Today we are going to talk about resilience and how important it is for us to be flexible and adapt to the changes we are presented in our personal and professional lives. Though we can be strategic about our careers, life always throws us some unexpected obstacles. Despite our best intentions and well thought out planning, we are often challenged to change direction and adopt a new course to move our careers and personal lives forward. How we face these unforeseen obstacles and how well we adapt will affect our success going forward.
Joining me is Susan Adams. Susan Adams combines her career passions for teaching, research, and consulting in her current position as Senior Director of Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business and Professor of Management. The Center is dedicated to supporting, retaining and promoting women in business by sharing solutions for advancing women’s careers. Susan publishes regularly in leading academic and practitioner outlets, focusing on professional advancement and organizational effectiveness. Her academic insights, shared in and out of classrooms of undergraduates, MBAs, PhDs and executives, are enhanced by her consulting work with over 100 corporate and executive clients. Susan has served on and chaired boards of companies and non-profit organizations. She is a former Chair of the Management Consulting and Careers Divisions of the Academy of Management and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Society of Human Resource Managers. She earned her PhD in management from Georgia Institute of Technology, MEd in mathematics from Georgia State University and BSEd in mathematics from the University of Georgia after attending the University of Hawaii. Susan is the proud mother of three and grandmother of two.
Today we’re going to discuss what the future of work looks like and what that means for women with my guest, Alison Maitland. Alison is a business author, journalist and speaker who specializes in leadership, gender, and the changing world of work.
Alison Maitland, former Financial Times journalist, is co-author of the critically acclaimed book Future Work, published in November, and of the prize-winning Why Women Mean Business. She regularly writes articles and columns for the Financial Times, The Conference Board Review and other media. Alison also directs The Conference Board’s Council for Diversity in Business in Europe and is a Senior Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Management at Cass Business School, London. She speaks and moderates at many public conferences and corporate events. Based in the UK, her recent speaking engagements have taken her all over Europe and to North America. She has been widely interviewed by national and international media on gender and on the new world of work. Her websites are: www.alisonmaitland.com and www.whywomenmeanbusiness.com and www.futureworkbook.com
When we lose our job, it can be devastating. Very often it means a dramatic change in income. Our daily routine suddenly changes, and we are left with a tremendous void. After all, most of our waking hours are spent at work. How do we fill the time?
All this is true, but I think the loss of a job means more to us on a much deeper level.
In my recent interview with Dianna Shandy and Karine Moe, we discussed how much of our identity is based on our job or profession. When we leave the workforce, voluntarily or not, we lose that identity.
I love the example they brought up in the interview of their conversation with a women from the UK who said the first question everyone asks in the UK is “Where are you from?” Here in the United States, the first question asked is always, “What do you do?”
What you do defines who you are for better or for worse. A friend of mine who does not work once confided in me that she was embarrassed and struggled with how best to answer that question when asked. She didn’t know how to properly answer it.
Shandy and Moe commented that when women leave the workforce, they often continue to define themselves by their previous occupation. “I’m a former teacher, former attorney etc.” as if, being a stay at home mother is not an acceptable response.
Take some time to think about who you really are outside of your profession. What adequately defines your unique qualities and personality? After all, we are much more than what we do for a living even if we are passionate about our vocation and successful.
The passion and energy you might have for your work says a lot about who you are, your values.
This is the foundation of YOU, not your job.
Almost half the labor force in America is women. Yet college educated women with children are leaving the workforce in significant numbers in the last few years. Why are educated talented women with children deciding to “opt out”? and what does this say about gender and society in America and women’s relationship to work? My guests today, Karine Moe and Diana Shandy, co-authors of Glass Ceilings and the 100-Hour Couples, will share with us their insight on what this trend is all about and why this is happening now.
Karine Moe is a Professor of Economics at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in economics at the University of Minnesota, a Master of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. in economics from Saint Olaf College. She is a labor economist with particular interests in how the use of time (especially for women and girls) affects labor market outcomes. She is the author of over a dozen articles and book chapters and the author/co-author of two books: Women, Family, and Work: Writings on the Economics of Gender (2003) and Glass Ceilings and 100-Hour Couples: What the Opt-Out Phenomenon Can Teach Us About Work and Family (2009, with Dianna Shandy).
Dianna Shandy is Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Director of African Studies at Macalester College, where she has been teaching since 1999. She earned a Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. in Anthropology at Columbia University and a B.S. in Languages and Linguistics with Certificates in African Studies and Russian Area Studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of three books and more than 30 articles and book chapters.
Listen to the August 31, 2010 show, or visit our VoiceAmerica archive to hear any of our previous shows.
Sometimes I look back on the earlier days of my business career and wonder how I managed to raise two children as a single parent and still maintain and advance my career; most of all, I wonder now how I maintained my sanity and how I managed to focus any attention at all on work. I think my children, now grown and successful in their own right, turned out pretty good, and my career flourished as well, but it was not without an undercurrent of stress and guilt, and a constant juggling of babysitters and after school programs.
With this experience behind me and the knowledge that work/family balance is an ongoing challenge for most women, I applaud the White House conference on flexibility in the workplace for the attention it has brought to the topic.
The Economic Office of the Presidentâ€™s Council of Economic Advisers Â released a 35 page report , Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility, which addresses not only the need to create flexible solutions for work, but also the benefits to companies who embrace these initiatives.
According to the report, there is a greater need now for flexibility in work than ever before. Why? because women now make up almost half of the labor force in the United States. The majority of children now are raised in households where both parents work. Another key factor is that more adults are attending school.
The report also states that flexible work environments can vary tremendously by gender, race, work status, education, and industry.Â Flexible hours and location of work were considered.
The most impressive section of the report focuses on the economic benefits, the business case, for companies that provide flexible work solutions. These companies experience a decrease in employee turnover and absenteeism along with an increase in productivity and the ability to attract new talent to the organization.
With these types of statistics behind us, women now need to take the lead to move these initiatives forward in their own work environments. Itâ€™s time to speak up and rally the troops. Flexible work solutions benefit men and women as well as companies.
With the advent of birth control in the 1960′s, women had a choice for the first time. They could plan their family/career path strategically. Often women started their careers and then took time to have a family. Whether or not they returned to their previous careers, they did have choices.
But with more and more mothers in the workforce who contributed to the income of the family, discussions began around work/life balance and how best to manage both a career and family. Women were still responsible for most of the childcare and housework along with their jobs. It became obvious that to do it all at the same time was a difficult, if not impossible task. The emphasis on self-care for women and work/life balance became a hot topic.
The lack of flexible work solutions, therefore, was initially focused on women who wanted options for balancing career and family. This assumed little if no participation from their male counterparts in childrearing. The lack of flexible work solutions was also tagged as an obstacle to women’s advancement in business as more and more women were forced to drop their careers to seek better alternatives than their companies were offering.
The concept of flexibility is emerging now as a gender neutral issue that focuses more on the need for everyone, male and female, to have a more flexible, healthy workplace. Flexibility is not just related to working mom stress as more and more men share household responsibilities. It encompasses alternative work solutions such as part time work, job sharing, telecommunting, on site child care. Men are now more interested in having options to take time off whether it’s for childcare, elder care, or personal pursuits.
Businesses are becoming increasingly aware that there is a business case around flexibility in terms of reduced overhead, improved recruitment and retention of talented employees. as well as the importance of a flexible work force.