Foreword by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel
“While the focus is on women in this book, King is not blind to others facing barriers too — men themselves who deviate from the Don Draper model, for example, and others who are perceived as not fitting in. Fixing the workplace to help women will lead to fixing the workplace for all because, King concludes, ‘it is the only way companies will survive the inevitable changes to come’.” – Financial Times
“A passionate, practical roadmap for addressing inequality and finally making our workplaces work for women” Arianna Huffington
For years, we’ve been telling women that in order to succeed at work, they have to change themselves first - lean in, negotiate like a man, don’t act too nicely or you won't get the corner office. But after sixteen years working with major Fortune 500 companies as a gender equality expert, Michelle King has realised one simple truth - the tired advice of fixing women doesn’t fix anything.
The truth is that workplaces are gendered; they were designed by men for men. Because of this, most organisations unconsciously carry the idea of an 'ideal worker', typically a straight, white man who doesn’t have to juggle work and family commitments. Based on King’s research and exclusive interviews with major companies and thought leaders, The Fix reveals why denying the fact that women are held back just because they are women - what she calls gender denial - is the biggest obstacle holding women back at work and outlines the hidden sexism and invisible barriers women encounter at work every day. Women who speak up are seen as pushy. Women who ask for a pay rise are seen as difficult. Women who spend hours networking don’t get the same career benefits as men do. Because women don’t look like the ideal worker and can’t behave like the ideal worker, they are passed over for promotions, paid less, and pushed out of the workforce, not because they aren’t good enough, but because they aren’t men.
In this fascinating and empowering book, King outlines the invisible barriers that hold women back at all stages of their careers, and provides readers with a clear set of takeaways to thrive despite the sexist workplace, as they fight for change from within. Gender equality is not about women, and it is not about men - it is about making workplaces work for everyone. Together, we can fix work, not women.
King, head of the UN Women's Global Innovation Coalition for Change, debuts with a welcome addition to the growing chorus of voices calling out the system rather than individual women for workplace gender inequity. She asks why people are obsessed with the idea that women need to be fixed, despite being more likely to have the characteristics commonly associated with good leaders being collaborative, communicative, and well-educated. To her, the answer lies in an outdated expectation of what constitutes the "ideal worker": a stereotypically masculine, aggressive, and family-deprioritizing man, an ideal she associates with Mad Men's Don Draper character. King writes about how privilege and denial keep inequality going, how men are also harmed by gender assumptions, how feminism hasn't gone far enough, and how working mothers and female leaders still struggle with stereotypes and institutional barriers. The challenge, she shows, is in getting people to understand there's a problem at all, but King is there with strategies for taking action she calls "for breaking up with Don" and critically reexamining how ideas about masculinity play out in the workplace. This thoughtful, thorough, often enraging look at a broken system delivers a resounding and memorable message: "Women are not the problem."