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Changing the World One Mother at a Time

September 20, 2010
I am a mother. I am lots of other things but as society continues to discount and undervalue this role, it is easy to get frustrated and not claim it as loudly as I should. The world talks about how important mothers are. Yet often mothers are the last ones on the list to be asked for their opinion about the issues that affect them. The blogging and social media revolution is turning that around as the mothers who blog morph into a powerful global force. I have been privileged to be asked by the UN Foundation to participate in a conversation we have called, "Changing the World, One Mother At...

Rethinking Work, Family and Men

September 13, 2010
A grandfather who worked for a large retailer was ordered to work mandatory overtime. He refused: he had to get home to care for his grandchild so his son, who had custody, could get to work. Father and son worked different shifts so each could care for the child while the other was at work. The store supervisor asked grandpa why he needed to leave, telling him that accommodations could be made for reasonable excuses. Grandpa replied that his reasons were no one's business but his own. The supervisor ordered him to stay. The worker left anyway and was fired for insubordination. I suspect men...
Joan C. Williams's picture

Not all moms want to work less

September 9, 2010
In the months before my first son was born in 2007, I contemplated many things. One big one: how does “maternity leave” work when you’re self-employed? After talking with a number of self-employed moms, I came to the conclusion (as I wrote about in a HuffPo piece: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-vanderkam/when-you-work-for-yoursel_b_49901.html ) that I should be prepared to work some, and realize that I was OK with that. People wrote me, aghast: “Just wait until you have the baby!” Well, I had the baby, and the only thing that was wrong about that op-ed was the “some.” By the time I had...

Unions and the Four Hour Work Week

September 3, 2010
Have you looked at “ The 4-Hour Workweek ” by Timonty Ferriss? This book is meant for current and would-be entrepreneurs looking to “Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich.” At first glance, Ferriss’ ideas on generating passive streams of income, mini retirements and remote work from exotic locations might not seem at all relevant to, say, an hourly worker at Vons supermarket. Or to a not-so-new-rich working mother of three like myself. But, since part of my job is talking to unions about bargaining for flex time, I think about how regular workers can take more control of their...
Jenya Cassidy's picture

Eliminate Blame From the Equation

September 3, 2010
This is so powerful that this one single shift will catapult your efforts to improve everything from cost containment to business processes to personnel relations and teambuilding. From a Bang-for-the-Buck perspective, this change alone will give your life a healthy booster shot. Aside from shame and blame having a causal relationship to one another, they have several things in common. For one, blame is as pervasively (and fundamentally) woven into our culture as shame. For another, neither add any positive impact on or value to any problem solving process. What’s worse, they are actually...

How to Destroy Motivation, revisited: Using Shame

September 2, 2010
Unfortunately we have some very unhealthy fibers woven into the fabric of our culture—unhealthy from the perspective of untold damage with no rewards. Dating back through pre-colonial Puritan days, shame has been a large part of our culture. In a simplistic, black-and-white, childlike view, shame can be instrumental as part of the “good vs. evil” dynamic. If you are good, you will feel the glow of righteousness, if not, shame will be yours. If shame has any value whatsoever, it is only within the narrow framework of an internal “Evil Indicator.” That is to say, when you actually do harm/hurt...

Start Up a Conversation in Your Community!

September 1, 2010
This March, we were thrilled to be part of the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility . Through the President and First Lady’s leadership, the Obama Administration launched a national conversation on how innovative workplace flexibility strategies can help support working families and – at the same time – business’ bottom line. Indeed, the Forum echoed many of the same themes that Joan Blades and Nanette Fondas highlight in The Custom Fit Workplace . In order to keep this national conversation going, the Obama Administration is now planning a series of regional forums on workplace...

The Best-Kept Secret?

September 1, 2010
Front-line employees are the backbone of industry. Many are also parents. When a mother or father comes home from a workday, one or both make dinner, help the kids with homework, read stories at bed-time – all working parents know we have both the role of employee and parent to fulfill. The vast majority of us want to do both of those to the best of our ability. But in most traditional working environments, our confidence, stamina, and sense of well-being has been eroded during the 8-10-12 hour days. At home, we are looked up to by our children and sought for advice from friends and relatives...

We're Not Asking for the Moon

September 1, 2010
I have a friend in the professional services sector in New York, working in one of those pressure-cooker 24/7 type of environments I wrote about recently . In fact I have a whole lot of friends in these industries. They work insane hours and are, for the most part, remunerated very well. Most of them laugh at me when they hear what my blog is about. “When you get called in on a Sunday night to close a deal that for every hour it goes on the client is losing a million dollars, then they don’t care if your wife is sick, your kid is walking for the first time, or your grandma is dying. They are...

Recognize the Difference Between Counterfeit Power and Real Power

September 1, 2010
Recommended reading for really getting the most out of this exercise is Hanna Arendt’s essays on definitions of Power, Strength, Force, Authority, and the huge differences between them. You’ll be surprised at just how different they are. Building on the last exercise concerning conflicting/contradicting directives from management, and losing your “best and brightest,” I’d like to address a prime motivator behind much of this confusion: the pursuit of “power.” This isn’t innately an evil pursuit. Depending on your understanding of power, it is both necessary and nourishing to everyone...

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