Can women have it all?

By Jen Weigel | Chicago Tribune

CAN women really have it all? We posed the age-old question to three female business leaders; here is an edited transcript of those conversations.

n Nicole Loftus, founder and CEO of Zorch International: “Not only can we do it all, but it’s our duty to be examples to other women that we should do it all. I have many female friends who are the breadwinners in the family with three kids, working full time, and the husband still thinks the woman should be tending to the house and taking care of a sick kid. How are we going to change this paradigm if we don’t set different examples? “The No. 1 way to be successful both at home and at work is to make a list of what matters most to you, and then outsource as much as you can from the bottom of the list. So you’re doing what’s important to you, and leaving the tasks like cleaning the house or grocery shopping to someone else.

“And I think we have to keep our private life and our work life very separate. My message to women is, ‘Quit your [whining].’ We’re trying to close this deal, so does your child understand that this deal will help put them through college? It’s a great lesson for the kids to learn that mom and dad will have to switch because work is important to mom. Just like work is important to dad. There’s still so much discrimination—and I know people might be upset with me for saying this, but I think we have an obligation to push ourselves and get to work. We have an obligation to the women who pushed before us and to the women of our future. Then our kids will grow up and understand that men and women are no different in the workplace.”

n Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods: “If we want to have women in strong careers then we also need men who are willing to help with the balance in the workplace and in the [home]. One of the single most important things you can do for a successful career is to have a partner who respects and believes that your profession is as important as his. “I think it’s great for kids to see that men can be the caretakers and be hands-on with household duties and that mommy can go to work. We have that in our home. My kids have this strong role model at home and they see that mom has a powerful career…. Technology has afforded us this flexibility that we wouldn’t have been able to have 20 years ago. “For me, it will be a utopia when women are running 50 percent of the corporations and government, and men are running 50 percent of the households.”

n Karen Wells, CEO of the business consulting firm The AIW Group and retired vice president of menu innovation and nutrition for McDonald’s USA: “You absolutely cannot have it all. I became an executive at McDonald’s when our children were young, and when I said ‘yes’ to being an executive, I knew that I was saying ‘no’ to being at home with the children. “A defining moment for me two years ago was when my daughter was crying as I was kissing her good night, she said she was talking to her friends at school about memorable moments with their moms and she couldn’t come up with any. Now that doesn’t mean we didn’t have great moments, but it was the day-to-day events I missed. I was never home to help with homework, or able to tell a story every night. Now I can go to the basketball and volleyball games. We sit down to eat as a family. And now that my children are teens and pre-teens, I could never have forecasted how much their needs have changed. The need for more dialogue at this age is so important, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I would have missed it had I stayed in my corporate job…. I work now, but on my own terms. Now I say ‘no’ to the corporate track and say ‘yes’ to family time. And I absolutely have not looked back, I don’t regret it at all.”


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