Coming in the wake of several workplace horror stories—Susan J. Fowler’s account of widespread tolerance for harassment at Uber, for example—Kim Scott’s Radical Candor, writes Erin Vanderhoof, “inadvertently answers a more pressing question: “How did these places and this industry go so wrong in their treatment of women?”
Like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Radical Candor attempts to paint a new picture of old work assumptions in Silicon Valley by systematically describing the attitudes and attributes of a good manager.
“The anecdote is also emblematic of Scott’s higher ambitions: a depiction of a female boss who is critical without being bitchy, caring without being a sap,” notes Vanderhoof.
By focusing on the positive attributes of a good boss, Scott highlights the characteristics of bad bosses, a subject about which surprisingly little has been written but, Vanderhoof adds, her reliance on the “myth of inevitable meritocracy.” in Silicon Valley “limits her ability to solve any of the really pernicious problems that these companies face.” Instead, Scott’s corporate-feminist response is to work harder and try to get a promotion.
“If nothing else,” says Vanderhoof, “Scott’s book explains why majority-female workplaces and industries tend not to be too feminist in practice.”
Unfortunately, Vanderhoof points out, the reality is that there still are too few women in upper management and, in competitive industries especially, women can often be as cruel, selfish, and undermining as men.