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  • So my moment of truth

  • did not come all at once.

  • In 2010, I had the chance to be considered

  • for promotion from my job

  • as director of policy planning

  • at the U.S. State Department.

  • This was my moment to lean in,

  • to push myself forward

  • for what are really only a handful

  • of the very top foreign policy jobs,

  • and I had just finished a big, 18-month project

  • for Secretary Clinton, successfully,

  • and I knew I could handle a bigger job.

  • The woman I thought I was

  • would have said yes.

  • But I had been commuting for two years

  • between Washington and Princeton, New Jersey,

  • where my husband and my two teenage sons lived,

  • and it was not going well.

  • I tried on the idea of eking out another two years

  • in Washington, or maybe uprooting my sons

  • from their school and my husband from his work

  • and asking them to join me.

  • But deep down, I knew

  • that the right decision was to go home,

  • even if I didn't fully recognize the woman

  • who was making that choice.

  • That was a decision based on love

  • and responsibility.

  • I couldn't keep watching my oldest son

  • make bad choices

  • without being able to be there for him

  • when and if he needed me.

  • But the real change came more gradually.

  • Over the next year,

  • while my family was righting itself,

  • I started to realize

  • that even if I could go back into government,

  • I didn't want to.

  • I didn't want to miss the last five years

  • that my sons were at home.

  • I finally allowed myself to accept

  • what was really most important to me,

  • not what I was conditioned to want

  • or maybe what I conditioned myself to want,

  • and that decision led to a reassessment

  • of the feminist narrative that I grew up with

  • and have always championed.

  • I am still completely committed

  • to the cause of male-female equality,

  • but let's think about what that equality really means,

  • and how best to achieve it.

  • I always accepted the idea

  • that the most respected and powerful people

  • in our society are men at the top of their careers,

  • so that the measure of male-female equality

  • ought to be how many women are in those positions:

  • prime ministers, presidents, CEOs,

  • directors, managers, Nobel laureates, leaders.

  • I still think we should do everything we possibly can

  • to achieve that goal.

  • But that's only half of real equality,

  • and I now think we're never going to get there

  • unless we recognize the other half.

  • I suggest that real equality,

  • full equality,

  • does not just mean valuing women

  • on male terms.

  • It means creating a much wider range

  • of equally respected choices

  • for women and for men.

  • And to get there, we have to change our workplaces,

  • our policies and our culture.

  • In the workplace,

  • real equality means valuing family

  • just as much as work,

  • and understanding that the two reinforce each other.

  • As a leader and as a manager,

  • I have always acted on the mantra,

  • if family comes first,

  • work does not come second --

  • life comes together.

  • If you work for me, and you have a family issue,

  • I expect you to attend to it,

  • and I am confident,

  • and my confidence has always been borne out,

  • that the work will get done, and done better.

  • Workers who have a reason to get home

  • to care for their children or their family members

  • are more focused, more efficient,

  • more results-focused.

  • And breadwinners who are also caregivers

  • have a much wider range

  • of experiences and contacts.

  • Think about a lawyer who spends part of his time

  • at school events for his kids

  • talking to other parents.

  • He's much more likely to bring in

  • new clients for his firm

  • than a lawyer who never leaves his office.

  • And caregiving itself

  • develops patience --

  • a lot of patience --

  • and empathy, creativity, resilience, adaptability.

  • Those are all attributes that are ever more important

  • in a high-speed, horizontal,

  • networked global economy.

  • The best companies actually know this.

  • The companies that win awards

  • for workplace flexibility in the United States

  • include some of our most successful corporations,

  • and a 2008 national study

  • on the changing workforce

  • showed that employees

  • in flexible and effective workplaces

  • are more engaged with their work,

  • they're more satisfied and more loyal,

  • they have lower levels of stress

  • and higher levels of mental health.

  • And a 2012 study of employers

  • showed that deep, flexible practices

  • actually lowered operating costs

  • and increased adaptability

  • in a global service economy.

  • So you may think

  • that the privileging of work over family

  • is only an American problem.

  • Sadly, though, the obsession with work

  • is no longer a uniquely American disease.

  • Twenty years ago,

  • when my family first started going to Italy,

  • we used to luxuriate in the culture of siesta.

  • Siesta is not just about avoiding the heat of the day.

  • It's actually just as much

  • about embracing the warmth of a family lunch.

  • Now, when we go, fewer and fewer businesses

  • close for siesta,

  • reflecting the advance of global corporations

  • and 24-hour competition.

  • So making a place for those we love

  • is actually a global imperative.

  • In policy terms,

  • real equality means recognizing

  • that the work that women have traditionally done

  • is just as important

  • as the work that men have traditionally done,

  • no matter who does it.

  • Think about it: Breadwinning and caregiving

  • are equally necessary for human survival.

  • At least if we get beyond a barter economy,

  • somebody has to earn an income

  • and someone else has to convert that income

  • to care and sustenance for loved ones.

  • Now most of you, when you hear me

  • talk about breadwinning and caregiving,

  • instinctively translate those categories

  • into men's work and women's work.

  • And we don't typically challenge

  • why men's work is advantaged.

  • But consider a same-sex couple

  • like my friends Sarah and Emily.

  • They're psychiatrists.

  • They got married five years ago,

  • and now they have two-year-old twins.

  • They love being mothers,

  • but they also love their work,

  • and they're really good at what they do.

  • So how are they going to divide up

  • breadwinning and caregiving responsibilities?

  • Should one of them stop working

  • or reduce hours to be home?

  • Or should they both change their practices

  • so they can have much more flexible schedules?

  • And what criteria should they use

  • to make that decision?

  • Is it who makes the most money

  • or who is most committed to her career?

  • Or who has the most flexible boss?

  • The same-sex perspective helps us see

  • that juggling work and family

  • are not women's problems,

  • they're family problems.

  • And Sarah and Emily are the lucky ones,

  • because they have a choice

  • about how much they want to work.

  • Millions of men and women

  • have to be both breadwinners and caregivers

  • just to earn the income they need,

  • and many of those workers are scrambling.

  • They're patching together care arrangements

  • that are inadequate

  • and often actually unsafe.

  • If breadwinning and caregiving are really equal,

  • then why shouldn't a government

  • invest as much in an infrastructure of care

  • as the foundation of a healthy society

  • as it invests in physical infrastructure

  • as the backbone of a successful economy?

  • The governments that get it --

  • no surprises here --

  • the governments that get it,

  • Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands,

  • provide universal child care,

  • support for caregivers at home,

  • school and early childhood education,

  • protections for pregnant women,

  • and care for the elderly and the disabled.

  • Those governments invest in that infrastructure

  • the same way they invest in roads and bridges

  • and tunnels and trains.

  • Those societies also show you

  • that breadwinning and caregiving

  • reinforce each other.

  • They routinely rank among the top 15 countries

  • of the most globally competitive economies,

  • but at the same time,

  • they rank very high on the OECD Better Life Index.

  • In fact, they rank higher than other governments,

  • like my own, the U.S., or Switzerland,

  • that have higher average levels of income

  • but lower rankings on work-life balance.

  • So changing our workplaces

  • and building infrastructures of care

  • would make a big difference,

  • but we're not going to get equally valued choices

  • unless we change our culture,

  • and the kind of cultural change required

  • means re-socializing men.

  • (Applause)

  • Increasingly in developed countries,

  • women are socialized to believe that our place

  • is no longer only in the home,

  • but men are actually still where they always were.

  • Men are still socialized to believe

  • that they have to be breadwinners,

  • that to derive their self-worth

  • from how high they can climb over other men

  • on a career ladder.

  • The feminist revolution still has a long way to go.

  • It's certainly not complete.

  • But 60 years after

  • "The Feminine Mystique" was published,

  • many women actually have

  • more choices than men do.

  • We can decide to be a breadwinner,

  • a caregiver, or any combination of the two.

  • When a man, on the other hand,

  • decides to be a caregiver,

  • he puts his manhood on the line.

  • His friends may praise his decision,

  • but underneath, they're scratching their heads.

  • Isn't the measure of a man

  • his willingness to compete with other men

  • for power and prestige?

  • And as many women hold that view as men do.

  • We know that lots of women

  • still judge the attractiveness of a man