Men Hate The Workplaces They Built

Men want work-life flexibility just as much as women. So why are women still the ones carrying the message?

Ah, the sweet sensation of validation.  Finally, a think tank has thought what many work-life advocates have been saying for years: Men want work-life flexibility just as much as women do.

That’s the basic point of “Men and Work-Life Integration: A Global Study,” released last week by the WorldatWork Alliance.

For men and women of all ages, flexibility in work schedules is the number one most-desired workplace characteristic. Most say they want to spend more time with family, but fitting in exercise and hobbies is right up there too.

But – shocker!  – managers universally think that the most productive employees are those without “personal commitments.” (As though supporting a family doesn’t focus the mind!) The report finds that business leaders have ‘bought into’ the business case for flexibility.

So where’s the disconnect? The current work framework doesn’t work. Men don’t even like it and they’re the ones who  set it up!

The think tankers are too polite to come right out and say it, but I’m not:  Execs at most companies are clueless. They think that if they sign off on a rosy program, that flexwork will bloom in every office. Problem solved!

Tackling work-life issues for real requires some humility and the willingness to accept that others’ paths to career success just might look different from yours.

Here’s how accounting firm Elliott Davis took on its ‘woman problem,’ the problem being that it had almost no women partners. 

First, they canceled golf.  They really, really did.

Then, they confronted the fact that if their workplace culture and career paths didn’t change, they wouldn’t be able to retire. It wasn’t just an issue of being nice guys. It was a matter of fiduciary responsibility to the firm and its owners (mainly, the partners).  Read more in the latest Accounting MOVE Report about how lead shareholder Todd Mitchell got the others in line…and discovered three women parked in the partnership pipeline, all ready to be promoted.

Guys, if you’re frustrated with your own system, and the workplace you’ve invested in has become a barrier to your own retirement, break it down. For all of us.

Image courtesy of Morguefile contributor anitapatterson

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