One woman’s fight against the boys’ network

In late January 2016, Jamie Fiore Higgins, one of the most powerful women at Goldman Sachs decided to call it quits. For two decades, she was at a workplace filled with misogyny. Her book Bully Market reveals the inner workings of a powerful boys’ network that permeates corporate culture in America.

Jamie Fiore Higgins

Higgins came from a hardworking Italian American immigrant family. She wanted to be a social worker but her dad wanted her to be in a financially lucrative career. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, she joined Goldman Sachs and the money was good, really good.

Bully Market is a riveting account of how the boys’ network systematically excluded her and used their abusive power to pin her down at every turn. This is the story of Tom White kicking her out of an open meeting, Eric choking her and pinning her against the wall, Mike screaming at her for going against the Goldman “family values”, of Justin sabotaging her review and Jerry and Vito mocking her.

This boys’ network is still alive and kicking and not much has changed for women in corporate America. In a non-linear work culture, hybrid work environments now allow instant online bullying instead of bullying at the workplace.

Bully Market is a candid, tell-all story, very few women would dare to write. Higgins exposes her vulnerability, her daily conflict of money versus values, her relationship with her husband, and how she withstood two decades of abuse in corporate America.

“Leaving your desk to get your wing tips shoe-shined was a worthwhile endeavor. Providing breast milk for your infant at home? Not so much. Those men in the offices clutched on to their old boys’ club values with white knuckled fists,” she writes angrily about how she was treated during and after pregnancy.

As an intern, she was subject to humiliating treatment at the hands of trainers. Later, when she became a trainer, she was upset about her own behavior. “Like the long-bullied kid on the playground who becomes the bully, I had become a part of the cycle of abuse at Goldman Sachs,” she writes.

According to her, Goldman’s value system was so different from what was shown in glossy brochures and their website. Higgins calls out human resources and employee relations departments for being the least helpful and the least confidential.

This was a value system created by men in glass offices. Higgins always felt that she was owned by the brand and she was nobody without it.

All this happened prior to the “Me Too” movement and the killing of George Floyd. Since then, corporations have made paranoid attempts to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into their mission statements. In her parting advice to the C-suites at Goldman Sachs she writes: “Don’t take the company’s ideals and create a list of business principles or best practices, or stick them as chapters in an employee handbook. Instead make them permeate the offices and be modeled by everyone in senior management.”

Hope things have changed at Goldman Sachs and other corporations. In an age of non-linear working and quite quitting, it’s better upholding the values that you were taught at home and not at your workplace.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.

When Gillette failed its tribes

What was the purpose behind Gillette’s recent video? I felt it was a takedown on toxic masculinity, a kiss up to the Me Too movement and an attempt to take sides and get invited into a national conversation.

Why did Gillette need a video to stir controversy, gauge metrics and have people forget the message in a few days? Gillette’s primary purpose is to make real good blades and thwart attempts by Harry’s and Dollar General from eroding its market share. Why did Gillette do this self-inflicting exercise? Is there a loss in brand equity?

According to Peter Horst in his book, “Marketing in the fake news era,” more and more companies are trying not to stand in the sidelines. Instead, they want to take a stand on issues. Perhaps Gillette felt that shying away from toxic masculinity and embracing the Me Too movement with an anti-bullying social message could help it improve its image among men. Unfortunately, Gillette didn’t analyze if there was any social need for it to join this conversation.

I believe Gillette misjudged several subcultures that exist under a diverse tribe called men in the US. The company chose a few personas hoping they would help it convey the message better and sadly got a lot of backlash but earned great viewership.

In an era of fake news, before a business takes sides, they should clearly ask if they need to be in that space. For one who makes blades, it might be better to stick to making better blades instead of sending out patronizing social media messages.

After all, how long does a shave last?