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Suzy Welch on tough choices women in the workforce face

By Dian Vujovich

Suzy Welch, and her husband Jack, appeared in April for a breakfast and book signing of “The Real Life MBA” at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.During their presentation, sponsored by Jupiter Medical Center, Suzy addressed some of the issues facing women in the workplace. Namely, the choices they have to face.

A little background: Once upon a time, the spiel was that a woman’s place was in the home. Based upon my life experiences, that always sounded more like a fairy tale and not the way things were in the real world. Then again, I’ve seen it both ways: My mother worked all of her life outside of our home. My immigrant grandmother didn’t. She stayed at home and cared for me while my parents went to work.

Although stay-at-home mom’s and grandparents caring for kids while their parents work is a common occurrence today, the numbers show more and more women are working today than there were a few decades ago.

According to the Department of Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, in December 2014, there were over 73 million working women in the U.S. In other words, they represent 47 percent, or nearly one-half, of the general workforce. In 1972, women made up 38 percent of the workforce.

During the presentation, Suzy was asked about the choices women face regarding employment and if she had any management advice for those wanting to climb the corporate ladder. No stranger to facing tough choices, she is also the author of “10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea” a book that suggests when faced with difficult decisions people think about how their decision might impact them in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years, what follows is a summary of her response for each question.

•Suzy on the reality of tough choices: You (women) have your choices and my choice was I was going to work. First of all I was a single mom and I needed to work. Did that choice change my career trajectory? Maybe. Or, if I choose to work less maybe I wasn’t going to be CEO as quickly or get home at 5 o’clock. But my choice had consequences and it meant I missed a lot.

•Suzy on management advice: Okay. Having lived this, the hard thing for women to do is they need to make an explicit choice to get ahead. If you don’t, what ends up happening is every single day you’re making the same choice all over again.

If you have a good day and it all works out, you say, “Okay, I’m going to stick with it. I’m going to continue doing the hard fight.” Then you have a bad day the next day, the kid is sick or you get a call from the teacher, and you’ve got to reinvent yourself again.

So for me the best advice is to make the choice. Then, figure out the strategies to support the choice

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