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blogging on high-commitment workplaces

Working Parents: How Are You Doing? (Survey)

I just put together a very simple survey about working parents and stress. It takes only 3 minutes to complete.

If you’re a parent and you work to help support your family, here’s what I’d like you to do:

1. Take the survey.

2. Share the survey (or this post) with everyone you know.

3. Come back in a few weeks to read about the results here, or at Working Moms Break.

Why am I doing this?

There’s a ton of research about how time-starved working parents are, particularly in the U.S. where some experts say we work the longest hours of any developed country in the world.

There’s also a lot of research telling us how common work stress has become. Whether we have kids or not, our work stress levels have doubled since 1985.

Career in a Rut? Don’t Blame the Kids

You’re stuck in your career. Don’t blame work-life issues. You need a sponsor.

Feeling stuck? As you’re assessing the reasons why you aren’t moving ahead, don’t blame lack of work-life balance.

According to the human resource consulting firm Mercer, the number one reason why women don’t move ahead in corporate careers is that they lack executive sponsors. The number two reason: insufficient operating experience. And the distant third: work-life conflicts.

A sponsor is more than not-your-mother’s-mentor. A sponsor is a higher-up who knows your work and who is willing to put his reputation on the line for you in closed-door meetings to which you are not invited.

His?

Yes. Because men still dominate in the power positions, your sponsor is likely to be male.

Memo to Accounting Firms: “Pull Back the Curtain”

Kyra Cavanaugh, president of Life Meets Work, responds to Flex Time Flourishes in the Accounting Industry, published January 7, 2011 in the New York Times. She challenges the piece which seems to hold forth the notion that major accounting firms have mastered work/life issues, and the idea that these firms have successfully transitioned women to the leadership track.

Not so fast! Using the numbers for flex employees from the article, only 15% of Ernst & Young’s employees are working flexibly. So, as the article points out, certainly they’ve made strides, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that’s an accomplishment other firms in other industries should emulate.

Give the Gift of a Custom-Fit Workplace

This holiday season as we think of peace on earth and good will towards all, I’m thinking of how to translate this sentiment into a culture of good workplaces all year long.  My New Year’s resolution is to help spark a new workplace norm: “Everyone deserves a job that fits,” and the corollary, “Any employer that neglects to offer employees work that fits will hurt their own bottom line.”

Flexible work, virtual work, non-linear career paths, even babies at work can all be part of Custom-Fit Workplaces, and if you want to learn more, they’re all covered in the book, The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line, which I wrote with Nanette Fondas.

In fact, this holiday season, you can give the gift of The Custom-Fit Workplace and help out MomsRising at the same time…  All royalties from sales of this book go to MomsRising!  Click here to get the book now!

“It’s Her Choice” – Really?

I was struck recently  by the persistence of an old  argument used to kill the Fair Pay Act – and every other  measure that would make life easier for mothers.    You know it by heart: many women  “choose” to earn less than men, and if they choose to earn less, then what’s the big deal about a little wage inequality?

This so-called “choice” argument can be superficially persuasive.   Most women probably do prefer cleaner, relatively lower-paying jobs.   Most women would  rather be beauticians than coal miners, art teachers than  mechanics.  (Although this begs the question why teachers and beauticians earn so much less than mechanics and miners).  Women working full-time often work fewer hours (for pay) than full-time working men.    And in recent surveys,  far more working  women than men  say they would prefer to work part-time.

Women, in short,  are different from men.  They’re  just not as into dirt, long hours and making  money.   Maybe they are just …. more French!

WOMEN in Management: Why Progress Has Stalled

A recent Government Accounting Office report found that the number of women managers increased only 1 percent between 2000 and 2007, from 39 to 40 percent. Women’s progress into management has stalled despite their equal representation in the workforce and their majority in colleges and universities.

Why such a small increase? As we observe National Work & Family Month, the acronym WOMEN reminds us of the barriers still to overcome.

Balancing on One Foot?

We moms start to learn from that first day a new baby arrives how to work faster, smarter, better.  I, for one, often feel like the character in Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, balanced on one foot, with several plates twirling in the air so that I can meet my responsibilities both at home and at work.

We don’t always have to be balancing on only one foot though.  As co-founder of MomsRising, I’m happy to share that I’ve been hearing about quite a few successful new workplace practices for fitting work and life together–and which allow us to be balanced with two feet planted firmly on the ground. More and more businesses are starting to “get it” that moms, dads, and all workers have a lot of plates in the air and can successfully manage work and life when companies update their workplace practices to meet the needs of a modern workforce.

How to Avoid the No.1 Cause of "Death" in Your Organization - the Death of Motivation

How many times have you heard the advice, "keep your eye on the ball," or "don't look where you don’t want to go?" In every sport that uses a ball, it’s common knowledge that a singular point of concentration— the ball—is imperative to successfully hitting that mark.

But that is impossible!

When I decided to leave my job of 25 years and move with my family to San Francisco, my husband told me he was going to talk with the Chair of his Board and resign a job he loved. I suggested an alternative. "Why don't you say, I am staying with the organization, but I'm moving to San Francisco?"

My husband came back the next evening, clearly astonished, announcing that the Chair had okayed the proposal. And I thought: "Things really are changing." That was 2005.

Now they'll change faster. The Custom-Fit Workplace, by Joan Blades and Nanette Fondas, provides managers with the tools they need to match today's workplace to today's workforce--one in which mobility is high, homemakers scarce, and child and elder care commonplace.

Work Life Policy: Pipedream or Practical?

In a tony Connecticut suburb, at the home of work life expert Chrysula Winegar of WLBConsultants.com, the mom of four wrangles with a kitchen full of her tiny tots all under the age of six years old. Enter, Judy Martin with a rolling camera from WorkLife Nation, and you’ve got a hysterical scene of joy and colliding interests as Ms. Winegar lovingly holds a toddler, feeds an infant and helps her eldest with her homework.

What you don’t see is what happens after the little ones are put to bed when this supermom, who works from home, hits her blog, posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and delivers her views on work life policy in America. This scene is not unusual. It’s played every day throughout America and the world. But the way working moms are treated in the workplace and in business differ greatly from country to country.

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