“Wake up, Jack! I dare you to attend one of our events and call our members ‘victims’.”

By Marilyn Nagel (CEO, Watermark)

A few weeks ago, a major controversy bloomed over Jack Welch’s comments at The Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Economy Conference. His remarks included the following statements:

  • To get ahead, focus laserlike on performance
  • Mentoring programs are a bad idea; everyone on staff should be your mentor
  • Support groups, such as women’s employee groups, can be likened to “victims’ units,” which the best women tend to avoid
  • There is no such thing as work-life balance, there are only work-life choices that have consequences you need to accept

I learned about his speech from a presentation by Jane Shaw, Chair of the board of Intel, who was in attendance. She and many others in the audience considered his comments to be short sighted. They disagreed with most of his points, as well as the cavalier attitude he has toward the lack of women in CEO roles.

If we are to believe Jack’s assessment that obtaining a top position is based on performance, we would see women in 51% of the highest paid positions. This is clearly not the case. He believes women spend too much time mentoring, and yet (per the female CEOs interviewed in this Wall Street Journal article) having mentors is critical. Moreover, getting the right sponsor is one of the seminal factors in landing a top job.

Jack’s description of women’s groups as “victim’s units” plainly demonstrates that he has never participated in one. He hasn’t any clue about the incredible synergy generated when women get together and support one another in achieving their goals.

Watermark is one of many women’s organizations making a difference. We create content and opportunities that help executive women accelerate their careers and tap into the power of networking with other top women leaders. Watermark women are changing the landscapes of business, making our indelible mark on companies, education, government, and society as a whole.

Wake up, Jack! I dare you to attend one of our events and call our members “victims.”

This post was originally posted at Watermark’s blog.

Photo credit: Gary Fong/Genesis Photos, originally published on Wall Street Journal Online.

About the guest blogger: Marilyn Nagel is the CEO of Watermark. As CEO of Watermark, Marilyn leverages her passion for gender diversity by promoting inclusive, diverse, and well-balanced workplaces. Prior to Watermark, Marilyn was Chief Diversity Officer at Cisco. Prior to Cisco, Marilyn worked in academia, leadership development, operations management, and organizational development for nearly 30 years, in both the private non-profit sector and for Fortune 100 companies. Follow her on Twitter at @wtrmrk.