Working Mothers Want Career and Family; Employers Should Pay Attention

sleeping on deskToday the New York Times has an article about a working mother whom the writer classifies as not “leaning in” but rather “hanging on.” Coveting Not a Corner Office But Time at Home, is an interesting article that echoes much of what I heard from women while writing my forthcoming book Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman. Certainly I spoke with women who wanted to reach the corner office, but for every one of them, I met at least two who want rewarding careers and are willing to work hard – but not at the cost of family and balance.

It’s easy to characterize the choices working mothers are making as leaning in vs. leaning out, but the reality is much more layered. Most people facing a work environment that is often biased against them, a corporate culture that values face time over results, a home life with too little support, and a school system that operates on a different schedule than most offices, aren’t willing to sacrifice family for career – except for financial reasons, of course.

Corporate America should pay attention to women like the one in the Times article and the women in my book. Isn’t it easier to institute flex time and telecommuting policies than it is to replace talented workers? Don’t productivity and profits rise when employees are happy, stress-free and engaged? If businesses don’t shift to accommodate working mothers, and fathers, they run the risk of losing out on an incredible talent base.

Read the article here and let me what you think.

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6 comments for “Working Mothers Want Career and Family; Employers Should Pay Attention

  1. July 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Liz, I read the article as well, and I’d love to think you’re right about employers, as I hear that refrain a lot in my work too (‘It’s only a matter of time before employers have to accommodate themselves to employees’ lives’). But honestly, how many employees are actually demanding change? How many of us feel comfortable doing that? I’m not sure many of us do. The employers are the ones with the power as long as employees are not truly rising up in some kind of mass rebellion. At least that’s the way I see it. It’s a pessimistic view, I realize. I just don’t see why employers would change anything when the status quo is working fine for them – they don’t need to change anything, so they don’t.

    • July 10, 2013 at 8:35 am

      Always great to hear from you Ashley. There’s data that shows more women at the top improve the bottom line. Businesses don’t seem to care, you’re right. But they should – and their shareholders should. I think if employers are going to change it will be men and millennials that make a difference. It’s not just women that want balance; men want it too and if they start asking for it in any kind of numbers that will shake things up. And younger generations have fresh ideas about work and life.

  2. July 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Good point. I sincerely hope they ask, and soon. About to tweet the Michelle Weldon piece in which you’re quoted.

  3. July 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Many of these flexible working rules run in tandem with the economy and the health of the employer. During strong economic times, finding and keeping talented workers gets very difficult. When workers have options, working conditions become more flexible.

    Marissa Mayer cut back on telecommuters in part because Yahoo was performing so poorly.

    • July 13, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Good point Kevin. Negotiating flex is always easier when profits are up.

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