Imagine a C-Suite superstar ever admitting to a 9-to-5 schedule, especially in this anemic economy. Blasphemy, right? The equivalent of career suicide, don’t you think?
Who would do such a thing?
Sheryl Sandberg – that’s who. She’s the chief operating officer of Internet darling Facebook, whose impending IPO is the talk of both Wall Street and Main Street. And before that, she worked for an equally formidable, if not downright superior, company.
She recently had this to say about her career in a video posted on Makers.com:
“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I
had kids. I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn't lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”
Wow. What a game-changer. Might others follow suit? I highly doubt it, but I do applaud Sandberg for having the guts to tell the truth and apparently being able to juggle the enormity of such a high-profile gig with parenthood.
As a busy freelance writer who’s also a hands-on dad in a home office with virtually no demarcation point separating my work from life, I understand and appreciate how challenging it is to raise children – especially three of them across different age groups. Parenting is really hard work. It’s both physical demanding, and at times, mentally and emotionally exhausting. But the rewards are tremendous, just as they are when you’re able to earn a living doing something you truly love.
My hope for Corporate America is that captains of industry, boards of directors and subordinate employees alike will give some
serious thought to what Sandberg confessed. Here’s why: The U.S. is losing ground to other developed countries in a world economy. We’re no longer the powerhouse of innovation and complete domination.
One problem is that too many corporate cultures are overly rigid or staid and in need of refreshing, not to mention that most people just don’t know how to manage. It’s a skill set that doesn’t come natural for many of us. It requires incredibly hard work.
I’ve seen attitudes about telecommuting loosen up quite a bit over the past three decades, but I still believe we have a long way to go. The fact is that too many talented individuals get stuck on the so-called mommy track or daddy track. It’s especially hard on female executives who are rising stars, but have to worry what their colleagues will think if they dare show up to work pregnant. Their employment status may be protected under the law, but they cannot control the attitudes or prejudices around them.
This is 2012, and it’s time for Corporate America to grow up – opening its mind wide enough to a point where getting one’s work done trumps a corporate policy or culture that expects working parents to be tethered to their office space for a set number of hours each day. Don’t ever forget that without a healthy work-life balance, none of us will ever able to achieve our personal-best performance either at the office or at home. And companies won't be as profitable.