Editors' pick: Originally published April 11.
Indra Nooyi has been president and CEO of one of the world's largest consumer products companies for nearly a decade, and yet she still gets called "sweetie" and "honey."
At Tina Brown's Women in the World Summit last week, the head of PepsiCo (PEP) spoke about the challenges she's faced as a female CEO, and at the top of that list was the simple notion of being treated the same as her male counterparts.
"We've got to be treated as executives or people rather than 'honey' or 'sweetie' or 'babe,'" she said. "That has to change."
As one of the 21 women running a Fortune 500 company, Nooyi has led PepsiCo to great heights.
Since Nooyi took over as CEO nearly one decade ago, the company's annual revenues shares have almost doubled to $63 billion, and its stock price has jumped 56%, outperforming the S&P 500's gains.
"This is the best performing consumer products group stock," said Jim Cramer, TheStreet's founder and manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, which owns Pepsi. "I think that Indra commands a level of respect that exceeds all others in the space."
And yet she still faces discrimination.
"People call you difficult, they say things behind your back, but we all know that's the price of moving up this chain," she said at the Summit. "We have to figure our own coping mechanisms."
"How are we going to help this interaction between a woman and her personal life because at the end of the day we may also want to be wives, daughters, whatever role we want to play," she said.
Right now, the discussion revolves mainly around extending maternity and paternity leave, but that won't cut it, according to Nooyi.
"Let's say we go to 52 weeks. At the end of 52 weeks an infant is still a year old," she said. "What are we supposed to do? Leave the baby at home alone and go to work? It doesn't work."
Plus while she's on maternity leave, her team has to pick up her responsibilities and may resent her for that. So when she returns, she has to face that while also struggling to catch up. (Interestingly, on Monday morning, Pepsi arch-rival Coca Cola (KO) announced it would be granting six weeks of paid leave to all new parents in the U.S. -- including moms, dads and adoptive and foster parents -- starting Jan. 1, 2017).
Nooyi believes that society needs to think of a way to build a workforce that better integrates personal lives so that women aren't forced to choose between family and careers. Working towards that future, PepsiCo is developing a daycare center on campus so that women can manage both their families and careers.
Nooyi said she will never forget a letter her daughter sent her when she was around the age of four: "Dear mom, I love you please come home. Please please please come home. I love you but I love you more if you come home." Nooyi doesn't want women to continue having to make these sorts of sacrifices to get ahead in their career.
"We need to create an environment where can productively allow women to use their skills but also allow them to do everything else," she said. "Our career clock and biological clock are in conflict. We have to figure out a way to resolve the conflict because nobody else will."