On May 19, David Gray of the New America Foundation wrote an interesting article in the Huffington Post about the importance of having women, notably mothers, on the Supreme Court and in public office. In the article titled, “Promoting Work-Life Balance in the Public Square,” he cited the Washington Post and Daily Beast articles arguing that having mothers on the Supreme Court would help that institution understand the needs of families and the importance of work-life balance.
Gray points to Congresswomen and officials that have supported laws and policies that help families find balance because they had the unique perspective of being working mothers themselves, such as Senator Blanche Lincoln and former U.S. Department of Labor chief economist and labor market columnist Diana Furtchgott.
The critical factor Gray attributes to the success of women such as these is workplace flexibility.
One might wonder how these conservative women manage to have large families, be so successful in the workplace, and how their experiences shape their views on work life balance policy.
My sense is that the answer to a large degree lies in flexibility. Workplace flexibility has potential to allow women, and men, to be successful parents and employees.
Corporate Voices believes that workplace flexibility is an essential management and retention tool that enables workers to meet the demands of their work, while also meeting family obligations. And while flexibility benefits women hugely, it is not only an issue for women or families. It is an issue for fathers caring for children or the elderly, for single women with children, and for young people managing both work and school.
According to a recent report published by the Council of Economic Advisers, less than one-third of American full-time workers report having flexible schedules. Workplace flexibility and work-life balance is still a long way from being the cultural norm in the workplace, however there is movement toward this. “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything” was published last October which focused on the implications of women being a significant part of the labor force. And on March 31, 2010, the President and Firs Lady held a White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, hearing from employers, experts, and labor groups on the various models of flexibility being used across the country.
Corporate Voices’ partner companies are best practice businesses that recognize the potential that workplace flexibility holds for business competitiveness. Throughout the course of the year, Corporate Voices will lead a flexibility campaign to engage the business community to expand smart practices and workplace flexibility for all workers across the country. With the support of businesses large and small across America, we can keep the momentum for flexibility and for policies that help working families moving forward. Having good examples of working mothers and others in public office that use flexible work options to help manage their lives wouldn’t hurt, either.