Middle Age Direct
I need people to work 24/7 and other claims you wouldn’t expect to be applauded in 2022.
Credits: ph. William Fortunato from Pexels
“I hire only 40something women, as they don’t have to take care of kids and families anymore and they can be engaged at work 24/7”
This is the loose translation of what a somehow successful Italian female entrepreneur has declared during a public conference a few days ago. In spite of all my social media feeds bursting into outrage and disgust about it, these sentences were declared and applauded by an audience clearly detached from reality, best practices and even PR common sense.
It is quite difficult to unpack all the layers of nonsense of that speech, so I will be focusing on a specific angle, which is very dear to me: effective leadership and successful performance.
Apparently, this entrepreneur is measuring performance based on quantity of worked hours, as if we were in 1776 and Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” still could be used as a management manual. But as I am wearing some Lululemon sweatpants and not a gown, petticoat and cape ensemble, I assume it is 2022 indeed (even though I would have loved that gown!)
In my work experience I have delivered the best accomplishments and had my best performances in those moments in which I have been the happiest and, for sure, not when I have worked the longest hours. But apart from my own story, which could have only an anecdotal value, if we consider evidence from field studies from Harvard, Yale and Wharton, the outcome is the same: happy employees perform better. What a shocker! (irony alert)
I will share another piece of personal history.
Several years ago I had been selected for an important role by a big, strong and successful company. I was hesitating, the opportunity was incredible, but accepting the job would have implied a relocation, which I was not yet ready for.
To convince me, the big strong and successful company invited me for a chat with one of their C Suite leaders: THE woman of their Board. During the conversation she told me the following, ears piercing, sentence “this is not a role for someone who wants kids and family”.
Now, I have never had the desire to reproduce my DNA and I have always wanted dogs in my households, but never kids. It happens. I don’t feel less accomplished as a woman, nor I believe an overpopulating Earth will miss my toddlers. So, somehow, in her intention that role WAS for someone like me, who didn’t want kids. Wait, was it really though?
I declined that job offer in the most “Devil Wears Prada” moment of my life (in a less fancy outfit though: that gown mentioned above would have come in handy!).
I rebel against the idea that only kids are an acceptable reason for a woman to have a decent work-life balance and to be entitled to time off. And I rebel against the idea that only women bear the responsibility of that progeny, in case it exists.
McKinsey dedicated its latest newsletter to this topic and in case you are having an eye roll Christine Quinn-type of moment, here is some literature for you, to back my not-so-1776-rant:
The New York Times “Rethinking Work”
Harvard Business Review “A Manager’s Job Is Making Sure Employees Have a Life Outside Work”
CNBC “Memo to work martyrs: Long hours make you less productive”
McKinsey & Company “Meeting the challenge of moms’ ‘double double shift’ at home and work”
Finally, if you came here hoping for some advertising content, I won’t let you down. This is hands down one of the best commercials done on the topic of motherhood: enjoy!