Men who put their careers aside to support women | Fortune

After a decade with the company, one of Zalando’s three CEOs, Rubin Ritter, has decided to advance his departure from the company to next year – his contract expired at the end of 2023 – to care for his family and support his professional career. his wife. He leaves the German fashion e-commerce platform at a height of the company, which remains in the hands of the other two CEOs, Robert Gentz ​​and David Schneider, employs 13,709 workers and had a turnover of 1,849.8 in the third quarter of this year million euros, 21.6% more than the same period of the previous year, although the global sales volume (gross merchandise volume) in the online channel reached 1,455 million euros, almost 30% more, due to the boom in online demand in this health crisis.

The outlook, according to the company, is good, with a growth forecast of about 22% for next year. Even so, the Zalando manager has decided to leave: “my wife and I have agreed that in the coming years her professional ambitions must take priority”. The news has been highlighted by all the media, since it is not very common for a man to put aside his professional career to favor that of women.

“And less so in a country like Germany, which is one of the European countries that has evolved the least in terms of women’s careers, since those who are rising or are single or do not have children,” he says Mirian Izquierdo, president of the Woman Forward Foundation, who believes that German culture is different in that sense, in addition to wages are higher and with a salary that goes into the family, an acceptable standard of living can be maintained. “In Spain it is different, it is not so frowned upon, but it has more to do with the power struggle between men and women, in addition to the fact that it is much more difficult for a woman to reconcile work with housework.” And he adds another fact that he considers relevant for which he cites a study by Swedish researchers Olle Folke and Johanna Rickne, in which he empirically analyzes how promotion to a higher position affects the durability of the marriage between men and women.

Rubin Ritter, one of Zalando’s CEOs, EFE

The aforementioned report is based on data on promotions in mayors, national parliamentarians and CEOs of companies with more than 100 employees. They all have a high rank of status in common, long hours of work and above-average earningsBut promotions lead to higher divorce rates among women, but not among men. Three years after a promotion, promoted women are 7% less likely to stay married relative to those who have held onto their current position. Moreover, the authors warn that women who become the main source of income for the family economy, or what is the same, obtain more than 60% of the household income, more than 15% divorced within the three years after the promotion. In the corresponding group for men, only 3% had divorced.

Before giving your opinion for this report Sylvia Taudien, CEO of Advantage Consultores and president of the People Management Forum, consulted 300 women from the human resources management of a hundred companies via email, and drew the following conclusion: “It is increasingly normal for men to support the women’s career is no longer a question of gender but of job opportunities ”. And she cites her own case, with a husband with a promising international career at Siemens, who decided to stay in Spain to support your personal project. But also, that of the L’Oréal group, with a dozen expatriate women whom their partners have followed wherever the company has sent them. Or Unilever, with several directors accompanied by their families working abroad, or Eurofragance, with five women currently in Singapore, Mexico and Dubai …

“There are more and more expatriates who are leaving with their partners and this will increase in the coming years,” says Taudien, in a telephone conversation from Zurich, where last Friday morning he conducted a job interview with a candidate for a managerial position, pregnant with her third child. “She told me that she wanted the position because her husband took care of the children. All this is changing, and virtual work is going to favor the rise of female managers ”.

During the electoral campaign for the presidency of the United States, the intense activity of Kamala Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, was surprised by the intense activity of supporting the senator’s career and leaving, in part due to the incompatibilities he might have as the consort of the new vice president of the country, his prestigious position as lawyer at the DLA Piper law firm. On the contrary, Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife, intends to continue her work as an English teacher.

About this issue, Miriam González Duráncomplexion, a lawyer at the Cohen Gresser law firm and president of Inspiring Girls International, explains, in a telephone conversation from Palo Alto (California), that in politics, especially in Europe, the arrival of women to the first positions has made it be accepted naturally that consorts do not abandon their usual jobs. And he cites the cases of Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May, who did not give explanations about the activities of their husbands, or that of Jacinda Ardern, whose husband has returned to the production of television programs a year after being a father, or the of Angela Merkel, professor of physics and theoretical chemistry who avoided attending his wife’s inauguration as German Chancellor. “In the United States, this sign of modernity has not yet permeated, and Harris’s husband, with his older children, has decided to leave his job, but not to take care of the family, but to prepare her career for the presidency of 2024 “.

In any case, he warns that each person and each family must have total freedom to decide how to manage their life, but the concept that in couples the success of one involves the sacrifice of the other is something that it is to the detriment of women, as they are the ones who continue to take care of housework and children. “Their professional success often comes later than that of men,” says González Durántez.

It is not about abandoning everything, but about adjusting to the couple’s career without making drastic decisions. On this reflection works Gabriela salinas, Esic professor and general director of the Brand Finance Institute, who also cites the case of the Prime Minister of New Zealand and that of tennis player Serena Williams, married to businessman Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the social network Reddit, an activity of which he has disassociated himself to support his wife’s sports career.

“He has decided to support her and give her the place she deserves so that she can shine more, so it is increasingly important for a woman to decide whether to marry or not, but above all with whom,” adds Salinas, who warns about the amount of women who are leaving their jobs during this pandemic. And he concludes that it is still “difficult to accept that a woman has a successful career.”

A 30-year throwback

Exception. There are more and more cases of men who decide to give up their professional careers to support their partners. “However, it is not usual, so it is still news,” he says. Ana Bujaldon, President of Fedepe, since in general it is still women who have to put their professional careers aside or leave work to reconcile working life and family.

Aggravated. Already in 2019, Bujaldón continues, 87% of the people who gave up their careers to take care of their children were women. “This year, with the pandemic, the situation has worsened because, when teleworking is not possible, it is women who are most under pressure to quit their job and take care of care.” The case, he adds, is that there is a real threat of regression in terms of gender equality, which can make us lose, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), up to 30 years of progress.

Rare. In his opinion, the reality is that it is unusual that, with equal working conditions, it is men who quit their job. “In our society, the idea that women are primarily responsible for taking care of our children and family members, in addition to working outside the home, is still installed. And when that is not possible, due to the circumstances, it is best for the woman to leave her job ”.


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