Photo from LA Times
The latest political buzz is hard to escape — apparently President-elect Obama has offered Hillary Clinton the job of Secretary of State. Yes, unofficially, unconfirmed, rumored, but seemingly true if you trust the many news outlets reporting this.
What I’ve found really fascinating in all the discussions is how much her husband is playing into the picture. Of course, her husband isn’t just some high-profile guy. It’s THE high-profile guy, Bill Clinton. The concrete issues surrounding him are the various contributions and payments he has received and continues to receive from international organizations as speaking fees and to fund his philanthropic activities. According to the NY Times lawyers from the Obama team are now looking into Mr. Clinton’s finances and activities to ensure that there will be no conflict of interest if his wife were to take on the Secretary of State job.
But it doesn’t stop there. Many political analysts wonder what Obama is thinking in potentially bringing Hillary onto his team because of the strong influence that Bill Clinton would then have in the administration. I remember hearing after Obama wont the Democratic primary, when someone joked (and forgive me for not having a source here) that if he asked Hillary to be his VP there would be three people in the White House who wanted to be President. Bill and Hillary are clearly a team — one that frankly has endured more together than I think most couples can deal with — but should such strong consideration be given to him in determining what path she takes on in her own career?
Balancing two demanding careers is difficult in any family. I have friends who have had to quit jobs they loved because their husband got a dream job across the country and I know of one couple where the father became a stay-at-home dad because the mom is traveling so much for her job as a VP for an international corporation. I remember once during an interview I was asked what my husband does for a living. It was a seemingly informal conversation-making question but then I realized later on that the interviewer was trying to access whether he has a super-demanding career or could be the more flexible one when it comes to childcare, etc.
My husband and I certainly are a team when it comes to navigating our various careers and as a family, we do try to balance things out — right now I am the one with an insane job and his is a bit more manageable, but this might change later on. But I’d hate to ever know that what I do for a living has some impact on whether or not he gets a certain job or not and vice versa.
What do you think? Is it fair to Hillary that her husband plays such a big role in whether she gets a certain job? Should employers ever consider what your spouse or partner does when offering you a job?