How grand would life be if you could enjoy the perks, the glory, the importance and power of being a big shot executive with a major multinational, but got to stay home and play with the kids rather than work? I know, me too. So too the six women suing Bayer for sex discrimination.
While there are plenty of other causes of action that suggest they have some very real gripes. this, via the Evil HR Lady by way of Walter Olson at Overlawyered, is not their strongest point:
The few women who have advanced beyond the director level and into the highest echelon of management have achieved this rank by sacrificing their personal lives and abandoning work-life balance. Female Vice President of Global Health Economics and Outcomes Research Kathleen Gondek is unmarried with no children, female Senior Director Susan Herster has no children and female Vice Presidents Shannon Campbell and Leslie North have others who serve as primary care-givers to their children.
Can you imagine the sadness at the loss of work-life balance by these women in the “highest echelon of management?” How sad. How wrong. They shouldn’t be there are all if they haven’t figured out that anyone elevated to that position is required to sacrifice their personal lives to perform the heavy burdens that come with the heavy paycheck.
Not worth it for you? That’s cool. Don’t do it. And don’t get the title, or the car, or the paycheck. But you can’t have it all. No man can. No woman can. No one can. And don’t whine about the choice you made, to go for the career at the price of a family life.
We all make a choice about the relationship of our work and our non-working life. And we all pay a price, on one side or the other for our choices. All of us. It’s different for women? Absolutely, but blame nature, not management.
We all want it all. Who wouldn’t? But rational people understand that life involves trade-offs. We can’t be in two places at the same time. We can’t do a day’s work while enjoying a day off. Not even the magic of the internet can allow us to avoid the strictures of physics, even though there are plenty of people who pretend that’s untrue.
It would affect a man’s career as well. It’s just that fewer men are the primary caregivers for their children.
Work-life balance is not a guarantee. Attacking other women who have made different life choices than you have, and therefore have different consequences, is a cheap shot and an attempt to say, “We’re better mothers/women than you are.”
Really? Do we need that.
It makes sense that people–male and female–who choose to “abandon work-life balance” in the company’s favor should be rewarded by the company. If you’re not willing to do that, don’t expect the reward. Why should you?
But the key is that this isn’t a gender issue, but a human issue. Whether it’s being in court on trial when junior has a baseball game or Missy has her dance recital, it’s the same for men as women. We make choices. Smart people plan as best they can to do as much as reasonably possible, but something will always have to give.
The women of Bayer enjoy powerful corporate positions. So they have nannies to raise their children? They decide not to have children at all? That’s life. That’s the life they’ve chosen. Enough pretending that we don’t have to suffer for our decisions, or that it doesn’t affect everyone. Every person lives with the consequences of his or her choices. We make the best of it, but that’s the best we can do.
There is no entitlement to be able to hold an important position and enjoy the life of Sally Homemaker. By confusing gender discrimination with reality, the Bayer Six don’t help their cause or their credibility. Or their gender.