Workplace Flexibility


Corporate Voices for Working Families’ 2013 Annual Partners Meeting put the spotlight last week  on corporate leadership beyond the workplace, providing presentations rich in content, lively discussions and opportunities for attendees to network with other business leaders and policymakers.

The meeting provided a forum to examine and discuss a host of critical workforce readiness and work/life issues that are critically important to Corporate Voices’ partner companies. These included how employment pathways for younger workers just entering the world of work can benefit employees and employers; the opportunities and challenges in employer engagement in higher education; how demographic changes are reshaping the economic and political landscapes; new thinking in workplace diversity and corporate wellness; and how responsible corporate leaders can – and must – engage in national efforts to foster job creation and stronger economic growth.

ImageJim Quigley, CEO Emeritus of Deloitte, gave one of the keynote presentations, demonstrating how critical it is for business leaders to lead by example and foster a culture of values and respect. Quigley, co-author of As One: Individual Action, Collective Power, led the audience on a “conversation on leadership.”

“As leaders I would challenge you to consider whether the conditions for success are in place,” he said. “Have we created clarity about our key goals? Can we communicate these ideas in a way that we can be successful?”

Dr. Michael Dimock, Director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, led the second keynote presentation. He engaged the audience with a discussion of values, demographics, generations and technology, highlighting how policymakers need to forge Imagesolutions to the significant problems facing our nation and working families – while spotlighting the importance for business leaders, and the businesses they represent, to engage in a manner that fosters job creation and stronger economic growth.

Among the takeaways from Dimock’s presentation was a point relevant to public policy work: Pew research indicates that American public opinion on values hasn’t changed over the years, but the extent of political partisanship has changed significantly.

One of the many highlights of the Annual Meeting was a 90-minute briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that was organized exclusively for Corporate Voices by the White House staff. During the briefing, members of the Obama Administration shared their insights and perspectives on current and planned initiatives involving the jobs, training, education, economic and health and wellness issues of interest to our partner companies.

During the briefing, Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, said, “From the start of this Administration, Corporate Voices for Working Families has been a great partner on important issues.”

Corporate Voices’ Annual Partners Meeting – with generous sponsorship provided by Baxter International, KPMG, The TJX Companies, Johnson & Johnson, Ryan and SelectPlus — was held March 20-22, at the Loews Madison Hotel, Washington, D.C.

To view all presentations from this year’s Annual Meeting, please click here.

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Yahoo!The decision by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer to end the option for Yahoo! employees to work at home should matter to all working families and businesses. In one move by a highly visible executive and company, the decision threatens advances made over the last several decades in the workplace that have benefited working families and strengthened the competitiveness of American businesses. At the same time, Mayer’s decision underscores that workplace flexibility works when employers and workers benefit – and if it isn’t working for one side, flexibility may not be right for that company.

Both extensive Corporate Voices for Working Families’ research and the policies of our best-practice companies point to the fact that workplace flexibility options make a big difference for employees and their families and for the businesses that adopt these policies as a strategic management imperative. When companies provide options that help employees strike a balance between work and family, morale and productivity increases – and businesses benefit from less turnover and a more dedicated and productive workforce. Likewise, businesses find that these policies are critical management tools that enhance recruitment, retention, engagement, cost control, productivity, and ultimately, financial performance.

Businesses, working on behalf of all stakeholders, must continue to take the lead to promote and implement programs and policies that improve the lives of working families, while making our economy more vigorous and our nation more prosperous. When a prominent company such as Yahoo! turns back the clock on a flexible work option like working from home (that we know benefits working families and the business bottom line), it helps to create an environment ripe for new federal and state government employer mandates. That’s a setback for those businesses that strategically manage their organizations in the best interests of their employees and their own profitability and competitiveness.

Yahoo! is in a tough business, and the company’s stated desire to foster greater innovation and teamwork across its workforce is certainly laudable. Yet in our view, Mayer didn’t have to pick between telecommuting and better performance, when a management strategy promoting workplace flexibility would have given her both outcomes.

Corporate Voices’ research studies and best-practice case studies concerning flexible work options are available at http://www.cvworkingfamilies.org/publications/workplaceflex

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week and Corporate Voices wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the work we have done in this area.  With recent changes in federal laws surrounding breastfeeding in the workplace, Corporate Voices worked with Abbott Nutrition and Working Mother Media to develop the Workplace Lactation Toolkit. It gives employers high-quality resources and tools to comply with this new federal requirement, and to help them establish successful workplace lactation programs that work for all workers, including lower-wage and hourly employees. You can access the toolkit here: http://corporatevoices.org/lactation

And keep a look out for a new lactation toolkit from Corporate Voices and Abbott for military families: the Military Lactation Toolkit, which will have specific information for each branch of the military regarding breastfeeding and pumping policies.

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