by Conor Friedersdorf
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jack Welch has some blunt words for women climbing the corporate ladder: you may have to choose between taking time off to raise children and reaching the corner office.
"There's no such thing as work-life balance," Mr. Welch told the Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference in New Orleans on June 28. "There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences."
Mr. Welch said those who take time off for family could be passed over for promotions if "you're not there in the clutch."
I am unsure whether Mr. Welch is speaking descriptively or prescriptively. Either way, I've got two responses:
1) Imagine that three people, all about 50 years old, are competing to be named CEO of a large company like General Electric -- one that pays a premium to compensate its top executive on the theory that singular talent at the top, drawn by necessity from a small pool of applicants, vastly increases corporate worth. Does it make sense that this decision would rest heavily on whether or not one of the applicants took a year off in her late twenties to care for her child? It makes perfect sense that the woman in question would be passed over for promotions that became available during her absence. Were Mr. Welch justifying a statistic showing that the average female CEO reaches the top at a slightly older age than the average male CEO, I'd buy into his theory.