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Part 4: Equity and Home Life Balance

For our last blog, Sarah Lewis and I discuss equity of home life, and how that contributes to the workplace. Breaking the long-time norms and achieving greater equity in managing family and home continue to be a pressing issue for working mothers, caregivers and partners. As we talked, there were far more questions than answers, but I love Sarah’s perspective and thought-provoking questions.

Elise: You mentioned that much of these conversations start at home. Can you expand on that? I often call working with a family “walking the tight-rope”.

Sarah: Here are my thoughts on home life/ family:

  • Women carry the burden of caregivers. Why can’t men be the coordinator? That would have a big impact and carry over into the workplace.

  • Think about the conditions of how we take care of one another in the professional space: kids, parents, chosen family, or in community. It is so often suppressed or with hard trade-offs.

  • Other countries have policies that make this possible- parental leave, social investments, etc. It’s time for our country to follow suit.

  • Investing in pre-kindergarten, senior centers, and wellbeing of all people are so beneficial. We are responsible for all people.

  • If women have the peace that their community is taken care of, they can focus more on the work

Elise: When we look at this cumulatively, what is the impact to the workforce?

Sarah: We are leaving talent off the table because of this:

  • So many women left the workforce to care for community during the pandemic- this is a scary moment to lose so much talent and progress. How do we bring back to the workforce in a SUSTAINABLE way?

  • Leaders need to be more open minded- talk with their teams. What do we know about the data? What does the Department of Labor say about workplace shift? How are organizations doing to “do well at work as well as at home”? This is a systemic as well as cultural shift.

  • We can move this mountain before policy changes come. Small steps can lead to major changes!

  • Psychologically it is tough being female in male dominated work world and have to pretend that kids don’t exist. We are forced to make an unrealistic facade. Let’s create a shift so family IS part of the work world.

  • I want to see a male leader be open about struggles of parenthood- what keeps them awake? What sacrifices to do they make? Show me the yogurt on their sleeve!

  • Belonging is a reality for parents, and it’s not healthy. It’s simply not accepted to talk at the office about our kids and families, yet you can talk about rock climbing and golf.

These are the questions that matter. My time with Sarah is always so insightful and shifts my perspective. I hope her philosophy and expertise have given you food for thought on your own inclusivity journey. I’ll leave you with a quote from Sarah that sums up the power of these conversations and creates a call to action for us all:

Sarah: “Don’t underestimate the power of speaking up for inclusion- Your words can change cultures, hearts and minds, and move us forward. Position and power can make this hard. Find your courage, know your impact, and move forward.”

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