As a follow up to my prior post Boys Are Different Than Girls (that’s okay) I talked about how I thought a large part of our risk tolerances as boys and girls are nature vs. nurture. This is not a hard and fast rule. I have several friends on both sides of the boy/girl line with different amounts of risk tolerance when it comes to their career.
But one thing that I have always seen, it is the person who is willing to go walk that untraveled road who will usually make stunning career paths for themselves. Truly spectacular and interesting things happen while OFF the beaten path. When Marissa Mayer was hired as a young, pregnant CEO of Yahoo, many claimed that women were now able to ‘have it all’. What is ‘all’?
And, what is “having it all”? If a woman chooses certain jobs because she values the flexibility to allow maximum family time, it might not advance her career, but it certainly means: ‘Having it all’ to her! If a woman wants to stay at home and is able to financially, then yeah that also means: ‘Having it all’. A woman who has followed her career to success without kids or with kids and a great support system means:’ Having it all’. I see no issue with any of these scenarios. In fact, I honor those who know what they want, and go after it.
I think we have always had the ability to ‘Have it all’ depending on our definition. There are days I certainly think I can’t take any more, so I must have it all. It is harder for employees, especially women, with families to rise through the ranks and become a C level executive. It takes an enormous support system, or a lot of money or both. I and many other moms can miss important networking functions because my daycare closes at a certain time. We don’t all have the luxury of family close by to help, nor do we have a nanny on staff to pick up the evening shift.
For those who have made it, I offer congratulations! I don’t begrudge someone else’s hard choices or feel affronted they took on such a difficult task of juggling parenthood and work. I do take issue when corporate america does not value the employee who needs the flexibility and does not utilize their workforce to the fullest potential. Just because I sometimes work from home to get my kids to a doctor appointment, does not make me less valuable of an employee or produce lower quality work product. I take conference calls, share desktop screens and more. With the great amount of technology available and the Internet, many jobs do not HAVE to be performed in the office all-the-time.
Any mom, who wants to be an employee, is a fierce employee. She is a keen multi-tasker and can prioritize, delegate and balance work loads of multiple projects. For a business to not see this potential, cultivate that employee and give a road into leadership while honoring their is the real travesty. If a larger section of corporate America doesn’t start realizing this gap, then mentoring and training it’s employees to be flexible, their leaders will come from an ever decreasing pool of candidates.
Large sections of the business world are missing out on some of the best talent out there! Many of these employees are leaving Corporate America to start their own businesses where they are CEO of what they create. We can’t all be C-level executives of a large corporation, it won’t fit some of our preferred lifestyles. But for the ones who want it, there should be a way to be recognized and lead to the top, whichever path you choose.