What Is This Brou-ha-ha About “Having It All”?

men, women, having it allWe’ve certainly talked about work/life balance recently and women’s leadership but the latest brou-ha-ha erupted in The Atlantic in a post written by Anne-Marie Slaughter. She really touched a nerve when she described her dilemma between her high-level position and her family. Now there are posts written on Forbes and on Harvard Business Review among many others. One particularly interesting post was written by Dorothy Dalton.

Under all of this are deeper issues

Gender roles have been changing for many decades at this point. This is not unique to the US. But sociological constructs persist. Often certain jobs or even industries are relegated as “men’s work” or “women’s work.” Stop for a moment and consider your impression of a woman working in the construction industry in a non-clerical role or a man working as a nurse. Maybe it isn’t something that seems wrong or out of order to you but how do people in general perceive these roles? This is where the deeper issues lie.

Who said women had to be caregivers 100% of the time?

Many of the roles that are assigned to particular genders stems from another time in history. In our own time, now in 2012, there is much more mobility and possibility for both men and women. There is no monopoly on which gender is the most compassionate or nurturing.

However, there is one more variable that must be factored in. There are ongoing serious economic uncertainties for many countries. For many men and women, work is not a choice but a necessity. “Having it all” isn’t a choice; it’s a just a day-to-day experience. If you have to work, how do you manage your values, priorities and financial obligations?

If we have to do this day and and day out, what has to give?

At the end of the day, this issue is not about Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Christine Legarde or Angela Merkel and how they manage their careers and a personal lives.  It’s not even about the “nanny-people” and what really makes a good parent or a good worker. We all have talents that are not gender-specific. It’s just as likely that a man has talent as a nurturer and parent as it is that a woman has talent for organizing and managing the operations of a multi-national corporation. It’s really about everyday men and women who want choice about how they create fulfilling lives.

So what is this brou-ha-ha about “having it all?”

Please join us on Friday, June 29, 2012 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz to discuss this topic. The chat begins on 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT and we want you to add your insight and expertise to the conversation.

Discussion questions:

How is the concept of “having it all” affecting the workplace?

Why does “having it all” persist as a women’s issue rather than a human/talent/leadership issue?

Is “having it all” simply a class issue? Why/why not?

How do we move this conversation beyond gender roles and expectations in the business environment?