Anna Protopapas is a rarity in the corporate world. Not only is she one of a small number of top-ranking women in the biopharmaceutical industry, but as executive vice-president of global business development at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, she is also one of only a few women at the top of a Japanese company.
After I had my first baby, I was a wreck about returning to work. I was so tired from the middle-of-the-night feedings and the tormented crying jags that I could not imagine how on earth I would function again as a professional. But I was also so infatuated with my daughter that I could not imagine being away from her for nine hours a day.
Workplace flexibility – also known as flexitime – is seen as key to helping companies recruit and retain working mothers. But flexitime is also often code for the “mummy track”, a professional path that offers mothers certain benefits, yet provides fewer opportunities for advancement.
Growing up in Trenton, New Jersey, in the 1960s, Nell Merlino often accompanied her dad, Joe Merlino, a lawyer and powerful figure in state politics, to the office.
It isn’t fashionable – and surely not politically correct – for business school career counsellors to caution female MBAs about the professional compromises they may have to make for the sake of their families. Just ask Peter Giulioni, executive director of MBA career services at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.
It is a new corporate reality that in order to retain talented women, companies must offer flexible work arrangements. These practices – from variable hours to telecommuting and part-time employment – enable workers, women and men alike, to strike a better balance between office obligations and home life.
Here is a theory. The birth of a daughter will do more to increase the diversity of her chief executive father’s company than any number of research findings or government directives.
In a widely read Wall Street Journal blog post, Carrie Lukas, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, a radical right-wing US lobby group, argues there is no longer a wage gap between men and women.
Since April 3 this year, men in the UK can take a greater share in child-rearing. New fathers can now take up to 26 weeks’ leave to care for a child – on top of two weeks’ regular paternity leave. The additional leave is potentially a step towards allowing women to return to work more easily, leaving a new baby in the care of her partner.
There is a van I see round the lanes of Somerset proudly emblazoned “Plumbers and Heating Engineers – M. Head and Daughters”. The sign is testament to the fact that the family firm is no longer a beacon of primogeniture, and there is a growing trend for family businesses to be led and managed by women.