My organization runs a learning program for senior leaders that’s led by Harvard Business School. This year, I’m able to attend because our first module is virtual. Today was the first day of the four week program, and the session was about strategy and a few other things.
As I was listening, a lot of my core Finance and MBA knowledge was coming back to me, but my ears really perked up when the professor started talking about human capital, recruiting, and strategizing about the kind of people you want to work for you.
He told a story about a friend of friend whose daughter applied to a widely known and respected consulting firm. After her second interview, she was told she didn’t qualify. When she told her dad, he basically went on a mission to find out why she was rejected. He happened to be engaging with this firm in his own job, so he approached the lead partner and asked him if he had any insights into what happened with his daughter. Mind you, this is a huge organization. The partner couldn’t give specifics about his daughter, but he did offer to look at her resume. He also asked her dad what she did for fun, what her hobbies were, etc. After the dad rambled on and on about the prestigious private school she attended for college, the international traveller she was, etc., the partner stopped him and said I think I know what’s going on but let me take a look at her resume.
One glance at her resume, and he said this, “She has privilege written all over this and her. We’re looking for candidates that went to state schools, got good grades, and worked at the library at night to pay for tuition. And maybe they got a few scholarships along the way too. Kids who have grit and perseverance and know how to face a challenge in its face.”
This part of the session made me stop and think about how I grew up and how Kaiden is (and is going to) grow up. I was that firm’s ideal candidate. I went to a state school, I got good grades, and I worked at the student center my sophomore through my senior year. I even worked during business school for the Department of Organizational Effectiveness. Will Kaiden be? Hard to tell since he’s going to grow up with parents who are financially more secure, who grew up in this country, and have access to things that my parents didn’t.
I think about the concept of privilege a lot, especially as a mom. And I think it’s amazing to want and be able to give your kids more than what you had (our parents did it!), but where do we draw the line? I, for one, would not be opposed to Kaiden working in HS and college. Just because he has a 529 in his name doesn’t mean he can’t save some of his own money for the things he wants to do.
I also believe the concept of privilege is something that’s established well before college. It’s about the conversations you have with your kids, the things you buy them, the people you surround yourself with, etc. Vishnu and I are trying to raise a good human, who may be a little privileged, but hopefully one who understands that what he’s been given should be used for the greater good in some way.
Ay ay ay…parenting…the wheels never stop turning!