Risky Business

Classic 50's Sign

Oh my giddy shit. Look, kraken-lovers, while I appreciate that there are some people out there who are trying really, really hard to embrace equality and scare away the memories of The Cannonball Run my head spins at how badly they actually manage to do it. I present to you now one such example. I beg you, gird yourselves.

See, I have been forwarded a press release pimping a “leadership guru” called Rene Carayol who will be appearing at a forum for the Institute of Risk Management in May (stick with me for fuck sake). And the theme of said extravaganza? “Mum’s the word”. Indeed, Carayol says, “Some of the best leaders in society today are our mothers at home. They’re making big decisions constantly, on the hour, every hour. They’re having to motivate people, they’re having to connect with the kids, they’ve got to budget, they’ve got to make things happen, they’ve got to deliver. And guess what? They’ve never been trained.”

He goes on: “They are the role models for risk managers. Everyone talks to mum. Everyone listens to mum. Everyone trusts mum. Mum’s got something for everyone. Just like the chief risk officer (CRO). But what is it that mums have that the CRO doesn’t have? It’s unqualified love, unconditional love.”

Bugger me. I barely know where to begin. While I have no doubt that this is all being spouted with the best of intentions I feel ironically obliged to warn the nation’s risk managers of the risks of patronising every woman who ever saw milk leak from her teets.

For a start, what in the frig is with this chocolate box notion of mothering? See from where I stand mothering is about as far from Carayol’s description as Mark Thatcher is from being an upstanding individual. “Everyone talks to mum”? Yeah, like she’s shit. “Everyone trusts mum”? Not since she’s been sleep deprived. “Everyone listens to mum”? So that’s why she has to shout “clean your teeth!” fifteen times a fucking day.

Carayol bleats all of this because he thinks risk managers need the “soft skills” of mothers but I have news for him. I’m a mother and barely recognise myself in this wild description. The only soft skills I’ve developed since the birth of Kraken Junior are the ability to scrape a booger from a tiny nostril with a finger nail and to spot that I have toddler shit smeared across my knuckles. Apart from which I have the patience of Vesuvius, the motivational discretion of a steam-roller and the leadership skills of injured fruit bats. Believe me, if this mother set trotter in the Institute of Risk Management she’d be wrestled to the ground.

Anyway, why has Carayol decreed that it is mothers who have these attributes? Don’t dads have them too? I mean I can count on one finger how many times Conjugal Kraken has  offered to drop-kick Kraken Junior but long ago lost count of the times he’s cajoled, encouraged, praised and persuaded her. In fact it’s usually me who has to be talked down from feeding her to next door’s dog. Perhaps I should demand an even closer look at the contents of Conjugal Kraken’s gussetry just in case he became this fabled mother-creature when I wasn’t looking.

See, if Carayol had made this motivational spaffage about parenting, and not just mothering, this wouldn’t be such a monumental fuck up. That’s because the skills he values so highly have sod all to do with whether a parent is actually sporting a vagina. And while I have no doubt that Carayol is trying to be inclusive what he’s really doing is singling out women as the homemakers and child rearers while labelling dads as the guys who inhabit careers, Hobbit-like, for twelve hours a day. That sounds to me about as motivational as a cow’s wet fart.

So I may pitch up to this particular event, just for the purposes of dragging Carayol from the podium and showing him a side of  mothers that he clearly knows nothing about. Hopefully someone will warn him of the risks of opening his mouth. “Everyone listens to mum”? Well it’s about bloody time he did.

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2 Responses to Risky Business

  1. Andy says:

    It also conveniently avoids another reason why ‘some of the best leaders in society today are our mothers at home’. They have been trained, they have done it before but they can’t get back into the workplace. Astronomical child care costs, lack of flexible working and the perception of others can be pretty big barriers.

  2. Kim says:

    It’s incredibly patronising because it assumes that all mothers are equally good – that the simple act of becoming a mother and looking after kids equips you with a whole new set of skills that you might not otherwise have. Whereas in fact, we know that some mothers are lazy, bad-tempered and easily bored. Hell, I’m one of them.

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