Flexibility is key for working mothers to forge career – and why the US is ahead of the UK

15 Sep

Forward-thinking companies are prioritising work-family balance for women (pic credit: Istockphoto)

Working mums value the ability to work flexibly much more highly than pay or time off, according to the latest survey from US magazine Working Mother.

Its 2011 Working Mother 100 Best Companies report reveals that it’s the organisations that empower mothers to create their own weekly schedule and career path – while still delivering on objectives – that have come highest in the rankings.

The Working Mother 100 Best Companies answer 650 questions, including data on the access and use of flexible work arrangements for commuting, childcare and eldercare reasons, and the advancement of women to all levels of management. The top 10 companies are Bank of America, Deloitte, Discovery Communications, Ernst & Young, General Mills, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Prudential Financial, TriHealth and WellStar.

In the US, some of the initiatives offered by leading companies are job sharing, compressed work weeks to allow for longer weekends, and flexible start and finish times. So far, so great. However, what I find most interesting are the initiatives to allow new mothers to phase their return to work on a temporary part-time basis, the “option for employees to speed or slow their advancement without penalty to help them better balance work and home responsibilities”.

This would take a lot of planning, but it feels a healthy and honest step towards retaining talented staff and acknowledging that sometimes those in the fast lane may need to slow down and have a pit stop – without penalising their progress.

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