We’ve seen how Fox News host Megyn Kelly ruined a news cycle or two for Newt Gingrich. We saw her battle the once-rising Democratic star Anthony Weiner over Obamacare and adjacent issues. We’ve seen her take down preachers of sexist sentiment from her own channel.
What we haven’t seen, until now, is how Kelly deals with underperforming colleagues. In her new book, “Settle For More,” Kelly talks about the centrality of hard work in getting ahead. Reflecting on her hardball stance in her first contract negotiations with Fox News, Kelly writes, “I’d been a high-powered lawyer for a decade, on my feet arguing in front of juries and some of the best and brightest and sharpest judges in the country. I’d also spent ten years working harder than just about anyone else they could possibly be considering–an ethic I would clearly bring with me.”
So Kelly told her agent to “demand more.” It worked.
An unidentified co-worker once complained to Kelly, “I don’t feel valued,” as Kelly notes in “Settle For More.”
The host’s comeback? “That’s because you’re not. You should go somewhere else.” There was no point in “sugarcoating” things, writes the author, crediting “Kelly family values in their purest form.”
This harsh line of feedback informs Kelly’s worldview about advancement in the workplace. “My general approach when hitting a sexist glass ceiling it to try to crash right through it with stellar work product. Bosses tend to be mercenary. If you are great, he’ll likely promote you. If he doesn’t because of sexism, the options get tougher. Filing a legal complaint is a potential option, but gender-discrimination cases tend to be protracted and very nasty. Some women choose to find a new job, as unfair as that seems,” she writes.
Just outwork everyone else is fraught with unfairness from the start — why should women have to work twice as hard as men to get the same promotions? But research suggests that the picture is far more complicated than workers vs. slackers. “Women in the Workplace 2016,” a study involving 132 companies that employ 4.6 million people, finds that women face structural barriers in reaching the altitude of a Megyn Kelly. A big one is access to senior managers; the study, the result of a partnership between McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, discovered that women are “subtly” disadvantaged when it comes to participating “meaningfully” in meetings, getting good assignments and being sought for input. And, to echo “Settle For More”: Women are less likely than men to believe that their contributions are being valued.
There’s another area where women get stiffed in the workplace, according to the study: They tend to get feedback less often than do men. “Women are more than 20% less likely than men to say their manager often gives them difficult feedback that improves their performance.” Maybe Kelly is working to address that gap!