, I mean, you know it was. I guess the first place was a little worse than this. This place was kind of like this guy’s name was on the door, his wife was a doll, his wife worked there as well, but he just would every interaction with someone would be yelling, would be cursing. He didn’t know how to speak to anyone.
09:24
I actually screamed at him one time because he was in a meeting with a whole bunch of muckety mucks and it was right behind my desk because I sat like in the open because at this time I was just trying to buy my house. I was trying to like get enough money to buy my house. So I went back to being an executive assistant and so my desk was like right in the front and he was like he asked me to call someone for him. So I’m on the phone, I’m speaking with the person to like get me in touch with the person and he’s screaming from the conference room a name, like to say and you know cause I was saying, oh, this is such and such a person and he wanted so badly for me to say the name of the other muckety muck that was in the room. He’s like screaming at me and I’m trying to take in what he’s saying. Take in what the person on the phone is saying. It turned around. I was like, oh my God, crazy.
10:22
So then later that day he had like a wingman, his you know, head person, that was thoroughly abused and I heard them behind me talking about like how he was gonna fire me and you know, I was just gonna tell her to walk out the door and leave and never come back, and but and then, and then the other guy was just like okay, calm down, calm down, I don’t sit in there, like you know, whatever. But anyway, this was after so much had happened. I was there for over a year and this the young lady who used to work with me left and like there were temps after her because he was just so like he was known for that, known for, you know, just talking down to people and treating people really badly. And also there was like a bathroom in the middle of the office where he would go and like blow it up and like just walk out with the door open, you know, like you know, wiping his hands after he washed them and like the stench was, I’m just like.
Nicola
Host
11:25
Oh my God, it was a podcast. Hold on. Has this podcast turned into poop talk? Do we need to rename the podcast?
Gina
Host
11:36
I feel like it’s possible. We have talked about poop talk. We’ve had like poop discussions for the last like Podcasts in a row.
Nicola
Host
11:42
We’ve spoken about poop, really.
Gina
Host
11:45
I’m like is this? Yeah, like somehow come up in like some part, oh my, God yeah, so hold on.
Nicola
Host
11:50
So this guy’s going to the bathroom. Like I need more details. Like are we listening? Like can we hear the? You know? Are you sitting in your cubicle and you’re hearing? Like Roar.
Adrienne
Interviewee
12:03
I was like I didn’t hear the roar, I didn’t hear like the farts or anything but.
Nicola
Host
12:10
Oh, baby Jesus, come out of me Satan.
Adrienne
Interviewee
12:14
My back would go to him, so he would like have to walk. So sometimes I wouldn’t even know that he was in the bathroom until I smelled it, and so then I would turn around. Oh my God, how close is that, how close is this? Okay, let me set the scene so it’s the door to come in, it’s my desk and then the desk of the other executive assistant behind me. Then there’s like a little hallway, the conference room, and then like a wall. So on the other side of the wall was the bathroom. It’s not like it was in my immediate area.
Gina
Host
12:50
It was like oh my God, that’s even worse Cause it was that like Stenture-ific that, oh my God. Oh, was this like? Did people in the office talk about it? No, nobody. And this is the-. I would have been like, I would have been the first to be like what is that horrible smell?
Adrienne
Interviewee
13:11
I mean, at least they didn’t talk to me about it. But this is the like when you work in a toxic workplace you don’t even know who to trust.
Gina
Host
13:19
You know what I mean.
Adrienne
Interviewee
13:20
You don’t know who to go back and say something. So nobody ever said anything to me. I don’t, and I never said anything to anybody else. So I think we all I don’t even know the poor people that were, cause there was like a whole office of people right in front and around the bathroom, so I don’t even know what they were smelling. If I was smelling that, so I mean it, just yeah.
Gina
Host
13:51
I knew you, you okay, All right. So he was like just abusive to your he was abusive.
Adrienne
Interviewee
13:59
He was abusive. I think there was one person there that I remember coming up in a conversation one or two people that he didn’t talk to like that.
Gina
Host
14:11
And were they her peers or were they like no they weren’t his peers, but they were.
Adrienne
Interviewee
14:16
They were like top level. They weren’t his peers, but they were definitely top level.
Gina
Host
14:20
Well, that makes sense, cause you can’t really abuse, you can’t bite the hand that’s being abused Cause he abused some other top level.
Adrienne
Interviewee
14:26
You don’t want to bite that hand. It’s being pooped on. Yeah, no, you don’t. Maybe they. Maybe maybe he had some level of respect for them. I mean, I don’t know. Yeah.
Gina
Host
14:36
Yeah.
Adrienne
Interviewee
14:38
I don’t know.
Gina
Host
14:39
And so how long did you last there?
Adrienne
Interviewee
14:41
I lasted there for over a year because again, I wanted to buy a house. I needed that salary, I needed that. So did you buy the house? I did. I did eventually end up buying the house, and I think not soon after I bought the house. I couldn’t take that place anymore and I ended up here.
Gina
Host
15:01
I feel like I’m out of here, yeah.
Adrienne
Interviewee
15:04
So that’s where did you.
Gina
Host
15:05
Where did you find yourself next?
Adrienne
Interviewee
15:07
Oh my gosh. So the next place was a customer service. I was a customer service manager at. Like this upscale furniture place. Oh wait, I remember you mentioned this Day one. What?
Nicola
Host
15:26
I’m so excited already.
Gina
Host
15:29
Okay, was it like? Was it like a national chain, or was it like a fruit and a?
Adrienne
Interviewee
15:34
boutique in Manhattan. It was a very boutique. You know like in Manhattan you can walk into these fancy places where a pillow is $1,000 or how much is it?
Gina
Host
15:44
Yeah, so it was like that it was like that.
Adrienne
Interviewee
15:46
And so day one my manager is training me, she starts bawling, crying. Day one, she’s like bawling, crying, there was this stack of papers on my desk, in my inbox. I don’t even know who the hell was there before me, but whoever it was had left this work, and so I was like, okay, well, I’ll go through this. She’s like okay, I’ll go through it with you, because obviously it was day one, I didn’t really know what to do.
16:18
And so, as she’s going through it, like she has other work to do and I guess maybe I was asking too many questions and it’s like she couldn’t bottle in her emotions anymore and she literally just lost it and started bawling and like I have to go and do it. And I’m just like, oh my gosh, like what in the hell am I getting into? But I found out very quickly and, by the way, the boss at that place not the person who owned the place, he was very cool, that guy was very cool, but he wasn’t I didn’t work with him a lot but the person that was like the CEO or the COO, whatever the hell I found out that she actually got ousted from her last job because she was so mean. The entire staff banded together and was like if she does not go, we are all leaving.
Gina
Host
17:13
We’re all going that’s crazy. And so then they hired her at your this new place. Yeah, yeah, so did you have to deal with her.
Adrienne
Interviewee
17:23
Oh, I dealt with her on a daily basis. She was mean, she was snippy, she, I mean, she would just stand there and she would yell at people. She, I mean, it was just, she was so nasty. But you know, what these three places have in common is that they were not considered like Fortune 500, corporate America Mind you, those jobs definitely have their issues too, but there was like no ramifications, you know Like. So the place that Adversaries and Agents, he had no HR. The second place did have an HR, but it was still like his name was on the door and it was very much like you were walking into his home and this place had no HR. You know what I mean? It was just very kinds of like I’m starting this company, it got big and it’s like, you know, it’s sort of like you’re walking into their house and they feel like they don’t have to abide by a certain level of rules.
Gina
Host
18:19
Right, cause there’s really no like checks and balances, which you do have in like a huge company, Like there will be ramifications, there are performance reviews, and in a smaller company, there’s typically no. I mean performance reviews. I mean I don’t-.
Adrienne
Interviewee
18:34
I mean there’s supposed to be. I’m sure that’s supposed to be following some kind of guidelines, and perhaps there were some kind of guidelines being followed, but you know, that kind of it just was. It was just toxic, it was abusive. There was this one lady there that she would be crying all the time too, because she was like, oh, she just is so disrespectful, she treats me like crap, and I mean it was just absolutely. I remember one time once again, cause I guess I have that look like just please don’t mess with me. But she said to me like in the middle of a conversation, oh goodness. And once she told me and this other lady, you know there’s no talking here and we I’m sorry, what?
Gina
Host
19:15
There’s no talking at a place of work. No talking here.
Adrienne
Interviewee
19:18
And we were literally talking about the copy machine, Like I think we were asking each other oh, are these your copies? Or something like that. And it’s not that we were loud, we were just like talking. And she literally comes out of her office there’s no talking here Just like is she mad, Is she serious? Yeah, that’s crazy.
19:35
So, anyway, one time she said to me you know, you look at me like you think I’m stupid. Like well, yeah, you know, you’re like, wow, well, I’m not wrong. Yeah, I’m not wrong exactly, and I just, of course, I said something professional, because the one thing I never am is unprofessional. There is nobody anywhere that I have ever worked for that can claim unprofession. I will go back as far as possible.
20:01
That is never me so, and I’m never disrespectful or rude either, you know, but it’s just this thing where, like I am, so not the one, but and it was a shame because you know, there were people there spending tens of thousands of dollars on furniture and if something happened with them because it was like a man being manufactured so fast that the quality started to suffer, and so they would get these expensive pieces in their home and stuff would happen to them a leg would break, like the finish on top would be compromised, and I’m trying to really figure out how to help them and it would literally be like she would come into my office and the other manager would literally be like, okay, well, they had it in the sun and they shouldn’t have had their blinds open. So you can tell them that that, like it, would be trying to figure out how it was their fault. Which is it was-. Yeah, user error. Yeah, yep, and it was unfortunate because I always, when I left that place, I got laid off of there. No, kidding, and-.
Gina
Host
21:12
I love your attitude about it. You’re like whatever.
Adrienne
Interviewee
21:15
Yeah, I wasn’t so and I was. So I was so happy when she called me and then laid me off and she even said to me I said, well, you know, that’s fine, she was waiting for me, I guess, to have some sad reaction. I was like, well, you know, I’ll find another job. She’s like I’ve never seen anybody so happy to be laid off. Like girl, did you work here? Yeah, that’s fine. We were having two different experiences. Yes, I always wish that I would have written the owner a note to tell him exact cause I don’t know if he knew exactly what was going on. Probably not. I don’t think he did, but yeah, no, Is that place still in business?
21:58
I don’t I try to find them. I literally recently, well like within the past year or so Googled their name and I’m not seeing any thing.
Gina
Host
22:09
Yeah, so they’re probably out of business. Yeah, yeah, maybe, but also COVID and everything.
Adrienne
Interviewee
22:14
It got really rough for a lot of people.
Gina
Host
22:16
It did, it did. Yeah, that’s true, All right. So what was your next place? That was a total shit show.
Adrienne
Interviewee
22:25
Then my next place was just sort of corporate America job. So I entered back into corporate America, corporate America, and there’s just a series of situations that happened. I mean, see, in corporate America you have to be very careful. Some people are like I’ve heard stories from friends that are coworkers, where people were blatantly disrespectful, blatantly racist, blatantly rude. But it’s more of a situation where you’re you can tell you’re purposely being held back because they don’t want you elevating into a certain position which is very toxic, because you’re doing all this work and your work is good, but somehow you keep getting passed up for the promotion.
23:22
All right, there were times where I would go to my boss and ask for additional work and my reviews would be glowing and wonderful, but for some reason I would never get them. And then, in one place that I worked specifically, it was very strange because it would be like, all of a sudden, people who weren’t my manager or like my direct reporter, who I wasn’t directly reporting into, would have all this information about my position. That, like they’re now coming to tell me okay, we’re not doing this anymore, we’re doing this now. And I’d be like, why are you telling me? I mean, the person would be a step above me, but I didn’t report him to them.
24:08
So that’s like not the org chart, like you’re not supposed to be following me, but there was some backdoor shenanigans going on which eventually I was laid off from that position as well. So there’s many things. I mean I went through a takeover where all of the legacy employees were let go and there was some nefarious stuff going on with our severance and it’s just. It’s very difficult to get into specifics with those situations, but again, it was just this toxic corporate environment where people kind of knew that they could do certain things, they kind of knew how to skirt the rules and yeah, yeah, okay so I think, sorry, just to say, specifically speaking about diversity and inclusion.
25:08
So diversity and inclusion exploded after George Floyd was murdered and it’s like every company wanted to figure out how to be more diverse, cause it was sort of like in their face now, cause, you know, black people have been saying since the dawn of time that this is how we were being treated, and it wasn’t until, like you saw the foot in his neck that people were like oh, I guess this really is happening.
25:35
And so there was a push to kind of understand the plight, and that was amazing. But then it was first some places we, I know were black people or people of color were being asked to like go above and beyond, to teach, to like inform, and not being compensated for all this extra work that we were doing with, like you know, programming and just all this stuff. And then it kind of was like okay, well, that happened, that’s over, now we can go back to how we used to be. And so that is also very toxic, because it’s like, okay, who do we go to if we have a problem? Can we really go to HR and talk? Is anything really gonna be done about it? So All of that, all of that, all of that will be very toxic workplaces.
Gina
Host
26:35
Okay. So I think corporate America is, it’s so like fucked because there’s like no, there’s often no work-life balance. It’s, you know, the gears of change move very slowly. There’s a lot of passing the buck, like, oh well, you got to ask this person. That person’s like, oh no, you got to ask this person. Or you know, there’s no way to get like firm answers.
Adrienne
Interviewee
27:03
A lot of the time we put your name in for a promotion but like it’s getting stopped. That was one of the most maddening things that myself and a lot of coworkers went through, where you would be up for a promotion but then the promotions would be freeze, would be frozen.
Gina
Host
27:22
Or they still didn’t Right or like oh no, we’re not actually hiring for that anymore.
27:29
Or there would be tons of excuses, like even they do it even in hiring process, just like giving your application. Then you hear back from them like seven months later and they’re like we decided we don’t really need this position filled. And you’re like it’s like for CFO or something and you’re like, oh okay, like you’re just taking CFO or CEO or COO like off the table because we just don’t need it. We probably like gave all of those responsibilities to another employee, like okay.
Adrienne
Interviewee
27:59
That’s what would happen, like so you would let go of someone, you would get that large salary back and then never rehire. So then Right, because they would like spread it out.
Gina
Host
28:09
Yeah, yes, that’s called. What is that quiet hiring?
Adrienne
Interviewee
28:12
Then quiet hiring, I’m not even sure, but I know that it’s like then you would hear already working like the work-life balance is it did not exist. That’s why New York is trying to get, and, like these companies are trying to get people to come back off of remote work. Like good luck, okay, because like please, you know, like four hour round trip commutes, three hour round trip commutes. No, it’s ridiculous, that’s it. I don’t think so. Yeah, it’s crazy. And the hours sometimes midnight, sometimes 9 pm, weekends, it’s just it’s Wow.
Gina
Host
28:49
It’s great and I do think that’s very specific to America. I don’t think many other countries are cool with that. You know, like sometimes I’ll be working with like a company that’s located in like the UK or whatever, and it’s like I’ll send an email back and then I’ll get a bounce back. That’s like I’m on my annual leave for like the next two weeks and you’re like what is an annual leave? How do I get one? Like it’s ridiculous. So I mean, I do think it is very specific to America. So I think, yes, like there are. I haven’t been in like I work with corporate America, but I don’t work in it. So I don’t really know what that looks like anymore, cause I’ve been out of working with like in a corporate, like a big corporate America company. I’m just a vendor now, so I don’t even know what that looks like anymore, you know.
Adrienne
Interviewee
29:47
Like not good.
Gina
Host
29:48
Not good.
Adrienne
Interviewee
29:49
No, it’s the same, it’s. I mean, you feel that there is this atmosphere of feeling bad to take a day off and even when you take time off, you’re still like like you’ll send out the message but I’ll be checking sporadically, Like you’re still kind of expected to still check in, not go totally out, especially the higher up the totem pole you get. There’s like to be on vacation and completely off where nobody can get in. Contact you with you is rare. That is an anomaly.
Gina
Host
30:22
Yes, so I mean, I own the company that I work for now, so I really don’t. That’s different, though, cause I really don’t get like I the buck stops with me, so I don’t really get that, but also like I’m able to decide how much I want to work every day, right, so there’s like an upside, so it’s different, but with corporate America, yeah, it’s like, nicola, you experienced that Like, even though we weren’t really in a corporate company, like a super corporate company, they borrowed the shitty things from corporate America.
Nicola
Host
30:56
It was so bad. You yeah yeah, it was so bad and I was like what the fuck? But then, okay, so in New Zealand and it’s going to be a different podcast altogether, but in New Zealand we do have some American style companies that have worked out how to contract out of our legal obligations that we have in place to keep people, I want to say, safe, right. So we’ve got health and safety laws, we’ve got employment laws, we’ve got holiday act laws. You know, we’ve got shit in place to make sure that people have the space and the time that they need to recoup from work. We’ve got very specific, you know, things around how long you can work for Carnity leave.
Adrienne
Interviewee
31:44
Isn’t your maternity leave really long?
Nicola
Host
31:47
No, it was when I had my son 10 years ago. It was 16 weeks, I think. Now it’s 26. They’re looking at maybe making it a year. I’m not sure We’ll see where we’re about. We get what we get 90 days. You don’t get any days, girl. I remember that I had to go and just do it. You get a $25,000 bill for one baby.
Gina
Host
32:08
We do in.
Adrienne
Interviewee
32:08
America. No, it’s way more than that. To have a baby in America is like way, way more than that. Like you, better have insurance.
Gina
Host
32:17
Well, yeah, but what we have to pay for just differs based on everyone’s insurance. Like I don’t, what if I have insurance? No, in America you have to have insurance or else you get penalized on your taxes. So it’s a real clusterfuck, right? We’re going down a different route now. Oh my God, why America? We have to pay for our clients, okay just explain it, Everybody come on.
32:42
Come on, everybody, come everybody. So we have to pay for our own health care, right? Whether that’s through our employer or through you know you’re paying it out of pocket, right? So even then, sometimes, like when I was self-insured previously, I was paying close to two grand a month just to have basic health insurance, just for me. Sorry, two grand a month, yes, yep, are you fucking kidding me? No, and I am young, I’m in good health, like, yeah, exactly, we have really taken God not down on a tangent, but but this is part of toxic work, because it is especially in America.
Adrienne
Interviewee
33:28
Yeah, because you, literally, there is a friend of mine who literally had to figure out. This job that she was getting was an enormous bump in salary, like I’m talking like $20,000, $30,000 more, but the health insurance was so expensive. She had to literally figure out is it better for me to just stay where I am and be unhappy or to go to this other place and like change everything that I’m familiar with at this other job and, like you know, have a little bit more extra income but like most of it is going to pay for health insurance. It’s nice.
Gina
Host
34:13
Yeah, no, I get it. So I think it is part of the American corporate sort of toxicity it’s just kind of built in to. And then of course that opens up the whole thing. Like you know, okay, what if you really like, what if you’re in a really shitty position? You know, and you’re not going to get fired, but you know you’re kids sick and you need that insurance and you’re like really being abused. It’s like or being bullied or whatever. It’s like you’re going to stay at that workplace to get the health insurance you know, so it’s just granted. Hopefully that doesn’t happen that often, but you hear these stories probably more often than we want to admit that. You know they’re just being taken advantage of, but they have to stay because of health insurance or whatever. This is horrible, it is. It’s kind of used as it’s almost like I was going to say it’s weaponized.
35:07
It’s weaponized healthcare. It can be, and I don’t necessarily know if I don’t know who’s to blame there, if it’s corporate America or if it’s the health insurance industry in America as a whole 110% the insurance companies. I mean.
Adrienne
Interviewee
35:23
I mean not that I know for sure, but that is my belief. Yeah, I think insurance as a whole homeowners insurance, car insurance, life insurance I mean, think about it you constantly are paying into these things and then, when you need them maybe minus health insurance, but like car insurance and maybe health insurance too, but life insurance you’re paying into all of this stuff and when you need it it’s like it’s like the furniture company you put it in the light, it’s not covered right yeah, exactly Exactly, or you find every reason to deny you it goes up, or it goes up Like if they have to pay out for something, then they’re getting their money back somehow, somehow, because the premium is going to go up.
Gina
Host
36:10
But also I feel like it’s the most ridiculous regulated Ponzi scheme of all schemes. Oh well, absolutely, because it’s like you’re paying into this and then they’re using your payments to pay everyone else’s and pocket some. It’s just, it’s like a regulated Ponzi scheme that happens to be legal. Okay, rant over, all right. So where do you end up next, adrienne, give us the good that was it.
Adrienne
Interviewee
36:40
That is the list of my toxic work environments. There’s, of course, other things that I’ve seen and all that, but that kind of do you think I need? Do you think I need any more torture?
Gina
Host
36:58
No, but I know, when you originally wrote in to be on the show, you mentioned that you were working in TV and I think, because now we’re hearing a lot more about like Jimmy Fallon is now being called out for toxic workplace practices. You know, lizzo, she’s entertainment on TV.
Nicola
Host
37:18
Oh the Lizzo. One just is a king. My brain sells.
Gina
Host
37:22
So people are now reacting to her Instagram because her Instagram is highly sexualized and that’s her decision.
37:31
You don’t have to follow her, if you don’t want to, but I think in light of the allegations it’s a little tacky, like maybe just tone it down, just a little bit Body positivity, all for it. But kind of like read the room, like maybe now, now’s not the right time to be twerking in your thong in the middle of like a ginormous mansion, you know. But yeah, do you have anything? Just because we know you did work in the entertainment, you know industry, do you have anything to share about that?
Adrienne
Interviewee
37:59
in general, Well, I mean. So again, it does bring to mind a situation where I was kind of, I guess, sexually abused. I’m not laughing at that, I’m just laughing because it’s, you know, it’s such a shame because I think during that time there’s just certain, a certain workplace culture within that industry that sometimes was so status quo that you didn’t even was abuse, if that makes sense.
Gina
Host
38:42
But it does, because I like that and I think we’ve talked about this before. You know, back in, like the, the, the early the late 90s, early 2000s, when I was just coming into corporate America from college, there was absolutely a level of sexual sexualization, sexual harassment, that was still somewhat acceptable in corporate America. Being, you know, being a young, in my case, semi attractive female, you know, we got, I got it a lot and so did some of my coworkers, but it was just kind of like oh, it’s a corporate America and I was working on Wall Street, so it’s like corporate America, you know, this is, it’s to be expected.
Adrienne
Interviewee
39:24
Like boys will be boys.
39:28
Yeah, that is very much like what it was, and I’m literally just remembering when I did like this freelance stint working with this director in the office. It was kind of like admin type stuff. It was a it a semi popular movie, and he was coming on to me hard, I mean, at the copy machine, like he took me out and it just was very, when I look back on it, it was it was just not right. Like I was so young and this is what’s sad about it is that people will say, well, why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do that? You have to understand people. You’re so young.
40:14
Like when you’re in your 20s even if it’s your late 20s, that is like night and day, compared to like when you’re in your mid to late 40s, it’s absolutely. And so I was so young and I didn’t even realize that that is literally considered sexual abuse. What he was doing, like you know, rubbing it to me, eating me out to lunch, trying to kiss me, you know I just was to me, it was like a man that was attracted to me, you know, and I could kind of like this is what you have to put up with. But yeah, and it was just it’s just really sad that that’s how, like we were kind of programmed to think, and now it’s like I hope, I hope it’s zero tolerance. It seems now to be like more out there, like you cannot do this, whereas back then in the early 2000s, it wasn’t.
Gina
Host
41:07
I mean, it was status it was what you said status quo, like I expected that. Like as a young person out of college, I was like what? 21, 22? I expected that. And I had come from a situation and your story reminds me of this I was a receptionist, like in my high school, like summer, I’m sorry, in college, in between semesters I would come home and live with my mom and dad. And I got a job once because you know, I was taking some time off and it was at this chiropractors office and I maybe was 20, maybe 21 max, and this was like a 40 something year old chiropractor single. He started sending me flowers, he took me out to dinner and my mom and blessed, like this is not her fault, she’s, she co signed it. She’s like, oh, maybe you’ll marry a doctor.
42:03
Yeah, but you have to understand. This was like in like 1999, 2000, maybe max, and so. So it was kind of like like we would joke about it and I’d be like wait. And I was so naive, adrian, I I had to ask him wait, do you like me? Like romantically, I thought he was just being nice and my mom kind of co-signed it, you know with. I don’t she wasn’t doing it maliciously, but I think that was just the zeitgeist, it’s like you know. So I get that. So then, going from that experience, and I went back to college eventually and he started Sending me flowers at college and then finally I was like, yeah, I don’t like this, I’m not responding to him anymore, but um, but I think it just illustrates your point like this was normal for us in the early 2000s and if that happens to me today, I’d be like why are you send? I’d be like why are you sending me flowers? Quit it like, stop it well.
Nicola
Host
43:06
So when I worked in Thailand circa 2009, which isn’t 1999, just to be clear Um, because I was working in like a male dominated industry, I remember very clearly going to a presentation where I was explaining, kind of, where the gaps were with regards to our health and safety issues that we were facing, and it was a room full of men. I was the only woman there and I dressed up for Presenting you know, presenting a meeting. I wasn’t right, we’re zenting, though, you know, I was just like wearing a nice.
Gina
Host
43:43
You’re such a dork, but you know like I’m not there flashing my tits.
Nicola
Host
43:50
I’m there wearing a long skirt and like a work shirt. You know, like my tits on out, my ass isn’t out. And Halfway through the meeting this man stood up and it was not a huge boardroom, but he rubbed his very erect penis right across my ass while I was presenting.
Gina
Host
44:12
Did everyone see it? Yes, so just like, do something super sexually inappropriate in front of everyone, maybe, maybe they’ll let you go? Yeah, that’s so sad. Okay, so so was so. When you had your like, when you are working for this in the entertainment industry, was it around that same time period that the sexual harassment or abuse, but however you want to refer to it, that’s, I feel like that’s a personal decision. Yeah, that was. That was in that time frame.
Adrienne
Interviewee
44:44
Yeah, it was all in that time frame. But what I will say is, like the sort of staff positions that I had at this one production company I mean there I once again it was like one of the owners was very like. He kind of talked down to everybody, cursed a lot, he had an assistant director that he would curse out a lot and everything. I never he never did that to me, but he I saw him do it to a lot of other people. But the other partners in the place were very nice. I never kind of really ran into any Problems working at that production company. Besides, see, it’s so weird because it’s like I did see this kind of behavior and it was very toxic. So even though it wasn’t happening to me, I should still recognize that as a problem.
Gina
Host
45:32
That is a problem, yeah.
Adrienne
Interviewee
45:34
Yeah, but yeah, exactly, it doesn’t matter that it didn’t happen to me, it’s a problem. So there was that, but yeah, that was that was it, though those two instances and the director that was, like you know, propositioning me and everything that was at a completely different place, sure totally yeah.
Gina
Host
45:55
So, in conclusion, do you think you should, now that you kind of were older and wiser now, which is what we’ve been saying, like you know, when we were 20 we would have been like we were. We were like, okay, this is, you know, status quo, standard, just have to grin and bear it kind of thing. Looking back now and knowing being older and wiser, do you think you could have done anything differently or picked up on the red flag sooner? I mean, it sounds like you pretty much knew, but maybe it took you a while to get to the point where you were like I’m out of here or you know.
Adrienne
Interviewee
46:32
Yeah, I kind of just so. I like right, I saw it. But you know, sometimes you just need a job and that’s what people in in certain places like I was in that one place where I was literally Going through the process of purchasing a house, I needed to show study income, I needed to show my bank accounts. Every now and again They’d be calling me oh, let’s get your bank records for the next three months. So it was like I mean I could have left, but then that would have like derailed my whole by the process. So there’s, there’s those kind of things. And then, you know, like I said with the Other thing, that was like literally sexual abuse. I didn’t even realize it was sexual abuse. Like if the meat movement did not happen to this day, I don’t know that I would have called that sexual abuse, which is kind of sad. But um, but I think, like the, the telltale signs for like thinking, like, just like the red flags is Actually I want to like, because I’m not an expert. But I want to just go through, like this article that I read. That was really good. It’s a Forbes article and they spoke to experts, which is what you’re supposed to be doing when you know like right, general, but they were like, these were the some of the things they came they came up with.
47:58
If a toxic workplace is draining like nobody should be drained, just like with the thought of going to work. If it’s Demotivating, you know, like if your ideas are not being listened to and like nobody’s trying to, like you know, help you get to the next level, that’s a problem. If there’s a high turnover rate, which is one of the situations that I was in, where people, like if people are constantly leaving, that should tell you something. If a workplace promotes unhealthy boundaries, which is the working to midnight, expecting you to answer on the weekend and all that stuff, that’s unhealthy boundaries. That’s a toxic workplace.
48:39
Lacks transparency is very important the whole thing, like where you was saying past the book so okay, what about my promotion? Oh well, it’s stuck in HR with this person and that person. If people aren’t being transparent about what’s happening or even what’s happening with the company in terms of, like, the health of the company, financial health and all of that, that’s a problem. When there’s low morale, when it doesn’t support professional growth and, obviously, where it permits like harassment and bullying, those are like Obviously red flags, but like some of the more subtle red flags, is like when you’re being ostracized, when you’re starting to like Not being included in meeting that you used to be included in, all those kinds of things.
49:26
That’s all very toxic. It doesn’t have to be like as overt as like sexual abuse, something like it’s just, or like constantly being told that the raise you were Promised, like you were when you got, were hired, it’s like two or three percent raises or five percent raises every year. Three years go by and you’ve never gotten a raise. But you’re doing more work and that’s a toxic work environment. Yeah, and it’s like at that point it’s like you need to Start reaching out to HR, but also remembering that HR is kind of set up to help the company. You know what I mean. Um, but, um, and, and you know just kind of, maybe it’s time to get that plan in motion, to Go some place on a new job?
Gina
Host
50:14
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, adrian, this has been a very fun little chat it has, yeah can you? Tell um our listeners if they want to follow you on any of your social media, if you have social media or where they can find you. Um, let us know. Let everyone know. Yes.
Adrienne
Interviewee
50:33
So I am mostly on instagram. It’s adrian ma parent, which is my name, ad rie, and ma like short for mother parent, par, emt, so adrian ma parent on instagram. That’s where I’m mostly at.
Gina
Host
50:51
Okay, so if anyone wants to follow adrian or Slide in your dms Ha.
Adrienne
Interviewee
51:01
You go and get blocked with the quickness, don’t even bother. Unless, it’s something if you.
Gina
Host
51:09
I think our listeners are probably only gonna slide in your dm If they have a legitimate question or if you want to ask something for real of you. But um, yeah, no, no, it’s the meat. Is the era of me too movement, so we’re not doing any shady dm slides.
51:27
Um, we don’t promote those. Um, so, yeah, so uh, we will put that in the show notes for all of our listeners, and we are just thrilled that you decided to come on and share your. What is it Tuesday evening with us? Yeah, tuesday evenings. Okay, Well, thank you so much. I’m gonna go binge some married at first sight Just to appease nicola, not because I really like it secretly. No, I I’m like obsessed. Okay, anyway, that’s my story, I’m sticking to it. Thank you so much for sharing your evening with us and we will talk to you soon. Okay, bye.

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