A Toxic Work World

imagesAnne-Marie Slaughter wrote an opinion piece for the NYTimes this past Sunday titled A Toxic Work World.  The tag line sums it all up…only the young and childless can keep up.

I was fortunate to have Anne-Marie speak at the WeFestival as our keynote a few years ago.  The talk she gave was the same one she gave at Ted a month or so later.  It is a worthy watch.  She talks about the importance of companies changing the workplace to embrace women who are having children vs losing them in numbers.  Girls are outpacing boys in school all the way through graduate school.  Yet if they have families many of them leave because of the lack of champions inside the workplace to help the family unit raise a family while still making a difference at work.  It is not only about changing the workplace but it is shifting the attitude.

On another note but completely related I saw Cindy Gallop come in on my twitter feed retweeting The New Web reporter Lauren Hockenson’s rant about The Dreamforce conference over the weekend.  As Cindy wrote, “my stomach churned”.   Gayle King asked Susan Wojcicki if all 5 of her children were from the same husband.  King also asked Jessica Alba, who was also on the panel, if her company was a suitable fallback from her acting career.  They both fielded questions about maternity leave, how they remain present in their families lives and if they could invent a stylish shoe.

The other panels were filled with men from the CEO of Microsoft to Benioff of Salesforce to Travis Kalanick of Uber discussing their billion dollar companies, new products and philanthropic arms.  Did any of those men field off questions about their abilities to be home with their children or if their kids were from the same woman?

Both Alba and Wojcicki should not have been so forthcoming and happy to answer these inane questions.  They should have each said to Gayle King (who gets a huge shame on you) not only am I not going to answer these questions they are personal and have zero to do with business.  We are here to discuss business just like every other panel is.  This questioning is insulting to every single woman in the workplace and at this event.  If you want to talk about how we are figuring out how to retain women having families who need a support system from their companies then let’s talk about that.  If I was on the panel I might have just said “are you fucking kidding me”.

It can’t just be women who are pushing for this change, it must come from men too.  We all come from a different place and that is why gender equality in the workplace is so important.  Men need to speak up on this just as much as their female counterparts.  Perhaps one day we will see just as many men choosing to stay home because their spouses are the ones who are more suited to the workplace.  If and when those men choose to be the ones to figure out the balance of work and the ability to just show up for a  3 day work week with zero support in their companies to provide that, we will see change take place, guaranteed.

As for Gayle King…shame shame shame on you.