Care, leaves, and making work better | Anne-Marie Slaughter, New America, and Laszlo Bock, Google

Care, leaves, and making work better | Anne-Marie Slaughter, New America, and Laszlo Bock, Google


LASZLO BOCK: Thank
you for joining. I had to say, she didn’t
ask for the book to be here. I insisted. I know it’s awkward when
someone does that for you. So it’s on me. In the spirit of
the conversations we’ve been having
about careers– you and I chatted before. We didn’t chat about this. And also in the spirit
of gotcha questions, what actually was
your first job? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
What was my– my first job was every Saturday in an
independent bookstore. And I still think, assuming the
independent bookstores survive, if I found myself with
nothing else to do, I’d be really happy still
in an independent bookstore. LASZLO BOCK: Nice. Selling books, or– ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Yeah, selling. I was on the floor. LASZLO BOCK: Awesome. There was somebody
here whose job was I think like scrubbing
books with a toothbrush? Is that Zoe? [LAUGHTER] So we can compare notes on what
the correct book technique was. So I thought we won. I thought we were all set. All you had to do was,
there was– just adapt, behave a certain way,
not give up too early, and women would be all set. Can’t women have it all? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Women can. Men can. We can. I prefer not to talk less about
women and more about all of us. And there are a lot of
academics in this audience. And I was speaking earlier
with a colleague from NYU. And we were saying,
look, if everybody can live like academics,
absolutely you can do it. If you and your
husband both have secure, flexible
jobs where you have to show up a certain number of
fixed hours a week, which you do as an academic, but
the rest of the time you decide when to work,
what you’re going to do. You can slow it down,
write an article or not write an article, or
write it faster or slower. It is completely doable. And that was my world
until I was about 50. And it’s not that it’s all easy. You have to get tenure
and that’s hard. But I went to Washington
and worked the way most people work– on
someone else’s schedule. Even a great boss– Hillary
Clinton was a great boss. By Washington standards, she
came in practically at noon. She came in at 8:00
and she left at 7:00. And many Washington high level
officials come in at 6:30 and you have to get
in there earlier than that for the meeting. So she was great. Everything was great. It’s just that my schedule
depended on the world, and my children
back in Princeton, 3 and 1/2 hours away,
had their own ideas. And I actually had to choose. And the article is less
a lament about me– many people thought
I was complaining. I’m not complaining. It was, wow, if you can’t
do it with every advantage in the world, including
full time help at home and a lead parent
husband– if I can’t do it, and I’m plenty
ambitious, something is structurally wrong. We are not going to get there. And we heard this morning,
it’ll take 100 years– James Manyika pointed out–
100 years to get to parity in the C-suite at this rate. And actually, we’re going
backwards in some ways. LASZLO BOCK: Well,
it was interesting, because your– the
article and then the book changed the
conversation people were having about gender in the
workplace, men and women. But the focus had been on women. And as you say, you like
talking more expansively about all genders. How did we miss
this for so long? Why were people in
the HR profession just saying like, nah, you
know, we have regular leads. We have maternity leave. We have these policies in the
government and we’re fine. How did we as a
society miss something that you so articulately and
thoughtfully point out that has actually caused us
to now saw, actually we have been missing
this much broader issue? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: I
think the first thing to say is that the wave of
conversation, which certainly I did not expect. Frankly, I don’t think the
editors at “The Atlantic” expected the week before “The
Atlantic” cover story came out, we couldn’t get me on to lots
of TV shows because it was like, oh, this is the same old,
same old– yet another woman writing about how hard it is
to balance work and family. I think I caught a
generational wave. And that is critical to
where I think we have to go, that what happened with lots
of mothers and daughters, or sisters and younger sisters,
were having this conversation. And younger women
were saying, you know, it just doesn’t seem so easy. I’m looking at lots
of older women. I either don’t want their life
or I’m seeing that they really are having a harder time. And that article
became something that mothers and daughters
send to each other– also a certain amount of
wives and husbands. I’d get men coming
up to me saying, my wife gave me your article. [LAUGHTER] Pause. Which meant, and
we had a big fight. So I think there’s this
big generational shift. Because I didn’t say anything
other people hadn’t said. I think then we have started
looking exactly like, look, we’re stuck at 20%. We’ve been at 20%– between 15%
and 20% women in the C-suite in good industries– not in
tech, but in other industries– for 20 years, since 1990. So I think the numbers,
we realized, whoa, we’re not making progress. What I now think
is as long as we keep talking about this
as a women’s issue, we will never make
the progress we need. Because what we’re
doing is constantly saying earning an income
is for men and women to do, either by choice
or economic necessity. Most couples in this
country, economic necessity. But care is a woman’s job. And that just won’t work. It’s a halfway revolution. You can’t do it that way. And yet reflexively, even this
morning, people are saying, companies are doing this for
the women in their ranks. Companies are letting
mothers take time out. Well, the one thing
I hope you take away from this conversation,
banish the word mother from your
vocabulary every time you talk about children. And you heard
actually– Michelle, I just heard you
say parental leave. Always, always, always
talk about parents. Because it takes two still, even
in California, to have a child. Two sets of genes anyway. We won’t go any
further than that. And it takes two to raise
or care for that child. And until we– that’s
a much bigger shift. And I think we’re
just at the outset. LASZLO BOCK: Well,
you talk about, too, this tension
between– this focus in society on what we value
and this competitive mystique you termed it. And we’re chasing this
brass ring and we lionize. We heard it today. In the tech industry,
the lone genius who’s also a complete– I
have my daughter in the room now so I can’t say it. Complete jerk. And we lionize that
and look at that and look at billionaires and
centimillionaires and things like that. But what you’re talking
about as notion of caring is not valued in the same way. What’s going on there? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Yeah. I think part of it is– what
I start out by saying is, look, the competitive drive
and the caring instinct are equal human instincts. And we heard earlier,
look, we’re social animals. We would never have
gotten to where we are, even back
in caveman days, if we weren’t social animals. But we are also competitive. My husband thinks this
is ironic that I’m now talking about care, because
after a couple years of therapy I came back to my family at one
point earlier on and I said, you know what? I’ve realized I’m really
quite competitive. That was not news
to anybody but me. [LAUGHTER] So we both got these drives. But particularly
in liberating women to have power and
choices, the same options to pursue their own
agendas as men had, we’ve totally valued
the person in the family who brings in the income. And we have totally devalued
my mother’s traditional work, many of our mothers’
traditional work, the work of investing
in a family turning that pile of dollars
into shelter and food and education and
discipline and the nurture. All of that, if we
tie it just to women, we’re scared to value it
because it looks like we’re saying go back to the kitchen. Women should be mothers. But in fact what we have to
do is value it for all of us. And I’ve been really
struck listening today– if you listen through my lens–
how often investing in others, which is just what care is,
care is investing in others– is so important to creating that
workplace, that a place where you know how to care for others,
know how to invest for others, exactly what you do in a family,
is a much better place to work. So we need to value
it across the board. And we don’t just
make room for it. This is not just work
is the important thing, and if you have a baby or
care for your own parents or an ill spouse, well,
we’ll make room for that. It’s we need to embrace that. We need to say– for me,
somebody who wouldn’t go home if their child needed
them, I don’t want that person in my workplace. That is not a person
I want to value. That person doesn’t
have my values. It’s not that I don’t want
them to do a really good job. But somebody who would say,
oh yeah, that’s all right. I’ll miss my kid’s recital. No, right? No. Why would you do that? If you were absolutely
up against a deadline, I could see it. But for most of us, you
could of course make room. Or somebody would say, my
mother just fell and needs me, but I’m not going to her, I
don’t want to hire that person. So I think we bring those
values into the workplace, recognize it makes us better
human beings, better workers, but also of course we’re
providing public goods. We’re investing in others. LASZLO BOCK: Well,
you’re saying something now that I’ve not heard
anyone say before, and it’s in your book as well. I haven’t seen anywhere– the
critique is often, like well, not everyone has kids. We even at this company
had debates when we talked about maternity policy. Somebody said, well,
it’s a little unfair because I don’t have kids
and I never want to have kids and where’s my extra six
months off or what have you? Because I’m not
going to have kids, but statistically I
would have two and half, so I need 15 months
off with full pay. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Got to love engineers. [LAUGHTER] LASZLO BOCK: But the point
you’re making is that, I think, it sounds like is that
we all have parents and they need care. And we have– so can you expand. Like where does that
insight come from and how universal is that and– ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: So I
think I think that’s right. I prefer family. So if you’re going
to talk about leave, let’s talk at least
about parental leave. But I prefer family leave,
with the understanding that includes your parents. It includes maybe a spouse. It may include extended
family members. Anyone who is ill or
disabled who needs care, you should be able to
take that leave for. And one of the great
things about what we’re doing in this country
is changing our definition of what family is–
partly, as somebody said on the last panel, as we
become majority minority, many of those minorities have
much more extended families than traditional white
Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans, to the extent
that’s traditional. So partly you may have many
more people in your family. Partly, you can
construct families, which is a wonderful thing. LASZLO BOCK: What do you mean
by that, construct families? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Well, meaning a family are the people you
choose to live with and you choose to care for. So obviously, many of
us construct families by choosing mates. But increasingly
you can have people who live with you who you are
caring for– in California, you can have three parents. Legally, you can
have three parents. I think that’s a great thing. The more people who
are in your children’s lives– so grandparents
raising grandchildren, or people who are sort
of aunts and uncles but who choose
to– in our family, they are people we think
of as part of our family who celebrate holidays, who
are biologically related to us. And so you can do
a lot with that. The harder question
comes from the, well, my parents are healthy. I don’t have kids. There’s nobody in my
family who needs care. Why don’t I get to
sail around the world? And that’s a harder question. I would say people
should have leave to do things other than work. But I don’t want
to say investing in the care of a child
or an aging parent is a different thing
than just taking off. Its work. It’s hard work. It’s not taking off. So I think those are
harder lines to draw. LASZLO BOCK: But it’s an
interesting distinction you’re drawing. Because you’re not saying
taking care of somebody is nobler because it’s
volunteer work, right? You’re not saying that like,
oh, if I’m going to go volunteer and help build an
orphanage somewhere I should get as
much leave for that. There’s something special about
caring for another human being, that you have a connection,
maybe an obligation, to that is different
in your mind. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: It is. Yes, it is. And I think the other
thing I would say, I said before,
it’s a public good. And it is. For a long time, all of us free
rode off the efforts of women and who cared for, who invested
in the next generation. And again, the
neuroscience now shows us that investing in intensive
care for those first five years shapes what a child
will be able to learn for the rest of his or her life. So all that care that
was provided by women were creating healthy,
productive, competitive citizens, and the rest of us
were free riding off that. Same thing with
caring for elders. Those same women were
caring for their parents and typically their
husband’s parents. And they were making it
possible then for men to continue working while the
obligations to the people who were cared for them were met. So I would say, A,
that is something very important to
nurture among humanity. We’ve been talking about
civility and respect and all of that is
a deep part of care. But I’d also say companies
or government, depending on how you do it,
ought to recognize that that care provides
us a public good, a deep social good, and we should
put it in a separate category than even volunteering,
which I’m also all for. But I think it is a
different category. LASZLO BOCK: So the headline
is not Anne-Marie Slaughter hates volunteerism? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
No, no, no. [LAUGHTER] No And investing in
community– at some point, this line becomes quite close. LASZLO BOCK: I’m just
being a terrible host is what I’m doing. [LAUGHTER] ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
You’re just giving me another terrible headline. Anne-Marie Slaughter thinks
women can’t have it all, and hates volunteering. [LAUGHTER] LASZLO BOCK: We’ll
open up for questions in just a minute or two. But I wanted to ask about a
couple more things, if I could. Today we’ve talked– and
the question is going to be, who should lead
the charge on this? And we’ve talked about how
companies– somebody mentioned today that companies
are just expanding their parental, their care
policies, their care leave policies, without regulation. And there’s some pockets
where there’s more regulation. Who should lead? And in particular,
what about the case of the kind of companies
we saw on stage before us where you have 20
employees or 50 employees? How should you think about it? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Well,
if I could wave a wand, we would have universal family
care of some kind or other. Like Social Security,
we would simply have universal family care
that anyone could take to take care of anyone else. And that would be– LASZLO BOCK: It’s OK to applaud. That’s awesome. [APPLAUSE] ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
And we can do it. Other societies do it. And in fact, you know
immediately in the short term, it’s expensive. In the long term, again, if you
want to invest in our security, our competitiveness,
our quality– this is a very sensible
public investment. Absent that, because I don’t
see that on the horizon immediately– although
some of the conversations about universal basic income
actually start to overlap that. So we’ll see. I think that what’s
likely to happen is that government is
proceeding piecemeal. So state by state
and city by city. And that really is accelerating. We heard Michelle say that, that
suddenly even in the last year, paid leave is gathering steam. At some point, it’s going to
become a problem for business to have such different standards
in all these different cities. So at some point, the
chamber of commerce will say, look, it would
really be better just to have consistent
standards across the board. And then it’ll be a
question of you mandate you must have paid leave
of x number of weeks, of x amount of salary. You guys figure out
state by state or city by city how you want to do it. You can do it as an insurance
scheme, as a mandate, however else. Or does the federal government
go further than that? But I do think companies
are playing important roles, but ultimately
government is going to have to at least
set the standards, if not set up the system. LASZLO BOCK: Well,
it sounds like that’s a big part of solving the small
employer challenge, right? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Yes, exactly. Yeah. And I’ll say on the smaller
side, new America’s about 200 people. And you can imagine,
given my profile, that the question of what kind
of leave we were going to have has been very much
on the agenda. And we have six weeks
of paid time off to begin with that you
can use for anything. You use for sick days,
personal days, vacation. I require you to use four
of those weeks a year. In other words, you can only
roll over two weeks a year. Because I know you’ll be a
better employee, particularly for the work we do,
which is very creative, if you take four
weeks off a year. You just will be better. You’ll be recharged. You’ll have some
interesting ideas. And then, of
course, for parental leave we have three months
equal for man and the woman. It is expensive. We’re not that big. I feel very much– I’m now
going to forget the name of the formal flower’s– I
feel very strongly that doing the right thing
is worth the cost. But I can imagine you get caught
in a situation where you really can’t afford to have people out. And then I think the answer
is going to be partly what Emissaries is doing. In other words, you’re going
to start thinking of a team as not just the people who
are actually working for you, but the people who
are available to you. And you will have cultivated
a relationship with them. And every manager
should be thinking, when somebody goes out– not
if, but when someone goes out– how am I going to fill
that in the same way that– at least
in most companies, we have some kind of
succession planning. And then I think it’ll
be expensive short term, but again, it will
pay for itself. LASZLO BOCK: Do you think–
you said four weeks they got to take or it goes away. Do you think some
amount of leave should be required, that not
only does it not go away, but if you haven’t your
leave until December 1, like we’re going
to lock the door. Your badge gets turned off. You’ve got to go
recharge and take care of yourself and somebody else. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Yeah, I
found the economic incentive works pretty well when people
realize it’s use it or lose it. They take it. There is a problem of them
all taking it in December. And it’s like everybody
looks at their bank and says, oh, I better go ahead. So you need to manage that way. But yes, essentially,
all the data shows, just like it
shows we do better when we get enough sleep. This idea that you
can work all the time with two weeks off
in a whole year, you are just less effective. And I know it’s certainly
true for myself. And I’ve read a lot
of the literature. It’s again, a short
term, longer term issue. LASZLO BOCK: So two last
very, very focused questions. What would be the ideal
policy for employers to have? Would it be six months
of caregiver leave with full pay for everyone? Would it be two months? Would it be just child related? Would it be just children
and cousins, but only first cousins? [LAUGHTER] ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Yeah,
I like the first cousins. LASZLO BOCK: We have a
complicated family tree, so we– ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
I was going to say, from the south, that would be
second cousins, twice removed. LASZLO BOCK: Exactly. What would be ideal? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: So
ideal from my point of view, because we also have–
we’ve got plenty of data that shows too much time
is not a good thing. And particularly for women, even
though I see this as absolutely as important for
men as for women, and I think men will get
a huge amount out of it, I would say I don’t
want too much time. I think the ideal is three
months for men and for women, with another three months to be
negotiated for flexible work. In the sense that– and I will
speak from my own experience, after three months I was
going fairly stir crazy. I adore my children,
but you know– LASZLO BOCK: I’m sure
they’ll never see this. [LAUGHTER] ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
They would know it. The one year I spent at home
when we took sabbatical, both my sons were, would
you please go back to work? So I think people should
be able to negotiate how they want to come back in. But I do, again– for men, this
is not just helping the women in your lives. This is for you. You have as much to gain
through this, through bonding with your children, discovering
you are every bit as competent a parent as a woman, that
you may parent differently. You almost certainly will. But you will get freedom from
the circumscribed gender roles that men have imposed
upon them as providers and not caregivers,
as much as women have gained from
not being imposed social roles as caregivers
and not competitors. And so it’s whatever it is, it
really does have to be equal. And men have to take it
just as much as women do. LASZLO BOCK: So
just last questions on that– I know you want to
talk about care and parental. But for men, since most
of– we saw earlier, most CEO level people are men. Most VP level– what’s
the prescription? What do you want them doing
differently starting tomorrow? You talked about saying
parental leave instead of maternity leave. You talked about
actually taking it. On behalf of my gender,
what else can we do? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: So
the other thing you can do is to talk to all
young men that you mentor, every single young
man in every workplace. And for the professors here, I
know the women professors here have had these conversations
with the women they teach, but you probably
haven’t with the men you teach. It’s to say, have
you thought about out how you’re going to fit your
work and your family together? I know you’re ambitious. That’s great. If you’re going to have a
family, if you’re thinking about you’ll have a family,
have you thought about, do you want a slightly
different facing job? If you’ve been on the
client facing job, do you want a more
corporate job? Or are you thinking
about rotating through? Have you thought about it? Because what men have to do is
to lead this for themselves, but to say, look, care is
all of our responsibility. How are we going
to take care of it so that this idea that care
and competition, bread winning, care-giving, care and career,
however you want to put it, is all of our responsibility? And if you talk to all young men
that way, including your sons– and I have two sons
who are planning– they both want to be
artists, and they are planning to be lead
parents because they fully understand somebody’s going to
have to earn a steady income. It’s not going to be them. [LAUGHTER] But they get that
that means they are going to be the lead parents. They’re likely to have the
more flexible schedule. So let’s talk to
our sons that way just as much as we
talk to our daughters. LASZLO BOCK: Will do. [APPLAUSE] So we have just shy of
20 minutes for questions. Looks like we have one already. AUDIENCE: Yeah. Margaret Levie, Center for
Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Role model, pioneering woman political
scientist at a time when there were very few. AUDIENCE: I’d like to
turn the conversation around a little bit. LASZLO BOCK: I thought
that was a big deal. I thought that was pretty cool. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
It is a big deal. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: So I’d like
to turn the conversation around a little bit, because you
really just talking about paid leave and about family leave. But the work that people do
to take care of families, to provide elder care, to
provide early childhood learning, is real work. And so we really
should be talking about various ways in
which we value and pay for and give respect and dignity
to that kind of work. And including artists,
who I think also make a real contribution
to this society and are insufficiently paid. So as we move into discussions
about basic income, about other ways of dealing with
technological change in work forces, we ought to begin to
really think about recognizing that work as work. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Absolutely. LASZLO BOCK: Here, here. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Completely right. And it goes for the caring
professions as well. So Finland has the best
education out there. The equivalent of Finnish
Ivy League graduates go into teaching. They value teaching as
an incredibly important profession, as we should value
that work, yes, as work that is very important,
that we pay caregivers, whether they’re in day
care or home care aides, we pay them the same as we pay
dog walkers and drink mixers and car parkers. Just think about
that for a minute. So yes, that’s another
big piece of this, is valuing care,
professionalizing it, understanding that
that is a part of the capital of our society. AUDIENCE: Hi. Jen Wessal at the
University of Maryland. Very happy to be
talking with you. In hearing you talk about how
women engage more in care work, it also made me think
about– and I’d just like to get your take on this–
I think women are also expected to do more care
work on their job, meaning they’re
supposed to provide more socio-emotional
support to people. And that’s draining as well,
and psychologically draining. I just wanted to see what
your thoughts were on that. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: I’m
listening to you, remembering being a young academic. And of course, if your
door is not always open, you are in trouble. Because you’re a mother
figure and you’re supposed to be there, whereas
the men in your department could shut their door and
write the great work with far fewer consequences. So yes, I think that is true. And some of this,
it’s not like we’ve solved all the other problems. Everything I’ve said is
additive, not either/or. We still have plenty
of discrimination. We have different
expectations of women. I think for that, I would
fight it the old fashioned way, which is to simply– I
would tell younger women, nope, you’ve got to get your
work done just like the men do, and it is fine to say I’m
available during this time and not other times. I think more of it is,
again, still fighting the socialization
that women carry that is, if I’m not available,
I’m somehow failing. I feel it more keenly, I think,
than men who traditionally– it’s changing now–
were raised to say, you go do the great
work, honey, and I’ll take care of everything else. LASZLO BOCK: Another question. AUDIENCE: Hi. I’m Dolly Choke from NYU. Thank you so much for
writing an excellent book and making it come alive today. I’m curious– one
of my big takeaways from reading your book
was to really bring work and care in parity
with each other in my mind as a mental model, which
was a powerful shift for me. So then today, sitting through
all our discussion about work and making work suck less
and all the actionable ways we can do that, where it’s
leading me is then I’ve got work and care up here. What can we take from
all our learnings today and apply to care? We have a conference
here today about making work suck less–
I’m not saying care sucks, but are there
transferable learnings that you see from what you’ve
heard today that apply to what we should be doing
in the domain of care? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Yeah,
that’s a very good question. But I’ll just say, if
it took me three years to get to this place. I was raised to believe, as I
said, my father was a lawyer, my mother was a homemaker. There was no question what I
thought was more important. It’s only really by thinking
hard about, wait a minute, how did we get here,
and why would we think this, that I’ve
changed my own thinking. But the lesson I took
that I was taking notes was the civility one. Because often two career
parents– we’re stressed. We’re not always at our
very best when dealing with our family members. And I was listening
and thinking, something I’ve known but
came home to me today in terms of the fact
that when we’re uncivil, we’re actually making it harder
for our children to work, to be creative, to do their
homework, that we’re actually sapping their mental energy. And thinking how often
I’m aware that my own snapping at a kid, wait a
minute, I’m glued to my phone. I’ll just say Guy
Ras has it easy. My first year first grader
drew a family picture and drew me as a laptop. [LAUGHTER] Not a woman and a laptop. Just a laptop. So I’m totally sympathetic
to sort of needing that. And I thought, yeah– he did. We had the picture. LASZLO BOCK: Did it get better? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: He now–
he’s in college– and he said, I did not, mom. He was reading my book. I said, oh yes, you did. We had it on the– so he seems
to be relatively unscarred, at least by that
part of parenting. But yes, I thought about a lot
of what we were hearing today about creating an environment in
which people can be their best selves. Of course you’d want to do
that in the home as well. But we’re human. Obviously we’re not going
to do that all the time. But I think so much
of this is the same. It’s investing in others and
taking the same satisfaction when they flourish as when
you flourish yourself. One man wrote to me
and said, I quit my job when it was clear to me that the
growth potential of my children was much greater than the
growth potential of my company. And that seems to me
a fine way to think about both environments. LASZLO BOCK: That’s probably
true for most people, isn’t it? Everyone quit. That’s the message. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Maybe
work a little less and invest a little more. Oh, sorry. Am I supposed to be
calling on people? LASZLO BOCK: I just look
for the waving hand. I think– AUDIENCE: Barry Shores. I wanted to pursue
this a little bit more, because this is quite
a revolutionary idea. Some years ago a
philosopher named Virginia Held wrote a book
called “Mothering Versus Contract.” And the argument
in the book, now we might say, thanks to you,
parenting versus contract. The argument in the book was
that the rules of the game, when it comes to
nurturing family, are fundamentally
different from the rules of the game in a business
context or any public context. Notions of fairness,
for example. We give our kids– each kid
gets what he or she needs. We don’t worry about
treating them equally, because our intentions
are to nurture our kids to successful and happy lives. So we find a way to give each
kid what he or she needs. That would arouse lawsuits,
outrage, and outright sabotage if we start treating
people at work the way we treat our family,
because it’s good for them. I think it would turn the
whole society upside down. Now that might be a
really good thing. Virginia Held thought
it was a good thing. But I think the implications
of thinking in this way are really– they
change everything, not just a few things. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Huh. Well, a couple
different responses. One is I actually do think I
try to treat my kids equally. And I think the minute I
don’t, boy, do I hear about it. It’s sort of a classic
thing, that children have an innate sense of fairness. And the minute you’re
paying more attention or giving a better
gift or whatever it is to one or
the other, I think it’s right that you
give them what you need. But I do think fairness is
very important in the family. The secondary thing
I was thinking of was Reid Hoffman’s
book on the alliance, where we’ve moved from
company as family– it was essentially you put
in for over your lifetime and we’ll take care of you,
to company as free contract, completely at will. You do whatever you
need to do, and I’ll do whatever I need to do, to his
concept of an alliance, which is something I
find very helpful. We’ll invest in you. You invest in us. And that is not, I think,
so far from a family model. Although yes, of course, it
is still based on contract more than the family. But I guess the
last thing I’d say is the book that influenced
me was a book written in 1971 by a male philosopher
call Milton Meyerdorf, who called on caring. So written by a man at a time
that work, family, women, none of that existed, where he
talked about self actualization through caring. Here’s a man writing
about what it is that you get when you care. And he likened it to creating
an artistic– an object of art– that a composer, an
artist, a sculptor, when they talk about their creation,
they use very similar words. The sort of idea
that you’re investing in this thing, this
person or this thing, but it also has a
life of its own, which is just like
children or parents. You can’t be a good
caregiver if you take over. You have to understand–
and we heard that today, too–
that the person you’re caring for, your
investing in, you’re managing, has their own identity and
you have to let that come out and tailor what you’re
doing to that person. And I think that’s
equally applicable. AUDIENCE: Hi. Zoe Chance from Yale. I’m so grateful for your role
in the national dialogue. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Thank you. AUDIENCE: And creating the
space for us to talk about this. And one thing I’m
wondering about– is the shared economy, that we
see this shift in consumption, and if you envision in the
future more shared caring? And especially what I see
is men being much better at that than women are. So many of my friends and me sat
at home just gloomy and lonely and going completely
crazy and becoming very uncivil with our children. And I see a lot of dads just
doing a better job of hiring, getting together for
play dates, and getting other people involved,
like men being better at creating a village
to raise their children. What do you think? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
That’s a great question. I certainly can see
it coming, in part because I think
men are not hung up on the perfectionist
good mother thing. That is just not part– LASZLO BOCK: Our
standards are lower? ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] LASZLO BOCK: It’s true. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER:
Your standards are lower, but the standard–
they are– but the standard complaint
I hear among women is, oh, dad gets to
be the fun parent. But hang on here, because my
husband’s view is watching all the Marx brothers
movies over a weekend is much more important for
your lifetime education and well-being, obviously,
than cleaning your room, or doing any of the other
things I might think are the enrichment activities. And I have come to
think he’s right. He’s right. Yes. LASZLO BOCK: Oh, thank God. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: No, no. I’m really looking at my son’s
now and thinking about all the fights Andy and I had. I’ve started to think, wait a
minute, what I count as fun, I count as fun because I’ve got
an incredibly rigid definition of mothering that was imposed
upon me as the custodian of everything from table
manners to cleanliness, and why is that the
right way to parent? So I do think men
are going to be more willing to do
collaborative, interesting things. The one thing that I would
say though– my husband says that when you’re doing it
now, because they’re so few lead parent men,
it’s very lonely. He says the mothers are all
there talking to each other, and he’s there often trying to
get work done at the same time. And he doesn’t feel
that he had a community. Our kids are much older now. But I certainly see it coming,
and I think it’s very healthy. LASZLO BOCK: I just got to
thank Zoe for that question, because rooms are never going
to be cleaned again in my house. This is fantastic. I think we have time for one
last very quick question. AUDIENCE: Quick observation. So it reminds me of Leslie
Pearlows work on time bound. So you think about
these issues and you think about how we’re
going to change work, make it more flexible. And a benefit of that
is people actually became more productive. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Yes. AUDIENCE: And so I think
it’s important to keep these things tied together. ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Yes. Yes. I think that is
absolutely right. For one thing, all of
us who became parents, if you’re also an
active caregiver, you know you became
more productive. Suddenly you got done from
9:00 to 5:00 or 9:00 to 6:00, or whenever that– you had to
go pick up your kid at daycare, you got your work done. So absolutely. We suddenly became much more
efficient time managers. But the other piece, and I
was so struck by the idea that seeing reminders of
childhood makes us more honest. Charles Baudelaire said
genius is neither more nor less than childhood
remembered at will. And what he meant
was that ability to summon the wonder of seeing
something for the first time and asking questions. Why should that be? Why is the sun the way it is? All the things that kids do. Spending time. And again, it doesn’t
have to be with kids. It can be with your parents and
realizing the sort of wisdom they’ve gained through
life and their dignity, and giving them as
much dignity as you can towards the end,
that will make you better, too, at what you do. Because we know creativity
is about the collision of different things. So if you do the same
thing all the time, even if it’s an
interesting job, you’re actually going to be
less effective at what you do than if you mix
other things into your life. LASZLO BOCK: Wow. I can’t think of a
better note to end on, to wrap all this day
together in that. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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