Further Thoughts on the “CEO Dads”: Schireson and El-Erian

Change is more likely to happen when the new generation of men in positions of corporate leadership see work-family not as a theoretical issue or one that only effects women but rather as something they see as a real challenge in their own lives

* Quick programming note. I’ll be part of a parent panel for Fox and Friends tomorrow (10/4) morning at around 9:20am. And next week, I’ll be featured both in an article and in a video interview with the Globe and Mail (Canada’s newspaper of record). Stay tuned for details.

Over the past few weeks, two CEOs, PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian and MongoDB’s Max Schireson, made headlines by stepping down in order to be more involved fathers. I reported on both, and even interviewed Schireson for the Wall Street Journal. Thanks to reader feedback here and at WSJ, I have some further thoughts on the relative importance of their actions.

Clearly, not everyone is in the financial position to make the same choices as El-Erian and Schireson. The goal, however, is to look beyond the incompatibility between an “all-in” approach to work and the time needed to be sufficiently involved as fathers.

While both CEOs forewent enormous amounts of money, they both had already attained a level of financial security that allowed them to make a clean break from work. Most of us don’t have that financial freedom. We’d all be better off if workplaces made more reasonable time demands on employees, offered more flexible ways to work (such as with informal telecommuting), and better accommodated men during peak parenting times (such as with paternity leave). In this way, dads wouldn’t have to drop out of work to be involved with family. Instead, they could achieve success in both of their most important life roles.

The most important aspect of the recent attention to the “CEO Dads” is that change is more likely to happen when the new generation of men in positions of corporate leadership see work-family not as a theoretical issue or one that only effects women but rather as something they see as a real challenge in their own lives. I believe this is starting to happen, and, as a result, many companies are becoming more accommodating employers in order to retain talent.

What do you think about the precedent set by these CEO Dads? About the challenges faced by the rest of us working dads? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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