Corporate Voices for Working Families was very much involved in planning and organizing the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility held Wednesday, March 31. And Donna Klein, Corporate Voices’ Executive Chair and Founder, was among the small number of leaders who were invited to participate.

Donna provided the following highlights:

As part of yesterday’s historic White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, announced that Corporate Voices will initiate a challenge for the business community in which companies will encourage their peers to adopt smart practices that provide workplace flexibility.

The fact that the White House staff has encouraged Corporate Voices to take on this leadership role in engaging the business community is gratifying and points to the recognition that our partner companies are models for the best-practice programs and solutions that were discussed throughout yesterday’s Forum.

The Forum provided a showcase for President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and other senior-level White House staff members to demonstrate the importance that the Obama administration places on workplace flexibility.

And throughout two general sessions hosted by the President and First Lady and in a number of smaller break-out groups, several themes surfaced that are very much a part of the workplace flexibility principles that Corporate Voices and our partner companies have advanced for years:

  • Workplace flexibility leads to increased employee commitment and engagement and ultimately business profitability.
  • Flexible work practices contribute to productive work environments.
  • Managing flexibly must be a core leadership and management competency that enables people to meet business demands and personal responsibilities.
  • Workplace flexibility benefits hourly employees as much as management and professional staff.

In announcing the Forum, President Obama said: “As the parents of two young girls, Michelle and I understand the challenges America’s working families face and we are looking forward to hearing from moms, dads, business leaders, advocates and experts about their ideas for creating and encouraging flexible workplaces, so that working Americans do not have to choose between their careers and meeting the needs of their families.”

Clearly, we have champions for these issues in the White House.

And without question, this Forum, bringing together CEOs, small-business owners, policy experts and others, stands as a major accomplishment for those of us who have been involved in workplace flexibility issues for many years. It was truly an exciting and significant event – one that places the national spotlight on workplace flexibility and the workplace of the 21st century.

Corporate Voices has released two comprehensive toolkits that serve as guides for implementing flexibility with an hourly and nonexempt workforce. Developed for Corporate Voices by WFD Consulting and supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, these toolkits are derived from the research highlighted in our study, “Innovative Workplace Flexibility Options for Hourly Workers.”

These and other toolkits, publications and research studies on a host of workforce readiness, flexibility, family economic stability, and work and family balance issues are available on the Corporate Voices Web site.