Well, glad that's settled.
Simon Murray, chairman, commodities giant Glencore, in the U.K. Sunday Telegraph:
Women are quite as intelligent as men. They have a tendency not to be so involved quite often and they're not so ambitious in business as men because they've got better things to do. Quite often they like bringing up their children and all sorts of other things.
All these things have unintended consequences. Pregnant ladies have nine months off. Do you think that means when I rush out, what I'm absolutely desperate to have is young women who are about to get married in my company, and that I really need them on board because I know they're going to get pregnant and they're going to go off for nine months?
Worth noting that Murray (pictured) offers this pensee as Glencore, world's largest commodities firm, is in the midst of a mammoth, $60-billion IPO, with Murray and his worldview spotlighted as never before. (Had you heard of him previously?)
Before its IPO, Glencore was long a shadowy outfit with vague ties to Marc Rich (the tax cheat notoriously pardoned by Bill Clinton) and with Xtrata, the Zug, Switzerland-based mining company flipper that a few years ago picked up Falconbridge during Harper's yard sale of Canadian industrial icons. Falconbridge earlier absorbed the legendary Noranda and its stable of some of the greatest names in North American mining. So that's the crowd in whose hands the fate of thousands of Canadian workers are in. All to say, you'd think Glencore would want to be on its best behavior in making its debut as a publicly traded enterprise.
And the thing is, it likely imagines it is.
But, there you go, 52% of the population isn't to be taken seriously in the workplace. Are "ladies" not to be entrusted with responsibilities of the highest significance.
So believes the head of a multibillion-dollar multinational, and I kinda doubt he'll pay any kind of price for it. I suppose we should be grateful that Murray is publicly candid about the unease that the still overwhelmingly male decision-makers about hiring and promotion of women feel, but don't dare express. Just so we understand why women are still so rare in the highest reaches of decision-making, especially in the private sector.
A side-note. If this neanderthal comment had passed the lips of an elected official or bureaucrat, particularly in N.A., he'd promptly lose his job, as Larry Summers was very publicly stripped of the presidency of Harvard for merely musing along these lines. (1) That's a distinction between the public and private sectors that goes unnoticed while we indulge in our government-bashing.
I guess it was about 32 years ago that my future wife was taken aback by a low-level recruiter at a magazine publishing firm in Toronto who wanted to know, in considering her for hire as an advertising coordinator, if she planned to be "in the family way" in the next few years. Even then she thought the question deeply insulting, at the very least an invasion of her privacy. But she took the job.
Good to see how far we've come in three decades.
Oh, you were asking. The answer is 16%, the female membership of the U.S. Senate. I believe that's a record. Women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies? I think that's six or seven, I haven't checked for a few months.
It's like Margaret Thatcher never existed, and Angela Merkel doesn't. Or, for that matter, the extraordinarily competent women who run Xerox, Kraft and Anglo American, owner of the De Beers cartel. And it sure makes the threat of government quotas to ensure we finally tap the skills of the other half of population that much tougher to argue against.
Note: Yes, Harvard College (official name) is indeed a private corporation. But like its Ivy League peers, Harvard is heavily reliant on federal, state and municipal grants and subsidies. Which makes it a far more public instititution than it cares to acknowledge - though the truth does come out in "Summers moments."