While we’ve been keeping up, she’s lost touch: Why women aren’t taking Kim Kardashians controversial business advice
“Get your f****** a** up and work”
This International Women’s Day, Billionaire Kim Kardashian gave some awful and out-of-touch business advice to women, stating, “I have the best advice for women in business. Get your fucking ass up and work,” Kim says in the clip before adding, “It seems like nobody wants to work these days.” Oufff. Many folks, especially women, are upset with the absurdity of her business advice. And, we know why. We’re here to unpack why this advice doesn’t work for all women. While we’ve been keeping up, she’s lost touch with women’s reality. Spoiler alert; Kim’s sentiment is factually incorrect. Women are and have been working harder than ever.
Kim’s 24 hours look a lot different from other women’s 24 hours
Kim has access to financial and social resources that most women don’t have. Where would Kim be without nannies, housekeepers, chefs, and assistants? Not in a position to just get up and work. Most women spend 4 hours and 22 minutes per day doing unpaid labour. Women make up the majority of unpaid labour and care, either as caregivers, parents or just folks who end up being responsible for domestic duties at home. This is especially true in heterosexual relational dynamics. Even pre-pandemic, women undertook over 75% of the total unpaid care work globally. There is NO country worldwide where labour is distributed equally between men and women at work, home, and beyond. (McKinsey Global Institute, 2020)
Women are working hard, but their hard work is statistically unnoticed, undervalued, and underrecognized
They say that we work hard, but capitalism works harder. In response to the impact of Covid-19 and the racial awakening of 2020, women have shown up in solidarity for their teams in ways their male counterparts have not. Research shows that employees with women leaders are 12% more likely to experience social support than folks with male leaders. The sad thing is that this high-impact work is not considered promotable or widely recognized in performance reviews. Women are burning out doing additional emotional labour at work, and on top of being paid less than their male counterparts, they aren’t being recognized for their contributions. Even though this work significantly impacts any business, acknowledging women’s work happens substantially less than men’s. McKinsey and LeanIn.Org found that for every 100 men promoted in 2020, eighty-nine white women and eight six women of colour received promotions. Kim, women, don’t need to get up and work; we need to recognize and fairly compensate women for the work they are already doing.
Women have fewer Options
In 2018, 606 million working women worldwide said they could not take on paid work because of unpaid care and domestic work responsibilities. What does this mean? Before the pandemic, women were already performing up to 30 hours of domestic care a week on top of their full-time jobs. The idea of taking on more work just wasn’t an option. This isn’t about working hard. It’s about not having the same access to resources, self-care, support that others do. Building a business for many women isn’t an option when you’re already stretched beyond capacity. Let’s drop the myth of meritocracy; building a business and well just existing these days takes a village (Promundo, 2019)
Sadly work doesn’t work for everyone, especially women of colour
It doesn’t matter if women work hard if the system is broken between the broken ladder and ladder pulling. In a system designed for the success of cis-hetero-white men, it’s challenging for women to succeed within organizational cultures that centre on the success of non-women. For example, studies show that for every 100 men promoted to a management position, 89 white women are promoted, and only 86 women of colour are promoted. This data paired with the culture of tokenism or sometimes two-nism (only two positions available to women). It feeds into a toxic company culture that results in women (like Kim) fostering the mentality of “look, I did it on my own, so you figure it out yourself.” The systemic lack of opportunity creates a culture of scarcity. So, cis-hetero-white women climbed up the broken ladder and traditionally left behind women of colour (the Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor situation). So women are working hard, Kim. We’re working hard while navigating systems set up for us to fail.
Women still want to work, just not in shitty toxic environments
It isn’t that women don’t want to work. For many women, “The Great Resignation” has just as much to do with gender inequities in unpaid labour and care as it did with systemic inequality at work. Some women have even re-branded the “resignation” and called it the “great exhaustion” or “the great realization,” a label that encompasses the burnout from the fact that work doesn’t work for everyone. It isn’t unpaid domestic duties of the “double day”; it’s structural and systemic issues like pay gaps, pay transparency, sexism, misogyny, racism, gender-based violence and the lack of access to affordable support for primary caregivers. Women are tired of these systems and have decided to say “girl BYE” to the gross and harmful grind culture that takes everything and leaves them with a measly paycheck (Thanks, capitalism!). Thanks, but no thanks, I’ll go somewhere else.
Owning a business isn’t just about “hard work” it’s about risks- risks not everyone can afford
By having access to resources that most folks don’t, Kim could launch several businesses early on in her life. While we’re not saying she didn’t work hard at these businesses, we ask her to acknowledge that hard work ethic and business success don’t always go hand in hand. Almost 50% of companies fail in the first year. This stat increases dramatically in the first five years to 90%. Lack of money and resources are usually the main contributors. There are so many amazing women-owned businesses that make it. But most of them would tell you that it takes so much more than “getting off your ass and working.” It takes capital (both financial and social), skill, grit, and sometimes luck. So when women on average make about 82 cents for every $1 earned by a white non-Hispanic man (even less for WOC and Trans women), the price of operating at a loss has higher risks since most women don’t have the financial backing to take a risk like you, Kim. (National Women’s Law Centre, 2021)
“Nobody wants to work these days” - Ya no shit, working to just exist sucks.
Let’s be honest; having to work to “exist” sucks. Between paying your bills, buying basic necessities, and inflation (don’t get us started on gas prices), most folks aren’t left with a lot of money to live and, most importantly, thrive. At Bloom, we think the idea that “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is essentially gaslighting. Even folks who LOVE their job have days where they would probably rather be doing anything else. We live in a culture that assigns your value based on what you offer to society, the jobs you do, the money you earn, the likes you get. But a lot of women are pushing back on that. Many women don’t find grind culture to be sustainable or even worth it. With the difference between who has and who doesn’t grow larger daily, many folks are just over it. Especially women who have continuously worked hard and still have disenfranchising experiences at work are over it. We observe many women who are building alternatives to legacy ways of working and were here for it.
So Kim we heard you but, we want to make some adjustments to your “business advice.
“Get your fucking ass up and work,”
“Recognize your privilege, be prepared to do the work, and create workplaces that work for everyone”
One more thing — At Bloom, we support companies that are on a mission to build more inclusive work experiences for everyone. If you aren't aware of all of the barriers that prevent all women from thriving at work and you want to learn what they are and how to remove them — we can help with that! Check out Bloom Academy a best-in-class digital program for immersive diversity, equity, and inclusion learning experiences, taught by the team at Bloom with special guest facilitators. We have created context-specific learning experiences that help you navigate the nuanced, grey, and uncomfortable areas of your personal journey so you can show up for the folks you serve in a more inclusive and authentic way.
You can check out the Instagram post to share with your friends and folks in your network.