21 August 2012

A Facade of Progress

By Deborah Jacobs, Vice President, Advocacy and Policy

The strategic selection of former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, as well as South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore, as the first women invited to join the Augusta National Golf Club demonstrates once again that public pressure can force change (in this case made necessary by the absence of common sense and human decency), but it also delivers an unsavory message from the apparently begrudging Augusta National board members: As men, we decide whether, when and which women can participate.
In April, Augusta National failed to invite the woman most entitled to an Augusta National membership, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, to join despite the facts that IBM has sponsored the Masters many times over and that its past four CEOs received memberships. The outrage over Rometty's unjust exclusion reached all the way to the White House, from which President Obama encouraged Augusta National to end to its near-century of sex discrimination.
The inclusion of Rice and Moore – some 10 years since the first Augusta National protests initiated by the National Council of Women's Organizations – represents an important step forward. But let's not kid ourselves about how big this step is. (The New York Times astutely called it “gender tokenism.”) If Augusta National had any interest in ending discrimination, Rometty would have been the first choice among potential female members. Instead, its actions serve as a reminder of the desperate thrashing for control of people reluctantly giving up power.
Consider the timing and selection choices. Instead of inviting Rometty at the right time – during the Masters in April – Augusta National refused her. Then, instead of perhaps waiting a few weeks to save face and then inviting Rometty, August National took no action. And now, as it finally yields to the pressure of protest and the modern realities of American society, Augusta National wants to remind Rometty, and us, that it will continue to exclude women whether we've earned our place, or not.

Photo Credit: Jun Acullador

16 August 2012

"Having It All" Through Employer-Supported Work-Life Balance

By Christie Petrone, Senior Manager, Public Relations

The dust has barely settled on Anne-Marie Slaughter’s controversial article about the difficulty of balancing family and career. Central to her argument is the idea that “having it all” requires job flexibility for both men and women.

(While things like flexible hours, telecommuting options, compressed workweeks and family friendly work environments may seem like a luxury to many, Glassdoor.com recently identified the top 25 companies for work-life balance, based on self-reporting from employees.)

Not only does the Ms. Foundation advocate for policies promoting work-life balance and other benefits, but we also practice what we preach, with generous paid time off and sick leave.

More than a policy, it’s an office culture that makes a difference in the lives of Ms. employees, who are able to achieve greatness in the workplace while also raising children (or cultivating a hobby or snuggling with their cats every evening). Women shouldn’t have to make a choice between advancing up the career ladder and being home to tuck their children in bed.

With President and CEO Anika Rahman – mother to 8-year-old Amani – leading the way, employees feel a stronger commitment to the Ms. Foundation for supporting their healthy balance of work and life. That commitment translates into better responsiveness – our social media guru often Tweets late into the night from the comfort of her bed – and a greater urgency from all departments in ensuring that all women have access to quality, living-wage jobs with paid leave, flexibility and other benefits that make “having it all” possible.

Now, excuse me while I pick up my daughter from daycare; my boss knows that I take all of my responsibilities very seriously.