Kardashians

Have the Kardashians helped or hindered women’s progress?

We look at the Kardashians, arguably the world's most successful self-made female-led company and ask: is the advancement of women the same as achieving financial equality?

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As the curtain closed on my career as a public company CEO, Kim Kardashian announced that Keeping up with the Kardashians would come to an end in 2021.

So when I read the latest Financy Women’s Index it got me thinking about the definition of success, the value of economic equality and whether financial success, closing the gender gap and the advancement of women, is the same.

In Australia the number of women occupying ASX 200 board positions has increased in 2020 to over 32% but the women in key leadership positions and the number of public company CEOs has actually fallen.

Are the numbers setting us up for success because of the value of diversity and the valuable experience that can be bought to bear at all levels in an organisation or are they a band aid on the underlying issue that remains unaddressed? Indeed, why are we not seeing women progress through management within companies at a systemic level?

As long as women do not progress within the ranks to the same degree as men do, not only will we have a gender pay gap for the same work undertaken, we will have a salary chasm because the most senior roles and highest paid roles will continue to be occupied by men.

So what does it take to become the youngest ever self-made billionaire these days? Let’s just ask Kylie Jenner. She may have had a lot of help from her sisters and her matriarch Kris however I found it enormously unsettling to look at how the financial success was gained.

There is no doubt the Kardashians are masters of social media and have created an empire from tapping into desires we never thought likely.

Of the 10 most liked Instagram posts of all time 7 are Kylies. According to British Vogue when she admitted to using cosmetic fillers and posted images of excessively huge lips filler requests increased by 70%.

Her sister Kim created a 45% jump in online searches for compression garments, which cinches you in so you get an hourglass look (the next generation corset).

Cosmetic surgery amongst young women without a wrinkle to be seen skyrocketed and selfies in skimpy bikinis were a must have.

And don’t get me going about any of their marriages. Khloe Kardashian’s marriage to Lamar Odom seems almost too much of a nightmare to be real but none of them stand out as having the skill to select partners that respect them or provide any semblance of a stable relationship.

But here we are. Probably the most successful self-made woman-led company in the world which created the youngest self-made billionaire ever. So I have to ask is economic equality the same as the advancement of women?

Have the Kardashians set an example of what women can achieve and advanced the cause of women or exploited our insecurities and set us back a century?

The advancement of women can take many forms and I have always understood the value of choice – but if our choices do not lead to relationships built on trust and respect then are we successful at all?

The need to eliminate the gender pay gap is a given. The chasm in management needs attention. But in the end the only true measure of a person’s life is whether they were loved and that has no economic measurement.

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