A recent Business Insider article discussing and highlighting Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software since 2007, shed some light on another viewpoint from a woman in power on how to successfully be a woman and a leader in your company. As noted within the article, Mrs. Parsons does not view herself as an average CEO. She often brings her three young children to work with her, and she valiantly encourages her employees to do the same. In her own words, she has “created [her] own image of what a female CEO should look like” and offers some advice to women on how to better approach the gender gap and advance women in more leadership roles.
As an alternative to some suggestions made by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” Parsons suggests that women, working moms in particular, should support a new type of feminism which is not so heavily based on women behaving like men in the office by playing into workplace norms or playing “hard” and accommodating an office culture by doing whatever it takes to succeed at work – regardless of their personal lives. Instead, she suggests, women should “get beyond acting like men in order to get ahead, and emphasize how our differences make us incredible assets.” This includes:
1) Banding together to demand flexibility to excel on our jobs
2) Admit that we have kids and not hide that fact in fear that it will stunt our career opportunities
3) Occasionally bring a child into the office to quietly do homework on a day when school is out or daycare is unavailable.
By no means is she suggesting that women should never work late and/or go above and beyond the call of duty, but just demand that the “norms” of corporate America change to accommodate women, specifically, “those who want to have families and realize that having a family does NOT make us work less or achieve less.”
Though there is nothing wrong with “leaning in,” Parsons thinks it may be best for all women to pursue your goals, take risks, and go above and beyond, but do not give up your role as a mother, wife and community member to do so.
So, what do you think? Will embracing your role as a wife, mother or caregiver in the workplace negatively affect chances of growth on the job?