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Indra Nooyi: I hate being called ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’

Saturday, Apr 9, 2016,10:53 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New York | Asserting that women in the workplace and society deserve equal treatment, PepsiCo’s India-born CEO Indra Nooyi today said she hates being called sweetie or honey and women should be treated as executives or people and not called such names.

We still have to have equal treatment. I hate being called sweetie or honey at times which I still am called. All that has got to go. We have got to be treated as executives or people rather than (being called) honey, sweetie, babe. That has to change, Nooyi said at the Women In the World Summit presented by renowned journalist and author Tina Brown in association with the New York Times.

Nooyi said women have been in the revolution mode for many many years, from getting entry into the boys club to demanding parity in pay. She said women have clawed their way into the workplace by getting their degrees, good grades in school, which made the male counterparts take note of us. We clawed our way into the revolution in this work place.

Then we needed parity in pay, not yet there we are still fighting for that, she said. She said while there is interaction of helping women in the workplace, the fact that has been ignored is how to help this interaction between the woman and her personal life as she assume the role of a daughter, wife, mother and daughter-in-law.

Nooyi, among the most powerful and influential business women in the world, said companies and individuals have not yet talked about the big revolution of how societies, governments, companies and families help women as they give birth, take care of young children and aging parents and at the same time manage a career.

PepsiCo’s India-born CEO Indra Nooyi has acknowledged that managing her family life and work was not easy and while she does not regret pursuing her career, she is filled with heartaches for notspending as much time with her daughters when they weregrowingup.

In a candid discussion, Nooyi, among the only 4 per cent women who are currently CEOs of S&P 500 companies, said she would tell her younger self to be careful of the choices she would make since missing out on her children growing up will eventually hurt.

Not easy, Nooyi said at the Women In the World Summit here when asked how it was for her balancing her personal life while moving up in her career. When asked if she has any regrets looking back, Nooyi, one of the most powerful and influential businesswomen in the world, said that she does not regret pursuing her career but is filled with heartaches for working all the time and being away from her daughters while they were growing up.

Regret is too serious a word. Heartaches many times. It is not regret. I love what I’m doing. I may have regretted not doing it had I stayed at home and spent all the time there. Regret is a very complex word, she said in a very frank discussion alongwith president and CEO of New America Foundation Anne-Marie Slaughter at the summitpresented by renowned journalist and author Tina Brown.

Nooyi also recalled painful stories of how her daughters felt being away from their mother so much, mentioning that her then 4-5 year-old daughter once wrote to her saying she loves her but I love you more if you came home. Please come home Mom.

Nooyi said she has preserved the letter to remind myself of what I lost. Calling on governments, companies and societies to finish the big unfinished business, she stressed on the need for the next revolution where a supportive ecosystem is created to help families raise children while ensuring the women are able to focus on their careers at the same time.

Nooyi emphasised that maternity and paternity leave alone is not the solution since even if parental leave is extended to 52 weeks, the infant is still only a year old and it is not easy for a mother to leave her child at home and focus on work.

She added that staying away from work for too long is also not an easy option for many women since once they are away for a year or two years, they have lost their place in the queue.

Nooyi said PepsiCo is looking at building a daycare center on the company campus here that would have facilities like care for sick babies and technology to enable parents to see what their kids are doing during the day.

She suggested that aging parents can help supervise day cares where children are placed under the attention of qualified and certified care givers. We have to create these things. They don’t just happen.

Everybody cannot be Indian, she said, referring to the support system that Indian families have where grandparents and other relatives help in raising kids.