Taking an Inclusive Approach to Work-Life Balance
Work life balance means many things to many different people. Taking an inclusive approach to work life balance should be part of an organization’s overall inclusion and diversity strategy.
Few people are so dedicated to work that their personal lives never require taking an extended break during the day, showing up or logging in a bit late, leaving or logging off early or even taking extended time away from the job.
But managers’ perceptions of appropriate workplace flexibility may be tainted by their own worldview, upbringing and unconscious biases.
Unconscious Bias Impacts Perspectives on Work-Life Balance
For example, an older male manager used to “traditional” family structures and domestic roles may not appreciate the flexibility a single father might need. Similarly, families of color often face greater challenges balancing childcare and work life than white families, according to a study by the Center for American Progress (CAP).
The CAP article cited data from an analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) of related 2016 – 2018 data. The NSCH study found that 13.1 percent of African American families either quit a job, did not take a job, or greatly changed their jobs due to problems with childcare. That figure was slightly more than ten percent for multiracial families, compared to just 7.2 percent for multiracial families.
Diversity Among Leadership Groups Can Help
Managers and company policymakers may not appreciate the disparate burdens childcare and other non-work issues place on certain groups of employees if that leadership structure lacks the requisite diversity and inclusion to understand their workforce.
Of course, companies can’t necessarily diversify their management teams overnight, but there are immediate steps they can take to help ease the burdens faced by diverse groups of workers. In the context of childcare burdens disproportionately impacting families of color, these steps include allowing for more remote work arrangements, flexible meeting schedules, flexible start and stop times for the workday, and even employer-sponsored childcare.
Companies are increasingly embracing the notion that work-life balance and workplace flexibility are important elements of company culture—and employees are increasingly appreciating that flexibility.
As the norms around that notion solidify, it’s important to take an inclusive approach to defining what they mean for a particular organization to avoid narrowly tailoring flexibility to how that concept is viewed through a specific lens.
When it comes to ensuring the appropriate work-life balance for all of your employees it’s important to be inclusive!
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