Global Diversity
Colloquium 2007: "Creating a Level Playing Field for Women"

Dr. Damayanti Vasudevan 

 

Roundtable Discussion:  Work Life Balance

 

What is it?

q       Group quickly established that there is no simple or single definition

q       Similar efforts or initiatives may be labeled differently by different organizations (e.g. work life quality, work life integration, unique people        experience)

q       Varies widely across many dimensions of differences:

o       Gender

o       Generations

o       Cultures & societies

o       Job types (production, professional, service, etc.)

o       Job levels

o       Country economy

o       Country views on women in general

q       Varies in levels/degree of formality across companies

o       Some have more formalized programs but that does not mean they are well used

§         Reduced hours

§         Telecommuting

§         Childcare

§         Eldercare

§         No meeting Fridays

§         Job sharing

§         Flex schedules

o       Some have informal practices that are just individually negotiated between employee and company and/or manager

 

How do you ensure success – no matter what you call it?

 

q       Ensure policies apply to all who qualify within a position or level.  E.g both men and women.  Qualified – means performance standards are met and business impact is considered

q       Ensure that work is not shifted from an employee with flex schedules or reduced hours to other employees.  Prevent/minimize potential for perceptions of inequality and/or resentment.

q       Follow-up with efforts to create a culture of support.  Implementing policies is only the first step.  Ensure behaviors of leaders and messages sent support policy.

q       Establish realistic understanding of career tradeoffs.  Individuals need to understand that different life stages and non-work goals impact needs in the workplace.  Meeting these needs (e.g. reduced hours) will impact career progress at that stage.

q       Establish a tone of support from top down.

q       Recognize that managers make a huge difference between success and failure.

 

 

Whose agenda do work life programs meet?

 

q       Companies benefit if they can retain strong talent through these programs

q       Individuals at all levels benefit with some programs – eg. Summer Hours – provides flexibility for those with non-work commitments (e.g. family) as well as non-work leisure activities (e.g. golf).

q       Company research has shown that men and women value work life programs equally.

 

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