At the end of our ramps or rerouting?

Yesterday, I spoke to a mom who described how her workplace transformed from a welcoming/challenging environment to something altogether different after having her daughter. On her return from maternity leave, she was given two options: join the "mommy track"or  the "baby, what baby?" team. She described the looks of disapproval she would get from colleagues and superiors when she left to pick up her daughter from daycare by 6. Even though she was willing to do everything to get the work done, "putting my coat on at five was a step toward the end." As one partner told her, "if you want to succeed in this business you better have a nanny that can stay LATE." Looking for some middle ground, she believes, may have cost her her job.

 

After reading some pieces about on-ramping and off-ramping,   I am, once again, hyper-aware of the collective sense of panic out there about our work-life choices.

In her article, Regrets of a Stay-at-Home MomKaty Read was not lamenting being a stay-at-home mom, because she hadn't been one. They were about not aggressively climbing the career ladder to financial independence or not being able to make flexibility work to that end.  She writes:

"Meanwhile, my work/life balance … wasn't. My husband and I kept erratic hours, handing off babies like batons. At work, I lost choice assignments as I dashed out before the stroke of 6, when the daycare began charging a dollar a minute. My editors, probably well meaning, set me on what suspiciously resembled a mommy track. While an intern handled the tragic late-breaking news of an honor student murdered by her mother's crack dealer, I yawned through meetings where citizens complained about potholes. (Though who knew how fabulous a steady-paying pothole gig would look to my underemployed future self?)."

She was implying that her part-time work was opting out. Was it?  Or was work culture to blame?  Mary Curlew at the Sloan Center for Work and Family raised the same question.

"Whatever the reason, I am confused by the conflicting results and opinions related to part-time work. Depending on which article I read, I am left feeling either proud that I found such a rare gem in a part-time job that furthers my career plans, challenges me intellectually, and gets me to my son’s bus stop on time, or concerned that I have sealed my fate and will be underemployed well after my children are able to care for themselves."

As one of her readers commented, "the bias {against part timers} still exists." He's right, it does. How do we end that bias toward part time work and change organizational/workforce culture?

Well here's a start or another step closer to the future of work.. SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) is recognizing the importance of flexibility in the workforce with it's new initiative: Moving Work Forward.

Interim president of SHRM Henry G. Jackson stated in recent press conference:

"I don't believe, in the future, businesses will be successful if they don't learn to accommodate people and the way they live. It's important that we not view this as a nice employee benefit, but as the business imperative it has become."

@KatherineLewis wrote a great piece about this on her blog.

I'm looking forward to re-routing these tracks and ramps and doing away with the "baby, what baby?" mentality for good. I'm excited for the future of work.