Reading the stories by so many moms about how they have been discriminated against at the workplace is unsettling at best and horrifying at worst, but it’s not surprising.
First, I think what companies are doing is very typical of ego-oriented human behavior. We all like to think that we’re important, that what we’re doing is a priority. It brings me back to High School where I recall nearly every teacher expecting that we’d treat his/her class with the highest priority. Children in particular have difficulty understanding that the world doesn’t revolve completely around them. Why should it be different with companies as they are paying people good money to be dedicated to their jobs. Shouldn’t they deserve nothing more than complete devotion? (And by the way, this isn’t purely directed at women but at anyone who seems as though they may not put the company first: ie Stay-At-Home Dads returning to the workforce. )The stockholders are expecting massive profits, so the pressure is extreme to produce with maximum efficiency. There’s a lot of insistence on paying the fewest people to do as much work as possible. How can moms expect to be treated without discrimination in such a company-centric environment?
The answer is that moms (and dads, too) shouldn’t accept this corporate behavior and should demand more family/work balance. What’s wrong with most companies today stems from our I-ME-MINE consumer cultural values. It really goes to the core about what is wrong with our culture at this point – that greed and personal interest trump all else. It’s not about moms or dads or families anymore, but about how we treat ourselves. It goes deep into the core of our societal values.
The good news is that there is a greater awareness of these issues thanks to people like Joan and her army at MomsRising and I’m optimistic that we are currently going through a turning point in terms of how people see gender equity and family/work balance. Old models of business are becoming obsolete by the powers of the internet, more people able to work at home and more women in the workforce than ever before; and with this, things will change. Things are also changing because the upcoming new generation of moms and dads are becoming more expectant of a greater balance – likely a reaction to having been put into daycare when they were kids and not wanting to feel as detached from their kids as they may with their parents. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s on the way.
Lastly, as a concerned father and a filmmaker moving through the process of documenting the evolving role of dad, it seems to me once again that the only way to hasten change in family/work balance is to get dads into the mix. The more this becomes a women’s issue, the more resistance we’re going to see with things changing. Only when moms and dads alike demand increased work/family balance will change really kick in.