Women in Corporate careers

I have always admired women who aspire to sit along side men in boardrooms making billion dollar decisions. But yesterday I was reading the penultimate chapter of Jack Welsh's 'Winning' about Work-Life balance that the caused me to reconsider my admiration for such inspired fairer sex.

Jack Welsh says that in 1960-70s no one talked of work-life balance because back then the corporate world was male bastion, women took care of the family. In 1980s women began to make inroads and when women worked it there wasn't anyone to take care of family and so work-life balance became an issue to be reckoned with.

In the book, he writes about something the no. 2 HR of GE a lady by name Susan said. She said that when she went on business visits across the world leaving her seven year old daughter at home that she would go all the way crying. Probably because her daughter was crying and she couldn't give what her daughter wanted (which is herself) because her want for corporate glory was higher than her want for her daughter not to cry.

Jack then talks of an event in a question forum in which a woman asked him about a solution to the problem of women having to make a lot of sacrifices by remaining unmarried, not having children, not enjoying life because they had to make it to the top in the corporate ladder. Jack says that he stumbled for an answer and so Maxine a top-notch most sought after Australian News broadcaster decided that she would answer that.

Her answer which caused an eerie silence when something like this. “For women the problem is their biology. They cannot keep up with the pace of a full fledged corporate life and family life. They have to take a decision. I did want to have kids. But I took a decision that I needed to pursue my career at an early age when the time was right and I did it. I still want to have kids, but then my career is important to me. A woman's career has to do with the decision that she takes. You cannot have it both ways.”

Some of you may disagree with her, but I appreciate her candor. She looked at the ugly truth and faced it head-on, her way. But what cannot be denied is that she lost her feminity, the quintessence of feminity, the honor of motherhood.

It is better for such women not to have kids at all for it is injustice to beget a kid and deny it the love of a mother. A kid that is denied the love of its mother will never be able to comprehend true love. Without the comprehension of true love life is a meaningless tale full of noise and fury signifying nothing.

My mother was a career woman, but I know the sacrifices that my mother did to make time to love me and my sister the reason why I am able to cherish and love life in spite of all the toil and fruitlessness that entails life is because of the experience of love that my mother cherished in me and thereby helped me cherish in life. Its all about love. 'Amor vincit omnia' - Love conquers all. Love conquers the wish to be at the top.

In that respect I admire Sudha Moorthy the wife of Narayan Moorthy. She was 'extermely' intelligent, 'highly' talented woman who always achieved substantially higher than what an above average man could achieve. Before her marriage, she was in the corporate world of the Tatas. She was a great achiever in a male dominated engineering field and she had access to the top brass at such a young age. She was a budding star.

She married Moorthy and decided to keep home and hearth. She took care of children while Narayan Moorthy was creating a revolution in lives of millions of people. After her children were grown enough, she sat in Infosys board. She now manages the charitable trusts that Narayan Moorthy had created, but all of it was after her children were on their own feet. She indeed is the luckiest of women I would say because she took the right decision. She had the joy of raising children, the thrill of sitting in boardrooms, the contentment in being a beneficiary in lives of thousands.

God gave man a curse that he would toil to feed his family and woman a curse that she would feel the pain of nurturing her family. I was thinking of all this yesterday and then I wondered if the curse that God gave to man and woman post fall was actually a real curse or a guideline to get through this fallen world disguised as a curse.

Ps: What I have written here may be slightly skewed, perhaps there is a woman somewhere who has been able to make it to the top in the corporate world and spend time with her family as well.

And there is a whole other side to this which is the question as to why men shouldn’t give up their corporate dreams and keep home and hearth while allowing the women folks to dominate the board rooms. But that is topic for another essay.