Jack Welch created a firestorm of controversy with his remarks at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference in June on work-life balance. According to reports on the conference, Welch told attendees “there’s no such thing as work-life balance...there are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences” (WSJ, 7/09).
At blogher.com, Paula Gregorowicz noted that this isn’t the first time Welch has talked tough on work choices. Gregorowicz reported that in The Welch Way, Jack and Suzy (Welch) suggested that the feeling of being out of balance comes from not facing "what 'achieving work-life balance' really comes down to, which is making choices and living with their consequences.” Jack and Suzy went on in the book to say that they “would even vote to retire the term work-life balance’ and replace it with ‘work-life choices’.”
Unfortunately, the "women make choices" argument is just one more addition to the long line of "it's your own fault" excuses for why women aren't treated fairly in the workplace. Joan Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the
Bottom line? As long as women have to make choices men don't have to make, it's still discrimination.
Is there hope for the future? PhillyGrrl had this to say about Welch's comments:
- "Maybe it’s the attitude of old-fashioned executives such as Mr. Welch that prevents this 'work-life balance'...thankfully, dude is retired."
Read more from Joan Williams: