The new year brings forth a time for contemplation and reassessment. With a fresh slate in front of them, many people find themselves re-evaluating their situation, such as their current workplace culture and employment satisfaction. 

Kim Crowder, Founder & CEO of Kim Crowder Consulting. (Photo courtesy of Kim Crowder)

Kim Crowder, Founder & CEO of Kim Crowder Consulting, one of the country’s leading Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Speakers, says that many people do not realize what a toxic workplace looks like, and many employees don’t often realize they have been caught up in workplace toxicity until they finally make an exit. 

Kim brings more than 16 years of work in marketing, journalism, communications, and DEIA for Fortune 500 and other large corporations to her consulting practice where she helps others acquire the tools and education to move forward. Kim’s mission is to provide transformative, customized solutions, cultivate equitable workplaces, and harness the power of diverse input to foster innovation, inclusion, and forward-thinking within organizations and industries overall. 

In her years of consulting, she has become an expert in workplace culture and diversity and inclusion, along with leadership development, equity in media, and inclusive branding and communications. Today Kim shares some of her expert knowledge on how to identify if you are in a toxic workplace environment. 

7 Signs you may be in a toxic workplace environment

A recent report from MIT Sloan Management Review found that toxic workplace culture is 10.4 times more likely to contribute to an employee quitting. A toxic workplace can take many forms. This may include lacking a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, a widespread lack of respect, unobtainable goals, and downright bullying behaviors for management or colleagues. 

Do these signs sound familiar?

  1. High rates of turnover. If retention is a problem, there is usually a good reason.
  2. Gossip and lack of integrity. If people are constantly talking about other coworkers or employees, there is a lack of trust and respect. 
  3. Hypocritical leadership. If leaders do not follow the guidelines or expectations set forth for employees, the leadership style is flawed. 
  4. Punishment for speaking out. Are employees criticized or discouraged for speaking up or pointing out flaws and errors in company practices?
  5. Lying is encouraged. There have been big-name companies getting in big trouble for encouraging employees to lie, alter data, or keep secrets in order to maintain a public image. Any unethical behavior is an indication that something is wrong. 
  6. Lack of diversity and/or microaggression behaviors. Diversity is what makes companies thrive and grow. Lacking diversity or experiencing microaggression towards minority members of staff is a big red flag. 
  7. No boundaries. If your workplace has a “work comes first” mentality and frowns upon those who take time off this could indicate low concern for employee wellbeing. Are you taking calls after hours and on weekends? Are you always being asked to work overtime? Companies that ask too much and give too little should come with a warning sign. 

You might be interested: 4 Tips for Latinas to set strong boundaries at work

If these signs sound like your current workplace environment then it may be time to consider a change. You may decide to leave your current workplace, or you may choose to champion for greater diversity, inclusion, and equity in your workplace. 

Company leaders who recognize these signs in their workplace can start leading the change. A better workplace environment is proven to increase productivity and success. People who are happy to come to work are more likely to be enthusiastic about their work and invest more effort in doing a good job. 

In an article on workplace diversity on, Kim said, “According to job market surveys, 62% of candidates said they would turn down offers from companies that don’t value workplace diversity. Among Gen Z job seekers, diversity and inclusion is even more of a dealbreaker. For companies who want to attract the best talent, having a diverse workforce is no longer a vague goal; it’s becoming a competitive advantage.”  

Additionally, managers and leaders should make sure they are valuing their employees as people, not just workers. 

“Employees are not just a means to an end or an avenue to productivity; they are human beings worthy of respect and individual attention,” said Kim in an article with Well + Good

Another tip for leaders seeking to improve a toxic workplace culture: “Our workplaces are becoming more and more global and diverse, both of which are necessary for the longevity of any organization,” said Kim. “Managers need to be highly aware that cultural differences are naturally going to show themselves. Being sensitive and seeing the value of that without asking individuals to assimilate or conform to the dominant culture is a golden skill for any leader.”

However, you if you feel your current workplace culture is beyond your ability to fix or you are not in a position to make those changes, you should seek better opportunities elsewhere where you will be valued and respected. 

About Kim Crowder 

(Photo courtesy of Kim Crowder)

Kim and her team work across industries serving U.S. and international markets, from retailers to insurers to governmental agencies and the social sector. From Adobe to Good Catch Foods to Target, the American Library Association, Receipt-Bank, HarperCollins Publishers, and on, Kim and her team provide leaders and companies actionable tools to move initiatives forward long term. Kim has been named by Forbes as one of the “Top Anti-Racism Educators Companies Need Now,” A Top 10 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Expert by All American, and Top Influential African-American Business Women To Follow by LinkedIn. She is also a member of the MIT Technology Review Global Panel and For(bes) The Culture.

She has been featured for her expertise by The New York Times, Business Insider, Cheddar News, The Tammi Mac Late Show, CBS, NBC, FOX, Katie Couric Media, regularly by Forbes, on Hubspot’s podcast, The Growth Show, Workology, and As Told By Nomads.

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  • Victoria Arena

    Victoria Arena is a writer and student, passionate about writing, literature, and women's studies. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. She holds an Associates in Fine Arts for Creative Writing, and a Bachelor's in English Literature from Montclair State University.

By Victoria Arena

Victoria Arena is a writer and student, passionate about writing, literature, and women's studies. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. She holds an Associates in Fine Arts for Creative Writing, and a Bachelor's in English Literature from Montclair State University.

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