South-Western - Management  
Make Room for Daddy
Topic Managing Human Resource Systems
Key Words family leave, gender bias, flexible work schedules
News Story

It has typically been mothers, still the primary caretakers of children in most households, who have made use of flexible work arrangements such as extended parental leave, compressed workweeks, part-time work or telecommuting. Recent studies have documented a still growing wage gap between men and women, and particularly mothers, partly because managers perceive that their commitment to work is not what it should be. In fact, a study showed that the salaries of mothers who used family-friendly policies lagged behind those of mothers who didn't use the policies.

If fathers start asking for equal time off to spend with their families, women will benefit from no longer being the only parent seeking career flexibility over full-steam advancement. In recent surveys, Gen X men have said they intend to put family ahead of work, and companies are starting to pay attention. But more common are companies like Ernst & Young, with 1,900 employees who currently have flexible work arrangements: 87 percent are women and 13 percent are men.

David Stillman, author, feels that Gen X men are more likely to believe that parenting is a fifty-fifty job, not just a woman's job, and that will have a big impact on companies as this generation makes up more of the workforce and moves into management ranks. The problem is that now, for the most part, Gen Xers are still being managed by Boomers and Traditionalists (people born before 1946), who are not comfortable with flexible hours or working from home.


What is the Family and Medical Leave Act? Who administers it and how has it changed employers' responsibilities toward workers?


You are a manager of a midsized company. You are in the process of hiring a mid-level manager, and you have found one young man who has impeccable qualifications. However, he has stated that he believes there should be a balance between work and family, that he wants the ability to adjust his hours to fit his family's needs, and he expects to be paid a salary equal to or above other managers who work more traditional hours. He stresses that this will not interfere in his work, but rather make him more productive in the hours he spends at work. You have another candidate who also has good qualifications, though not quite as good, but he is willing to work as many hours and on whatever schedule you require. Who would you hire? Why? What additional information would you require before making a decision?

Source Sharman Stein, "Make Room for Daddy," Working Mother October, 2002.
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