Friday, July 17, 2009


Once again, Jack Welch proves to be an expert at the blunt sound bite. He was a speaker at the Society for Human Resource Management and told them that women climbing the corporate ladder need to choose between taking time off to raise their children and reaching the corner office.

Read the article and of course there are those who agree and disagree with him. Unfortunately, there is not a transcript of his exact words. Some people interviewed agreed with him and others said that companies need to change to accommodate a diverse workforce.

Welch is quoted in the article as saying their are work-life choices and they have consequences. This is a true statement and men and women both make these choices all day long, every day. We all deal with these challenges differently and some do a better job than others. I have worked with men that worked crazy hours but whenever they were not out of town, they went home to have dinner and tuck the kids into bed, then they worked late into the night to make up the time. I have worked with others who came in after taking the kids to school. I do not have children, so I would work till I dropped during the week but look to get the weekends off. We all do it differently and we may not do it great.

It is important though to remember why we are doing "it" at all. Whatever your career goals, which may or may not be the corner office, remember that we work to live not live to work. Therefore, we all need to find the balance that works for us. I remember reading an interview that Jack Welch gave when he first retired. In the interview, he said that he was completely unprepared to stop working and it was very hard on him. Sounds like he had not found balance.

But let's get back to women and specifically having children. For the most part, I think companies and women have figured this all out and women are very successful even after taking maternity leaves. However, time off does have a price. In my experience, I have seen women achieve great positions but slower then they would have without extended periods of time off.

But, I do think the corner office is different. I believe that what Jack Welch said is often true when boards are selecting CEO candidates. I think women should be proactively educating boards and CEO search firms that select CEO candidates and look at career timelines. Timelines are meaningless. Results are what matters.

What are your thoughts and experinces? How do you achieve work-life balance?
Until Next Time,

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