One issue I see time and time again with women and the workplace is that women make small, deliberate choices in their careers that ultimately hold them back. Whether it is because they think they’re not worth the opportunity, the pay raise, the C-level position, the relationship, or the success. Or because they’re “planning on having kids on day”. I’ve read about this in Knowing Your Value, in various articles and videos both online and offline, and hearing from women themselves.
It begins with a relationship, which might turn into an engagement, which might turn into a wedding, at which point you would have to plan that wedding, and then oh my goodness, we’re getting ready to think about having children. Women start to avoid greater responsibility when even an inkling of marriage, children, or family comes their way. Even if it’s five years off.
More and more companies are developing greater respect for women and mothers in the workplace. Not only are women incredible executives (time management and people management among our greatest strengths), but they are incredible mothers, knowing when to be harsh and when to be kind. Women that have children usually are just as good as, if not better, employees than their male counterparts who have children. They learn time management and the value of getting 5 days’ worth of work done in 3 days’ time.
Businesses are beginning to realize this value, and have taken measures similar to Google’s approach: Giving women 5 months paid maternity leave, distributed before and after birth as the mother sees fit. Worldwide workers get seven weeks. When the women do decide to go back to work, which most try to do as soon as they can, they are incredible time-managers, getting work done in record time and still seeing their kids to the bus, off the bus, and attending parent-teacher conferences.
More and more, the field is changing. The term integration is replacing work-life balance. They are not separate from one another. Increasingly, children are taken to work for part of the day, or taken on business trips. Mothers opt-out of meetings to see their kids play soccer. Why? Because integrating the two previously-separated lifestyles creates more productive people. Better companies. Happier employees.
When employees at all levels are given the ability to work from home a few times a week, leave work at 5:30 to get home for dinner, and take an hour break midday to see their friends and family for lunch, they are happier and appreciate their work environment even more.
So, think about that. What can you do to make your employees happier? Yourself a better worker? A better corporate culture? The small changes can change a lot in regards to productivity, and women will take that flexibility and go farther.