Work Life Balance

Sally Krawcheck, past President of Merrill Lynch, US Trust, and Smith Barney, recently posted a blog on LinkedIn that caught my eye. The title is “Big Idea 2013: Flexibility Without Shame.” Along with knowledgeable posts on the Glass-Steagall Act and other financial industry issues, she has posted several commentaries on women in the workplace that I find refreshing.

She points out that along with a tepid economic recovery, progress on gender diversity has also stalled. There have been many attempts to bridge this gap including networking opportunities for women, books on how men and women differ in the workplace, and what a woman can do to move ahead. However, as a working mother in a male-dominated industry I do not have time to attend additional networking opportunities and have found that women who make gender an issue often have their efforts backfire on them.

Quite frankly, I have found that for the most part, men of our generation I’ve worked with are quite liberated in seeing women as equal working partners. Of course, I’ve run into the typical situations of being left out of the “guys lunch” or golf outing (despite playing college golf). However, I look at this from the perspective of being part of a group. If the office was all women there would be some women who are invited and some that aren’t. I think this is part of working with others and not always worth getting defensive about until they affect a person’s work review. When they do, it is time to objectively review why it is happening and what you can do to be invited next time if you want, or find another company with a culture that is a better fit.

Sally Krawcheck points out that “smart companies” will be those who build cultures and career paths that truly embrace flexibility in the workplace. Work/life balance is a struggle for both genders. However, for women we typically do twice the housework and three times the childcare of men. My husband is a prime supporter of my career and does help around the house and with the children as much as possible. However, for all of his gallant efforts he quite frankly doesn’t think like a woman. He doesn’t always go beyond the obvious and help consistently with the additional details that need to be taken care of; scheduling the kids activities, scheduling a babysitter, making sure the kids have everything they need for special school activities/homework, regularly keeping the house clean, plan healthy meals, remember that Stryker is color blind and Tori gets angry when she’s scared. For you men out there who do a lot of this, I know there are some of you out there, bless you.

Read the second half of this post tomorrow…