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Ready to quit your job? We’ve got tactics for that

caption: Hosts Eula Scott Bynoe, left, and Jeannie Yandel practice quitting their jobs, Peggy Olson style. (But don't worry, they're not actually going anywhere.)
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Hosts Eula Scott Bynoe, left, and Jeannie Yandel practice quitting their jobs, Peggy Olson style. (But don't worry, they're not actually going anywhere.)
KUOW/Juan Chiquiza

Many of us fantasize about making a dramatic exit from our jobs.

That final triumphant showdown with our boss. Throwing our stapler and office plant in a box and walking down the hallway one last time, head held high. Kerosene and a lit match thrown behind our shoulder as we leave.

For others, however, the idea of leaving a job is terrifying, and quitting feels synonymous with failure.

But what if we learned to see quitting differently? Not as failure or a showdown, but as a tactic for creating a more equitable workplace?

In this episode, we sit down with Liz Fong-Jones, an advocate for the rights of technology workers and users. Fong-Jones recently wrote a Medium post about why she quit her job at Google after many years of fighting hard to make it more inclusive.

She explains how withholding your labor can be a powerful tool to change toxic workplace cultures and protect your own mental health.

So feeling ready to quit your sexist job?

We’ve got tactics for that.

First tactic? Make a plan. Start saving.

There are a lot of reasons we don’t quit our toxic jobs. Health care. Financial stability. Retirement plans. Did we mention health care?

If you can't afford to quit right now, draft a plan. How much money do you need to walk away without panicking? And how long will it take you to save that money?

Fong-Jones recommends putting money into a fund that would allow you to take time off work.

And yes, this has been called a F*ck Off fund — a savings fund that gives you the freedom to walk away from a toxic workplace or relationship. (Here, in homage to NBC’s The Good Place, we call it a “Fork You Fund.”)

“If you put aside a little bit of money every single paycheck towards your ‘Fork You Fund,’ that means that maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but maybe in a year or two years, you’ll have the flexibility to quit a job without necessarily having the next job lined up,” Fong-Jones said.

You can think about it as saving for a vacation, Fong-Jones said. “Except a longer term vacation. A vacation from all of the sexism.”

Next? Use the whisper network for good.

Okay, so you’ve started saving money in your “Fork You Fund.” What else do you need in your tactical starter pack?

Fong-Jones recommends using the “whisper network” to figure out where you want to work next.

“Talk to other women who are working at a place already, or talk to the people who have recently left a place and ask them, ‘Why did you leave?,’” she said. “This is how we look after each other.”

The whisper network can help you find jobs at companies that weren’t even on your radar.

You’ll also want to use the whisper network to learn about the workplace culture at other companies. Do women, people of color, and queer people feel safe there? Is it accessible to people with disabilities? What’s the sexual harassment policy, and how effective is it? Yes, the whisper network can tell you which jobs and bosses to avoid — but it can also point you to more a more supportive and inclusive workplace.

Ideally, you’ll have a new job lined up before you leave your old one. (It makes quitting that much sweeter. And less terrifying.)

Or Consider This: Don’t Quit. Organize.

Fong-Jones understands the power of walking away. But she also believes that you should consider organizing with other workers to take a stand against unjust labor practices and workplace discrimination.

Before you quit, she says, “consider unionizing and striking. If you’re not the only person who’s miserable in your workplace, you can make a much better stand together if you go on strike."

She continued: "If you go on strike, they aren’t going to be able to immediately hire, whereas if you quit, then that frees up your headcount, and they’ll go find someone else who will put up with it. So if you’re trying to stick it to someone, it’s better to go on strike than to quit.”

Fong-Jones understands that it’s not possible for everyone to organize a union, and stresses how important it is to take care of your own mental health.

“If the workplace is bleeding you dry, and you’re not being compensated, you should just quit,” she said.

But if you are planning to quit, “make a list of who is quitting and for what reasons. Don’t just quietly disappear.”

So talk to people about why you’re leaving. Tell your boss. Your co-workers. Your whisper network.

Quitting only works as a battle tactic if we’re vocal about why we’re walking away.

Quitting a job isn’t weak. It isn’t shameful. Used strategically, it can be your superpower.

Produced for the web by Christina Scheuer.

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