now managers are calling millennials’ parents

Harvard Business Review is claiming that some companies are now calling their millennial employees’ parents to report on their job performance … and that their employees actually like this, rather than telling their companies to back the hell out of their personal lives.

I … am just going to refuse to believe this is true. I know plenty of 20somethings and we have plenty of them as readers and commenters here. They appear to be pretty much like the rest of us where this kind boundary is concerned (and where most other things are concerned too, adjusted at times for age/experience level). I cannot imagine they want their parents getting calls from their managers, so I can only assume that this is an elaborate hoax that someone is perpetrating on the good people of HBR.

Here’s an excerpt:

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi revealed that she often writes letters to her direct reports’ parents to thank them for “the gift” of their children. Some of those parents even write back. (PERHAPS TO SAY, “YOU HIRED AN ADULT, SO PLEASE TALK DIRECTLY TO HER.”) Nooyi said her gesture has opened up new and intimate lines of communication not only with the parents, but also with her top employees. (I CAN THINK OF AN INTIMATE LINE OF COMMUNICATION I WOULD DELIVER IF I WERE ONE OF THESE EMPLOYEES, IF BY “INTIMATE” WE MEAN “PROFANE.”)

“And it opened up emotions of the kind I have never seen,” Nooyi told Fortune. “Parents wrote back to me, and all of a sudden, parents of my direct reports, who are all quite grown-up, and myself, we had our own communication.

… Nooyi also admitted that she has called the parents of potential hires, urging them to convince their children to accept a job with PepsiCo. She recalled trying to recruit a high-potential candidate who had an offer from another company. In order to gain some leverage, Nooyi called the candidate’s mother and explained why her son should take the PepsiCo offer. When he found out the CEO of PepsiCo had called his mom, he took the job.

Is Nooyi demonstrating the new best practice for recruiting top talent? Is this a caring gesture by a top business leader, or a creepy intrusion into the private lives of her employees? Does it cross a line between work life and personal life? (ANSWERS: NO, CREEPY INTRUSION, YES.)

PepsiCo is not the only big employer to reconfigure its relationship with millennial employees to include more interaction with parents. … These companies recognize that Millennials, and the generations that follow them, have a different perspective on their careers and the role their parents play. They also realize they can make powerful, personal connections with their employees when they encourage parents to be proud of their kids’ accomplishments.

What. The. Hell.

My brain has exploded and is in small pieces on my keyboard. (And yet, I will piece it back together without anyone needing to notify my mom.)

{ 691 comments… read them below }

        1. Madge*

          Don’t forget entitled. “…But I have all these trophies & ribbons for just participating that proves I’m special, therefore I should have an office, make a lot of money RIGHT MEOW”!

          1. Midge*

            I think Lana meant talking about generations as a whole, not the actual people in that generation. :)

            1. Madge*

              I’m talking about the whole generation. They grew up being told they were all special & now are getting a dose of reality that they are having a hard time with.

              1. Anon21*

                Sorry, but this is garbage. Millenials are just people. (People who happen to be entering a really awful labor market, through no fault of their own.) If you are a Baby Boomer, I’m sure you would not appreciate hearing that your generation is a bunch ofentitled, narcissistic whiners, so please return the favor.

                1. wesgerrr*

                  I am a “Millennial” and I HATE this term. I have had to support myself from a very young age, had a full time job in college (which I paid for bymyownself) and now I take a lot of pride in my work quality. Don’t lump me in with brats who get spoiled by their parents.

                  Ok, that felt good to get off my chest.

                2. iseeshiny*

                  Right? Right? I’m a Millenial, but I have also been on my own financially since I was eighteen and have since bought a house, gotten married, and am about to have a kid. I feel really lucky that my husband and I have decent jobs considering the financial crisis and the recession (which, I’ll point out, was definitely not caused by my generation! We were not old enough to have a hand in that one, thanks), and the only sense of entitlement I feel is what I think all people are entitled to: basic decency from my fellow humans. Which I’ll admit, I don’t think is fulfilled by the lazy mental shorthand of people who rely on stereotypes when sizing up a new person.

                3. Jan Arzooman*

                  I don’t buy it, either. When I was a kid they were saying this about my generation. The older generations always want to think newer generations had it easier. I personally think my generation was pretty fucked up, being caught between old-fashioned “family values” and the anything goes years of the 7os and 80s. In any event, labeling an entire generation makes as much sense as saying everyone made money in the “boom years” of the 80s. Another stereotype is that millennials are the only ones saddled with crippling college debt and unable to find a job that allows them to pay it off. That’s nothing new.

                4. Trevor*

                  I’m 47 years old and I’m with you. That’s garbage. People grow up to act the way they’re expected and conditioned to act, period. This generation is no different. When I read this article I thought, this sounds like something that would happen in India. I have had Indian friends who have told me stories like this. Sounds like Ms. Nooyi is suffering from a bit of culture shock. This is wildly inappropriate behavior in this country.

              2. iseeshiny*

                Wow. When did you meet every single person in the entire generation and get the rundown on their upbringing?

                1. Madge*

                  GET over it! Every generation was stereotyped by the generation before it. But Millenials keep complaining about it & complaining about it. Please prove us wrong. Yes, there are a lot of exceptions. Gen Xers were called lazy, uncaring & indifferent. SO what!! We couldn’t have cared less.

                2. LBK*

                  Millennials are proving the stereotype wrong every day. There’s 200 comments on this post alone disagreeing with the millennial stereotype. Try viewing people as individuals instead of only through the lens of a stereotype you’ve created for them.

                3. fposte*

                  @Madge–Your GenX was clearly very different from my GenX. Mine bitched a lot.

                  (Though I do love the notion that you were accused of being uncaring and didn’t care–so…they were right?)

              3. Sue*

                This kind of talk, Madge is what drives us crazy. I have not seen many of these types of young adults that you are talking about. But now what I have alot of is young adults working hard and then being saddled with huge college debt. And then even though they got good grades, graduated with a degree that was suppose to be useful still cannot get any kind of job out side the food or retail industry that does not even come close to paying for their college degree let alone rent and utilities bills, etc…. And if they say anything about this, a bunch of old people say stop complaining you lazy entitled kids and ohh yeah get off my lawn. Yeah that is the reality I see.

                1. Madge*

                  We had debt. I couldn’t get a job during the oil bust either so I took a retail mgmt job because I had bills to pay. BTW, A waiter position can make $50 – 100K a year if you work hard. Is that not enough to get buy? Stop complaining.

                2. LBK*

                  a) That is a nutso pay range to assume a waitress would make. Maybe working fulltime hours at a fancy restaurant, which these days will want years of experience before you can be hired.

                  b) Even service positions have extreme competition. You can’t just walk into any random restaurant and be offered a job on the spot. Nevermind if they’re even hiring, but if they are you’re probably up against a minimum of 30 other people.

                3. Heather*

                  What LBK said.

                  To make $100k a year, a waiter would have to make almost $2000 a week in tips. That’s working 7 days bringing in almost $300 a night. Good luck pulling that off at your local Outback.

                4. ella*

                  @Madge–I know we’re not supposed to call people trolls anymore, and I swear (to Alison) that I’m not just saying this because I disagree with you–but you’re either a troll, or you’re staggeringly misinformed.

                  On the off chance that you’re staggeringly misinformed (or that you’re not American, and we’re having a currency-exchange-based miscommunication), here are some helpful facts from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which actually puts the average wage of waiters and waitresses at generally less than $30k:


                5. Gerri*

                  Madge is correct though – GenXers were called lazy and uncaring, it is a fact that we were stereotyped that way as we became of age. Madge is just telling the facts!

              4. ella*

                Gee, I wish I’d grown up when the New Deal and the GI Bill and the post-war booming economy and the growth of the middle class and industrial prosperity and affordable education all contributed to record-low unemployment figures and an unprecedented growth of the middle class all made it super easy for me to be handed my middle-class income on a silver platter (all while believing I’d earned it all myself)!

                …See how farking annoying that is?

              5. Nerdling*

                I’m pretty sure Socrates or Plato said something similar back in the day.

                And if kids are growing up being told they’re special, then that’s a complete and utter failing on their parents’ parts that they’re now being forced to deal with. So perhaps the generations before this one should have gotten their stuff together and done a better job as parents rather than sitting back and whittering about how entitled and spoiled the current generation is.

                1. Nerdling*

                  Which is not to say that all of them are doing all that whining and complaining! Just pointing out that the generational lambasting is a double-edged sword that could easily be made to cut the other direction. ;)

                2. Madge*

                  Not Gen X parents, Baby Boomers. Gen x is a little more realistic with their view of the world.

              6. iseeshiny*

                Where did you go? Please, come back and tell me some more about how entitled I am, and how I deserve what I get!

              7. Tinker*

                Oh. You weren’t making a joke?

                Well then.

                It might be a good idea to keep in mind that depending on definitions, Millenials can be up to their mid-3os. Some of us actually have at least moderately well-established careers, and even the younger end of the generation is old enough to be interested in discussing career issues. Particularly online, since that is a thing that people do nowadays.

                My point: Anymore, when you drop stuff like that into a general workplace discussion, you’re not just talking about a group of people who aren’t present (which isn’t terribly nice anyway) but rather disparaging a significant proportion of the participants in the discussion to their faces. If that’s not your intention, you might want to rethink how you address the subject.

                1. Tinker*

                  (I’ll add, overall it’s a good thing to treat people with respect even when they’re not well established in their careers, but one bridge at a time.)

              8. Koko*

                Lana meant that exactly these type of generalizations about the personality of literally millions (about 77) of individuals is what’s useless and annoying.

                45% of American kids grow up in low-income households and about half of those are in households below the poverty line. I’m betting they don’t feel particularly special and entitled.

              9. Anonymous*

                When people say things like this, I just think they’re acting out of a fear of change. That’s what makes people angry with younger generations.

                1. Tinker*

                  Whenever I hear “selfish” I start looking for the con and/or boundary pushing. And generally find it. There’s something of a “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” sort of perspective on the world that likes to throw around that word when they don’t get their way, and oddly enough people who observe genuinely self-centered behavior in others that they’re not involved in tend to use the word “selfish” to describe it less than one might think.

              10. Anon..anon*

                I also disagree. The participation ribbon rant is beyond cliche at this point. Don’t most young, inexperienced adults have unrealistic expectations when entering the workforce?

              11. K*

                I doubt you’ve ever actually talked to a Millenial. I’m from that generation and almost nobody was treated like you seem to think.

              12. Kat*

                Millennial. Never was told I was “special.” Worked my ass off through college to-paid my bills every semester from my sophomore year on, while still finding time to do ample community service and maintain a high GPA. I never asked for much, in fact, I begged my parents to let me do it myself and I did. I’m now happily married, with a good job and am very involved with my community.

                For Millennials who aren’t so lucky, it has little to do with them being told that they’re special and everything to do with a hellish job market. Minimum wage no longer provides an adequate standard of living, entry level jobs are few and far in between and student loan debt combined with low wages is what’s driving young people to move in with their parents. Trust me, of my friends who live with their parents, all of them are doing the best they can to get out as soon as possible. And they don’t expect the best jobs-they expect something that will pay them a living wage and enable them to take better jobs in the future.

                Besides, I find the ones who complain the most about us being “entitled” are at least old enough to have raised folks in our cohort. I don’t think it’s correct to pin that responsibility on us or to disparage us for that.

              13. Nusy*

                This is about as broad a generalization as calling Baby Boomers nothing but a giant suction pump on our resources, or Gen X-ers to be stuck in the 80’s and refusing to adapt.

                Saying that a whole generation of people are nothing but over-coddled little brats is like saying that every single American is a fat, hamburger-and-soda-guzzling idiot who totes a shotgun around while riding in an SUV, and does not have the least idea of proper culture or manners. Are you insulted in your own American-ness about this? I’m sure you are – and your statement about Millennials is just as offensive.

                Not all Millennials were coddled through life, far from it. Sure, there are those who put this reputation out, but it doesn’t mean that it’s true of everyone, and much less does it mean that you should (or are entitled to) blast the entire age group like this. If ANYONE said that they refuse to deal with Baby Boomers because they draw on all of our Social Security funds AND take away jobs from younger people, they would be called discriminative, ageist, and just an all-around jerk. What makes it so different for Millennials?

              14. Linguist curmudgeon*

                The original comments were meta. You have strayed into the very reality that those comments were complaining about. Mazel tov, I guess.

                Exiting your lawn now.

    1. Anonalicious*


      Can we just leave the stupid generational names and stereotypes behind and take each person for who they are?

    2. Kelly L.*

      It doesn’t even make sense to me, in my head. That’s the generation I thought of as Gen Y for years, and that I could wrap my mind around–Gen Y, comes after Gen X, got it. Millennial makes me think these should be the people born around 2000, which would make them 14 now, and not working at PepsiCo.

          1. Kerr*

            Yes, this. The younger generation hasn’t been decisively named yet, but I think the working title is “Generation N.”

            1. hildi*

              Interesting. Wonder what the N stands for or designates? I like to follow Neil & Howe’s work on generations and the last I heard them talk about the next generation is the Homelanders.

        1. JBeane*

          Yup, I was born in the early 80’s and I’m also considered a “Millennial” even though I’m only a few months away from being part of Gen X. It’s all so arbitrary and general.

      1. Jill G.*

        I still maintain that Gen Y and Millenials are two completely different generations and for awhile I think they were but I think the Gen Y time frame was so short compared to some of the others like Baby Boomers or Gen X that we eventually got lumped in together.

        I was born in 1981 and refuse to consider myself a Millenial.

          1. Elysian*

            The length of these “cohorts” are such a problem. Both me and my sister, 10 years younger then me, are considered “millenials.” But her age group is so different from mine – I can remember a time before the Internet. And cell phones. And laptops. And Facebook. She grew up using all of these things, and they have changed her outlook on the world so fundamentally that I don’t think it makes sense to have us in a cohort together.

            Just yet another problem with these kinds of groupings.

            1. Piper*

              I think maybe before technology advanced at such a rapid pace, the generational cohorts that spanned 20 years made a little more sense, but yeah, I was born in ’79 and by some accounts I’m a Millennial and by some I’m Gen X (there isn’t strict agreement on the dates of starting/ending – some say it’s late 70s, some say early 80s). But someone born in the late 70s/early 80s has very little in common in today’s world with someone born in the 90s.

              1. Nichole*

                I agree-technology completely changed the way people fundamentally experience the world, which threw a huge wrench on the generalizations we can draw from generational divides. I was born in ’84 and my brother was born in ’91, and the way we were educated and socialized outside the home is so different that you would think I was born in ’74 instead even though we grew up in the same house- I even had an edge on technology because my mom’s a techie, but he and I still grew up using technology totally differently. The world moves at a much faster pace than it used to, and the rate at which culture changes is overwhelming.

                1. Shannon D*

                  I agree. The advancement of technology has greatly increased that gulf between those born in the early 80s and those in the 90s.

                  I’m a Gen x and my sister is an early year Gen y/millennial but she is so much more like my generation than she is to the one she gets grouped in. She and I both grew up without much use of computers until college (which was also limited) and neither had cell phones or other gadgets.

                  It makes more sense for her generation to be either part of x or to be its own separate group which happened to be smaller and shorter than anything we had seen before.

              2. Becky B*

                I was thinking about this, and I’m not sure about your last line–for me, that is. I was born in the mid 70s, watched us get the big VCR, the big microwave; when one family in the neighborhood had “Home Box Office”–that kind of thing. But I also learned to program with BASIC when I was 7, because we had computers. At age 9, Apple IIcs appeared in our school, and so on.

                So from a technology standpoint as later comments here talk about, I do feel that starting out while still young with these things made it seem natural to adopt everything else as it came along. So I don’t necessarily see the gap there between my gen and that of the 90s, but again, that’s just my personal perspective. It is fascinating, looking at it all–and fun to be there as it all unfolded (and still is).

                On a side note, I always think about how as a kid, we only had a landline, yet somehow you always knew where everybody was. /nostalgia

                1. Shannon D*

                  You learned to program computers using BASIC at age 7 and was born in the mid 70s? What school did you go to? This is definitely not the norm.

                  There is also a big difference between the simple functions of early school computers vs the technology kids used in the 90s.

                  I’m also surprised you were age 7. Who was teaching you?

                  Also, the kids in the 90s are going to school in the late 90s through 2000s when computers have been very integrated and essential. You would have been going to school in the 80s and 90s in which it was very minimal. Perhaps you find it easy to integrate new technology (as do I) , but you can also argue that boomers found technology easy to adapt too.

                  My dad is a computer programmer in retirement age and he continues to work and use all the latest gadgets. My mom is a bigger social media guru than I am.

                  I think it is natural for everyone who has been using new things as they come about. That doesn’t mean the gap in how we grew up is nonexistent. There is a bigger difference in how kids born in the 90s grew up vs those in the early 80s. Even if both groups use technology the same and found it easy to adapt to.

                  Although, you may have grown up differently from most of your peers if you were programming BASIC at age 7. You’re an outlier and quite exceptional for your age group. Most kids then would not have had any opportunity to learn that.

                  At 7 I think I was in first or second grade. I remember learning to write and do math. The first school computer I used was in 1989 when I was older and in double digits. We copied program commands into an Apple computer and ran math equations using them. It was simple, stupid, and certainly wasn’t the same as using computers and technology now is.

                  Research was done in books. We didn’t have the Internet or google. Knowledge was harder to acquire because you couldn’t just ship out your smartphone or even look it up on the computer because no one had them. Even going to college in the mid 90s I only started using computers heavily during my last few years. A kid born in the 90s has smartphones, Internet, google, and so much more technology at thier fingertips throughout thier schooling. It’s a major difference from kids born in the early 80s and in the 70s.

                  That doesn’t mean us Gen xers didn’t adapt easily. Many of us came up with this stuff. We may however have a different view of the world and we had a different childhood.

                2. Shannon D*

                  I wrote: “There is also a big difference between the simple functions of early school computers vs the technology kids used in the 90s.”

                  I meant to say: “vs the technology kids born in the 90s used as they went through school”. A kid born in the 90s would be using the technology of the late 90s and in the 2000s.

                3. Mae North*

                  “There is also a big difference between the simple functions of early school computers vs … the technology kids born in the 90s used as they went through school.”

                  (replying down here because the comments are too far nested!)

                  I was born in the early 80s; we didn’t get a computer at home until I was 14 or so because the cost was too prohibitive, and didn’t have an internet connection (AOL dial-up!) until I was 17. My brother, who was born in the early 90s, was REQUIRED to have a laptop for use in secondary school – those kids whose families couldn’t afford to buy one had to rent from the school. And we did not live in a wealthy neighborhood (far from it), and his school was the local govt-funded comprehensive.

                  And yet we are both “Millennials” according to the current generation lines. As is my nephew who’s grown up with tablet computers and netflix and has never even seen a VHS or 8-track.

        1. in-house counsel*

          I’m in the same boat, but because the generational boundaries aren’t universally agreed on, I pick and choose depending on context. I was born in 1981 or later (Millenial!) but I graduated High School before 2000 (Gen X!).

        2. uses of enchantment*

          I know just what you mean, Jill G. There’s just something about remembering being self-aware in a world where a cordless land line was awesome, the fax machine saved time, and knowing what happened beyond state lines or country borders could only be known if it was on tv, radio, in the papers, or you had a loved one who wrote you a letter or called you to say, “The Berlin wall just fell!”

          Because I recall such a world, my sense of nostalgia is more in line with someone who was a teenager in the 80s to 90s as opposed to someone who was a teenager post-Y2K.

          The “back in my day” stories I heard were all about parents who had to walk to school (in the 50s) in all kinds of weather, go uphill, and didn’t have a refrigerator until the 60s.

          The “back in my day” stories I will be telling youngsters will consist of going to the movies by myself and paying at most $10 for a ticket and concessions, paying no more than $2 a gallon for super unleaded gas, and thinking the video cassette rewinder machine was awesome because rental VHS tapes had to be rewound upon return.

          It’s not a then-or-now is better/worse…it’s about the ways in which differences in economy and industry inform how we think about and make sense of society.

      2. Ash (the other one!)*

        Weren’t we generation Y2K at some point? Is that where the millenial name came from?

    3. Bryan*

      I know! Enough already. It seems at this point companies are trying to force people into the stereotype that isn’t true.

    4. Adam*

      Me too. I think pretty much all generational labels are pretty much only used for mocking reasons at this point.

    5. A Non*

      My boss read a book on Millenials to figure out how to better relate to me. *headdesk* I should have told him to read AAM instead.

      Fortunately about all that he seems to have taken from it is that I prefer email and chat to in-person conversation. (Which is true, but has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with finding it less disruptive when I’m trying to focus.)

    6. Homme*

      I refuse to accept the label. I refuse to call anyone a millenial or any other generational label. It’s a hurtful stereotype like any other, and serves only to divide the generations and set them against each other. It needs to stop.

      1. Piper*

        At work, we do a lot with personas and I hate defining them by generation and have been trying to get people to think about them in other ways (that’s part of my job). The truth is, our Millennial users are far less technologically savvy than the “typical” Millennial and have much more in common (as far as how they use technology and the internet) with our Boomer cohort. Clearly, dividing our personas by age or generation wouldn’t really be helpful at all. There are many other ways to differentiate them. Generations (in this case) is not one of them.

        1. Mallory*

          The truth is, our Millennial users are far less technologically savvy than the “typical” Millennial and have much more in common (as far as how they use technology and the internet) with our Boomer cohort.

          This. My daughter is 17, and she can help me just a very little with any tech problem I’m having; she really is not very tech savvy. Our home tech support, though, is her best friend (also 17) since they were both 18 mos. old, and she is savvy because her dad is a professional IT guy who teaches her what he knows (and she is of a bent to be interested). Neither of my kids is particularly interested. So the friend is our tech support, not either of my kids.

    7. Anonathon*

      Generational categorization is just weird. Speaking of which, did anyone else read this book?

      It came out in 2000, although I don’t remember if the authors were the firs to run with the “millennial” idea. But their 2000 categorization is SO different from how people think about the generation now. Plus it was written before smart phones and social media. (FWIW: I’m on the very early end of millennial-dom.)

    8. Heather*

      You know what makes me extra stabby? When Boomers generalize that all Millenials are helpless, coddled, lazy creatures. Because even if that were true — who do you think raised them to be that way? Their Boomer parents!

      I don’t actually believe that all Millenials are lazy, or that all Boomers were helicopter parents. Just pointing out that when it comes to generalizing, what’s good for the goslings is good for the goose & gander :)

    9. Lisa*

      And not all people in the millennial age group love ridiculous perks that have nothing to do with the actual job…

      I know the real perks of a good job are:
      -processes in place for reviews / raises
      -given leeway to do my job / no micromanaging
      -direct honest feedback
      -having a work / life balance
      -not being made to feel guilty about going to the dentist or going home after 9 hours as if doing a full day is not good enough or that you are slacking even when you are doing 60 hours

      They are not:
      -free lunch
      -bean bag chairs
      -ping pong or foosball tables / game rooms
      -bars at the office
      -forced ‘fun’ / company retreats / lunches
      -ice cream socials
      -recording how long your break was / if you watched youtube at lunch / or took a personal call

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes yes yes yes yes yes.

        Free lunch and ping pong tables are just a ruse to get you to work more. I want a job that lets me leave on time so I can go pick up my laundry, not one that has laundry on-site.

      2. Audiophile*

        My workplace just brought scooters. I despise them, because I’ve lost count of how many I almost tripped over.

      3. Nusy*

        Yup, all of the above, very, very true. Especially the respect.

        A former job of mine had a wonderful “perk” for us to peruse… During the ENTIRE Q4, we had free PB&J supplies in the break room. Sliced Wonderbread, off-brand PB, and random jelly that never made it into the refrigerator. To add to the irony, these supplies were displayed on a table right under the corporate “Get fit, eat healthy” propaganda poster. They felt it was motivational for us. When next year rolled around, we got our “true motivation” – the raises that ranged anywhere from $0.03 to $0.35/hour on our mostly minimum-wage jobs, regardless of reviews or performance.

  1. CanadianWriter*


    As a millennial I find this idea horrifying. My mother, on the other hand, would love this.

      1. Katie C.*

        Hahaha! My first internship was at a local newspaper, and my mom BEGGED to come see the newsroom. I obliged her because I was so excited about the job, but it’s just about the most awkward thing ever to introduce your parent to a boss. (I was 19 at the time.)

    1. Cube Diva*

      Millennial here, too. My mom would have Alison’s response. “Um… you know she’s 25, right? I stopped monitoring her homework in elementary school. KTHXBYE.”

      UGHHHHH. It’s no wonder the stereotype is that we’re clingy. I love my parents, but I moved out for a reason.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Heh, yeah, my Dad would definitely assume it was one of his friends pranking him, and probably say something wildly inappropriate!

          If either of my parents had actually got a call from one of my first bosses, once they realised it wasn’t a joke, I can just see them putting on their best teacher voice and giving said boss a good dressing down…

          (although my Mum does like to be able to know what the places where I live and work look like, so she can visualise me there during the day. I just send her photos).

      1. giggleloop*

        It’s funny – 5 to 10 years ago, my mother would have had the same response. Now she’s retired, and I think a little lonely, and she would eat it for breakfast. Gotta love parents!

      2. TL*

        I don’t remember my mother ever monitoring my homework.
        Except for that one time when I broke my hand and she had to write everything for me and that was awful. Truly, truly awful.

        1. Judy*

          Well, I don’t either, but I also don’t remember homework before middle school, 5th grade or so.

          We’re in the days of Kindergartners having a math worksheet daily, a language arts worksheet daily, 10 minutes of reading daily and a spelling test once a week.

          1. TL*

            Oh, I remember having spelling tests once a week and having to read (thinking 1st and 2nd grades here) but… my mom didn’t monitor my homework.

            Maybe in kinder? I can’t remember if I had homework in kindergarten, but I do remember being in elementary.

        2. Mallory*

          Gah! I spent all this time NOT monitoring my kids’ homework (just their grades at report-card time). So just last week, my son came home with a report card indicating that he has not done homework all this past semester, even though he has told us that he had. So now I HAVE to be a homework monitor, and I hate it! I feel like I’m the one who is in 8th grade and has homework!!

      3. A Teacher*

        My grandmother didn’t like something my sister and I posted on FB so she called my mom. My mom’s reply was, “no I don’t know what’s posted and they’re adults.” My grandma, “well that they are…”

      4. Anonathon*

        My parents would be so weirded out by this. I kinda refuse to believe that the Pepsi example is representative of anything beyond Pepsi’s questionable practices. (I was a camp counselor for many years and there were plenty of employees between the ages of 16 and 18. Even with workers who were legally still kids, the camp never would call their parents. The sole exception was when a junior counselor broke a law.)

      5. Chinook*

        I (as Gen Xer) have the rare experience of knowing what exactly my mother would say if approaached about my job because she did say it when approached by a preist when I was 16 and he didn’t like the idea of a girl as altar server. Her response – “She is old enough to make her own decisions. Feel free to talk to her the next time you see her.” He never did but I lost all respect for that man when she told me about it later that day.

        1. Mallory*

          Good for your mom! I do the same thing, when I take my kids to doctors’ appointments, etc. I hang back and let them answer all the questions, unless it’s something that they don’t know or look to me to answer for them. I just think that responding for one’s own self is a life skill and that it’s my job to assist them in acquiring it. I’m there as a net, not as a megaphone.

    2. Adam*

      I think my mom would love it to. My dad would probably ask “You’re my son’s boss? Ok, what happened?”

      Guess which parent I enjoy calling more.

    3. alma*

      Hahaha! Yep.

      I was reading this and a part of me was having the head-asplode reaction. But another part of me knows my mom would probably frame it if she got a letter from the CEO of a major corporation extolling my awesomeness. Awwww, moms.

      1. Mallory*

        Okay, if it were a phone call, I think I’d end it and be all like, “WTF — my adult child can handle her own career and the company has no business calling me.” But if I received a letter extolling her awesomeness, I’d totally hang it on the fridge with a magnet.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      Yeah, I kind of think my parents would be into this too.

      When I think about it, my dad’s parents knew his boss pretty well (like my grandma still sends him a Christmas card and asks after him). Then again, I grew up in the rural midwest. It’s not totally unreasonable that your boss and your parents might be acquainted, but there’s something really cloying and condescending in this kind of communication.

    5. Del*

      Oh my god, my mother would be all over this, and I would be so furious. I’m trying to get her nose out of my employment issues, not further in!

      1. Piper*

        All of this makes me wonder if it’s the helicopter parents that are the problem here and not the Millennials. Because my mom, too, would be all over this and I find it positively horrifying.

        1. chewbecca*

          That’s what I was thinking while reading this thread, too.

          A lot of people who criticize Millennials forget that we (early 80s child here, so Gen X/Millennial cusp) didn’t spring out of the womb the way they’re stereotyping us. A lot of it was how we were raised. We weren’t the ones demanding participation trophies, or saying our confidence suffered because our teachers graded with red pens instead of purple.

          Oftentimes, the people complaining about this generation tend to forget that they had a hand in making us “this way”.

          I’m with everybody else, I’m so ready for this trend to be over.

          1. chewbecca*

            Ack, this sounds like I’m validating the stereotypes. I’m totally not.

            What I was trying to say is that we’re not asking to be treated differently. I have no desire to be handled with kid gloves. I want to be seen as professional, and I think the actions taken by some supervisors who buy in to the Millennial stereotypes tend to undermine that.

            Managers/etc are deciding to treat us differently because someone one time said that some people like it and then that suddenly became the universal for everybody born between X and Y.

          2. Anonymous*

            I agree. Sometimes the context we grew up in gets ignored. Now that we’re joining the workforce, we’re treated as if we were perfectly sheltered, spoiled kids… That is just obviously wrong to anyone who’s read the news in the past 20 years.

          3. MeganO*

            I’m with you, chewbacca. Please just treat me as an adult – I’ve been one for a while now!

        2. Jillociraptor*

          Yeah, isn’t it interesting that this post is titled “Now managers are calling Milleannials’ parents” and not “Now managers are calling Boomers about their kids”? And it’s obviously not this post alone; it’s how this story (broadly) is being framed.

          1. Nerdling*

            This is a good point and one I’d like to see being made more broadly. It’s a definite reflection of the power that those who write the history books (or in this case, news articles) have to manipulate a line of thought.

          2. Mints*

            I would read that article. Or “Boomer managers unwilling to recognize young workers as adults; undermine them by calling boomer parents”

            1. Bluefish*

              “Boomer managers unwilling to recognize young workers as adults; undermine them by calling boomer parents”

              You win.

    6. Mints*

      Haha! I think my mom would suspect a scam. Sometimes she checks with me, and I try to show her how to tell if it’s phishing.
      I can just imagine “Mints, I got an email from a Nigerian prince, the CEO of Pepsi, and FedEx shipping…all scams, right”

      1. Mints*

        I’m trying to imagine this in real life, with my real mom, and I don’t see how a conversation would even happen. On the phone, my mom would be like “oh sorry, Mints doesn’t live here. No no let me give you her number”
        (Consuela on family guy anyone?)

        She’s pretty dodgy

    7. Canadamber*

      My parents are kind of overbearing and I have a feeling that yes they would love this. “Canadamber, your manager told me that you are only performing at 70% capacity, instead of 85%!!! Why is that?! This is just like high school all over again!!! Arrrgh!”

      Fun fact: I originally typed “hash tags” instead of “high school”, because I’m listening to Selfie! O_o; Jason just liked my selfie!

    1. Artist IC*


      Dear Harvard Business Review: I regret to inform you that your April Fools’ joke appears to have been published on April 14 this year.

  2. Anonylicious*

    As a 29-year-old (I think that means I’m a millennial?), let me just say hell to the no at the idea of my employer calling my parents.

    I mean, they were spoken with in the course of my security investigation, but that’s a different story.

  3. giggleloop*

    I’m in my (very late) twenties. This would make me want to die. I’ve always wanted to be taken seriously at work — and I just don’t see how this would make that happen.

      1. Karowen*

        I’m 26. Also horrified. And speechless. I just hope to God that if a boss or potential boss ever calls my parents, they use my father’s planned response if/when someone asks for my hand: “I don’t care, go ask her yourself.”

        1. Karowen*

          As an aside – I just realized how miserable this sounds taken out of context. My family does actually care who I marry and where I work, but they realize that I’m the best person to judge who/what will make me happy.

          1. Kai*

            That’s awesome–my dad had the exact same response ready for me. Luckily my fiance was sharp enough to realize that asking my dad for my hand was not something he needed to do!

      2. Anonymous*

        22. Frightening. Working for a family business is still on my resume, so there is a legitimate reason to contact my parents, but even that isn’t ideal.

    1. Annie0*

      I’m 26 and this practice is insane! I would be mortified if my boss called my parents – and how would she have their contact information anyway? Is my boss facebook-stalking my parents in this scenario? Creepy! Anyone who tries to manage based on the totally illegible and useless concepts of “generational differences” rather than interacting with their employees as individual people deserves what they’ll get – a lot of turnover.

  4. AMG*

    Bleh! My mom would have been rightly horrified by this when I was 16, and certainly now. If you want your mommy or daddy involved in your professional life, do not plan on working for me. Ever.

    1. Audiophile*

      *makes sign*
      “Will work hard and promises mom will not drop by office, nor call you, or be involved in any daily work duties”

      Am I hired?

    2. Mallory*

      Exactly. Even if my high-school-age daughter were working at the local McDonald’s down the street, I’d expect her shift manager to manage her performance, not call me about it. That goes quadruple (nay, a thousand times!) for a professional job.

  5. Em*

    This cannot be true. I can’t think of any parents or 20 somethings that would be okay with this. Sometimes I think these media outlets are just trying as hard as they can to ride the “millennials are special snowflakes” bandwagon to get reads, regardless if there is any truth to it or not.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yup. I feel like some media are just regurgitating the same stuff over and over. Helicopter parents blah blah participation trophies yadda yadda social media get off my lawn.

      1. Piper*

        I don’t know…I think helicopter parenting is a real thing (see upthread when people are talking about how their parents would love something like this). Plus, I survived a helicopter parent. To this day, she meddles in my life so I have to be very limited in my contact with her because if I give her an inch, she takes a mile.

        1. fposte*

          And on the education front, there definitely is a greater tendency for parental involvement. Not for every student, but it’s no longer an outlier phenomenon.

          1. lindsay j*

            I found though that when I was a student I sometimes had to get my parents involved – not because I wanted to but because the workers didn’t seem to take me seriously as an adult. For example – my student account would fail to show a payment I had made and then I would get charged a late fee due to their error (or even worse have my classes dropped).

            I would call the bursar’s office and they would be dismissive of me. I would go down there, with my online receipt with confirmation number or cancelled check or whatever showing that I completed the payment before the deadline. I would be told that the person I needed to speak to would be there at some inconvenient time (like Tuesday from 1-2:30, when I have class from 12-2:25). I would bust my butt to get there and then be told “oh she stepped out for a meeting. Come back next week.”. I come back next Tuesday, talk to that person and get told, ” Sorry, once the late fee is entered there’s nothing we can do. It’s just the way the system works,” even though they acknowledge that the payment wasn’t actually late to begin with.

            I get frustrated. Call my dad. He gives them the same explanation and shows same evidence I did. Late fee waived, over the phone, not by mystical only-works-two-hours-a-week person, with none of the run-around or condescension I faced.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Oh, it definitely exists (I had to deal with the helicopter parent from hell at my previous job) but I don’t think it’s universal or that it dooms its kids to eternal babyhood, if that makes any sense.

    2. MJ*

      I’d guess this is along the lines of when those seven or eight rich ladies with high-powered careers decided to be stay-at-home moms (with nannies, of course!) and suddenly there was an OPT-OUT REVOLUTION! Women leaving the workforce in droves!

    3. Laura*

      I doubt this is really a thing – if it happens it’s rare, and not widespread. I am 24 and all of my similarly aged friends and I would think this is weird and creepy. We’re just regular people, not this giant stereotype .

      On the other hand, I had a job in the testing centre of a college, and parents would call in all the time asking about their child’s test. They seemed confused when we told them their child is an adult, and if they wanted that information, they’d have to ask their kid. Like they were entitled to know if their 21 year old “child” failed a test. But calling an employer does seem a little more extreme. None of the other 20somethings I know have parents like that.

  6. Anonalicious*

    No. No. No. And no.

    I am on the cusp of being a millenial (born 2 years early to be one) and this would horrify me and possibly make me quit.

    1. Cat*

      Also, that CEO might well get away with it. There are always outliers who are so charming and charismatic that they can do crazy things and have people love it. That doesn’t mean the rest of us should start.

      1. Sadsack*

        Wouldn’t it be something if this particular CEO happened to already personally know the candidate’s parents and that is why they communicated about the candidate accepting the job? I can’t believe that employer’s are taking their precious time from their interview process to cold-call employee’s parents.

      2. Jess*

        Totally agree with this! I’m guessing this works b/c it’s the CEO of PepsiCo…a call from her about your adult child might be charming and quirky, while the same call from your more normal hiring manager would just be creepy and intrusive.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This is a really interesting theory. I could see that being right. I mean, if you worked at the White House and President Obama called your parents, that would be kind of cool.

          1. Cat*

            Along that line, when I was in law school, professors used to auction off dinners at their house and things like that to support stipends for students to do summer public interest work. Elizabeth Warren–not a senator yet, but still a super star and unbelievably charismatic–used to auction off a post-graduation brunch at her house and did a bit about how she’d pull your mom aside and say “This one. Of all the students we had, this one is special.” And that worked because it was Elizabeth Warren; we are not all Elizabeth Warren!

          2. Dan*

            During my latest search, I had the CEO of a 100-ish person company call and try to talk me into an offer I had initially declined. It didn’t work.

            TBH, I wasn’t flattered by his call at all — I was pissed. Why? Because I had not met him through any of the hiring process, and the offered salary was on the low end of what the HM and I had discussed. I saw that call as an attempt to guilt me in to taking an inferior offer. Further, my position is so low-level that I would probably never meet the CEO anyway. (Ok, with 100 people, I might, but only in passing.)

            I gave the HM a $15k spread, and they offered me the absolute bottom number of my range. During my first phone call post-offer, I asked how much they could come up from that. $2k, they said.

            I actually didn’t return the guy’s call. Why? Because I didn’t want the guilt trip, and TBH, they knew what kind of numbers I was talking. They could have followed “protocol” or “chain of command” which would have been to up the offer via the HM.

            Actions speak louder than words. If he (or Indra Nooyi) wants me to take an offer I’ve initially declined, up the cash.

            As it was, I didn’t bother negotiating with that company, because I got a much better offer from my current employer one week later.

            1. Zillah*

              I understand why that came across poorly to you, and I likely wouldn’t have liked it either… but why give a range that includes a number that you find unacceptable? If you indicate that you’re willing to work for $x, why would they give you $x+15k?

              1. TL*

                Maybe it was a responsibilities/perks/money kind of thing – I’d come down a lot for a 35 hr workweek or to be able to take on X projects.

              2. Dan*

                There were two things going on. First, on the day the VP called to “feel me out” I had just had an interview with my “dream job” that went well. If I have multiple offers on the table, you can bet I’m not going to be thrilled at getting offered the lowest number in my range. My lowest number is my “i will take it if I’m desperate” number. Don’t expect me to be excited about it.

                Second, initial discussions were pitching the position as supervisory/non-IC role. Further discussions in the interview revealed that the position wasn’t quite at that level, but they intended to grow it that way. My range was as wide as it was because the high end was targeting a supervisory role, and the low end was acknowledging the IC aspect.

                There low end offer signaled that they weren’t going to make it a supervisory role any time soon. And when they did, how likely was it that I would get a serious raise as opposed to “company policy dictates we screw over internal promotions”? You have the most leverage when you first join; I didn’t want to spend my career there negotiating from the bottom of the barrel.

                My dream job came through with a much better offer, so it was a no brainier. The CEO called after I had rejected the offer and accepted my dream job. Hence why I was pissed — you want to pull that move, you better pony up some cash.

                FWIW, I’ve been an early reader of AAM, so I know all about the dream job thing… But I took it, and am enjoying it with no regrets at all.

            2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

              I was wondering the same thing as Zillah. If you give a range and they offer you the lowest number, that’s not an insult. It sounds like they were offering you a number that, with the extra $2K, was solidly within the range you had specified, and you responded by not even returning their call? Because you were insulted about a low offer?

              I honestly would call that “negotiating in bad faith.” Don’t say a number that you would be *insulted* by when offered!

              1. Dan*

                The insult was having the CEO try to guilt me into taking the lowest number in my range. See above for further commentary though.

                1. Cat*

                  To be fair, if you didn’t talk to him, you don’t know if he was going to guilt you or offer you something that might have actually materially changed your mind about the offer (or at least been a possible legitimate basis to change your mind).

        2. Anonsie*

          That’s exactly what I was thinking– this is not translatable at all. If I was offered a job at a major multinational company and the CEO of that company called my family to say I was the best ever and they just HAD to have me, that might be cool, though only precisely because it’s extremely uncommon.

          With a regular hiring manager, it’s weird. If it turned into a thing where every week the execs at these companies have a list of people to call that they don’t even know because it’s just a standard way to attract people, then it’s still weird.

      3. Jamie*

        Interesting. Like maybe Tiger Mike could do it – but he wouldn’t.

        He needs to save his voice and can’t waste it saying hello.

        1. Mallory*

          LOL! We totally need more comments on this blog illustrative of what Tiger Mike would do!

      4. H. Rawr*

        After reading the original Fortune article, I actually agree with this. She brought a background to it that made it seems slightly less bonkers. I think it’s a terrible idea, but she probably gets away with it because it’s her, not because her employees are millennial. Also in that article she mentions that she sent a letter to all her direct reports parents after a trip to her home where basically her extended family made a point to credit her parents parenting for her success, so from her this seems like less of an age thing and more of a building company culture thing.

        I would still be super weirded out.

  7. Audiophile*

    Noooooooo! I cannot put enough ‘o’s in there. Oh my god, no. Surprisingly, I don’t think my mom would appreciate this at all.

  8. Colette*

    “Parents wrote back to me, and all of a sudden, parents of my direct reports, who are all quite grown-up, and myself, we had our own communication.

    But … why would you possibly want your own communication with the parents of your employees (barring exceptional circumstances)?

    Doesn’t a CEO have enough to do already?

    1. Briggs*

      That was my first response. If you’ve got time to be pen-pals with your youngest employees parent’s, you’re not effectively using your time at work.

    2. Jamie*

      That’s the part that struck fear into my heart – if it were a thing which it’s not IMO.

      I make an effort to get to know who my kids are dating and friends who are important to them because for the former I want to secretly vet them and for the latter because I’m trying not to be a horrible person. But I draw the lines at having to have an ongoing social relationship, even via email, with their employers.

      For crying out loud I have a ton of people in my real life who I actually like but don’t want to talk to that much. The last thing I need is more people to make small talk with – and if not is it bad office politics for my kid?

      I certainly can get riled up about fictional scenarios.

  9. Looking for new career*

    That is some weird-azz stuff. I wonder if this manager’s boss condones this kind of strange goings on.

    And you, AAM, probably thought you couldn’t be shocked anymore!

    1. Looking for new career*

      Oh, it’s the CEO. How can someone who’s gotten to that position be so nutty?

      1. wanderlust*

        Believe me, there are many, many nutty people in this world in positions of authority. Sad but true.

  10. Kai*

    I’m 26. If my boss or potential employer ever called one of my parents I would die of shame. This is horrible.

  11. Josie*

    I’m going to believe this is part of the journalistic generation gap industry, where it seems like any slow news day can be solved by another article about kids/old people these days. And that lists of generational traits is an adequate substitute for actual nuanced examination of workplace culture.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, slow news day have to fill white space. Hey, I know. Let’s fill it with something that will get people talking, nothing ever happens to cause that.
      I don’t think the author supported his theory that this idea is a good idea.

      I can’t see busy managers or execs have time to sweet talk parents. Don’t they have enough to do?

      He skipped the whole question of employees whose parents are deceased or abusive. Suppose an employee has decided to distance themselves from an abusive parent and New Boss barges into that situation? Now, what?

  12. LBK*

    If someone called my mother regarding my job she would probably say “My son is a grown adult, why the hell are you calling me?”

    What sane parents are actually responding well to this behavior and not telling their children, “Your psycho prospective employer just called and tried to get me to convince you to take their position, you should stay the hell away from them because they are clearly nuts”?

    1. bad at online naming*

      add me to the “oh hell no” chorus, with parents that would do the above.

      Ironically, my parents would advise me to do something in this situation that I would do without their advice – tell the company to stick their offer where the sun don’t shine.

      Well, they could offer me a 50% salary increase from their initial offer or offer my parents a job (or jobs) as “consultants” for at least $45,000/yr. That would cause me to at least consider working for a company that calls up my parents to chat. Seems like a fair compromise.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Perfect. “For a finders’ fee I will assist you, Mr CEO, in hiring my child. It will cost you $60k.”

    2. Leah*

      Mine too. If anything, my parents would respond, “We raised a strong, capable, and independent daughter and are very proud of her. She is your employee and if you can’t see those qualities in her then you need to talk to her directly some more.” They would then call me and tell me to find a new job because I’m working for lunatics.

    3. esra*

      Right? A CEO calling my mom to pressure her to get me to accept a position would make more likely to get a restraining order than that job.

      1. Jamie*

        Steve Jobs famously called Steve Wozniak’s family to pressure him to leave HP. I remember hearing that and thinking if Wozniak was like me that would have insured I’d have retired from HP after 40 years because the boundary crossing would have freaked me out.

  13. Jill-be-Nimble*

    “It’s hard to ignore the fact that Millennials demand to be treated differently than previous generations in almost all aspects of their careers.”

    I…really don’t think so. I’m part of this age-group and never experienced anything like this. It seems like boomers and helicopter parents (helicopter managers?) are the ones who changed and are putting this on us, then blaming us for not being able to let go.

    I just want to get hired and paid and do my work, please.

    1. Mike C.*

      The only thing “people of our generation demand” is workplace stability. We grew up watching our parents get “right-sized” in the 80s and 90s and now have to change jobs every few years.

      “I just want to get hired and paid and do my work, please.”


    2. Bryan*

      I completely agree. If my mom calls my work (which she wouldn’t do thank god), how does that mean I’m different?

    3. WC11*

      “I just want to get hired and paid and do my work, please.”

      This is exactly how I feel as well.

    4. Anonymous Analyst*

      “It’s hard to ignore the fact that Millennials demand to be treated differently than previous generations in almost all aspects of their careers.”

      I think this statement only applies to a certain class of Millennial that was raised by a certain type of family. It’s a blanket statement that doesn’t apply to all, just as all young people don’t party on spring break or do drugs or whatever.

      1. LBK*

        And that certain class of people raised by a certain type of family has existed in every generation ever, so what does that have anything to do with Millennials? Overbearing parents and children who are used to having everything handed to them didn’t just start existing in the last 20 years.

        1. S*


          Seriously, people are obsessed with making it a generational thing, but people have been complaining about “kids these days” for literally thousands of years.

    5. Homme*

      You know, I think the reason people think so called “Millenials” can’t let go of their parents is because the job market has been so terrible lately that a lot of them are, were, and will be forced to return home after college to live with their parents while looking for a job just to survive the terrible economy. So called “Millenials” don’t demand special treatment- they merely demand a job that allows them to make a decent living (the American dream, right?). Plently of educated younger folks will settle for a job that requires no college degree and barely pays the bills like a lot of my friends did. They will never recover financially from the depression that we are currently in. I think they are the opposite of “entitled.”

    6. Anonymous*

      The giant toddlers described in the news are probably out there, but I haven’t met one yet.

    7. Laura*

      That’s all I want (or any other 20something I know wants). I just want a job that pays enough money for things like rent and food, and isn’t a short term temp thing. Apparently wanting this makes me entitled, even though it’s something my parents generation had a much easier time getting.

  14. Anon For This*

    As a Millennial who grew up in an abusive family, I find this horrifying. It’s bad enough that everyone seems to assume that I had helicopter parents who are still supporting me; it’s literally terror-inducing to think that employers would think it was a good idea to open “new and intimate lines of communication” with my abusers.

    1. some1*

      Yes, this. I don’t have abusive parents but I recognize that there are valid reasons adults have all kinds of relationships with their parents, from speaking every day to once a month to not speaking for years.

    2. Anon, too*

      Having grown up in an abusive situation as well, it horrifies me to think that, after spending so much time trying to create appropriate and healthy boundaries which allow me to get away from abusive behaviors, a prospective employer would stream roll all that in a misguided attempt to woo me as a candidate. And it’s just. damn. creepy.

      1. anon for obvious reasons*

        Chiming in here – grew up in an abusive home as well, and if my father had been called, he probably would have said negative things about me to my boss or gave the boss or a coworker credit for anything remotely positive about me. Then after the call ended he’d call anyone and everyone he could think of to tell them how my boss was going to fire me but he talked her out of it. It would have been extremely embarrassing for me and I’d have to do damage control on all fronts.

        1. KAS*

          Just want to say I am sorry that this is your reality. The company I work for is extremely family-oriented and it would not be unusual for our CEO to ask an employee to invite an in-town-family-member to the office (thru the employee). My worst nightmare is having my BPD mother having a ball telling my CEO how worthless and stupid I am.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This consideration here stands alone in my mind as a reason NOT to be calling people’s parents. The boss does not know what kind of a hornet’s nest he just hit with a baseball bat.

      Suppose that parent shows up at the workplace and all heck breaks loose? There is no way that is the employee’s fault. I do realize that might be a rare situation but how many others are experiencing difficulties that are not so public?

    4. joooooolz*

      This. I was scrolling to find if anyone would mention this.
      I’m on the same boat as you. Not all children even have open lines of communication with their parents: and that has nothing to do with how well a ‘millennial’ candidate will perform at work. The CEO may have had good intentions, but could cause somewhat horrific and unintended consequences for the family dynamic.
      Also, who is authorizing this waste of time trying to find out candidates’ phone#s? Or do the millennia candidates willingly give out their parents’ home #?
      What if, like my own parents, they live oversees, and an entirely different time zones and would not give a rats a$$ about my job search? This CEO’s efforts seem very misguided to me, and operating under a full slew of assumptions.

      1. Pseudonym for This*

        This. Not only is it horrifying that my mom – who has previously tried to track down my work contacts to get me fired – could be contacted by a potential employer, but where exactly did they get this contact information? The only conceivable time I would give out my mom’s number at work is if I was caught off-guard with an emergency contact form that I had to sign immediately (some ask for addresses and my dad doesn’t have a stable one; my brother does, but I would need time to look it up).

        That would be a wildly inappropriate use of emergency contact information, and the only other possibility is either the employees volunteering that information or the employer tracking down the parent’s number.

      2. Anne*

        I quite agree. I’m supposedly a millennial – I was GenY a few years ago, but I guess now I get to be lumped into the same generation as my young nephews? Don’t even get me started on this generational codswallop.

        I’m 30, married, and have lived on the opposite side of the Atlantic from my parents since I was 20. My stepfather was abusive to us kids, and my relationship with my mother was difficult for many years because of her defence of him.

        Contacting my parents for any reason – beyond there being a serious accident at a workplace where I inexplicably have them listed as emergency contacts – is completely inappropriate and would cause me to decline a job offer or find a new position elsewhere ASAP, no matter if it’s the CEO doing the contacting or a supervisor with boundary issues.

    5. Anon for now*

      I feel the same way. My father has narcissistic personality disorder and it got to the point where I had to move countries to stop him from poisoning every aspect of my life.

      The idea of him being in touch with work colleagues fills me with dread. He already destroyed my relationships with other family members, damaged friendships, contributed to the demise of my marriage and generally has no concept of boundaries.

      Physical, sexual or emotional abuse is much more prevalent than many people realize. There are many people out there who have no contact with one or both parents for very good reasons.

    6. Justine*


      Before I disowned my abusive parents- when I was still living with them as a teenager- my mother actually sabotaged my job search by answering the phone for me when I wasn’t home and telling employers I wasn’t interested in interviews even though I was. Imagining my current employer contacting my parents would, in all seriousness, probably give me a meltdown. (Not to mention my parents are bonkers and would just pass on poisonous lies to my employers.)

  15. abhorsen327*

    Speaking as a 25-year-old, my general response to this is: “NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.” I feel like people of my generation have enough trouble being taken seriously as adults – this certainly would NOT be ok with me!

  16. Mike C.*

    What the hell? This CEO writes parents letters thanking them “for the gift of their children”?!

    In addition to everything else, how f***ing creepy is that? “Thank you for giving us your precious gift of life so that we may use it to profitably produce flavored sugar water!” And I like their particular brand of flavored sugar water!

    The minute my boss calls my parents I’m reporting him to the police for stalking or harassment or whatever else I can think of.

      1. bad at online naming*

        I snorted aloud at this.

        “Their blood will provide vital assistance in keeping the company alive”

          1. bad at online naming*


            the secret recipe is revealed at last! sugar, water, and the undiluted blood of the (more) innocent

          2. OriginalEmma*

            Literally made with the blood of children, then. I smell a bad B-movie. Elizabeth West, have you ever thought of becoming a script writer?

    1. WC11*

      “The product of your loins will undoubtedly serve our company well. Thank you for your contribution” *creepy/seductive smile*

      I really wish I could manipulate characters found on a keyboard to illustrate the look I have on my face right now. Kind of a mix of horror and fascination.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Would it be okay for the employee’s parent to write/call the CEOs parent?

      “Tell your CEO son, to quit calling me.”

    3. Kate*

      Agreed. If any hiring manager ever did this, I would be so freaked out that not only would I accept the other job posthaste, I’d also promptly cut off all communication with Pepsi and probably never buy Pepsi products again. And I love Naked juice, man. FWIW I’m 25.

    4. Nusy*

      I would have a similar reaction, but then I realized… it would actually mildly amuse me.

      I live in the US, and obviously, most of my supervisors are English-speakers. My parents live in my native country, and only speak my native language (which is really, really tiny with just about 10-12 million speakers; and on top, it’s very hard to learn, hence very few non-natives speak it). I would laugh my head off listening to any American boss trying to get through to my parents and explain them how their precious gift of life (hahaha… unplanned, not-much-wanted child FTW) is ensuring the success and productivity of whatever company they may not even have heard of (unless it’s an uber-global brand like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Apple, etc. They probably wouldn’t know about things like Jack in the Box, Forever 21, Macy’s, or even AT&T, as they are not present in my country). Hilarity would definitely ensue.

  17. Katie the Fed*


    Where is PepsiCo recruiting its CEOs? Are they repurposing kindergarten teachers?

    I would see this is as such an incredible violation of privacy and good taste that I would look pretty much anywhere else for a new job.

    Not everyone has a great relationship with their parents. Not everyone credits their parents with their own success. Some people did really well in life despite their parents. Some just have an a healthy sense of independence and would think this is batshit crazy. Because it is.

    I wonder if these hiring officials ok with getting calls from parents when junior gets a bad performance review? Because that’s what they’re inviting.

    No seriously, what the hell?

    (as an aside, when I went to Iraq early in my career my parents were really upset about it. My boss offered to talk to my parents to ease their concerns. My response was pretty much “uhhh please no, absolutely not. My parents are for me to handle.”

    1. Anonylicious*

      My parents were on the FRG mailing list when I went, but the idea of anyone in my chain of command calling them for anything other than next-of-kin purposes would have been mortifying to me.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Seriously. My boss was retired Army so I think he was still in that mindset. We have a lot of retired military and it’s always an adjustment for them – here in civilian land we don’t get all up in people’s personal business like that (well, unless you work for Pepsi apparently!)

    2. Jaimie*

      How does the parental contact info come to be in the hands of the CEO, I wonder? I don’t even get the logistics.

      Also, I agree with the general trend of stating that this sort of thing doesn’t really happen in the big wide world. We have a lot of people with less than 5 years of work experience at my company, and we would certainly never do this.

      1. Evan (in the USA)*

        If they’re only doing this with the sort of employee who’d list their parents as references on the resume, I think this might actually work. Otherwise… good question.

        1. Saturn9*

          This is what I was thinking. And now I have concerns about all those companies that request (entirely useless) “personal references.”

          Imagine this sort of thing happening but they called your pastor? Or a former professor? Or a family friend? Ugh.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        I’m sure that HR has an “emergency contact” form, and many people (particularly younger employees) put their parent(s) down in case of emergency.

        For the CEO, it’s not hard to get an address or phone number from HR, I bet.

        1. Laura*

          That’s what I was thinking…my parents are down as my emergency contacts and I’m sure that’s easy to find. Actually if my parents got a call from my work, they’d assume it was an emergency and I was hurt or something, because there’s no other good reason for an employer of mine to be calling them

  18. Rose*

    I am NOT surprised at all that the CEO is an (East) Indian. I lived in India for 5 years and am married to an Indian and this was common practice there. My husband’s parents were called while he was in College to let them know if he was absent, or if he wasn’t doing well! they had parent teacher interviews in College. IN COLLEGE! And his parents wanted this kind of communication! And then when he was looking for work he told me that some parents would accompany their son or daughter to the interview. When he told me this, I am sure he had to pick my jaw up off the floor. It’s definitely cultural, and when I read the second part of the blog post and saw the CEO’s name, I was kind of like, ooooohh, now this makes sense. Even though it’s ridiculous.

    1. Celeste*

      My first thought was that this was at a branch in India. Very, very hard to believe that an American office thinks this is a good use of time.

      1. Rose*

        I agree, I wonder if this is Pepsi India. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.
        My sister-in-law was doing her masters in Delhi, (23 years old) and had to get a consent form signed by her father, who lived in a different city, (with picture ID to prove it was him) every time she wanted to leave campus to go on University excursions. It’s just craziness.

    2. Eden*

      Yeah, the name and cultural pointers suggest this happening in India. Are we sure this is U.S.?

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Well, it is a global company, not just American. I actually just looked at their executive leadership page and was reading about the top tier of folks – it’s an incredibly diverse group, which actually will probably work to their advantage in appealing to a more global market. And arguably, innovation and adopting business practices from other cultures can be useful. This tactic might work really well in some places. It also apparently works for the types of people they want to recruit, or so they think. I mean, it wouldn’t work for me, but then they’d be without my incredible…uh…powerpoint skills.

    4. Reix*

      Thank you. I wanted to ask if the CEO being Indian (or having an Indian name) would be at the root of this practice, because of cultural context.

      1. Rose*

        It was my VERY FIRST thought when I saw the name. It is a widely known practice in India and many other Asian companies to involve families. When my husband got a job in HSBC, they held a party just for family (parents, spouses, children) so we could see where he was working, see how the company worked and to ask questions of the senior management. It was really all so bizarre to me.
        Perhaps, she thought she would take different approach to see how it worked in a western company? With many companies now being so rich in diversity perhaps they are using this tactic to see if it gets them different results??

    5. Lora*

      THIS. One of my friends from Nigeria says this sometimes happens in her country too–if you’re from a particular family, it’s like being a Bush or a Kennedy, and your parents coming to work with you to chat with your boss and vouch for you would be considered an honor.

      My current employer is international with a large office in India, and they are big on the “bring your family! bring your folks!” events. They are shocked that most of us show up by ourselves and that our family either is far away (by design) or disinterested.

      Maybe the CEO decided to bring some cultural practices to the Westerners, instead of the other way round?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I once checked references from someone who had spent much of his career in Kentucky and had grown up there, and ALL of his Kentucky references told me that he came from a good family.

        1. Lora*

          I have no idea why I find this hilarious, but I do. What did you say? “Um, OK, but what is HE like?” Was it one of those, “I can’t exactly think of anything wonderful to say about him personally, but since his brothers/parents accomplished something, there’s hope for him yet and he probably won’t mess up too bad”?

          Pretty sure everyone has at least one oddball in their family, if not several. I was the family oddball, and my poor suffering niece, who was only a few years behind me in school, paid the price for it. ALL her teachers said, “your auntie is THAT Lora? well…we’ll just see how it goes, I guess…”

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It was more a comment they made in passing rather than the whole of what they were saying, but it did make me really curious to know more about his family!

    6. wanderlust*

      Yes, this. For sure. Except she’s Tamil, not East Indian.

      I had a former (Indian) boss who talked to his Indian employees’ parents all the time. And they talked about arranging their marriages and stuff. I tried to keep my family very separated from work and I do not regret that.

      1. Rose*

        Isn’t Tamil also a part of Chennai?? Hence, East India? Or is she from Sri Lanka? I get confused about this sometimes because many of my friends from Chennai refer to themselves as Tamil.

        1. wanderlust*

          Generally speaking I think Tamil Nadu is considered to be “South India” whereas “East India” would denote people from West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, etc… and maybe Assam and the Northeastern part of the country too. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu; that’s probably why your friends refer to themselves as Tamil. It doesn’t really matter, the cultural implications regarding family ties and the blurring of personal and professional lines is similar in both areas.

          1. AGirlCalledFriday*

            I last taught primary Tamil students, and the parents were HUGE on being extremely involved. But at that level, it was a good thing. :) My first thought on seeing this story was, WTF? The second thought? Looks like an Indian name and if it’s true…yeah, I can see it.

          2. Rose*

            Oh I know, I always refer to anyone being from India as Indians, but here in Canada if I say, my children are half Indian or I have an Indian husband, people think aboriginal. So we have to say East Indian so people understand that we are speaking about India.

            1. wanderlust*

              Ah, got it. That makes sense. I live in an area with a high Native American population, and I rarely associate the word “Indian” with those groups. Could just be that I worked with India so much for a previous job too.

          3. Nusy*

            I think the original commenter meant “East Indian” as someone originating from the country in Asia (as opposed to “Native American Indian”), and not so much as a regional qualifier for her actual origins within India.

    7. Sharm*

      I am Indian, and I can see this. I don’t think it would fly with Indians in America or the west, but perhaps specifically in the Indian market.

  19. MeganO*

    Oh my god. No. Please no. I’m right there with giggleloop – I work hard NOT to be seen as ‘the library kid’ by my coworkers, and this would set me so far back. I just don’t even. I can’t. Please don’t do this if you want to hire people, regardless of what generation they are!

    1. Enid*

      That struck me as very strange, too. (I guess Pepsi IS “for those who think young.”)

      (And Google has just informed me that hasn’t been their slogan since 2000 and now I feel old.)

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Technically Millenials are anyone born after 1980. So I’m a millenial, but I certainly don’t feel like one and I feel like an old fart compared to the mid-20s folks I work with now. We didn’t even HAVE cell phones or digital cameras when I was in high school, and in college had to google things on Excite or Yahoo because google didn’t even exist! And get off my lawn!

      1. hildi*

        “We didn’t even HAVE cell phones or digital cameras when I was in high school, and in college had to google things on Excite or Yahoo because google didn’t even exist! ”

        Yes! haha, I actually love getting older and more experienced and having enough life behind me to be able to say things like this. I remember searching on “Dogpile.” remember that one? haha

        1. LPBB*

          I don’t remember “Dogpile,” but I remember using Gopher to get to resources my university didn’t have. I also remember using a text-only browser!

          1. the gold digger*

            I remember typing my papers on a typewriter. I was an English major. Three to four papers a semester per class, 10-12 pages each. ON A TYPEWRITER. IN THE SNOW. UPHILL!

            1. Judy*

              I remember typing my papers in grade school on a typewriter. I remember one of my high school teachers requiring papers being typed rather than done by a dot matrix printer. (I also remember my parents buying an electric typewriter that would connect as a printer to the Commodore 64, so we could work on the papers on the computer, and then have it typed by the typewriter. )

            2. Chinook*

              I did my first year of an English degree on a typewriter. I was tempted to throw that thing through a window atleast once a week. I saved my pennies and upgraded to an electronic wordprocessor with a grey screen/green font that was 5 inches by two inches and it was THE BEST THING EVER because I could go back and fix a typo without redoing the whole darn thing.

              1. Cath in Canada*

                I handwrote a couple of essays during my first couple of years of undergrad! I didn’t have my own computer until the final year of my PhD, and that was a loaner from my department that I had to give back when I’d finished writing my thesis.

                I’m 37…

        2. LeeD*

          I remember my mom trying to search on “Dogpound” on her computer in her classroom with students in the room. Dogpound? Porn site.

        3. Ash (the other one!)*

          What about Ask Jeeves i.e. now just “” but it was Ask Jeeves when people actually used it. And alta vista. Ah the good old days when being online took 10 minutes just to connect.

          I am 28 so on the cusp; got facebook sophomore year of college (I went to one of the “elite” schools that got it first), and had a cell phone at 17 that stayed in the car for “emergencies only.” And I had a CD player I got in trouble for using on occasion. Oh how life has changed.

          1. Ash (the other one!)*

            Oh and how about these blasts from the past that really define my age group:

            Kid Pix
            Oregon Trail
            Math Blaster

              1. Stephanie*

                Did anyone else decorate her Trapper Keeper with white-out pen? The big thing in my middle school was to get everyone else to sign out. LYLAS (love you like a sister) made a frequent appearance.

      2. KellyK*

        There’s not really an official date, though. Early 80s could go either way. I prefer the definition that lumps at least 1981 into Gen X, because I also feel really really old compared to the early-20-somethings I work with.

        1. MurphyB*

          Yeah, I’m ’81 and totally identify with Gen X, while my sister is ’84 and accepts Millennial. It has given her problems at work (in the fed. govt)…

      3. Beti*

        Even at 34, it seems unlikely that someone would have enough education/experience/whatever to be working directly under the PepsiCo CEO. I’m not buying that this is a legit story.

        1. Larisaus*

          I read the whole interview, and yes in one question she talks about how Milennials are different, and then in the very next question she talks about writing to the parents of her direct reports. But I didn’t see anywhere in the article where it was explicit that she only did this with Milennials. Maybe I missed something? But the way it was worded, the age of her direct reports don’t HAVE to be Milennials.

          So I read this as journalism creating a story out of very little “CEO says Milennials are different, using her own children as examples? And then says she writes to parents of her direct reports (because she thinks she would have liked this herself)? Those direct reports MUST be Milennials, and this MUST be a new thing they are demanding of us!”

          Also if it means anything, I’m a Milennial and my parents would have been weirded out by this, and I would have been insulted (unless my boss was a major icon they admire).

      4. LanaK*

        I found an old textbook the other day and the ‘supplemental material’ included was a floppy disc. A lot of the younger people I know had no idea what a floppy disc was. And we, apparently, are all Millennials.

        1. BB*

          I’m 25 and remember using a legitimate floppy disk in first grade. Like one that actually flops and bends. Then we went into floppy disks that were hard. And then I think in high school we finally got USB flash drives. And soon those will be obsolete!!

              1. Zillah*

                Zip disks! I remember those! I used to cherish my zip disks because my computer couldn’t burn CDs.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                My father used to bring home this paper– it was black and narrow maybe an inch or a little more. It had holes in it. Small holes but in an orderly manner- at most 6-8 holes per row. Looking at it, I could see that it had been longer and he had ripped off a piece of it to show me. He said it was used in the computer at work and the holes were how the data was recorded on the paper.

                This was probably mid to late 60s. Back then the computing power we now have in calculators took a room full of equipment to do. I remember my father was so impressed. He used a slide rule for his work.

                1. Jamie*

                  That was a punch card. My dad was using them when he started as a programmer in the early 50s.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  My dad worked at a company called Singer for a while when I was really little and he used to bring home these manila paper punch cards all the time. We colored on them.

                3. Windchime*

                  I remember when I was a kid that some bills, like the phone bill, would come with a punch-card inside that you were supposed to return with your check. The card had a little note on it saying “Do not fold, spindle or mutilate”. I don’t know what “spindle” means in this case.

                  For you young kinds, this was back in that late 60’s and early 70’s.

                4. Omne*

                  Yep yellow punch tape. The little punched out dots used to be fun to throw around the computer room but they were so small they were a total pain to clean out of things. The tape readers were usually on teletype machines.

                5. C average*

                  My dad brought home computer paper for us to draw on. It came in long perforated sheets and had holes along both margins. His office only printed on one side, so we’d draw on the flip side.

                  He worked for the Forest Service, and they were on the interwebs long before most of the rest of the world. They didn’t call it the Internet. They called it the DG, or “Data General.” They mostly used it to exchange horrible jokes with people on other districts and to trawl for new job opportunities.

                  In third grade, we got our first classroom computer: a Commodore 64 with a cassette drive.

                  I also have experience with floppy disks, MS-DOS, VHS, phones with cords, typewriters, portable word processors, and other technological artifacts of the ’70s and ’80s.

                6. Sigrid*

                  My father coded on punch cards back in the 60s. He still talks about it. Mostly in a “you kids don’t know how good you have it” kind of way.

              2. Office Mercenary*

                We had those too! I thought it was so cool that an entire computer could be on a tape!

            1. Anonsie*

              I never had a CD burner, so I had a zip disk drive but then at school they never had a zip disk drive so I had to keep using floppies BUT they were so small I had to have one per assignment, so I had a little case for all my floppies.

              1. Hlyssande*

                When I was packing things up for my upcoming move, I found a box full of 3.5″ floppies that I’d used in college!

            2. JustMe*

              I remember when printer paper had tearaway holes on either side. And dial up. And when there were no computer mice.

          1. Chinook*

            I can top the the floppy disk thaat was actually floppy. I used a Radio Shack colour computer that had programs on cassette tapes (that sounded like an old school fax machine if you forgot to turn the volume down on the tape player)!

            1. Omne*

              We used to dream about having a CRT screen and cassettes, we just had bad quality typed words on cheap yellow rolls of paper….

          2. AdminAnon*

            I’m 25 as well and we used the hard floppy disks all the way through high school. I didn’t get a USB drive until college! Of course, I also didn’t get a cell phone until my senior year and I’m still driving a ’97 Neon, so I may just be behind the times…

        2. Anonathon*

          The real question: was the floppy disc actually floppy? Or was it the more sturdy, early 90s version? :)

          Thinking about reading a book while the computer booted up (why the heck did it taker so long?) and relying on the single payphone at my high school both make me feel old … but technically, I’m a Millenial, along with the those who were raised on smart phones. It’s just weird.

          1. chewbecca*

            I was in track in middle school and remember having to page my mom using the school’s payphone to come pick me up. We had to use numerical codes so she know if it was me or my brother, and if it was an emergency or not. Ah, the good ol’ days.

          2. Office Mercenary*

            I’ve tried tracking down some of the old adventure games my brother and I played in the early 90s, but they’re all on floppy floppy disks and my computer can’t read them. I’d love to find an external floppy drive with a USB port.

              1. Office Mercenary*

                Do you have Boot Camp or Parallels? You might be able to download a Windows version and run that on a Mac. That’s what I did to play the games on and

              1. Office Mercenary*

                For floppy floppies? I’ve seen some for the 3.5″ hard floppies, but the games are on 5″ floppies.

      5. Cube Ninja*

        I had to walk uphill both ways on the information superhighway. We didn’t have any of your fancy “cable modems” or “Google Fiber”. We had a 14.4 modem that screamed like a banshee and CompuServ, consarnit!

          1. Jamie*

            Without punch cards I wouldn’t be here – which would certainly be a loss for the world.

            My dad was a programmer and my mom was hired to feed the punch cards into the mainframe.

            Wonder and romance found over now obsolete technology.

          2. 22dncr*

            gd – one of my best friends used to write to me using the leftover punch cards from his work! Wish I’d kept at least 1 of the letters just for laughs.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Ha. I was connecting to BBSes on a 2400 baud modem in 1993. 14.4 was screaming fast in comparison!

        2. Omne*

          All we had were 110 baud acoustic couplers, and we were glad to have them too….

          Just for those not as old that would be 14.4 kbit/sec compared to .11 kbit/sec.

      6. OriginalEmma*

        I remember Lyrcos, AskJeeves and Angelfire/Geocities/Tripod. Oh, and having to use several floppies to play Wolfenstein, which was booted from the command line.

        Now if we could just bring back the AfterDark suite of screensavers, specifically the flying toasters, I’ll be so happy.

        1. hildi*

          forgot about those! AskJeeves. lol. And yes to having several floppy disks to play a game. Oregon Trail, anyone?

            1. hildi*

              Carmen Sandiego. Oh yes. I was obsessed with that – and the TV show. I don’t recall DeadJournal.

        2. Anonymous*

          Oh, Geocities! I remember when I had a LiveJournal and a Geocities site and it was so cool.

      7. A Teacher*

        I’m 31 so a Gen Y/Millenial–whatever. I also remember dog pile, our first family computer was an Apple with a green screen and a dot matrix printer, we didn’t get dial up internet until I was a junior in high school and we had a Tandy computer. I did have a cell phone (channeling Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell) but it cost .49 per minute to use it and was an analog phone. Didn’t get texting until junior year of college and my alma mater was one of the first 10 on FB so I’ve had that since inception. I tell my high school students now I had a phone in middle school and they are like, “yeah ,so” then I explain why its a big deal.

        1. Anne*

          I’m in the same age group as you, and I remember being 17 when we got dial-up AOL on the Windows ME computer… No CD-ROM drive, just the 3.5″ floppy discs, and I had a plastic case of discs I carried to and from school so I could save things off the Internet. It was soooo exciting to get AOL at home and not have to pretend to work on assignments on the lone library computer during lunch in order to get online.

      8. Anonsie*

        When it comes to technology there are so many mitigating factors, it doesn’t even connect directly to your age.

        For me, on the one hand, my mom worked a tech job when I was a kid and we got her old computers from her company when they were obsolete. So we had nearly state of the art technology in my house back when almost no one had personal computers. So I remember being a total weirdo to all the other kids for knowing how to use a computer and later, for going on the internet. At the time that was REALLY WEIRD.

        But then we weren’t very wealthy, so I was behind on most technology that everyone else remembers. We never had a printer so I always had to write papers by hand anyway. I got a CD player for the first time right before they were replaced by MP3 players… We never had a DVD player, so I had to hunt down VHS copies of things I wanted as they rapidly disappeared from stores. I didn’t have a fancy cell phone until twoish years ago.

    3. jennie*

      Well millenials would be in their twenties to mid-30s so they could certainly be at the VP/Director level at that age.

      1. Judy*

        I guess I’d find that hard to believe in a company as large as PepsiCo. The F50 companies I worked for, the CEO had SVPs working for them. Then there were the VPs, then the General Managers and Division VPs, then the Directors. Directors had 4000-5000 people working for them. A young director might be 40.

  20. kf*

    I work with parents of millenials that would jump at the chance to talk to their kids’ bosses.

    I just want to say to them “turn off the helicopter and let your baby be an adult!” (Every day they talk to their kids at least 4 times and they are involved with their work decisions, school decisions and life decisions. Every.Freaking.Day)

    1. M. in Austin!*

      Ugh that is too much! Their kids are adults. They need to let them be adults and professionals.

    2. Relosa*

      One of my friends’ moms actually applied to jobs for him. + everything you said.


  21. Elizabeth*

    I’ve been suspicious of the Harvard Business Review for quite a while; one of my vendors paid for me to have a subscription for a year, and they always seemed off in a way I couldn’t quite identify. Now I know: they’re completely out of touch with reality.

  22. M. in Austin!*

    NO! Please stop this insanity! I am so sick of these characterizations of millennial (yup, I’m a millennial). Are some young adults spoiled, entitled, and coddled? Definitely. But a TON of us are ready and excited to work as professionals and behave as such!

  23. Just a Reader*

    I…don’t understand.

    As a manager I did get calls from parents of employees or candidates from time to time. Not often. I would NEVER EVER EVER get in touch with those parents, not even to respond to their messages.

    As an employee I can’t imagine anything more horrifying than my personal and professional lives blending together, with the topic being my JOB PERFORMANCE. *shudder*

  24. Celeste*

    I honestly thought this was a leftover April Fools prank.

    If I worked there and they tried this on me, I’d apply at Coca-Cola.

    1. Rye-Ann*

      Haha, yeah. When I read this, my first thought was, “Even though I don’t drink soda I am now a Coca-Cola person all the way.” XD

  25. LBK*

    Alison, how could you possibly leave out this quote?

    “And one executive, I remember, he went home and he said to his mom, ‘You know, my boss is really giving me a tough time.’ And his mom told him, ‘Nuh-uh, not about her. She’s my friend!’”

    WHAT. THE. HELL. So instead of allowing your employees to feel comfortable giving you feedback, you shame them into complaining to their parents, who you’ve emotionally manipulated to force their children to be happy working for you even when they might have legitimate concerns? This is just all kinds of wrong and goes beyond creepy to straight up psychotic.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is down right scary. Sort of like mind control type of thing. “If you don’t conform, I will contact your parents/family. Then you will conform.”

  26. K*

    Oh my god. If any potential employer called my parents to explain why I should take the job with their company, that would be an indisputable reason NOT to take that job. If you want to hire me, show me that you respect me by talking TO ME.

  27. Noah*

    Also a millennial here. I seriously wonder what is wrong with people like the PepsiCo CEO. How can they really think this is a good idea? Why do we need “intimate lines of communication” with our employee’s parents. Actually why do we need them with our employees, sounds creeptastic.

    I’m still try to collect myself after having a mini meltdown over this. I cannot imagine it actually happening to me. I would probably have to quit and find another job. A job where the bosses understand appropriate behavior and who is actually the employee.

    Thankfully, I’m sure this isn’t really happening that often at that many companies.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “Also a millennial here. I seriously wonder what is wrong with people like the PepsiCo CEO. How can they really think this is a good idea? ”

      Somebody’s had waayyy to many sugary, carbonated drinks.

  28. C average*

    Whenever I read an article about a high-profile CEO making eleventy bizillion dollars plus stock options plus a yacht, I find myself asking, “What does a person with that job actually DO all day long to be considered that valuable? I mean, yeah, they ‘provide strategic leadership’ and ‘direct the long-term vision’ and all the other stuff you see on their LinkedIn page, but what does their calendar look like? What does their desktop look like? Where do they go and who do they talk to? What does an eleventy bizillion dollar workday look like?”

    And now I’m chagrined to discover that they are actually . . . calling people’s moms? Heck, my (very excellent) stay-at-home mom had that in HER daily workflow when she was setting up playdates for me.

    1. Madge*

      They sign stuff, meet with other high level officials in other companies, attend board meetings, propose fixes things that aren’t broken & don’t fix things that are broken. Oh, I forgot, a prerequisite for the job is being completely out of touch with your company’s employees (below upper mgmt) & processes. It doesn’t matter if you have record profits or destroy the company, you’ll get a golden parachute either way.

  29. fposte*

    This has been in the air for a while (and in fact I thought the issue got posted about here before, but I might be misremembering). I just found a December HBR piece that reported a third of attending HR executives reported having a parent get involved in performance reviews.

      1. Stephanie*

        That I could see that being interesting if you worked at a manufacturing/assembly facility. My dad works at Boeing and occasionally they’ll open up the plant for tours to show the helicopter assembly. But if you work at an average office that pushes paper, I don’t get the appeal of a Parents’ Day.

      1. Laura*

        That’s not a third of employees, though, that’s a third of HR executives – so I assume that the claim is that 1/3 of HR executives have once, somewhere in their company, had this happen and heard about it. I’m not sure that’s not a ridiculous number, but if we assume that generally larger corporations are likely to send their HR, we have a large pool of employees to get one weird vibe from. (And hey, we actually – about a decade ago now – had a guy show up to the interview with his mother. Not as in ‘he needed a ride’ alone – she tried to actually go *into* the interview room with him. She was politely asked to wait outside, since we were interviewing him, not her. And yes, the folks involved were a bit weirded out.)

  30. Adam*

    As a person who is still just barely in his 20’s, if I knew that my boss was talking to either of my parents (especially my mother) I’d be horrified; borderline moving-and-leaving-no-forwarding-address horrified. One of the perks of being an adult is that all the various people in your life get to be involved with your business precisely amount you wish to allow them to. I would not give that up for anything.

  31. Sunflower*

    I don’t even know where to begin. I went back and read the original Forbes article- the most horrifying part was when she really wants this guy so she calls his mom. The kid comes home and said HE HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO TAKE THE JOB. This just so much. As someone who has an overbearing mother and struggles every single day to deal with it, I just can’t even imagine this kind of stuff.

    Can you sue people for doing this??? IS THIS LEGAL?? HOW DOES THIS WOMAN STILL HAVE A JOB?????

    1. fposte*

      Though I think there was a certain amount of jocularity in that statement.

      I also think that if we’re saying parents’ opinions aren’t relevant to employee hiring and behavior, we can’t really view parental opinion as coercive in this story. If he’s adult enough that his parents shouldn’t be consulted, he’s adult enough to take the job regardless of his mother’s opinion.

  32. Diet Coke Addict*

    If my workplace called my parents, pretty sure their first thought would be that I am dead or mortally wounded in some kind of horrible pop-related injury and they couldn’t reach my husband.

    Just me?

    (And how are they even getting the parents’ numbers????????)

    1. giggleloop*

      And that is the only acceptable reason for your boss to call your parents.
      The only time managers get to say that you are a “gift” is at your funeral.

    2. LanaK*

      This was my first thought too! And then my mom would be pissed, and probably a little confused, because my boss was interrupting her day with a non-emergency, creepy update about her adult daughter.

    3. esra*

      Same here. My mom is my backup emergency contact if anything happens to me. So if someone from work called her, the first thing she’d do is get very worried.

  33. NotMyRealName*

    I am the parent of a “millenial” and I would be horrified. Was it appropriate when she was 15 and at her first job (which she got because of a personal connection)? Probably. At 18? No way. I raised a functional person, not my personal little puppet.

      1. NotMyRealName*

        I admit it was nice to get the “family discount” when she worked at McD’s but the whole point of my teen getting a job was to help her transition to being an adult. I guess I’m a failure as a mom.

        1. Saturn9*

          You’re only a failure as a helicopter mom. Which is really the same as being a success, so…

  34. Heather*

    Wow wow wow wow wow. Absolutely no! I’m 22 and I would be horrified if my parents were called about work. I moved many states away from my parents last year so now my primary reason for taking vacations is to go back and visit them (and my in-laws). I feel weird enough saying that I want time off to go home and see my parents.

    Also, in college I hated that they could be notified about my academics because I was a depedent and they were helping pay for school. I mean, I get it, and I didn’t have anything to hide, but it made me feel kind of like a child. Work would be 20 times worse.

    1. A Teacher*

      Even in college, it violates FERPA for your school to talk to your parents without your permission, even if they are paying the bill. Its like the biggest thing they ram into our brains yearly at department meetings where I adjunct.

        1. Tina*

          I was puzzled when a few years ago I learned that my University has an “opt out” policy when it comes to sharing info with parents, which meant the student had to take initiative to say they didn’t want their parents notified/talked to. It made me want to go learn more about the details of FERPA, cause that just didn’t seem right to me.

          1. fposte*

            Hmm, that does seem risky as a policy to me–the law creates the privacy right already, so you shouldn’t have to jump through a hoop for it. Did your investigation reveal that it’s been accepted as okay?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Oh, I didn’t mean AMA going wrong! We all got suckered it.
      I mean, shame on Harvard Business Review.

      1. MaggiePi*

        This makes *slightly* more sense, but is still crazy.
        I’m sorry, I love my parents, but they are not the reason I am a hard worker today.

        1. Jamie*

          It doesn’t make any more sense to me, no matter whose parents she’s calling.

          I am in my 40s and a director, granted at an SMB and not Pepsi, and if my parents were alive I’d still be horrified if they got a call.

          Although it would be hysterical. My dad who spent decades in exec management (IT) of a multinational/multibillion dollar corporation would just have no veneer of politeness at being bothered by my boss. There would be a management lecture in there and I know for sure he’d end it with saying that if they liked me so much they should give me more money.

    2. KitKat*

      While not quite *as* bad, this is still quite invasive. Maybe my success has nothing to do with how my parents raised me. GASP!

    3. Kathryn*

      I think this article is still a little banana-pants-crazy. Especially when Nooyi says “When friends and relatives came, they all told my mother that she had got a great daughter. But it is not about me, but about my parents who brought me up so well,”

      No, it’s about you. Yes, your parents were supportive and probably pushed you, and fed you and clothed you. And they’re awesome for that. That said, you’re the one who put the work in to become a fancy pants CEO. You go girl! Your parents didn’t do your interview for you, you did. It’s your accomplishment, therefore, your accomplishments are 100% about you. Just like any failures you’ve had were 100% about you.

      But that’s just the perspective from a US born mid-twenties gal. So maybe I should run this by my parents before I post it? Nah.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      ” ‘I called her (his mother) and when he went home, he told her mother he had two offers but he would not join PepsiCo. But her mother insisted that he should join PepsiCo and he had to join us,’ she said, leaving the audience totally amused and sending the audience into peals of laughter.” (from article linked above)

      But-but-but- that is not funny.

  35. Sadsack*

    If the CEO of Pepsico is writing to the parents of her direct reports. doesn’t that mean that she is writing to parents of top level executives? Am I the only one who is confused that executives reporting to the CEO of this huge company are only in their 20’s? Not that people in their 20’s are not capable of holding these positions, but these positions are usually held by people with many, many years of experience. Somehow this math just doesn’t make sense for me.

    1. LBK*

      And also how are you hiring someone to be a top level executive at your company and you don’t even trust them to do the job without parental supervision?

      1. Sadsack*

        Hadn’t thought of that. I am not up on the generational thing. Is that because I am a Gen X? haha

    2. H. Rawr*

      Yeah, in her Fortune article the Pepsi CEO sent these letters to people regardless of age and because of a personal experience where she appreciated that her parents were acknowledged for a job well done in having a successful child, not because she wanted to reach out to younger people. HBR seems to have made some real leaps…

  36. Rin*

    I see no need to get the parents involved. Don’t they have their own lives?
    However, a CEO would have to communicate everything with my two-year-old. She likes to keep tabs on my productivity at work, you know, to justify why I’m not at home playing with her.

  37. Rayner*

    Get out of my world, you bizarre person.

    Honestly, “I call parents up to talk to them about my employees!” What the Actual Fuuuuuuuu. All this person has done is create an additional barrier to young people in the work place. People read articles like this, and all they do is support the mentality that young people are ridiculous and not good to work with.

    Young people do want different things from their work place. They want a work place that is matched to them in terms of ethics, mindset, and accountability. They want better terms of parental leave, medical healthcare, and wages. They want a job which supports them and will let them go, not one where they remain for twenty or thirty years, through thick and thin, because those jobs no longer exist. It’s rare now to find a career in a single place that you can say you’ll still be in twenty years down the line outside of primary industry.

    And it’s a sign of changing times, and a sign that people are no longer living in a world where their parents rule the workplace roost. Just like their parents fought for different jobs, and different workplace needs than their parents did.

    It’s a cycle, but boy, this woman. Undermine all that in a single article, why don’t you? Make out that ‘millennial’ (read, young people in the work place who don’t know any better and should be taught differently ) are still clinging to their parents and don’t know a thing about life, and need walking through it.


    I hate articles like this. Cheap shots at the economically poor but highly educated, highly motivated youth of the world just because it ups the page counter and reaffirms a biased, paranoid tradition.

  38. Arjay*

    Two things.
    1. I’m imagining the EPIC showdown that could have taken place between Tiger Mike and my mom.
    2. I kinda want to call Alison’s mom and idly chat with her about Ask A Manager.

          1. Adam*

            Also I am curious who taught her to curse like a sailor. Don’t get me wrong, I find it to be an endearing quality, but it’s always funny to see “where it comes from”.

          2. Kay*


            Thanks Mrs. A Manager. We all really appreciate Alison around here. You should reward her with her favorite cookies this week because she’s been working really hard.

            Talk to you next week (and every week)…..

            In all seriousness, why wasn’t this posted on WTF Wednesday?

            1. fposte*

              My guess–Alison found out about it too late to put it up as one of yesterday’s posts and couldn’t stand to hold onto it until next week.

    1. Elkay*

      OPs could write to Alison’s mom if they didn’t agree with her advice. Or maybe her nieces, because I loved when they helped answer the question, they were great and Alison should possibly be worried about a takeover bid from them.

  39. kas*

    I’m 22 and I would NOT take the job if they contacted my mother. Are they going to run everything I do by her as well? My mom would find this so ridiculous and would definitely let them know that.

    I’d feel like a child if they were reporting everything to a parent. How are they even getting their contact information?

    1. Coelura*

      I agree with you – how in the world are they getting the parental contact information? Although my 20-something kids live at home, we all have separate cell phones. There isn’t a house phone.

    2. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      I was thinking the same thing. If I were deciding between two jobs and one of them called someone in my family to CONVINCE them to CONVINCE me to accept? I would whisper “staaaalkeeeers” and then slowly walk away in fear. That would honestly make my decision right there and then!

      1. Laura*

        Me as well! If I had two offers and one called my parents (when that was still possible), I guarantee I would reject their offer pretty much regardless of how shiny the terms were.

  40. Alano*

    As others are saying, I’d be really surprised if this were a real trend. Their examples seem pretty isolated and anecdotal. The media seems to have a deep fascination with the notion that human nature is on the verge of chaning or this or that generation will be different from previous generations.

    As to whether it’s a good policy, I can certainly see situations where it would be helpful to the company. A big part of our character and work ethic comes from the examples we witnessed when we were children, so I don’t think it would always be irrational to take a job candidate’s parents into account. And, as the article mentioned, if you’re trying to convince an awesome recruit to join your company, it might help to have the parents on your side.

    But I can’t help put think that whatever benefits there might be would be seriously outweighed by the negatives. It’s a ton of work to prepare yourself for a job interview – I can’t even imagine having to try to prep my family members too! You’d run the risk of scaring off a lot of good talent. And then all the drama it could potentially create if you suspected one of your family members screwed up your job. The list of potential problems is quite long.

  41. louise*

    This is what happens when a freelance writer has a copy-and-paste or email address auto-fill error. Obviously this was supposed to go to the Onion and the Onion got something that belongs to HBR. Right…? Please…? It’s the only explanation I can live with.

  42. Mimmy*

    I have to admit that, when I was in my 20s, I wouldn’t have minded my parents getting involved. In fact, in my first real job, whenever my mom would come to pick me up at the end of the day, she would briefly chat with my manager.

    Now I am older and wiser. I would never DREAM of allowing my parents, or even my husband, to get involved like this. IMO, employers want independent employees. I do think in most cases, it’s with good intentions; it’s just not appropriate.

  43. AnonintheUK*

    As a manager, I have called a staff member’s parent once. Because the staff member was having an asthma attack she could not control with her own medication, the paramedics were here, and staff member wanted her Mum to meet her at the hospital.

    Other than a medical emergency, why else would I?

  44. MaggiePi*

    Honest question:
    How do these employers even have the information to contact the parents?
    Are these employees giving it to them? If so, then it’s equally there fault for not telling the company upon request that this is way over the line.

    As I am apparently a millennial myself (even though I was driving when the millennium happened) I find this ridiculous.

    1. Anonylicious*

      My employer has my mom’s contact information as my next-of-kin, though I can’t ever imagine them abusing that information in this manner.

    2. Adam*

      My company has my dad’s number as my “Emergency Contact”, so if we assume most millennials are in their 20’s and perhaps not married then I can see why it’d be common to have one parent’s phone number, although using it for this reasons seems like a weird breach of trust.

      And I certainly can’t imagine any higher up coming up to me and asking for my mom’s phone number. I don’t think I’d know how to respond to that.

      1. MaggiePi*

        Yes, if that is the only reason they have this information and used it to call and report on me, that would be a major breach of trust.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, my workplace used to have my dad’s name/number on file as my emergency contact (and I imagine that’s the case for many young people, who are less likely to have a partner to provide as an emergency contact/next of kin), but if they’d used that info for anything other than, you know, *emergencies*, I would have been shocked and dismayed.

  45. Eden*

    I have to say though, at my last job, we hired a doctor (!) who brought her dad with her to negotiate her contract, and for her performance reviews.

    It bears noting that she was: (1) not right out of school and (2) 30-something.

    1. Adam*

      I remember it being fairly common to have young adults bring their dad’s along to negotiate with car dealers. Ideally this is something dad would have coached you on as one of those life skills beforehand, but bringing them to job interviews takes it to a whole other level.

      1. Stephanie*

        Guilty of this one. But this was because (a) my dad’s a car nut and will jump at any excuse to look at cars and (b) he didn’t want the dealer raking advantage since I’m female. However, he did give me a lot of tips to make the process easier the next time around.

        1. H. Rawr*

          I did this through about age 22, and I had similar reasons. Was more of a gender thing for me. They would let me walk out if I attempted negotiating on my own. Not ideal, but necessary while on a budget.

        2. Adam*

          My dad came with me the first time too. I didn’t really ask him to but I was 22 and this was the first time I’d ever had a “real car”, i.e. not the cheapest reasonable bucket of bolts I could find that worked, and he wanted to help. Plus he was a lawyer so he gets a charge out of confrontation.

          I think it helped for when I needed to do the same thing in the future, even if I felt a bit inadequate at the time.

      2. Mints*

        My boyfriend took his dad to buy a car too. His dad can get really good discounts though, it’s kind of amazing. He once bought sneakers (at the mall! Not a flea market) half off. He said there was no box, could I get a discount? Could you give me the employee discount too? $40 became $20 and I was stunned

      3. Not So NewReader*

        My 80 y/o aunt brought her 50 y/o son with her to select a car for herself. I think it is wise with large purchases to ask for a second opinion.
        My father looked at two houses with us when we were house hunting. One house he said “no, not this one” as he pushed a nail into a main beam with his thumb. Interestingly, the realtor lambasted my father. “Well no matter what you come up with your father will say it’s not good enough.” Hmmm. The house we finally did buy my father LOVED. So guess that realtor was wrong, eh?

      4. Tinker*

        Heh. After my experience buying my last car — my mother was in town and we went looking together aaaaaaaand…. well, one of the lots we didn’t go back to, let’s say — I’ve threatened that the next car I buy, I’m bringing one of my male friends on the trip. Possibly the one who doesn’t drive. I’m not sure if their primary role in this endeavor is to serve as comic relief, a relayer of messages, or bait for the trap.

      5. Sharm*

        This I can see. I bought my first car at 30 this year, and there’s part of me that wishes my dad was with me, because he’s such a PITA about this stuff, and would drive any dealer crazy. What I did instead was call him several times before I went in so he could coach me to be a similar PITA when I went in by myself.

        End result? I walked out with my dream car at a price I KNOW was a good deal. The dealers were jerks about it (“You’re good at negotiating — for a GIRRRRRRL,” but whatever, I got what I wanted, so it didn’t matter. My dad may have been able to shave off an extra $500, but for my first time, I thought I did great.

        As you say, in those situations, I try to channel my dad, but wouldn’t actually want him to be doing any of it for me. I want to earn it on my own, dammit!

        1. Revanche*

          Yeah I had a bit of this with my second car purchase. I negotiated all of it, then walked in to sign the papers. It was for my parents so they came along but didn’t say anything – the salesman looked at them and was like, “so uh, she sure knows what she’s doing here …?”
          Dad was like, Yep! That she does.

    2. fposte*

      What did your org do? I’m guessing that they allowed him in for the contract negotiation or else he wouldn’t have turned up for the job reviews.

      Was Dad at least a lawyer or something similarly representative?

    3. H. Rawr*

      I… can’t… even.

      I still tell stories about an intern candidate bringing his mom to the waiting room at an interview, and that is horrifying enough. This is just a whole other level of insanity. Who ARE these people?

  46. Hedgehog*

    I’m sooooo creeped out by this but here’s my question: how does the CEO even have access to all her employees’ parents’ contact information? Do you think she had to go dig it up on her own? Total and complete invasion of privacy.

    1. Jaimie*

      That was my reaction, too! Last summer, I had to call the parent of an employee here, but that was a true medical emergency, and I had to ask HR to access his emergency contact info. Even if I wanted to do this as part of the hiring process, I have no idea how I would do it.

    2. Dani X*

      I am wondering if it is listed on the employee file as next of kin. I know my mom is listed as next of kin in case I die of a freak paper cut accident. I guess my manager could get that information from my file if he really wanted it. But that would also be a huge violation since he has no reason to look at that part of my file in a normal day.

  47. Kerr*

    I’ll take “creepy intrusion into personal life” for $1000, Alex. This millennial would run screaming from a tactic like that.

    I don’t think this is a trend; I think this is one CEO, like Cat said. The article cites LinkedIn’s “bring your parents to work day,” but only two dozen companies in 14 countries participated. That’s less than 2 companies per country – that’s not a trend! And I want to see information about the stats behind the supposed 8% of millennials who brought their parents to interviews. I could be willing to bet that the stats include people whose parents drove them without actually going into the office.

    The author’s conclusions are a little scary, though: “It’s hard to ignore the fact that Millennials demand to be treated differently than previous generations in almost all aspects of their careers. Compared to previous generations, they’ve blurred the line between work and personal life considerably.”

    Um, no. This is a CEO (or in the case of LinkedIn, higher-ups) who took it upon herself to do this, and I doubt she’s a millennial.

    1. Bea W*

      I brought my mother to a work interview once. Oh wait…she brought me. I was 15. I couldn’t drive, and it was my first time applying for a job.

  48. AB*

    If my boss ever called my parents, they would think I was in the hospital, dead or in custody. Those are the only conceivable reasons for a job place to ever call an employee’s family.

  49. Lanya*

    This is so inappropriate I have no words. Except to mention that a CEO has no idea what an employee’s relationship may or may not be with his/her parents.

    Would it be OK for a CEO to call a 45 year old employee’s parents to tell them what a great job their child is doing?


    1. Beti*

      Hey, right this is ageism, isn’t it? They are calling the young employees’ parents but not those of the the older employees. That’s BS! I demand fair treatment! Call my 90 year old mother right now!

  50. JBeane*

    I honestly don’t believe this is real. How can it be? In order for calling parents to work you’d need every applicant’s parents to be both receptive to this type of treatment and able to communicate with the CEO who is calling.

    Just on a personal level if some crazy CEO called my parents to urge me to accept a job, my parents would be confused (because I’m an adult) and also not really equipped to communicate well in “professional” English. They’re extremely intelligent, but English is their second language and they’ve worked in blue collar jobs their entire lives. I imagine there are lots of situations like this where contacting parents is just not pragmatic (never mind NUTS). That’s not even taking into account that not everyone is on good terms with their parents. What about potential employees with the misfortune of having sabotaging, abusive parents?

    I refuse to believe that companies communicating with employees’ parents is a real thing.

  51. Anoners*

    Im picturing my mom getting a call about my performance. She would be like… what the actual f!

    This is so bizarre.

  52. Sunflower*

    I’ve been googling around and BEYOND APPALLED at how many people on twitter and the internet think this is a good idea. I might cry. I’m losing faith in the world

    1. KitKat*

      Yes, but the comments in the article itself are pretty solidly of the “What the hell are you thinking, that’s a terrible idea” opinion. Which gives me that hope back.

      1. LBK*

        And if you read the whole article, the author doesn’t really endorse it, and seems to lean more towards the “this is creepy and weird” side.

  53. BJ McKay*

    Okay, my first boss(es) did this to me. I never really thought about it until now, and that is probably why I am not surprised by it.

    I was 23, a personal assistant to a very wealthy and high-profile family, and they often dropped my parents notes about how well I was doing at work. Or they would say, “Be sure to tell your parents how well you did {x}.” The grandfather actually called them to tell them how helpful I was to him with something. I think because I was in their home, doing things like helping the wife pick out lingerie for an anniversary trip (awkward!) the boundaries were extra-blurry. Plus, they said they hired me because I reminded them of their daughter, so what could I expect?

    Now that I hire a lot of recent grads, I cannot imagine contacting their parents for anything. But I have a few that would probably find it comforting.

        1. BJ McKay*

          Ha! That would be better. But I am female. Is it comfortable for anyone to discuss lingerie/intimacy with their boss’ wife? In their bedroom? Plus it was my first job – it totally skewed my perception of normalcy in the workplace.

    1. Adam*

      I read this as “I got paid to riffle through my boss’ underwear drawer.”

      No matter how well it went, I doubt I’d list them as a reference afterwards.

  54. C*

    I don’t even list my parents as emergency contacts, so I’d be horrified if they were ever contacted.

    I’m 25 and don’t believe this is indicative of a trend. And as a “Millennial” I firmly believe in work/personal life separation. The closest I would ever come to bringing them together is if there’s some sort of picnic where we bring a spouse. But parents? Blech.

    1. Lanya*

      Yes, this. How is the CEO getting the parental contact information, and is she even bothering to ask the employee if it’s OK to reach out to family?

      She will start calling grandparents and spouses next.

      This is insane.

  55. AF*

    My boss wrote my parents a formal letter telling them how great I was doing after relocating and starting my new job as a Business Intelligence Developer last year. I have 10 years of experience in the field. He called me into his office and asked for there name and home address, if I didn’t mine. I was so confused, I just gave it to him and got out of there. My parents were so excited, and told everyone. I thought it was hilarious and incredibly odd. I just turned 35. I chalked this up to him being “old school” because I’ve never heard of this.

  56. Bea W*

    I swear I remember something like this here before, possibly linked by a commenter? Or maybe I am thinking of another site?

    I think this CEO is totally crossing a line, calling a candidate’s mother to get the mother to convince the child to take the job. That’s manipulative and just weird. What’s also weird is why would HR or a CEO or anyone have the contact information for a candidate’s parents. Sure, maybe the person is living with them, but how would anyone know that or even make that assumption? WTH is that?

    If I found out the CEO of a company called my parents to talk to them about convincing me to take a job I think I would be stunned followed by horrified. It kind of reminds me when en ex-bf called my mother and a friend of mine to try to get me to talk to him. No. No. NO. Just NO. Maybe the candidates gave the CEO the contact info, but still…NO NO NO! Just stop this insanity right now!

    Disclaimer – I am Gen X and left home ASAP partly due to strained relationships with my parents, “strained” being euphemism for something less polite. YMMV

    1. fposte*

      See, I could have sworn this came up here before too, and I don’t think it’s just the Take Your Parents to Work Day discussion. But I can’t find it.

      1. OriginalYup*

        Was it the the WSJ article about parents being involved in interviews That was a post here entitled ‘W.T.F.’ from September last year. (I’d link but don’t want to get hung up in moderation.)

        1. Ada Lovelace*

          I bet that’s what I’m thinking of. The article mentioned employees *wanting* their parents to have a copy of the performance review, but it didn’t talk about companies doing so.

            1. OriginalYup*

              I’m cracking up, though. I’m picturing Ada Doom running into Linda Lovelace in the woodshed.

  57. kdizzle*

    Just what I need…my mother talking with my boss about how I haven’t given her any grandchildren.

    Mother: “I’m dying to be a grandmother!”

    Boss: “We’d certainly welcome the life of your grandchild into our company!”

    1. Lora*

      “Unfortunately, your daughter has far too many critical projects to be allowed to use her vacation time–we certainly can’t spare her for three months’ maternity leave! Maybe you should have raised her to be lazy and stupid, then we wouldn’t mind losing her.”

  58. Cloudy*

    Is this only for Millennials? My little brother is looking for work. He’s 53, a Baby Boomer. Sadly, our parents are deceased. Does this mean they’re gonna call me? If they do, what should I say? I want to be prepared, just in case.

    1. H. Rawr*

      Haha, I was thinking about that too!

      I’d say thanks, ask them for their email address and them forward them the link to this post…

    2. Not So NewReader*

      My parents are deceased.

      “Go ahead. Make that call. I wanna watch you do that.”

      The bank actually did call here and ask if my parents were still interested in using their home equity line of credit. I said “They died. And oddly, they remain… dead.”
      Silence on the other end of the phone.

  59. TotesMaGoats*

    Multiple thoughts:

    1. I think all of the stable, horrified at the very thought of this, “millennials” should come up with a new name for our group. This 31 year old would never have wanted her boss to contact her parents even if it was to say how awesome I was. Anybody want to take a stab at a new name for our generation?

    2. All that said, my mom and my boss at my first job did talk on a regular basis because we all worked at the same place and mom was high up the food chain. My mom and I actually worked together on an almost daily basis given both our jobs. It was pretty cool. And while my boss may have said to her on occasion that I was fabulous. My nickname was “Radar” because I was so good at anticipating issues, they NEVER talked about my performance beyond that. Mom would have shut that down instantly. I did live at home till I was 25 but that was because I was saving $ for a house with my fiancee and carpooling to work with my mom. Also, my mom has epilepsy and having a spare driver should she have a seizure and not be able to drive for 6 months was very helpful. We would talk about work and I still call her to be a sounding board. Being in the same field is such an awesome thing.

    3. I will admit that I had to check the urge to talk to an applicant’s parent. Cringe. The applicant goes to my church and is 19. His mom watches my son in the church nursery. She had seen my post about job opportunities in my office and told her son to apply. To be fair, he would’ve been a good employee. I had no quibbles about that. After telling me that he had applied, mom backed out of the conversation. All’s well. I put son on the list to phone screen and HE NEVER RETURNED THE CALL. Needless to say, I picked someone else for the position. I so badly want to say to her, “you realize he never even returned the call for the phone screen, right?” But I won’t. I swear. Anybody think it would be out of line to say something to the son about it? I did make a quasi pointed facebook post that if you are interested enough in the position to apply you should return calls and emails about it.

    1. LBK*

      1. I think all of the stable, horrified at the very thought of this, “millennials” should come up with a new name for our group.

      How does “Normal, Human Adults And Not Babies” sound?

    2. some1*

      If the mom asks for an update, I don’t see any problem with telling her the son never returned your call, but I wouldn’t bother telling him.

      “I did make a quasi pointed facebook post that if you are interested enough in the position to apply you should return calls and emails about it.”

      Honestly, not a big fan of these types of “I’m calling someone out without naming names” statuses on Facebook.

      I have been tempted to post stuff like this, too, so I get that it was coming from a place of frustration, but I think they come off as unnecessarily spiteful, immature and a little attention-seeking (like you want your friends to reply and ask, ‘Who are you talkintg about/What happened?’)

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I agree that they can be spiteful but as I’ve complained through other hirings about the lack of responses from candidates, it’s not unusual to hear it from me. This is the first time anyone I’ve ever known has applied for a job that would’ve reported up to me.

        1. some1*

          Wouldn’t it be just as effective to vent to a friend in a private conversation, though? Why does it have to be your FB status?

          1. TotesMaGoats*

            Well, I guess I still have moments of being spiteful, immature and attention-seeking. We all have our crosses to bear.

  60. A.*

    This can’t be real. I’m 26 years old and would be mortified if my job called my mom. I’m sure she’d have a similar reaction to the call. Just, wow.

  61. JEC*

    I wonder how long it took, after reading this story, for someone who was applying for a job at Pepsi to call their parents and say, “Quick! Get on the horn to the CEO, she loves talking to parents! I’ll have a job offer in minutes!”
    Is that what companies want? In addition to all of the irritating/unsolicited communication between candidates and companies that this blog already rails against (quite rightly), they now want candidates’ parents involved?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Gold star for that one. New job hunting advice: Do not call and check on your app. Have YOUR PARENTS call and check on it for you.”

      This works especially well for parents who feel their child should call every week until they are hired by a company.

  62. H. Rawr*

    If I found out the CEO of a company had called one of my parents (whose personal information, presumably, was not provided on my application materials), I would have a severely different reaction than that candidate…

    Crazy mfers…

  63. Elysian*

    My parents and I don’t get along, and we haven’t spoken in a rather long time. If my boss called my parents, I would flip. I might even quit. I really do not need someone opening that door on me, thankyouverymuch.

    1. AJ is what they call me*

      I wondered about this too. What if you don’t have a good relationship with your parents? I mean would she try to mediate or even worse, require you to get along with them for her sake? Would be like almost creating a hostile work environment? (I’m reaching here, I know. )

      This is just so far past my comprehension as a manager or an employee. I’m dumbfounded!!

    2. Mints*

      Yeah, actually, good point. I was imagining them calling my mom, because that’s who I think of as “parents.” But if they called my dad instead, I’d be furious.I haven’t seen him in years because I don’t want to. I can’t even imagine

  64. Lizzy Mac*

    So my Mom and I work for the same, very large, corporation. We don’t work together directly, we don’t work in the same building but there are occasions where my manager and her interact. I hate it. I would bet money that my manager has praised me to my mom. Her boundaries aren’t super. However, my mom would never chat about me with my manager beyond a polite response. I know that for certain but every time I know they’ve been at the same meeting or on the same conference call it makes my teeth itch. I don’t like mixing my family and my work. If they didn’t know each other throught work, this would never happen.

    1. Bea W*

      My mother and I worked for the same employer at once time (I was there first). We were in separate departments in separate areas of the building. It was not a large company, and aside from briefly mingling at holiday parties (where many people brought family anyway – including parents, spouses, children), there was no interaction between my boss and her or the other way around.

  65. Purple Dragon*

    I read the part in the full article about this ( – it’s nearly at the bottom.

    And it doesn’t sound like she singled out Millennials. She started with her direct reports. It is actually interesting how she came up with the idea.

    However, if my boss (who has met my parents) ever sent them a letter like this I would cringe, but I can see how it made sense in the overall direction she’s trying to take the company, engaging employee’s hearts as she puts it. I’d be mortified like I said, but the full article (not the Harvard version) has actually made me think.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      OK, the full article is pretty interesting (just read it). I still think it’s a terrible idea but this seems more about her trying get to know her employees on a personal level.

      1. fposte*

        It’s a paradigm shift, that’s for sure. And I can actually see it working–but that doesn’t for me excuse the reasons why you shouldn’t do it.

      2. MurphyB*

        I thought it was interesting, and a little alarming, that she related a story about her daughter switching from criticizing ‘big companies’ to saying ‘here’s the PepsiCo story’. I feel like a more valuable lesson there is to help the kid(s) understand that you can’t just talk about ‘big companies’; you have to think critically and understand individual cases. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.

  66. Overkill*

    There’s greater and greater demands for intimacy in the workplace so much so that the lines between personal and professional are almost completely gone. We’re heading to the point where if you fail someone on a personal or intimate level on the job, you could rightfully be fired, demoted, punished, etc.

    As far as the millenials are concerned, yes, I’ve seen this over reliance on parents. I’ve had quite a few of them say, “I don’t know, I’d have to ask my mom” to routine questions about their education or career.

  67. JoAnna*

    I was born at the tail end of 1980, so not sure if I qualify as a millennial, but I find this absolutely horrifying. If my boss asked for my parents’ contact information, I’d find that creepy as hell. And if he took the initiative to somehow ferret out their contact information, that’d cross the line into stalker territory.

  68. MP*

    I can’t imagine having my boss reach out to my parents or vice versa except in two conditions:

    a) “I regret to inform you your child has died at work,” and b) “My child won’t be coming in today because he/she is in the emergency room.”

    That’s it. Dead stop. Period.

    1. JoAnna*

      Or MAYBE, in some contexts, “We’re pleased to inform you that your son/daughter is receiving Prestigious Award from XYZ Non-Profit (or State University), and we’d like to invite you to the awards ceremony and/or a reception in his/her honor.

      1. bridget*

        Wouldn’t the better way to handle this be “Employee, you are receiving a prestigious award. We have reserved X number of seats at the head table for any friends/family you would like to have there. Please let us know their names so we can get them place cards.”?

        Solves the problem of employers not knowing what family dynamics and relationships are, possible deaths, etc.

  69. Books*

    “When he found out the CEO of PepsiCo had called his mom, he took the job.”

    And by he took the job do they mean he rejected the offer?

  70. AGirlCalledFriday*

    Coming from a perspective of a teacher…I’m thinking this is indicative of a bigger problem. Society has clearly shifted from a society where you were expected to do your best to excel and if you fail, you FAIL (and that was ok, it was a part of life to fail, and then pick yourself back up and try again), to a society where children are overprotected and not allowed to make mistakes or fail. When failure comes, society can come down extra hard, as if to overcompensate for not allowing for mistakes in the first place. For example, the student loan debt problem…most kids aren’t exposed to the necessity of money and making decisions about money, and when they graduate and start making the first big decisions they have no clue what they are doing, resulting in crushing debt. Then those students are punished for making the mistake that they should have been allowed to learn waaay before this, by not having options to say, “I made a mistake” and start over.

    Involving parents in the workforce is more of the same. Telling parents that their kid is a special snowflake? Hand holding by parents? Manipulation of workers by using their families? If this type of thing occurs, it will result in young adults not learning lessons that they should probably have learned already, followed by major consequences when a mistake DOES come. Work is not usually a place that is too forgiving of major mistakes, and having a parent on speed dial is probably not going to prevent them from being fired.

    1. some1*

      “For example, the student loan debt problem…most kids aren’t exposed to the necessity of money and making decisions about money, and when they graduate and start making the first big decisions they have no clue what they are doing, resulting in crushing debt.”

      While this may be true, in past generations more people were besides the filthy rich were able to pay their childrens’ tuition, too.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. The ratios have changed. When I went to college (a state U) it was about 5K per year. My dad was making around $25K per year. (That was above average back then.)
        Now if you are making $40k per year you need all of it to pay for one year. The difference is jawdropping.

    2. Del*

      For example, the student loan debt problem…most kids aren’t exposed to the necessity of money and making decisions about money, and when they graduate and start making the first big decisions they have no clue what they are doing, resulting in crushing debt.

      I’m not sure I follow. You’re talking about when they graduate but student debt is accrued prior to graduation, when they are theoretically focusing on their studies more than on any job they might have, and probably only working limited part-time hours to boot.

      1. AGirlCalledFriday*

        So sorry, I wasn’t clear! In this example, I’m talking about high school students graduating at age 17-18.

  71. Lo*

    After looking through the comments, I’m really interested in the response about “shame” and “embarrassment” from people–some who have self-identified as a millennial, or at least as someone in their 20s. I feel like this is an instance where rather than seeing a situation that would be “embarrassing” for the young adult, it SHOULD be embarrassing for the adults involved. By that I mean that if a young adult in the work place has a boss call their “mommy and daddy,” the boss as well as the parent is only fostering a poor environment for the young adult. That is, when people complain about millennial being selfish or ill-prepared, maybe the fault lies at least in part with their parents, teachers, and those they worked for/with early on–say, in an internship or summer job–because it is apparently now ok to ignore that the person is a (young) adult, and instead communicate feedback to the parents! If “everyone” is so upset about millennials being immature or not ready for the “real world…” maybe those who are in a position to help them get ready needs to do so in an adult way themselves. If any supervisor called my parents, I would leave immediately (I would hope, at least) because I would take it to mean that they do not trust my judgement or feel the need to communicate directly with me–and that is embarrassing, but for them! That’s just my two cents… for reference, I am a 20something, working my first full time position, having interned and worked seasonally/limited duration previously…

    1. Beti*

      Excellent points. I hope the embarrassed ones take their cue from the commenters who used better words like What? No! OhHellNo! and the best words, “Thank you for the offer but I took a position with another company [who isn’t instrusive and unprofessional].”

    2. LBK*

      I would be embarrassed for the CEO being so delusional as to think calling my mother is a good idea, I wouldn’t be embarrassed for myself.

    3. LBK*

      Sorry for the double comment:

      That is, when people complain about millennial being selfish or ill-prepared, maybe the fault lies at least in part with their parents, teachers, and those they worked for/with early on–say, in an internship or summer job–because it is apparently now ok to ignore that the person is a (young) adult, and instead communicate feedback to the parents! If “everyone” is so upset about millennials being immature or not ready for the “real world…” maybe those who are in a position to help them get ready needs to do so in an adult way themselves.

      I want to copy and paste this on to every article about Millennial stereotypes. How do people think Millennials (allegedly) got this way? What else could possibly be the cause other than the way they were raised and the way they continue to be treated by people who insist on pigeonholing them into this stereotype?

      1. Jillociraptor*

        And to add to that, I think it’s really important to recognize all of the social forces that shaped how Millennials’ parents raised them.

        I think a lot about that in this asinine debate over whether we should let kids make mistakes or protect them from failure. The thing is, especially now that we have modern healthcare (even though access to it is unequal in the US) and stuff like vaccines, kids are basically guaranteed to survive to adulthood, and probably be totally fine. Crime is as low as its ever been, and things like abduction by strangers basically never happen. Your kid will be fine if he watches TV, and fine if he doesn’t. She’ll be fine if she eats all organic, and she’ll be fine if she gets her grubby little mitts on a sour patch kid here and there. He’ll be fine if you make him play football, and he’ll be fine if you make him learn dance. Kids are basically going to be fine. And in the cases where they’re not, it’s often due to freak accidents that you couldn’t have prevented.

        We totally overplay the degree to which parents dictate their kids’ life chances, and underplay the degree to which social structures do. Any time something goes wrong, a kid is abducted, or is violent, or can’t get a job, we examine their parents with a fine tooth comb–and not at all the social forces that might be at play. In that case, of course parents are going to take a heavy hand. Everything we tell them says that their hyperinvestment is the only thing keeping their kids from total and permanent failure! This kind of anxiety is a really great way to get parents to buy goods and services, but it’s just not a realistic representation of the factors that come into play in determining a kid’s success.

        I have mad sympathy for my parents (also: I’m a classic Millennial; major league identification with the parental figures), and whenever I read about helicopter parents and helicoptered kids, I just want to scream, “UM. Y’all know you asked them to do this, right?”

        1. C average*

          This is such a great comment.

          The level of “fine” you’re describing is a good one to remember. Physically fine. Safe, intact, unharmed.

          It’s the longer-term “fine” I worry about, at least for my stepkids. Will they be kind and resourceful and resilient? Will they be good humans? Are any of the parenting choices I make going to influence that kind of “fine?”

          And then I find myself reverse-engineering my own upbringing to try to figure out whether any of the stuff my parents did actually made a meaningful difference to my own deeper-level “fine” outcome.

          No answers here, but I certainly hope none of their future employers feel the need to call me about them.

          1. Jillociraptor*

            Totally. It’s such a fine line to walk, right, because of course you’re such an important model and source of information for your kids, but also you can’t control everything about their experience, including their personality. There are definitely things I can point to that my parents did that helped me be successful, but they were in how they treated me every day–how much they trusted me, how they held me accountable for my behavior, how they leveled with me (my parents were really good at just straight up saying how they wanted me to act rather than trying to pavlov me into correct behavior). Just by asking that question of “is what I’m doing helping or hurting my kid” you’re on the right track.

        2. fposte*

          This is an absolutely fantastic comment.

          (And I’m a Boomer/Xer with a parent who’d have helicoptered me like crazy if I’d let him, and sometimes I did.)

        3. Anonsie*

          John Cheese had a really good bit about this on Cracked (I know, I know, don’t judge me) about how the climate people in his generation was raised in guided their parenting strategies and their portrayal of adulthood and success to their kids.

          His angle is he and a lot of his peers rebelled and relished the ability to be “slackers” for most of their lives, then did a 180 when they had kids and became *terrified* of their own kids doing something similar. So they cracked way down in the other direction but, having little to no experiences to help actually guide their advice or decisions, they built up a very strange picture of success and necessity and adulthood.

          1. Stephanie*

            Haha, no judgment! I listen to the Cracked podcast regularly. It’s a little stream of conscious-y, but they put out some good ideas for thought during the episodes.

  72. Jamie*

    Dear current and future employers of my children-

    If you send me one of these letters know that it will be immediately forwarded to Alison for public ridicule and facepalming.

    However, I encourage you to feel free to express your satisfaction with their work in the form of positive feedback and more money. Ever since they left my womb I’ve encourage others to speak directly to them – it’s almost as if they are real people.

    Just to to reiterate that last point, as is inevitable being reared by me, they are well versed in the concept of money used as a form of validation in an employer/employee relationship. So if you really want to drive the point home that you value them that would be the best way to go.

    Love and squishy cuddles,

    Mom of your best and best looking current and future employees

    1. FormerNewsDirector*

      Exactly. If they’ve been as asset to your organization, tell THEM. Reward THEM. THEY did the work, not me. It’s THEIR accomplishment.

  73. Mena*

    I read this article a while back – I was horrified. If PepsiCo called my mother to tell her why I should accept their offer, that would be reason enough to NOT accept their offer. Are you going to call her if I am late, or at the dentist for the 3rd time in 6 months? This is intrusive, twisted, a violation of boundaries and personal information, and puts Millenials in a worse light than they are already perceived.

    PepsiCo looks foolish and I stunned that any entry-level person would work for them.

  74. OriginalEmma*

    Straw, camel, back, etc.

    Now I’m going to go download the Chrome extension that changes the word “Millenials” from all pages viewed on the browser to “Pesky Whipper-Snappers.” Excuse me…

  75. Overkill*

    Millenials have great tech skills but poor people skills, and what companies refer to as talent are typically tech skills, so someone has to take care of the soft skills, ergo the parents.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Uh. Am hoping you are saying that tongue-in-cheek.

      Frankly, I enjoy the 20 and 30 somethings more than my own age bracket for their quick minds and their candor. I also enjoy their use of humor to convey a message. I am not seeing these strengths in my own age bracket as much. To me it is refreshing.

    2. LBK*

      So your answer to millennials allegedly lacking soft skills is to treat them like babies? I’d say you’re the one lacking soft skills in that case, where you’re unable to treat an employee like a person but rather a set of stereotypes you read in an article.

      What happens if someone’s parents are dead, are they just unhirable? Who could you possibly go to in order to develop that person’s soft skills at that point? Could it be…the actual employee themselves, in an attempt to coach and develop them like you would with any other employee that was struggling in some aspect of their job? Or do you assume that because someone was born in a certain year, that permanently imprints certain qualities on them?

      I know this is a very snarky comment but seriously, this is batshit reasoning and it’s what perpetuates the millennial stereotype moreso than anything millennials are actually doing.

    3. Lizzy Mac*

      That is a very unfair generalization. I count as a Millenial and my tech skills are basic. Also, I like to think I know how to interact with people in a professional setting.

      In part, I learned those skills by talking to my boss myself about my performance and my workload. I was rougher at it when I joined the workforce than I am now and I assume I’ll continue to improve my skills as I gain experience. If my first boss skipped over talking to me and talked to my parents, I would have never developed those skills.

      1. fposte*

        Right–in general, personal skills develop over time, and younger people in *every* generation are usually less sophisticated there. Then they develop the skills (in time to mourn the lack of skills in the new generation.)

        More practically, young people learn those skills from putting experiential mileage on, and I see a palpable difference between younger people who have worked a few jobs, been a few places on their own, etc. and those who are new at muddling through in difficult circumstances. That’s what I really hate to see parents protecting children from–risks, smaller survivable failures, errors. The later you learn to deal with those, the harder it is, and there’s no life without them.

  76. KJR*

    Based on the fact that we’ve not had any comments in favor of this, I am finding it hard to believe that this is widespread, or will become widespread anytime soon. My kids are teenagers at this point, and they really HATE when I am in any kind of contact with their teachers (and I contact them very rarely). So I can only imagine their dismay if I were to be in contact with their employer down the road. Bad idea all the way around.

    1. Overkill*

      There’s an ‘elitist’ component here. The WSJ reported this trend several months ago and now Harvard. We might just talking about the privileged few for whom the rules are always different anyway.

  77. JMegan*

    That’s an interesting point about how did they get the parent’s contact information, and did they have the employee’s consent to use it in this way. I don’t know about US privacy laws, but in Canada there’s a good chance that it might actually be illegal to use someone’s personal information (including their phone number) for something they haven’t specifically consented to.

    I picture a “millenial” writing in to AAM asking “My employer contacted my parents without my permission, is this legal?” – and actually getting the answer “Nope, not legal at all.”

  78. Rebecca*

    If my daughter’s employer called me to report on her employment status or how she was doing, I would wonder why she would work for them. She’s an adult, not a kindergarten student.

  79. Parcae*

    If my employer called my parents, they’d probably assume I’d been in a terrible accident and was dead or dying. What a horrible prank for anyone to play on a parent. Could it be some awful form of hazing: “If you can’t put up with constant emotional abuse being inflicted on you and your loved ones, you’re probably not cut out for a job at PepsiCo”?

  80. Noelle*

    A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers left for a new job. At her going away party, her boss played a tribute video he had created for her. The video included a long (and incredibly embarrassing) interview with her parents, who made it clear that this was not the first time they’d interacted with her boss. I’m really hoping that when I leave this job they do not track down and interview my parents, and then play it in front of my coworkers.

  81. Jen*

    I can’t believe this. Just another example of people overstepping and erasing professional boundaries in the name of worthless stereotypes. I would sh*t a brick if my employer called my Mom and Dad for any reason exccept that I was dead or dying. Born in 1983, I am a fully adult professional without any need for my parents and employer to have any sort of communication.

  82. Overkill*

    I just can’t imagine a man highlighting the ‘intimacy’ he’s cultivating with a new hire’s parents.

  83. AJ is what they call me*

    So, I’m just gonna say it:

    This CEO is completely mixed up. PepsiCo is losing the soda war against SodaStream (and those of us don’t drink it) necessitating plant closures and mass layoffs (where I live at least). She needs to get back to the business of running her company and stop with this madness.

    1. fposte*

      At least in the US, there’s not much indication that PepsiCo’s decline is related to SodaStream–SodaStream has not actually penetrated particularly deeply into the American market, and it got people more excited about it as a company than as a product, as its own revenues are declining. (One of the things that people are excited about is the possibility that it will get bought by PepsiCo.)

      If you’ll pardon the play on words, it seems to be rather a bubble.

      1. AJ is what they call me*

        A bubble… LOL
        I get what you’re saying. This is just so crazy to me. It seems to upset my concept of the “work-life” balance. My parents are apart of my life, not my job.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think it’s horrible, but part of me wonders if it’s really clever at the same time.

      1. AJ is what they call me*

        Apparently it’s the thing to do now-a-days, so much so that Coke has decided to partner with Keurig (sp?) to create a similar at-home soda products using the pod-in-the-coffee-pot-technology.

  84. Stephanie*

    A few thoughts on this (I’m a millennial):

    1. Plural of anecdote isn’t data. This sounds like one CEO taking a practice from her home country. I don’t think CEO at OldJob would have even cared enough about my personal life to dig up my folks’ home number.
    2. Add me to the chorus of “Nooooooooo”s . My parents would probably be weirded out like “Why are they telling me this? Are they giving me her bonus?”
    3. If a superior is telling me I’m a “gift” to something, I’d hope it be for something more noble than hawking diabetes water.
    4. So weary of the Millennial bashing. I’m sure every generation has its entitled underachievers. Mine just gets a bad rap since we happened to come of age during a perfect storm of economic and situational factors (horrible economy, housing crash, insane tuition costs, and so on).

    1. Jamie*

      Well, sure, that’s totally different. My boss told my husband nice things about me when they met at a coworkers wedding, that’s small talk. If he’d tracked down his number to call him to say the same….yikes.

      My daughter works in fast food and I went through the drive through to leave her keys (I was dropping off my car for her) and one of her coworkers stuck her head out and told me I should be very proud because she is so sweet and has such beautiful manners.

      The co-worker was old enough to be my gramma – it was well intended. I can’t take credit for her sweet temperament (that skips a generation in my family) but I admit I always like the compliments on their manners over the years because I worked to instill those! Glad the lessons took.

      1. Jamie*

        Sorry this was meant to be a reply to publicist below. Don’t know what happened.

        @Stephanie fwiw this millennial bashing is all over the internet, but I’ve never heard it irl. We have employees from late teens to late sixties and those who fit the millennial group are just like everyone else. Some are excellent most are good performers and some have issues. No different than any other age group.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’ve heard it, but I live near a bunch of Greatest Generation retirees. I heard someone at the grocery store the other day.

        2. VintageLydia USA*

          My aunt and I got into an argument about how lazy millennials are. Mind you, I am one, so that was nice of her /s

  85. AAA*

    OK, informal poll:

    I want to know who here has ever actually had their parents involved in a workplace matter?

    There seem to be lots of anecdotes where we hear about it happening somewhere, but I haven’t seen any comments (from Millienials or others) actually saying “My company called my parents” or anything (Thank god!!). So is there anyone reading this who actually has had this happen?

    1. AJ is what they call me*

      Only when I was a minor and was working part-time in the same place as my mother.

    2. Arjay*

      When I lived at home, I made my mom call me out sick. At least once. But there was no other involvement ever.

        1. Arjay*

          I was a young adult. So it was many, many years ago. Oops. (I did write “small voice” bracketed at the beginning of my embarrassing confession, but it must have been stripped out as pseudo-html.)

    3. Turanga Leela*

      I’ve introduced my parents to my bosses at parties and stuff. I had at least one boss who took the opportunity to tell my dad that I was a great employee. Other than that, no contact.

      1. fposte*

        My student staff are sometimes visited by their parents, and I’m fine with meeting them and having parents tour the place; at graduation, I enjoy meeting parents and telling them how wonderful their son/daughter is.

        But that’s it–nothing to do with interviewing or performance reviewing. I think my rule might be if I wouldn’t say it to an employee’s kid I won’t say it to their parents. “We sure think the world of Bob!” is fine either way.

    4. Lizzy Mac*

      As I mentioned upthread my mom and I work for the same large company. I’ve never worked for a boss who hadn’t met my mom since joining the company. We have very little contact but one time when I was sick I called my mom to give me my manager’s manager’s contact info from the company directory since we can’t access it when we’re not at work and I knew that my manager was not going to be in the office. She didn’t call in sick for me or anything.
      The one area of crossover is that we are both involved in the workplace United Way Campaign each year so we attend meetings together and work on events together in that sense.

    5. Publicist*

      Never involved, but I work someplace that has public events, and sometimes parents will come to these events, especially if they are visiting their kid in town. (This is not weird, just keeping it vague for privacy sake.) In those situations, I do always make a point to say something nice or make a little joke about my coworkers to their parents, especially if they are interns or entry level people, because I think it is nice for parents to hear their kids are doing well and liked by their coworkers. On the other side, I’ve visited my mom’s workplace (she’s a teacher) and had her coworkers and students all tell me how much she is loved, and its nice for me to hear that too.

      But those situations are a FAR CRY from this Pepsi nonsense!

    6. OriginalEmma*

      I was working two part-time jobs when I first started working at 16. I wanted to quit one to focus on the other (teenybopper dream job of working at a record store), but wanted my mother’s help (i.e., for her to do it for me!) in quitting. She refused, rightfully, and made me quit myself. Which I did, over the phone, and during which conversation my curmudgeonly boss called me a liar for quitting.

    7. Bea W*

      Not as an adult, and as a minor the extent of my parents’ involvement with my job was
      1) Telling me to get one,
      2) taking me to apply/interview (cuz back in the stone age you saw an ad and had to physically go to the place to fill out an application), and
      3) dropping me off and picking me up because there was no other means for me to get there

      I was 15, and I also think she wanted to check it out for her own peace of mind. Is it safe? Is the manager a creepy or a total dick? The kind of basic things parents generally want to know when leaving their kids anywhere.

    8. Chris80*

      Not my parents, but I had a supervisor talk to my grandmother about my performance once. It was horrible.

        1. Chris80*

          Yes and no. My grandmother and the supervisor were longtime acquaintances, and it wasn’t anything particularly bad – just some nosy concern from the supervisor to my grandmother when I was going through a difficult time in my personal life and had been unusually quiet at work. It still was far from appropriate and frustrated me, but could have been worse.

    9. Gallerina*

      I once had an HR manager discuss my layoff with my Dad! It was my first job after I graduated in 2009 and due to the godawful economy, I was laid off.

      When I started the job I’d been living at home, so my parents number was somewhere on my application details I think, although, they most definitely had my mobile number. What shocks me is not that they called my parents house, but that the HR manager spoke to my Dad IN DETAIL about the layoff. I was incandescent with rage and it lead to me making a very, very angry phone call.

    10. Cath in Canada*

      My parents met my boss at the airport once – his in-laws were on the same inbound flight as them, and I was chatting to him and his wife in the arrivals area as we waited for them all to clear customs. And that’s it.

    11. squid*

      Once my parents visited the town in which I live, I took vacation time to visit with them, they asked for a tour of my workplace — which is a facility open to the public! — and in doing so met & got introduced to my boss. It felt thoroughly weird, even just that much.

    12. Nuke*

      Never, but my first job out of college was a 2-year “leadership development” program that ended with a ceremonial lunch banquet with guests invited. I brought my boyfriend because I thought that was the normal type of guest to bring for a working professional. Most of the others brought their parents, which I thought was very weird, and I definitely felt some secondhand embarrassment when the big boss kept telling others’ parents how great the “kids” were doing.

    13. Market Researcher*

      Even in my first job when I was 14 (at the school I went to), my parents coached me at home, but talking to my bosses was up to me, and the bosses talked to me if necessary, not my parents, as far as I’m aware.

  86. Just Saying...*

    I have a direct report who would LOVE this. She is constantly involving her parents and then letting me know about it. She says things like, “my mom is worried I won’t finish this project on time.” While these comments make me pretty uncomfortable (I always just ignore them) I guess I can see how some employers would take this as in invitation? Okay, that sounded less crazy in my head… I take it back. There are no words. Maybe I should call my mom for some advice…

    1. fposte*

      If she’s your direct report, I think it would be worth letting her know that that’s not a professional way of discussing work.

      And yes, that does mean you can’t say “My mom says you shouldn’t talk about your mom at work.”

    2. Artemesia*

      LOL. My kids both ask for work advice occasionally. For one of them, I actually have a lot of experience in her field and can give her actually helpful advice about what she is doing. For the other, less so but we do have experience negotiating raises and benefits and dealing with managing upward etc. We never offer advice unless asked. And I am pretty sure, we don’t get quoted by either of our adult kids in the workplace. What a way to assure you are never taken seriously.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Yeah, I’d probably say something to her about how these comments are undercutting her own professionalism.

      I have a friend/colleague whose husband works for the same employer. She was out a lot when their daughter was young, and he’d always email or stop by to tell her boss that she was out. I told her to stop doing that, because having him speak for her was really undercutting her own professionalism and making her seem like an extension of her husband. She actually got really offended at first but finally understood what I was trying to tell her.

  87. The Other Dawn*

    This article has got to be B.S. I don’t know anyone in the working world who would think it’s OK to call a candidate’s or employee’s parents.

    My parents would have been horrified to get a call from my employer. Thankfully they let me live my life and make my own mistakes.

    This reminds me of that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Marie calls an interviewer on behalf of her son, Robert. So happy I don’t have parents like that.

  88. Decimus*

    The only way this could make ANY sense to me is maybe, just maybe, this is a “cultural” issue and not a generational one. The original source doesn’t single out millennials, and I did notice the head of PepsiCo is an Indian-American who was, in fact, born in Madras. I do know it is far more common in India for parents to be much more closely involved in their children’s lives. I hope this does NOT become more widespread however!

  89. Pippi L.*

    WTH, indeed!! As the parent of 4 young adults (ages 18 – 25), I find this meddling reprehensible. Most of my friends would feel the same way, but sadly, I can think of a couple who would be all over this. These are the overly involved, boundary-less, living-my-life-through-my-kids-and-posting-it-all-over-Facebook types. Makes me want to tear my hair out.

  90. FormerNewsDirector*

    Hell. No.

    When I was entering the workforce after college, if a prospective employer called my parents, I would have been mortified.

    Now I have kids of my own entering the workforce. If I received such a call from a potential employer, I would want to explain that I encouraged my children to be responsible and confident in their own decision-making abilities. Oh, and thanks, you just undermined what I tried to do for them.

    I would really wonder what they hoped to gain by talking to me. What is their goal here? Might I inadvertantly say something that would disqualify them? This would make me very uncomfortable.
    And as the employer, do I really want to hire someone because “my mom told me to take this job”?

  91. Kobayashi*

    And then there are the parents that call their child’s employer over write-ups and performance reviews. I really shouldn’t have to remind anyone that his or her adult child is our employee and we don’t discuss private personnel to anyone except those within the company who have a legitimate need to know and, if necessary, our legal counsel…parents don’t fall into either of those categories.

    1. Artemesia*

      Colleges aren’t even allowed to discuss this information with parents who are paying the bills without a release form being signed by the student.

  92. Purple Jello*

    How did the CEO even obtain the parents’ contact information? Mine certainly hasn’t ever been on my resume, cover letter or LinkedIn. Except way back in the 80’s before cell phones when I first graduated and hadn’t gotten my own place.

  93. Artemesia*

    I worked in higher ed for a time and the number of meddlesome parents is growing exponentially. My own folks didn’t even micromanage my course choices in junior high school much less cross those boundaries in college. I cannot imagine an employer violating the integrity and privacy of an employee like this.

    I know parents who went to LA without their adult child and arranged an apartment, furnished it and met with the child’s new boss before said child moved to LA to begin work, so I can believe there are parents like this — I just can’t imagine there are employers this stupid.

    If a grad student brought their parents to the interview, I could predict that it would be a problem student — and it always was. I tried to convince the department not to admit grad students whose parents were involved in the process; I didn’t succeed at that but I was always right that those students ended up being a big problem.

    My head also explodes at the very thought.

  94. Student*

    This particular CEO was born and raised in India. India has a very, very different approach to familial relationships, and a very structured class system. I think this is just a cultural disconnect. I can imagine that this works well in India even with less-famous CEOs. She probably pulls it off here, as others have said, because she is the CEO of such a famous company.

    I think mainly that the article-writer chose to spin it as a millennial story and didn’t grasp (or didn’t care) about the real motivating factors and why it works in this instance.

  95. University Admin Assistant*

    I thought it was bad that many of my student workers quit by saying “My mom says I can’t have this job any more.” I always thought they were using it as an excuse because they didn’t want me to be mad at them for quitting, although frankly the mom thing makes me more irritated than the quitting!

    1. Jamie*

      Well, tbf my kids know that if the part time job starts to affect school they need to give it up.

      I would certainly expect them to give 2 weeks and I would hope they’d explain it as a conflict with school and not that their mommy was being mean – but yeah, there are times a parent will insist a kid quit their job while in school.

      I know it sounds helicoptery but my thing is if you want complete autonomy you need to be self supporting. Live in my house, follow my reasonable rules. Get a college education 100% on my dime, school is your job.

      When it’s their house, their money, then their rules.

      Seriously, when did I become my parents?

      1. University Admin Assistant*

        Usually, though I think the parent tells them they need to prioritize their schoolwork, and helps them come to a decision whether they will leave their job, or their sorority, or their parties on the weekend, etc, and then helps the student decide what to prioritize.

        Actually, I just wish they wouldn’t tell me! Just say you have to prioritize your schoolwork– I get it!

        1. Jamie*

          Oh, absolutely. Just like if my husband had a justifiable issue about the hours I’m working and we decided that I should quit I wouldn’t tell put in my resignation letter that my husband doesn’t want me working here anymore.

          Whatever the decision making process we need to own the final call. If you’re old enough to have a job you’re old enough to resign properly.

          I was just pointing out that a parent could have a legitimate reason to talk to a kid about quitting. To you excellent point, yes, it’s a whole conversation about other stuff and priorities, etc. and its not a knee jerk response to say lose the job.

  96. Ash (the other one!)*

    Hell no. No one is calling my mom about my performance. When I found out my parents didn’t automatically get my report cards in college I did a little dance. Finally, independence! So now at 28 someone is going to call my mommy to tell them, what exactly? I’m doing a “good job”? I’m not doing “well enough”? What the hell??

  97. Nerdling*

    I read the full original article, and I have to say that HBR has some seriously shoddy journalism going on. Nooyi addressed working with Millennials (HATE that term), but the writing to people’s parents wasn’t even remotely in that context. It was about connecting and drawing people in through engaging their families.

    Which I still find to be very creepy and more than a little inappropriate, but I have trouble getting too wound up about it in the face of such irresponsibly lousy writing by HBR.

  98. summercamper*

    My employer does this and I think it’s great.

    Please step away from the pitchforks for a minute so that I can explain – because while I understand while it is incredibly NOT OK for PepsiCo to do this for their employees, I think that there are a couple of scenarios where communicating with parents is a good idea.

    Here’s mine: hiring summer staff at a camp. All of our staff members are volunteers, and the group I manage are recent high school graduates. Because they don’t get paid, their presence at camp for the summer represents, in most cases, a commitment on their parents’ part to continue to provide for them during the summer and for school in the fall. Furthermore, for the vast majority of my staff members, this is their first extended “away from home” experience.

    So when we welcome staff for pre-camp training, parents are invited to stay for a couple of hours. They get a basic tour of camp, meet the director, learn a bit about their children’s schedules, and eat a meal in the dining hall. Then they go home. A week later, the director sends the parents who participated in “parent orientation” a short “your kid is doing well we’re so glad to have him here” letter.

    This works because:

    1. Workers opt in. The staff member is the one who gets the packet with the flyer about parent orientation, with a note that it is completely optional and “you can pass this along to your parents if you think they would like to participate.” So the kid with abusive parents, parents who aren’t interested, or staff members who are actually 27, not 17, get to opt out. Around 25% of parents participate. Mine, for the record, did not participate when I started working at the camp years ago.

    2. After this, there is zero contact between camp and the parents. Much like orientation at college, the whole parent thing that we do is designed to help parents get their questions answered all at once and then buzz off. The camp director even tells them not to expect to talk to their kids much during the summer, and that they should let their kids handle their own workplace problems.

    3. The workers are quite young – the closer the worker is to age 17 (youngest we allow), the more likely the parent is to participate. And that makes sense, I think – especially if the worker is still a minor.

    1. Nuke*

      This reminds me more of college orientations, where parents are invited for campus tours and special sessions specifically for them. Different age group, different expectations, even if they’re employees and not students.

    2. lindsay j*

      Yeah, one of the places I worked for was seasonal and you had to go through orientation every year. Towards the end they started offering a “parents orientation” session for the younger workers (some of them are as young as 14).

      The kids went through the regular orientation process, while the parents got an information session about the state child labor laws and company policies regarding minors, the process the child would have to go through to request time off, how the child could check their schedule online, how the performance review process works, etc.

      Basically, honestly, it was to make life easier for the supervisors of these kids, who then hopefully would not have to deal with as many, “Little Jonny needs this week off to go on vacation with us!” “Sorry, I don’t have a record of a time off request for him.” “He says nobody ever told him he needed to do that and anyway he told Betsy last week and she said she’d tell you. Didn’t she tell you?” conversations.

      1. lindsay j*

        But anyway, I think something like this is different because it is opt in, the workers in general are not yet legally adults, the process seems to be for the parents to assuage any hesitations they might have about their kid working rather than anything else, and the job isn’t a “professional” job.

        It’s also not sharing any personal performance information with the parent – it’s not the parent sitting in on the job interview or getting a phone call to inform them that Katie scored an “unsatisfactory” on the “neatness and accuracy” part of her performance review, it’s “as a fourteen year old your child can only work 2 hours a day on school nights and 5 hours a day on non-school nights, and never past 8pm. This NEB’s they will most likely only ever be scheduled Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sunday morning to afternoon. Your child will be given a personalized login to our website where they can check their schedule online from home. Schedules will always be posted on Thursdays by noon and will be posted two weeks in advance…”

  99. Senior HR Business Partner (HM in Atlanta)*

    I’m not talking to anyone’s parents. Seriously, If I call your parents it’s because they are your emergency contact and you’re injured and can’t call them.

  100. Mints*

    This is only tangentially related, but I love this essay that’s “A Defense of the Generation”
    (it’s more technology focused)

    1. fposte*

      I bet you tried angle brackets, didn’t you? I do that all the time-it erases the link here. Just post the URL unformatted and it’ll autolink.

  101. Not So NewReader*

    Alison, you showed great restraint in marking up the quote you used.

    I guess it’s probably not right of me. But I would have like to seen MORE of your red sentences in those paragraphs. ;)

  102. Koko*

    How are these employers getting the parents’ numbers? The only options I see are they’re abusing an *EMERGENCY* contact number that some young umarried adults may still provide, or some sort of creepy Google-stalking.

  103. Jeanne*

    “It opened up emotions of the kind I’ve never seen before.” Hmmm…maybe she hasn’t experienced that kind of loathing before. I would have a few things to say about all this. None of them polite.

    I do admit to having my mom involved in my work life once. It was my first job in high school and I was scared to call in and tell him I had screwed up with a conflict between school and my shift. But I have only involved family after that when I was in the hospital and too sick to call. Who are the people who would like this?

    I agree with AAM. Can it be a hoax?

  104. mel*

    I find it hard to believe that employers would go so far out of the way to even find contact information (or any information?) on their employees’ parents.

    Especially considering that my employers can’t even get MY phone number straight.

  105. Ugh*

    Another victim of abuse here.

    I’ve cut ties with my family permanently but don’t have a restraining order in place. I can’t believe any CEO would violate someone’s boundaries like this without knowing the person’s situation. Many people are not in contact with their families and some may have grown up in foster care situations for very good reasons. This is entirely inappropriate and this woman needs to know it.

  106. Jill the Analyst*

    “PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi revealed that she often writes letters to her direct reports’ parents to thank them for “the gift” of their children.”

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but I’m pretty sure my Mama didn’t give birth to me as a gift to my employer.

  107. Catherine*

    The big difference I see between my Gen X brother and me and our Millennial younger brother is that many of his friends/educational cohort have been in combat. Even in my office, I think the only veteran who currently works here is a Millennial. Normally I’m not really the “remember the brave” type, but it is starting to bother me that discussions of Millennials always forget to mention that they have fought two wars, one of them still ongoing. (And do soldiers’ moms want to hear from their kids’ employer? No, when that happens, it is BAD.)

    1. ArtsNerd*


      In undergrad, I took a class on “Generation X” (mostly about literature but also how generations are generalized in popular parlance) and there was at least one article on how “Gen Y” was conservative and spoiled because they never faced adversity, were drafted into war, etc. (This was over a decade ago.)

      I wanted to kick the author of that article then, and now I would probably do much worse.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        To clarify “never faced adversity” like the Great Depression, weren’t neglected by their parents like Gen X so they respect authority (hence conservative)…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I know a couple people who went through the Great Depression. They are telling me that this economic collapse is actually worse.

          Granted this is their opinion. I am in awe of their awareness and understanding for working people today.
          One person had specific talking points as basis for her stance. It was unsettling to listen to.

    2. Sigrid*

      I interned at a VA hospital and a fairly high percentage of my patients were younger than me. It was eye-opening (and I am a Millennial, albiet on the early side).

  108. EG*

    The parents’ contact information may be coming from a background check, but that would definitely be an abuse of the information.

  109. Justine*

    This reminds me of a workplace sensitivity presentation at my husband’s place of employment, where the majority of employee are boomers. They talked about generational differences in values- boomers apparently valued making money, owning a house, and raising kids, but millenials “just want to know that they’re doing a good job.”

    1. Office Mercenary*

      Does that mean they think Millenials don’t need to get paid? I would love to buy a house and have health insurance.

    2. Paige Turner*

      Um, if I didn’t value making money, I wouldn’t bother to have a job. There are jobs that people really love, but very few people would work for free. C’mon.

  110. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    This millennial stuff is:

    Such. Hogwash.

    I raised two of them, I employ a bunch more and it is:

    Total. Hogwash.

    Since I’m a boomer, I’ll tell all the millennial myth spinners to get off of my lawn!

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      p.s. I have noticed one difference in the current generation, anecdotally. Young adult children seem to like their parents more and vice versa than I remember in other generations — but, that’s all anecdotal.

      The drivel I read about entitlement or inability to function or all that stuff, I do not see it. And I am not a marshmallow fountain of support machine to work for (or be mothered by).

      1. Anonsie*

        I would like to see this expanded on the Get Off My Lawn blog, but now I’m not sure if that exists anymore.

      2. Who are you?*

        Interesting….My youngest sister is part of the millennial generation. I am a Gen X-er. My sister is far closer to our mother than I ever have been. A second sister (also a Gen X-er) currently lives with our mother but is still not as close as my youngest sister is to our mother.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          My experience extends to a middle class suburb on the East Coast, but I have noticed the cultural shift of parents not being uncool to this batch of young adults.

          (okay, parents are never cool! Just not “ugh, eye roll, *parents*” )

          The young adults at work are open and friendly and don’t hesitate to engage in friendly banter with people 25 years older (like me).

          Point being, the one shift I feel I have noticed is a positive one.

  111. AAA*

    I currently work in a field where nepotism (“legacy”) is super common… It is not uncommon to have a grandfather, father, and then son all work for the same department. I think it is also kind of common to “report back” to the older generation on how the younger one is doing. But it’s more in a “glad Bob Jr. is as dedicated to this profession as you, Bob Sr.” kind of way. I think it’s weird and awkward (but maybe I wouldn’t if I had any familial connection to my job?)

  112. D-mented Kitty*

    I think this whole contact-the-parents-of-an-employee thing is just flat-out CREEPY — what is this, Kindergarten?

    (It would be an awkward moment if the CEO contacts the parents of estranged “children”.)

    My reason for applying for a job is so I could sustain myself without my parents’ help. I absolutely cannot stand the idea of getting a job because my parents (in some way) had a hand in it — I grew up with parents wanting to have a say in everything, and that is the reason why I strived for my independence once I became an adult, and having them involved in my career in any way just makes me feel like they still have control over my life.

    I love my parents, but I would like them to leave me to my life decisions like a normal adult (unless I explicitly ask them for input).

  113. holly*

    i’m curious exactly how many direct reports a ceo of pepsico could have, how many are in their 20s, and does she just have too much time on her hands?

    1. Sharm*

      Er, not that I don’t get what you asked. I don’t get the time on her hands, nor the org structure. No slight meant!

    2. Kit M.*

      Other comments here have pointed out that the Pepsi CEO’s original comments don’t seem to actually say that she’s contacting the parents of Millenials. That connection was only made in the Harvard Business Review article, from what I can tell.

  114. Sharm*

    Everything has already been said, but I’m still amazed Nooyi has the time to do this. Additionally, what entry-level staff report directly to her? Aren’t there about a thousand levels of hierarchy before you get to the CEO of freaking Pepsi?

  115. A*

    This is going to get buried (and this point may have already been made!), but if my work called my mother, she would immediately think I was in the hospital or dead. And then she would be VERY pissed that they called her and made her briefly believe I was in the hospital or dead.

  116. Mimco*

    I am the mother of two millennials who I raised to be independent, responsible adults. If their employer or potential employer contacted me regarding them, out of the blue, I would find that just creepy and intrusive into their personal life. I would probably encourage them NOT to accept a job with that company.

  117. Who are you?*

    I have not read all of the comments. In fact, I barely got past the thread that developed from the first comment. I’m not a millennial and I am currently not a parent to one. However, I am a daughter and a mother and Oh. My. God. This idea – that a company would call an employee’s parent or that an employee and/or parent would be okay with it – has me losing my mind a little bit here. Why are any of these people thinking this might be okay?

    I was 14 when I went on my first job interview. The ONLY involvement my mother had (and I was brand new to the idea of working so she could have manipulated the situation in her favor) was to help me pick out what to wear and to tell me to be myself and she loved me. Only once during all these (too many!) years of working did she call my place of work for me and that was when I had a case of Mono and was heading to the hospital.

    As a mother I am baffled at this. I see it even with children in elementary school (where my children are) and it’s upsetting. A parent’s job is to let the child succeed and fail on their own merit. Stepping in and taking the disappointment or control out of your child’s life robs them of the opportunity to grow, to learn, to develop the ability to handle pressures (good and bad) that come with growing up.

    This just makes me sad.

    ***speaking to the comments that the millennial generation has somehow grown up under the everyone’s a winner, nobody loses umbrella…this actually started during the late 70’s in pockets of the country and actually pre-dates the millennial generation. I don’t know if it creates a sense of entitlement, but please know that most kids know that they haven’t earned that ribbon or trophy. My daughter was one of them. She actually asked her t-ball coach why she was getting a trophy when they never even kept score. A lot of kids didn’t want them because there were no winners and it wasn’t special.***

    1. EAA*

      I am so glad that my youngest (now 18) has very few “just because” trophies. My oldest’s (28) biggest trophy was bought by the grandfather of one of the players on his team because he thought they should get one after the parents agreed they didn’t want to pay for participation trophies.

    2. Fruitfly*

      “A parent’s job is to let the child succeed and fail on their own merit. Stepping in and taking the disappointment or control out of your child’s life robs them of the opportunity to grow, to learn, to develop the ability to handle pressures (good and bad) that come with growing up. ”

      I wanted to point out the not every parent thinks that way. There are parents out there with limited education and financial resources, and they do not want any mistakes made by their children to cost them a fortune. How would a parent feel if a child made a mistake that cost them to waste $3,000 in less than a year? The child can definitely learn from that mistake, but the parents are going to have a lower confidence of what the child can achieve on his/her own. They will feel the need to control more of what he/she does in her everyday life. I know this is bad. I am in my 20s and I still am not very mature. I wanted to grow-up more, but I still need to depend on my parents to fund for school and put a roof over my head. I still do not know how I can be more independent, and in the past, I have done things that has everyone undermine my reliability to doing important tasks.

      1. Stephanie*

        For starters, you’re on a career advice site (while still in school), so that’s a step in the right direction toward independence.

        Just take the mistakes you’ve made in the past and use those to inform yourself going forward. I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I’m sure as time passes, your parents’ trust in you will increase.

        I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much about not feeling independent. For the average person, it’s a gradual transition to feeling that way.

        Hope this helps.

        1. Fruitfly*

          Thank you, Stephanie,
          Yes, I understand that gaining independence is a long process. I do reflect on my past mistakes once in a while, and it is upsetting at times. I thought about potential missed job opportunities, misreading exam questions that cost me some points, and taking some opportunities for granted when I was working in my internships. Sometimes I worried that what if my next mistake cost me something even more. I never discuss any of these issues with anyone. I kept wishing that I can stop making mistakes that makes me seem irresponsible, naive, or aloof.

          1. Stephanie*

            Your post resonated since I’m going through a lot of the same things now. I lost my job last year and had to move back in with my parents for financial reasons. So I totally commiserate about the lack of independence thing–I’ve exhausted my savings, so I’m dependent on my folks while I scramble for any kind of work. Having lived on my own prior to this made the move even more acute. Especially with the job loss, I’ve thought “if only I did X different or volunteered to take on extra tasks more or…” I’m also a little terrified of the next role because I’m worried about screwing up there.

            I’m still working through all this myself, so I understand where you’re coming from.

            Have you thought about seeing a counselor? I saw you’re still in school, so your school might have some free or low-cost counseling services. A counselor could maybe help you reframe your thinking about past mistakes and give you tips for boosting your confidence going forward. Alternatively, if you’re religious, maybe a spiritual adviser could give you guidance as well.

            Best of luck.

  118. KT*

    I’m a millennial pushing 30 and working as a manager (I *love* that these generational articles seem to ignore the fact that many millennials are actually old enough and far enough into their career to be supervising staff…they’re not all out there on their first job…) and can I just say that I don’t understand how this isn’t actually about the baby boomer parents of millennials.

    (That is, if you buy into the generational thing at all…which is up for debate. I think there are differences in people based on the time during which they grew up, but, obviously, broad stroke descriptions are not useful.)

    My (crazy) father interfered (unknown and unrequested) in my brother’s job search once by sending a completely inappropriate (angry) email to someone (he sort of knew) that didn’t hire my brother (a grown ass man). My brother *the millennial* was horrified (as was I, when I found out) and hasn’t really forgiven him.

    But this was a demonstration of the terrible judgment of one baby boomer…not his millennial son, who was managing his job search extremely professionally…

  119. Lindsay*

    I’m 36 now, and at 21 was managing a small retail store. I had a customer who vaguely knew my family threaten to call my mother when I wouldn’t give her a discount on things. To what end, I have no idea!

    It made no sense to me then, and it’d make no sense to me now. I can’t imagine a single person at work (and we’re a spread from 20-40 or so, about 400 employees at our location) who would not be horrified by this idea.

    Then again, if my manager called my mom today, my mom would ask why my manager thought I should be working there making video games instead of becoming a doctor or a lawyer, so…

    1. Who Are You?*

      OMG…this happened to me too! In my early 20’s I volunteered with the blind. My grandparents, both blind themselves, were well known and active in the local National Federation of the Blind chapter. I ended up getting assigned to a couple who knew my grandfather in a superficial way.
      Long story short, I ended up asking to be reassigned due to some issues I encountered with the wife. My contact at the NFB was aware of these issues (other volunteers had done the same thing I was doing) and reassigned me with no question. The wife, however, wasn’t willing to just let it go. She first called my mother to tell on me and when my mother told her that I was a grown woman who had handled the situation appropriately, she called my grandfather and tried to tattle to him about me AND my mother. And the poor volunteer coordinator…oh she had to field three calls that day complaining about harrassment from this woman – myself, my mother and my grandfather.

  120. Lizzy*

    I am a little late to the comment party as I had to ruminate on this article a bit. As a fellow late 20s millennial, I can concede that some negative stereotypes attached to my generation are rooted in reality. I also know some of the kookiness in this article is very real and happens quite often. But I do think this type of behavior from both millennial employees and Boomer parents is indicative of something beyond generational stereotypes: it is equally rooted in class and socioeconomic status.

    Not to stereotype, but what types of people tend to be helicopter parents? I bet you could do a study on the topic and find a correlation between income and helicopter parenting. I wouldn’t say all wealthy or well-to-do parents are hovering types, but I bet a good majority of parents that are highlighted in the media for this type of behavior can claim higher income brackets on their taxes.

    The bit in the article about the employee not being able to complain about his boss to his mother also reinforces my beliefs that this issue pertains more to class than just generational behavior. Well-connected people help the offspring of their peers by employing them, aka nepotism. For centuries, wealthier people have been use to getting jobs though familial connections. And if they aren’t getting work through family ties, their socioeconomic background permits them educational and enrichment opportunities others don’t have, giving them a better pedigree (at least on paper) in the eyes of potential employers.

    So to drive home my point: I can see how this is a generational issue, but it also needs to be examined as a class issue as well.

    1. Heaven's Thunder Hammer*

      I think you’ve got a good point about the class issue actually. You never hear about working class parents doing this. It’s always professionals doing this sort of thing.

  121. Jazzy Red*

    In my head, I heard the whole interview in the voice of that Indian chef on Chopped. I kept expecting to read “…and for those reasons, we have to chop you”. Only said TO the crazy Pepsico lady.

    If anyone wants to contact my mother (in heaven), tell her I miss her and that I’msorryI’msorryI’msorry. She’ll know what I mean.

  122. The Pompous Zoologist*

    I’m humiliated. Way to feed the Millennials apparent Peter Pan mindset! Ah! I need to take a walk.

  123. Katie C.*

    This is so, so weird. And did anyone else read this as extremely manipulative of the PepsiCo CEO? I have a hard enough time making big career decisions without having my parents go on and on about that nice CEO who called them. (I’m 26, a Millennial.)

    This reminded me of a thing that happened at work once. We had a young man come to the office to drop off a resume. He seemed nice enough, but I didn’t speak to him much. I just took the resume, and he left. Two hours later, I get a phone call from his mother talking about how amazing her son is and how we definitely need to hire him.

    1. Anne 3*

      It IS manipulative. I can imagine many of the people she’s doing this for do not agree with it, but are unsure of how to tell the CEO of their company to cut it out.

  124. Bonnie*

    I know a company that has written mother’s day letters to all their associates mothers that was a kind of thank you note for all they did to create these people who became valuable employees. This was done before millennials entered the workforce in fact I think they did it first for Generation X. It wasn’t a report card it was gesture. They report that employees like it.

  125. Viv*

    My husband and I used to crack up over his sister, now in her 50s, faxing her performance appraisals to her dad, right up until she was in senior VP positions. This beats that hands down!

  126. Cheryl*

    I know I’m 5 days late on this… but just to throw this out there – I wonder how much of Ms. Nooyi’s actions are cultural. India is a much different country where people often get their jobs based on familial connections. It’s possible this is much more cultural than generational. Sorry if someone else already brought this up.

  127. Anne 3*

    So late, but wow, this post made me cringe. My parents would be horrified if my boss ever called them up to talk about work.

    The only acceptable reason to ever contact my parents is if I have a terrible accident at work and I’m in coma and you’ve found their number in my emergency contacts.

  128. It's Happened to Me*

    When I was just out of college, my boss called my uncle to ask him to talk to me about showing up for work earlier. I have no idea how he even got the phone number or what he was thinking.

  129. Saskiatt*

    Late post, but if anyone’s listening…

    I’m interested in hearing about the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ stereotype for Gen Y- was this a common practice in the US when Gen Y were kids (anyone outside the US experience this)?

    The reason asking is because I grew up in Australia, and as a Gen Y never experienced this at all, in any of the 6 schools over 5 states that I attended. But I hear references to the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ all the time.

    However, I teach primary school in the public system, and it’s definitely a thing in Australia now! Just this year I’ve had 4 parents asking about when it’s their child’s turn to get a certificate at assembly (even when I point out that certificates are only rewarded for exceptional behaviour and accomplishments, and their child isn’t even consistently meeting acceptable behaviour standards, they still think that me giving their child a certificate just so they don’t feel rejected is a better option than using this as a lesson in working for something the child wants)

    1. Stephanie*

      I’m an American Gen Y-er and I never remember that. Closest I got was a Most Improved Player award from middle school basketball. I do remember getting the occasional “Certificate of Completion”, but my peers and I knew all those things were jokes.

      My experience was the opposite, actually, in my extracurriculars. I played cello growing up and that could get pretty cutthroat past the initial levels. Orchestra taught me there was almost always someone better (or who practiced harder) and that conductors/teachers wanted you to play the music more than anything. (Of course, I did enjoy it! But orchestra was definitely a pretty big meritocracy.)

    2. Mae North*

      British-raised Gen Y/”Millennial” here, and to the best of my knowledge we did not receive trophies/certificates/medals/shiny things for participation in, well, anything.

      Excellence in various things, wining competitions, advancing a level in gymnastics and ballet, sure. But just for showing up? No.

      I’ve always been baffled by the participation-trophy stereotype since I never experienced it and neither did my siblings (youngest is 11 years younger than me, so quite the spread through school in the 90s), but if its a US or North American thing that might make some sense.

  130. SuperNoob*

    As a “Millenial,” first of all, I am flabbergasted by the idea of bringing my parents to interviews, or in general having them be a part of my job-search/new hire process/knowing how to contact my managers. At this point I am hesitant even to use them as emergency contacts because my family can be a little pushy and intrusive- while I love my mother, she is the most guilty of this. I personally think the accusations levied against my generation are a bit presumptuous- many of us are entering the job market at a particularly difficult time, wherein the ability to gain experience in a desired industry AND still manage to pay rent on our own is a) something I guarantee you the vast majority of us would LOVE to do, and b) a dicey possibility in many urban areas/impossible in rural ones or small towns.

    The article I read about this stupid phenomenon from the Wall Street Journal (search ‘Bringing Parents to Interviews’) references that just some 6% of new grads would be comfortable doing such a thing. I’d like to reference the fact that AT LEAST 6%, if not a much higher percentage, of the posts on AAM that discuss poor coworker/interviewer/boss behavior or serious breaches of conduct/immaturity/violence involve people who are not members of this ‘useless’ generation (to reference an above comment). There are abhorrent representatives of the human race in every generation, and mine is no exception, but neither is yours!

    While there are companies (like PepsiCo) that are interested in speaking with parents of new hires or what-have-you, I (and many of my young and inexperienced peers) fail to see the point. Assuming the new hires/interns are not being supported due to some kind of disability/limitation or seriously extenuating circumstance, I balk at the idea of reaching out to their families as the employees are adults. If it happened to me, I would at the very least think of it as a breach of privacy or a reason to absolutely disqualify an offer from my consideration. Sorry, rant over.

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