I read today that Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee Corporation and also 22 years at Pepsi, passed away at too young an age. In 1997, she had the courage to make personal choices that many did not understand at the time and created quite a stir for "resigning corporate America" to spend time with her children and focus on family. It prompted a discussion about whether women can have it all - family and career.
I am hopeful that we are shifting from the "have it all" conversation to "doing it all." Listening to her daughter on NPR this morning made me think about the doing it all with the support of enlightened leaders and CEO's that get it. This happens to be a month of hearing from women, men and diverse populations that they care about issues that impact them and this community.
Women need to work and want to do good work as well as care for their family. Why aren't more companies who say they care about bringing women into their organizations and developing them, stepping up to policies that support them? I know a lot of good things are happening and I plan to ask more about what they are and write about it.
Two observations here:
First, I respect and admire our team here at S. Benjamins & Co. We are fortunate to have amazing women who have designed blended life styles with family as priority and work (that we are proud of) that is meaningful and making lives better. They inspire me and they deliver incredible quality work in a flexible yet highly accountable environment.
Second, I had the opportunity to meet the new head of HR, Legal and Finance at Patagonia two weeks ago. They embrace family in a way I have just not seen and it was incredibly refreshing. From the day care center to the kitchen in the morning filled with parents and kids before kicking off the day and learning of their family supporting policies, and commitment to the environment, inspired me beyond words. I learned that 100% of their new mothers return to work because they are supported in such unique ways to be successful. They believe in family in their words and actions. A great outcome is their tremendous passion for their work, succession and loyalty. They take work life culture to a new level and their commitment to make the world better is serious.
If we want women and men to put family front and center (as I imagine you would want for yourself) then our practices must change. What is one step you can take to express your thoughts on this and start a new conversation with senior leaders and listen to what your workers value?