My boss stole my ideas, and I wasn’t the only one

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We always try our best to give users the facts of each case, some of which include harmful language and descriptions of awful behaviour. The following case might be emotionally challenging to read, especially if you’re going through something similar. This can manifest feelings of discomfort and upset, among other unpleasant emotions. We encourage you to reach out to friends or family for additional support if this content is particularly distressing. These stories are not for shock value, but to give you a sense of how you could be successful. We are here to support you in your journey in fighting back against your toxic workplace.

I have some experiences where I felt like things were an HR claim, or I’d been discriminated against. Situations that made me feel powerless. This is my story of workplace discrimination and how my male line manager stole my ideas to present them as his own.

Uncovering sexism

So, I had a line manager and I felt he had some issues with women.

At first, I felt he had issues just with me as he would block a lot of my ideas take my work and present it in a way that made it look like it was his. It was challenging because it’s was such a nuanced situation as he wasn’t openly sexist. It was really confusing.

I went to HR and was advised to confront him. I think they thought it was a personal issue rather than gender discrimination. They were guiding me on how to potentially talk with him, which was difficult as I was dealing with my manager. I was quite disappointed that this was what they came back with. Clearly, if I could confront him, I would have already done it.

Not the only one

After I changed my job I spoke to a few other women and realized it wasn’t just me. He would steal their ideas and their work too.

It was difficult to verify my perception of the situation. I wasn’t sure if I was making this up, especially as HR hadn’t been supportive. Maybe he hadn’t actually done anything wrong? It was very fuzzy as I wasn’t sure if he had problems with women or was just picking on me. I wasn’t sure if I was making stuff up.

At that time, I didn’t know that other women had this problem, so didn’t really know what to feel or think. I just wasn’t sure. But uncovering that others had similar experience helped confirm my feelings.

I spoke to two of my female collogues. One was really angry about the situation but haven’t done anything. The other was like “oh, yeah, this happened.” The way she acknowledged it was casual and felt quite unphased like “oh, that’s just him.” I don’t know if she was hiding or if it really didn’t bother her that much. I found that reaction surprising.

If I had spoken with them earlier and learned that they had these same experiences, I would have rallied all of us together to confront the situation. I don’t know if they actually would have gone through with it, especially one of them.

Within the next month, I was applying for other jobs. It was a relatively quick process once I realized that the situation was making me unhappy and that I had to move. It’s a shame that at the end I had to quit my job and he didn’t have to do anything.

Reflecting on the situation

It was never really resolved as he was never punished or anything. He may still be doing the same thing and I think he probably does. Changing jobs didn’t address the situation.

I sometimes think as a woman, you can be in a meeting and say stuff, but other people don’t hear. But, if a guy hears it and repeats it, then they get the credit. You’re left thinking “what just happened?”

I’ve definitely experienced situations like this, which is frustrating and you doubt yourself.

Hearing other women’s experiences, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to know you’re not crazy. Then you can start having different conversations and challenge the situation together. It’s also empowering as you stop doubting yourself and can know what to do next.

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