Archive | July, 2014

indra nooyi: who’s talking about her mom?

4 Jul

Indra Nooyi’s comments about women not being able to have it all have gone viral in recent days. Here is the link to the original video if you are interested. The first 25 minutes or so are her talk. 

I wrote yesterday about men having the same problem as women about not being able to have it all. You can read the blog post here.

Another aspect to this discussion is the perceived lack of support from Ms Nooyi’s mom, and I want to comment about that here. There are a lot of comments on the internet about how mothers and mothers-in-law are the most unsupportive. I beg to differ.

Ms Nooyi talked about her mom sending her back out to get milk, before hearing any of her news. What is implicit to me here is that her mom was living with her, and presumably running the household. She was living there for the sake of her daughter, not her son-in-law. And when Grandma is running the household, she is the CEO of the home. If they are out of milk, she is worried her grand daughters will not have milk for the night or the next morning, and it is her responsibility to find the best delivery person. If it happened to be Indra, then so be it. (Maybe she asked the son-in-law earlier, but he was unwilling. Ms Nooyi could just as well have called on her husband to run the errand.) Grandma is not comprising on her granddaughters’ care for any news or any reason. Who knows, the store might be closing in a few minutes or it might be close to the granddaughters’ bedtime! Any good CEO of a company would do exactly the same.

As Ms Nooyi said, we need to build or enlist “co-opts” to help us get better balance between parenting and Career progression. Even Sheryl Sandberg has mentioned having a lot of support from her sister and mother in raising their kids. But we cannot take that support for granted, or feel entitled to it. 

Grandma has already done her round of raising kids. But she is doing a second round for the sake of her daughter. And she needs all the support she can get to do an awesome job as the CEO of home!

 

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women can’t have it all… but, can men?

3 Jul

PepsiCo’s CEO Indira Nooyi explains women can’t have it all. As a career mom myself, I am very much in agreement with her. Here is a link to her talk, the first 25 minutes or so in this video.

I will not add my views here about how much I agree with her. There are many blogs and articles everywhere doing that. What I do want to talk about is the men. Can they have it all? Don’t they face the same challenges as do women? Don’t men have to make the same choices between attending to work and attending school events? The difference is, perhaps, that they are expected to trade-off work for family time. For the few men who want to have successful careers and also be there for their families, there is very little sympathy and understanding. Men develop coping mechanisms by delegating the family tasks to the children’s mothers. That may reduce guilt, but it does not salvage the aching loss of missed opportunities, less bonding with the kids and a sense of having missed-out on the kids’ childhoods.

My comment here is simple – No one  can have it all, be it men or women. Any person who chooses to be a career parent, needs the support and backing of a network of willing caregivers. And corporations would do well to encourage their employees to have better work/life balances. Employees with less guilt and more emotionally fulfilled lives are likely to be more stable and collaborative in the work-place as well.