Friday, August 07, 2009

Work-family 'balance' goes mainstream

It seems that work-family balance (or lack thereof ) is coming into the mainstream -- kind of.

I've noticed two articles in the Boston Globe in the past two days that seem, well, different.

Yesterday, in the G section, I was amazed to read an article You've come a long way, baby sitting issues. It opens like this:

Given the gravity of the situation, the comment went mostly unnoticed. Except by working parents and work-life balance advocates, that is. To them, it called out loud and clear.

Attorney Alan McDonald was introducing the cops who’d assembled to show support for the officer who’d arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr. when McDonald dropped this surprise: The president of the Cambridge Multicultural Police Association couldn’t attend the press conference, the lawyer explained, because he had “baby-sitting issues.’’

The statement - delivered casually and causing no stir onstage - shows the degree to which the workplace has changed to recognize the needs of working parents, according to human resources professionals. And although they’re quick to add that difficulties persist for working parents, that moment at the podium would seem to mark a notable if slight shift.

“It moves [child-care issues] from an excuse and a failing to a statement of fact that we all deal with,’’ said Cali Yost, author of “Work + Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You.’’

“I think it’s very powerful,’’ she said, particularly since the “baby-sitting issues’’ claim was not only made in regard to a man, but one working in a traditionally male-dominated field “where life and work never used to intersect at all publicly.’’

Well! Even powerful men can have "baby sitting issues" these days, it seems. Hmm....

And this morning, in Schools asked not to close if flu hits, this quote really stood out for me:
“The focus is going to be on avoiding closing schools if at all possible,’’ said Dr. Lauren Smith, medical director of the state Department of Public Health. “And that’s not only because of the educational disruption, but also because of the disruption that happens in a community when 300 or 400 or 500 kids aren’t in a school and all those families have to scramble to make plans to take care of them.’’
What's interesting here is what the state medical director DIDN'T say. She didn't say: well, it's not such a big deal, because the moms will just take care of the kids. She gets it.

The article continues:

In recent weeks, Boston health authorities have met with business representatives to encourage them to allow parents to take paid sick days when their children fall ill. The message to businesses has been this, said Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission: “It’s much better for a handful of parents to be able to stay home with sick kids than to have me close a building with 1,200 kids and to now require all of those kids to stay at home.’’

And, so far, that message appears to be resonating with employers, Ferrer said. One business pledged to her that it would double employee sick days if a flu epidemic sweeps across the region.

Not sure if it's time yet for a big "Woo hoo!", but overall, it's great to see recognition in the mainstream media of parents -- both moms AND dads -- having to juggle work, family, and life. Manic Mommies, this one's for you!

1 comment:

Erin said...

Thanks for the shout out Adena!