Earlier this week, I stumbled upon two opinions regarding gender equity and the workplace.
President Obama, in a joint interview with Michelle Obama, told LHJ that he suspected that more women don't run for office because they are either uncomfortable with the idea, or lack the option to, be away from their children that long. (I argue that these are not mutually exclusive. An unsupportive spouse, or the rigid and overtime-exempt work schedule of an otherwise empathetic spouse, could easily be a source of that discomfort). Being the child of a single mom, 'taught [him] that there wasn't anything women couldn't do--but also that the game was a little rigged. Its tougher for women.'
The following day, a linkedin article popped into my mailbox: "In Big Idea 2013: Flexibility without Shame", Sallie Krawcheck discussed the problem as it pertained to women in general, and to moms. She never stated that the solution would be, or should be, limited to only moms. It's too bad that she didn't explicity say that policies should be open, however, because getting buy-in from others that could benefit at work (and on the homefront) is important to encourage businesses (and spouses) to offer (or ask for) such polices and build employee loyalty by encouraging work-life-community balance for every employee.
If only mommies can shift their schedules to drop off packages at the post office or to get kiddos or grandpa to a doctor's appointment, then there is no impetutus for the other parent (or sibling) to help lessen those burdens (and build those relationships). Many workers (dads, and the childless, too) might like to restructure their workweek, to shorten their commutes by timing them during less busy periods or to bundle conference calls and number crunching so they can be done at home and simply reduce the number of trips to the office. Both methods can save precious time, reduce wear and tear on aging vehicles and roadways, and reduce CO2 emissions--all laudable goals in their own rights. If those vehicles happen to be employer owned, or subject to billable mileage, its even more business friendly. If that intelligent use of business time also allows someone to toss in a load of laundry or start dinner for their families, well, then, the playing field gets leveled a little, and whole families can enjoy that.