You all can imagine my reaction when I checked my email this afternoon and saw a message from LinkedIn. THIS was the header:
"Lori, what does it mean to be a “real mom” at work?"
Needless to say, my jaw dropped. (Like, "Why the *%$!! are you asking ME?!!")
Here's what the message said (sender's name omitted):
My name is.... and I'm an editor at LinkedIn News. We often reach out to LinkedIn members who we think can add informed perspectives on the day’s news and trends.
Amid takeover threats from activist investors and transforming PepsiCo’s soda-driven brand into a health-focused company, CEO Indra Nooyi faced different, yet important, battles at home. At one point, her youngest daughter looked at her and said she wished Nooyi could be a “real mom.”
Now I want to hear from you: As a working parent, how do your children view your relationship with work? How do you explain to them the demands of your job when they compete with your children’s needs? If you are not a parent, how do you see this dynamic impacting your colleagues? And lastly, how does the definition of a "real mom" who works need to change?
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment on this article where others are also weighing in.
Thanks and I look forward to reading your response.
I clicked over to her LinkedIn post, which read (a slight expansion on the email):
Amid takeover threats from activist investors and changing Pepsi’s soda-driven brand into a health-focused company, Indra Nooyi faced smaller, yet important, battles at home. At one point, her youngest daughter looked at her and said she wished Nooyi could be a “real mom.” Of course, her mostly male CEO peers faced similar challenges, but those are rarely discussed. Nooyi, now 66, says that needs to change.
“Men got a bye in all of this, and the woman was considered primary for family management,” she said. “We’re at a point now where men and women have to work together and say female and family are two definitions…. Don’t just equate female with family.”
As the daughter of a single working mother, I hate to admit that I too — at least once — begged my mom to be a "real mom." Now, I want to hear from you: As a working parent, how do your children view your relationship with work? How do you explain to them the demands of your job when they get in the way of the demand of their lives? If you are in a dual-income relationship, do you find your children view you and your partners' careers differently? And lastly, how does the definition of a "real mom" need to change? Let me know in the comments below #WorkingTogether
There was a link to an article and an interview with Indra Nooyi, expanding further on the themes outlined in the post and the email.
Well, what do you know -- one of the first responses I read said:
While this is a great article, the email I received prompting me to view it and contribute to it stated that LinkedIn knew I was a parent when I do not have any children. I am not a working parent and I think how ever you came to the conclusion that I am is probably violating the permissions I set to share my data with LinkedIn. It is also not wise to assume or ask people’s parental status in a blanket statement as people can be dealing with fertility issues, the death of a child, or other characteristics that LinkedIn doesn’t need to ask about.
Below it, another woman said, "This is exactly what I came here to say. Thank you!"
(In a little more than an hour after I received the email, the post received 240 comments. I saw a few others that also challenged the assumption that everyone receiving and reading it was a mom -- "real" or otherwise.)
I added my own response below hers. (Well, she ASKED for my response...!) I understood that people in my network might see it, but I was, to put it mildly, a little hot under the collar ;) (and hey, I'm retired anyway...!). This is what I said:
Thank you, I came here about to say the same thing. My jaw dropped when I saw the question at the top of the email I received "What does it mean to be a real mom at work?" I am not and never was a "real mom" or a working parent; my only child was stillborn 6 months into my one and only pregnancy (and I'm not even working; my employer downsized me out of my job 7 years ago and I am now retired).
I do note the question further on in the email, "If you are not a parent, how do you see this dynamic impacting your colleagues?" Ummm, nice try at inclusion, but I would say this question is rather misguided. Why not ask me about my own experience being affected by this dynamic as a non-mother in the workplace? Your question still assumes that parenthood is the "norm" and the only reality that matters, and ignores the experience of being non-parents in a highly pronatalist world -- an experience shared by approximately 20% of women in the developed world today (and a number that is growing rapidly) -- some of us by choice, but many of us not, for a broad variety of reasons.
As Indra Nooyi herself said above in your post, "Don’t just equate female with family." (Please and thank you.)
I've seen several complaints about the growing pronatalism on LinkedIn recently on some of the childless/free forums where I hang out. I set up my profile as part of my outplacement counselling, and connected with a few former colleagues and other contacts there, but rarely hang out there -- but my understanding is that, in an effort to encourage people to be their "authentic" selves in the workplace, it's becoming increasingly like Facebook and Instagram, with proud parents posting photos of their kids, etc. In other words, it's becoming yet one more space online where non-parents don't feel like they belong.
Did you get the email? What do you think?? Did I over-react?