Former HGTV employee says manager took her out for coffee and asked for $10,000

@denise_conroy/TikTok AhmadDanialZulhilmi/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘Shout out to the co-worker that tipped you off’: Former HGTV employee says manager took her out for coffee and asked for $10,000

'Grifters gotta grift.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Feb 26, 2024   Updated on Feb 26, 2024, 3:34 pm CST

Former CEO & CMO Denise Conroy (@denise_conroy) is writing a book about the three years she worked for the popular reality television network HGTV as its Chief Marketing Officer.

Her time at the Home and Garden-themed television network was not a good one, she says, and that she’s had so many “red flag” experiences while working for the brand that showcases popular programs like Property Brothers and House Hunters International that she’s currently in the process of publishing a book that’s chock full of them.

She decided to share two of these “weird” red flags in a viral TikTok video that’s accrued over 1.2 million views. The comments section of her clip was littered with responses from users who argued that the network’s quality has significantly dropped off in recent years.

“So, a lot of you know that I used to work at HGTV,” Conroy begins in the clip. “I was the Chief Marketing Officer there for three years—the longest three years of my life. I did not have a great experience and I’m writing a book about my experience working there ’cause I think there’s a lot to learn. I know I learned a lot.”

One of the red flags had to do with a singular question the president of the company asked her: whether or not her parents were excited that she was going to get a job at the network, which she thought was an odd thing to ask someone who was in their late ’30s.

“The first [red flag] was when I was in my last round of interviews,” Conroy explains. “I’ve been flown to Knoxville, and I had a pretty good sense that I was gonna get the job, right? I’m sitting there with the president of the network. I’ve done all the interviews and he’s my last conversation. He’s like, ‘So, are your parents really excited about you coming to work at HGTV?'”

The question struck Conroy as strange.

“Which I thought was weird ’cause I was like in my late ’30s,” she says. “I don’t know. My parents don’t know a lot about what I do at work. I mean, they know some but not a lot. And by the way, my family never owned a home. Like we never had the economic stability to own a home—I lived in 13 different rental houses growing up.”

Conroy says that not only did her family rent for the entirety of their lives, which eradicates the “home” relatability of the “Home and Gardening” channel, but they weren’t the type of folks to go out and tend to their lawn, either.

“So we’d never owned a home, they never watched HGTV, cause it wasn’t germane to them,” she explains. “And also I remembered when he was asking me this, my family hated being outside, they hated sweating, they hated lawn work, they hated anything that had to do with you know, gardening in the yard and all that. Probably ’cause they didn’t own their own place, so I’m just thinking to myself, ‘F*ck no.’ You know? But of course, I can’t say that, right?”

The TikToker says that she felt this query was an assessment, so she decided to render a political answer instead of hitting them with the truth: “‘Cause I think he was basically saying to me, ‘Are you like us? I think it was sort of a last check and I, you know, I don’t feel great about it, but I was like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re super excited.'”

Conroy then jumps into the second “red flag” she experienced during her tenure with the network. She describes what seemed like an unethical scenario where a senior general counsel member of the parent company that owned HGTV along with a bunch of sister networks, asked her to go out for some coffee, but it was all just a smokescreen to ask for a massive donation.

“I’d only been working there for about two months,” she prefaces. “One of my colleagues came to me, she was super cool, and she’s like, ‘Hey, the general counsel for all of the networks that our parent company owned—Food Network and all the others—she’s gonna come to you and ask you for an insane amount of money. She wants you to write a check for some women’s organization she’s in, some religious women’s organization.'”

Conroy says the company’s general counsel did reach out and asked her to join her for coffee.

“This chick was super religious. Super inappropriate as general counsel,” Conroy says.”Sure enough, she sets up this coffee with me, we no sooner get our coffee, sit down at a table, and she asks me for $10,000 to be in some women’s auxiliary affiliated with the YMCA. And I was just like, ‘What?'”

The TikToker remembers her shock at the moment.

“I’ll never forget, she’s like, ‘So when can you get me a check?’ And I was like, ‘I can’t?'” Conroy recalls.

She says that afterward, the general counsel was particularly cold to her. “From then on, she just wasn’t really into me or probably anybody who didn’t give her money,” she says. “I know for a fact I wasn’t the only one who didn’t, but how inappropriate to be someone who is senior—not just senior, a general counsel, right? —and to ask people for money for your little pet project outside of work. Pretty disgusting, and that was another red flag.”

@denise_conroy Two weird red flags 🚩🚩 from my early days at HGTV (from my upcoming book). #hgtv #ceo #careeradvice #careertiktok #worktok ♬ original sound – Themy by Denise Conroy

The comments section of Conroy’s video was packed with HGTV hate.

“The funny thing is HGTV was absolutely great in the 90s. There were several shows about decorating on a budget, so it WAS a renter-friendly network,” one person wrote.

Another wrote that the network decided to go all-in on one type of content, which is a far cry from what its origins were: “HGTV used to have a whole variety of shows when they 1st started, now it’s only renovating or flipping houses.”

Someone else was upset to see that there were fewer and fewer gardening segments being featured on HGTV, too: “There is no G in HGTV. That was the best part about the show, the gardening…”

“Early 2000’s HGTV was the best. Divine Design, Decorating Cents, This small space & more were for real people making homes beautiful. It’s awful now,” another TikTok replied.

Regardless of hate from Conroy’s viewers, according to The Futon Critic, the channel’s been raking in some favorable viewership as of late.

The Daily Dot has reached out to HGTV via email and Conroy via Instagram direct message for further information.

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*First Published: Feb 26, 2024, 9:00 pm CST