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Wanted: Working Parent's Shangri-La


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February 03, 2006

Wanted: Working Parent's Shangri-La

Lauren Young

I can't wait to see the reader mail on this week's "The Welch Way." In it, our newest columnists, Jack and Suzy Welch, muse on the reasons why we don't have many female CEOs in America.

Part of the Welch thesis is that biology is what keeps so many women out of the corner office/from climbing to the top of the corporate ladder/from shattering the glass ceiling/fill in the cliche of your choice. Women have babies, and having babies translates into career ramifications for many women.

I completely agree with the Welchian notion that working moms need to work hard to get flexibility: "If you are a working mother who consistently delivers dynamic results, most bosses will give you the flexibility you want."

But, in some cases, you can simply follow in the trail of the moms--as well as dads--ahead of you who did all the legwork. That's certainly the case here at BusinessWeek. Because so many staff members work from home a day (or two) a week, I had no qualms asking my bosses for that perk when my son was born.

I think employers finally realize flexiblity is a perk many workers want. And it is certainly something folks have been dreaming about for a long time. In fact, a few weeks ago, I caught the tail end of that seminal 1980s movie, "9 to 5."

In it, the evil boss comes back from captivity to find his department completely transformed by the three women who usurped him. He's shocked to find his staff happy, productive, and, in some cases, even dried out. There's flex-time, job sharing, on-site daycare. You name it. In other words, it's a working parent's Shangri-La.

Of course, that's the big screen. If anyone knows a company that is so perfect, I want to know about it!

02:25 PM

Work/Life

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I would also like to know more about companies who provide more flexible schedules. As far as I am concerned, employees in the USA are required to bow down to their employers by arriving early, leaving late, and performing above expectaction. This is not a life, no matter how much monetary incentive is involved. American life should not have to be based so much on repetitious work, stress, and boredom. What has happened to our friends and families? I think the work week should be cut down by three hours per week and more incentives (higher education) and benefits (better healthcare) ought to be dispersed.

Posted by: Emily at February 4, 2006 04:33 PM

I think the real issue here is that companies need to become more flexible in general. It shouldn't be framed up as a benefit for "working parents," but a solution for employees with ailing parents, long commutes, pets, or volunteer commitments. As a woman, I don't want to be positioned as needing extra 'help' or flexibility unless it is offered to everyone in my company. By singling out the parents as getting an added benefit, it just creates animosity from the childless workers.

Posted by: Rebecca at February 6, 2006 02:40 PM

As far as on-site daycare in New York City, I am guessing that rent is too high per square foot to ever make daycare a viable option for most companies, to say nothing of the hassle of toting a child in and out of work with you every day from NJ and the surrounding NY suburbs.

Posted by: Sarah at February 9, 2006 12:41 PM


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