I’ve noticed a trend or a sentiment, I think, in the people I’ve left behind at companies that have treated me badly. I wanted to explore that a bit because I think it is important to take a look at the various aspects that tie into how we experience these things and what considerations we need to take into account when someone is being bullied or harassed in a workplace.

Let me be up front in saying this, so that you know I speak from experience and from a place of understanding: I have stayed at workplaces that have bullied friends or co-workers I care about out of a job. Why? The reasons obviously differ, but it’s been everything from 1. I wasn’t aware that it was happening (bad excuse) 2. I couldn’t afford to leave 3. I wanted to stay in a specific location and couldn’t find other work 4. I did what I could, but I had to protect myself as well.

Unfortunately, as principled as we try to be, all of us are human, and we have considerations beyond ourselves to think about sometimes. I don’t think anyone really wants to work for a company that treats their employees in a way that hurts those employees, but I also believe that we live in a much too capitalist society and we need to come to terms with what we’re prepared to deal with when it comes to the fallout of that capitalist society.

It all comes down to limits. What’s your limit? How much can you take in good conscience and when do you feel that you need to walk away?

One of the things I’ve noticed when it comes to being bullied out of a company, or asked to leave for reasons that have very little to do with competency, is that ex colleagues often want things to be rosier than they are, a lot faster than I am comfortable with. I need time to mourn and come to terms with why I left and how I left. I can’t immediately be super happy about something that I may not have wanted to come to pass at all. I think this is a way to in part make sure that 1. I’m not feeling awful for staying at a company that obviously treated someone really badly 2. genuine well wishing 3. survivor’s guilt, to a certain extent. I got to stay. My co-worker had to leave.

Because the games industry is so very small and because it can sometimes be very hard for marginalised people to find jobs, I would never blame anyone for staying in a place that I have had to leave. There simply isn’t any way that we can pick and choose. Sometimes we have to take what we can get. A place that treats someone badly might treat someone else perfectly well.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to say with this post except don’t push people to feel good about getting out of a bad situation, and don’t feel bad for staying at a company with a toxic environment. There are always reasons. And if you’re one of those being pushed out – it’s okay to be angry at the people doing the pushing, but don’t be angry with the people who are staying despite knowing that the company isn’t any good. They may have mortgages. They may be stuck. It is also fully possible that the company treats them well. It isn’t fair, but it is true. In return, never feel guilty for mourning a lost opportunity. People may want to push you to feel better to ease their guilt, but it is not your duty to give in.