Screw You, Jack Welch.
by Leslie Morgan Steiner
Jack Welch was never my business idol, anyway. A little too militaristic, kinda like a junta leader minus the camouflage. Overly simplistic in his view of business. Arrogant in that “I’m a smart white man and I rule the world” kinda way.
His approach to his personal life didn’t leave much room for respect; he left wife number one after 28 years and then wife number two after 14 years to marry wife number three, Suzy Wetlaufer, who served briefly as the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review before being forced to resign after starting an affair with Welch while interviewing him for the magazine.
But now he’s really stepped in the squishy stuff.
At a keynote speech delivered for the June 28 Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference in New Orleans (for which insiders report he earned over $100,000 in speaker fees) he spoke about a subject I don’t think he knows much about: work/life balance. "There's no such thing as work-life balance," the former General Electric Co. Chief Executive. "There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences."
Duh! Did it really take him four decades working at and running the largest and most valuable company in the world to figure this out? There is nothing revolutionary or particularly insightful in what Jack Welch said. For a lot less than $100K, I could have told the crowd that (and a lot more).
It’s the sexist consolations Welch added that raised millions of hackles and earned him a few more minutes of infamy in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and American Public Media’s Marketplace.
“We’d love to have more women moving up faster,” Mr. Welch said. Squish. “But they’ve got to make the tough choices and know the consequences of each one.” He added that those women who take time off for family could be passed over for promotions if “you’re not there in the clutch.”
Taking time off for family “can offer a nice life,” Mr. Welch said, “but the chances of going to the top on that path” are smaller. “That doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice career,” he added. Squish squish.