Category Womenomics

Take Womenomics with You

As you head off into work-life bliss, we want to give you a final bit of news you can literally use—at any moment. Here’s a Womenomics cheat sheet you can cut out and keep in your wallet and pull out whenever you need to remind yourself how you can finally get what you want. If you want to stop all the juggling and struggling and finally live and work the way you really want to right now, here are five Womenomics facts you cannot do without:

ultimate news you can use

We’ve got the power. Companies want us and can’t afford to lose us.

We’re not alone. Four out of five of us want more flexibility at work.

Know what you really want from life and you can write your own rules for success.

Work smarter not harder and ask for what you want.

Flexibility is NOT a favor. Major corporations are embracing it—because it makes business sense in any economy.


katty I still remember the morning Claire left an outraged mes­sage on my cell phone: "Are you crazy? I just heard you’re seriously thinking of taking that White House reporting job! You know it’ll make you miserable. You’ll work round the clock and never see the kids. Listen, I’ve got a much better idea for us—let’s write a book about how to work and have time.” Even amid the crackles of the Verizon con­nection her enthusiasm and confidence were infectious.

claire "Come on, it’ll be much better than getting into the White House at five every morning,” I said jokingly. But in the course of that one conversation we found we were both serious and passionate. More passionate about this issue than any other. "We should tell some of the stories of how we’ve worked—and found time for our lives by saying no to those workaholic jobs. We always think our choices are crazy, but maybe we’ve got it right!”

When we began this book we thought we were telling our story. We soon discovered we were telling yours. This book is essentially the proposition that professional women can finally

live and work the way we’ve always really wanted, though most of us have never dared to ask. We hope we’ve lifted the veil of se­crecy and anxiety that often clouds this intensely sensitive issue.

The workplace is changing dramatically. It’s struggling to meet a talent shortage, rushing to embrace the benefits of new technology, and working to modernize itself in ways that happen to call for a more “feminine” management style. We have more clout than ever before. The result will be that our desire for a saner work life will soon be embedded in all work practices. But until that happens, this is the guide to doing it for yourself. With Womenomics, you can reach a career-life balance that really does work for you, your family, your boss, and your future.

There’s no question it’s a revolution whose time has come. Innovation and change are flowing across governments, indus­tries, and income levels.

• Wal-Mart is putting together a major report on the benefits of diversity and flexibility. As it did with sustainability,

the company hopes to be a leader on the issue and then use its clout to push change across the marketplace.

• From the city of Houston to the state of Virginia, local governments are desperate to cut down on traffic and pollution. They’re creating huge incentives for businesses to offer flextime.

• The recession is only hastening the trend. Companies that have already embraced flexibility see it as a tool to stay afloat in the crisis; from increased productivity to high morale, they say they can’t survive without it. Other firms are starting to use furloughs, flexibility, and shortened workweeks as short-term methods to avoid layoffs. Once businesses see the productivity benefits, they won’t go

back. Through the lens of the crisis, female management skills—more inclusive, heavily focused on the long term, and less prone to risk taking—suddenly appear all the more valuable.

• First Lady Michelle Obama wants to make this her signature issue. She hopes to focus on creating support networks for the women who have no options—just the angst. "I’ve run into so many mothers,” she told us, "who are working because they have to work and then they find their kids are in day care from seven in the morning until six at night. They have no choice, but they feel guilty.”

Many of us are lucky. As professional women we often do have choices, even if they don’t seem easy or obvious. It helps to remember that fact on days when the juggle seems too much. We have options less fortunate women can only dream of. Indeed we have more options than ever, because Womenomics is not about making the best of a bad deal; it’s about building a better, happier, more productive future; a win-win all around.

It is true that right now most of the great work lives we’ve uncovered are being won by stressed-out individuals. They are women, perhaps just like you, who were on the verge of quitting, and figured there was nothing to lose in attempting one last conversation with their boss to ask for a more manageable deal. They are women who have gone down on bended knee and carved out more time on the hush-hush, often sworn to secrecy by nervous employers. But they get their bit of nirvana.

For many, but certainly not for all women, the demands of young children have pushed them to have that frightening, and once unimaginable, “I need to work from home/three days a week/fewer hours/more flexibly/two hundred days a year” con­versation. That maternal instinct is a huge drive behind the demand for change, but it’s not the only one. We’ve met plenty of other women (and men) who say they’ve changed schedules, scaled down, or switched things around just because they want a more manageable life—no kids, no sick mom, no triathlon, no reason other than just because. Just because, let’s be honest, life is short, and who doesn’t want more fulfillment.

As we said at the start of the book, you need this change, the corporate world needs this change, and the economy needs this change. And it may well be the moment, as the worldwide obses­sion with stratospheric wealth necessarily fades, that everyone finally gets it. Womenomics is about getting the values right for all of us.

But look, important change comes when this workplace sanity is no longer the result of agonized evenings, tearful Monday mornings, and screw-your-courage-to-the-sticking-post conver­sations in the corner office. It comes when there is institutional change. It comes when bosses realize en masse what we laid out right at the beginning of this book—that women mean good business and are worth keeping, and that happy employees are more productive. The paradigm shift comes when accommodat­ing the demands of a woman’s schedule is the norm rather than a favor. No questions asked, no judgments made, and no reasons given.

That’s the moment when educated, valuable women will no longer leave their professional lives in droves, as they’ve been doing in recent years. That’s the moment when companies will benefit from their huge talents and when the economy as a whole will be stronger for it.

When bosses start to measure employees on how they do their work rather than on where they do their work, then all the reasons for not allowing so-and-so to work such-and-such a schedule simply disappear. If an employee is achieving their tar­gets, who cares when or where they work?

Companies like Capitol One, Best Buy, Sun Microsystems, Deloitte and Touche, Wal-Mart—they and many others really get it. They don’t need to judge one reason over another, or worry about dominoes, or hand out flexible schedules like prizes at a children’s birthday party. They simply ask their employees to do their jobs. They treat employees like grown-ups. And maybe, in the end, that is what all working women really aspire to—being given control and being treated like adults. It’s simple, really.

That’s the tipping point—the shift from favor to business strategy, from individual deal to institutionalized policy—which creates a truly flexible workplace.

Are we there yet? No. Are we well on the way? Most definitely.

It’s only in the last thirty years that women have joined the professional world in any numbers. It is not surprising that our relationship with work is still evolving. What we have learned is that the model of the last three decades has not worked for us as it should.

But here’s another Womenomics twist. Part of the original feminist argument was that the work world would never change until women got to the top and forced change upon it. That no longer holds. The corporate world is changing, not because of a female dictatorship, but because of our collective power as con­sumers and as valuable, but dissatisfied, workers.

Womenomics is a revolution ignited by two sparks. The first is that companies are realizing the increased productivity and profit that women generate, especially when they can work in the way that best suits them. The second comes from you, from women who are demanding change. In order to keep fueling the movement we need to keep pushing.

Our part of the revolution really does start inside each and every one of us with the question: What do I really want from life? Answer that honestly and confidently and you are ready to join the brigades who are saying “no” to business as usual.

We know it’s hard when you feel like you are the only one. The only one struggling to do it all. The only one wondering why you feel so dissatisfied, even though you have gorgeous kids and a terrific career. The only one questioning whether you’ve simply lost your drive and ambition. The only one summoning up your courage to have “that conversation” with your boss. The only one wondering whether it means you just “don’t have what it takes.” But believe us you are not the only one. Far from it. All across the world millions of professional women face exactly the same dilemma as you do every single day. If there’s one thing you must take away from Womenomics, it’s that you are not alone.

Think of Womenomics as a modern-day manifesto, a work­ing woman’s call to arms. We hope you now believe you have the power to wage and win your battle. And while it’s true that this individual fight for a precious little bit of flextime is far from ideal, remember, it is an evolutionary step. Take heart. One day, we believe, in the not too distant future, the advice in this book will be redundant because the idea of freedom at work will be commonplace. In our ideal world all careers in all companies will be so customized, altered, flexed, feminized, and, yes, bal­anced, that women will look back at this era and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Every employer we’ve interviewed sees this as the next big business trend. Few are brave enough to put a specific time frame on it as a universal proposition, but most think that within a decade the world of work will be unrecognizable.

Women and Womenomics will transform the workplace. Not long ago we were happy just to be at the boardroom table. Now we are refashioning, retooling, and rebuilding that table to suit our unique female tastes. We won’t sit meekly anymore. If we meet resistance in one company, then we now know we are so valuable that another will welcome us with open, flexible arms.

There has never been a better time to be a professional woman. We have more power than ever to aim for the top, the middle, or anyplace we want.

Erin glances down at her watch. She’s got a conference call in two hours. She e-mails a quick message to her assistant, Emily, who works from home today, to round up the troops. Bob will be on his cell, she remembers, checking out his son’s new apartment. Denise is probably at the office by now, but her schedule tends to vary, depending on her husband’s travel commitments. Sandy is in Turkey for a client meeting. For a moment she thinks back to her old, clock-watching boss and shakes her head. Her new team is superb, and everyone con­firmed this morning that they’d read her notes and were ready to brainstorm on how to get the Wagner account.

This will be her first formal pitch as executive vice presi­dent! Erin feels that familiar rush—the thrill of going after new business coursing through her veins. She spent the morning running over creative concepts in her mind—and also running along the canal near her home. She smiles, drops her BlackBerry into her purse, and smoothes her skirt. She checks her watch again: 11 a. m. Right on time, Erin thinks happily, as she heads into her daughter’s school for lunch duty.

The Right Stuff

OK. All that sounds great, you’re probably thinking: But what are the odds I’m going to find a company like that? It’s true that most companies don’t have those breathtaking, eye-popping programs and stats to show off, at least not yet. Not every com­pany is ready to, or is even able to, blow open its walls and struc­tures and rules and set its stunned employees free. But you can still find smart companies and their managers who are tuned in to female work-life trends, and who are prepared to adapt to make things work, even within a more traditional structure.


At the Marriott Company, which has an enormous female work­force, senior managers are well versed in what’s coming—and that’s a critical attitude to look for. “I do think the workplace is changing—I’m not even sure companies are aware that it’s changing right underneath them,” says David Rodriguez, executive vice president of HR at Marriott. “I fully expect that within the next five years this building will look quite different,” he says, referring to Marriott headquarters in Maryland. “There will probably be more offices rented as needed and a lot of con­ference space facilities, teleconferencing. . . . I think it will be very different.”

The company has the standard flextime, compressed work­week, and telecommuting policies on offer, but do the real star managers take advantage of these programs? Not so much, yet. A group of top women we had lunch with, when pressed, said they’d love to work, say, four days a week but didn’t think a move like that would go over well. They still worry about perceptions. But Rodriguez tries to encourage his own team to work at least one day a week from home. He says they are more productive that way. And he’s experimenting. He has a group of “flex – staffers” working on projects—managers who’ve worked at the company before and who are valued—but don’t want to work full time. It may be that those women we had lunch with have more power than they think.

One example of the company’s modern outlook is Laura Bates, a senior executive star, who recently resigned her post at Marriott to spend more time with her children. When she an­nounced her decision, the company surprised her by offering interesting and well-paid contract work that would keep her con­nected. David Rodriguez hopes that when her children are older, Laura will choose to dial her career back up, at Marriott. “Some­where, say three to five years out, we fully expect Laura is going to be part of our senior management somewhere in the com­pany,” he says confidently. “It’s crucial to keep her connected.”


You might imagine the massive PepsiCo to be rigidly set in its corporate ways. Hardly. Even though they don’t have a formal, all-inclusive flexibility program like Sun, for example, their management style is progressive. Working from home some of the time? Usually not a big deal, says Cynthia Trudell, the head of personnel and a senior vice president.

“Years ago there was a general attitude—‘Oh my, if people are working from home, they won’t be working.’ ” She smiles. “But we believe, and this is literally around the globe, that if people don’t have to be here and they can work from home, then they are in better control of their time.”

It’s a good sign when a company understands work can happen anywhere. It’s even better when bosses push employees to create a less rigid existence. Let them know it’s OK. PepsiCo cemented a program into its performance reviews called “One Simple Thing.” It forces employees to name something not really work-related they’d like to accomplish—to do differently—that might change their routine at the office. Something they may be reluctant to do otherwise—like getting out early to the gym one day a week or working from home one morning.

And a critical thing to look for: can valued managers dial back for a while? Go part time? That is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but productive employees get a yes whenever possible. Remember Angelique Krembs? She spent almost two years working from home part time. “Where it makes sense we will go out of our way,” Trudell says. “When you work hard at bringing people in, making them part of the organization—if you need those skill sets in the long run it makes sense. It can be a win-win for everyone.”

Even if the practice isn’t yet thoroughly ingrained in com­pany culture, or spelled out in a policy book, if you uncover at a prospective company open minds like they have at PepsiCo or Marriott, then the job you’re looking at is a good bet. You have a chance to be a pioneer and poster child for the company, which is valuable for everyone.

Dot O’Brien

Or you might just get lucky enough to come upon an individ­ual boss like Dot O’Brien. For the two lawyers she employs flexibly—i. e., for the hours they want to work and not more— Dorothy O’Brien gives this grade report: “I judge by results and how they’re delivered, the skill with which they’re deliv­ered, and I believe these two lawyers deliver results that are certainly, at a minimum, equal to colleagues that may have to be here, or choose to be here for longer hours.”

If you hear a sentiment like that, take the job. You will be in very good hands. Thank you, Dorothy, for recognizing what we know to be true.

What can we say—we’re biased. We believe the most mean­ingful breakthroughs will come when companies stop treating flexible schedules as favors. Gazing out at nirvana, we think that when women, or men, have to give a reason for their “dif­ferent” schedules, and this in turn means that bosses are then put in the position of having to judge whether or not those reasons are valid, then it results in an inherently unhealthy situation for the feng shui of a modern workplace. It makes some women, or men, nervous, so they don’t ask, and it makes bosses even more nervous, so they don’t offer. A spiral of re­sentment can build fast on both sides. We’ve spoken to many employers who find the situation incredibly awkward. “We don’t want to choose between a one-year-old daughter, a sick parent, and an unfinished novel,” they tell us. Most bosses simply don’t want the responsibility of passing moral judg­ment on an employee’s reasons for wanting to change their schedule.

We sympathize. Honestly. Who are we to say that one demand is “better” or more “valid” than another. We certainly don’t care whether your desire to change your life is your children, as ours is, or your dog, or your lotus position.

But the solution to all of these employer concerns is beautifully simple, if you’ll allow us to indulge in a little Womenomics advice to the CEO. Simply stop judging. Does it really matter if it’s little Pat the toddler or big Pat the poodle that’s driving the demand for change? So long, of course, as the work is getting done, the goals are being met, and the employee is producing as she should, why she leaves at 3 p. m., arrives at 10 a. m., or works from her spare room is really irrelevant.

In other words, it’s the results, stupid.

“When you think of all of the ways it could go wrong, you won’t change,” warns Greg Papadopoulos of Sun. “It takes cour­age from the management side.”

So woman up, corporate America! Are there concerns? Yes. Will it require some work? Yes.

But this is going to be a more pressing issue than ever in a flagging economy. All of the big business thinkers say the focus will necessarily shift to efficiency and productivity. The core ten­ants of Womenomics.

A more porous, more flexible, and more dynamic workplace is the business future, whether you see that now or not. “The shift is clearly toward that environment,” agrees Bruce Tulgan. “It will happen underneath companies,” agrees David Rodriguez, “and one day they will sort of say maybe we should ride this wave and let policies facilitate what’s already happening.”

The companies who understand the organic, all-encompassing nature of this tidal wave and embrace it are those who stand the best chance of beating the competition on every level. They will be first to the next frontier.

“At Wal-Mart we started experimenting with sustainability a few years ago, and nobody was thinking about it as a way to make our business more efficient or profitable,” notes Tom Mars. “It was all about image and doing good. As we got in to it it’s turned out to be unexpectedly helpful to the business, beyond anybody’s wildest imagination. And I think, as we enter into this flextime and this workforce awareness paradigm, there’s a clear parallel. It seems like the right thing to do, but soon every­one will see that the business case is just obvious.”

How lucky, really, that we live in an era when letting people work the way they want to turns out to be good business, and good business in any economic climate. Sun can attract talent from all over the world. Capitol One can spin its positive energy into profits. And companies like PepsiCo and Marriott have the wisdom to understand how much they’ve invested in executives like Angelique Krembs and Laura Bates, and therefore they’ve said yes to their desire to work in a different way. They are look­ing beyond temporary career lulls and betting on the future with these women.

Like most things, it just boils down to simple economics. Or should we say, happily for us, Womenomics.

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems is the epitome of a company without walls, boundaries, or mandatory cubicles. There are employees around the world—from Beijing to Boston to Buenos Aires—working wherever they please. The issue of where an employee might live barely comes up in job interviews. Live where you want. Just get the job done.

Greg Papadopoulos, the chief technology officer for Sun Microsystems, laughs when we suggest that all California companies surely operate that way. Not so. There are plenty of California cultures with the attitude that “if I don’t see your butt in the seat, or don’t see you staying late, then you are not working hard enough,” he says.

Papadopoulos says Sun embraced its Open Work Plan almost by accident, for practical reasons. They were growing so fast in the middle of the dot-com boom most managers realized it was literally impossible to fit everyone into their office space.

These days the plan is critical to company culture. Sun’s Bar­bara Williams, a senior manager at the company says, with a perpetual smile on her face, that she works harder than ever because of her freedom. “People are just passionate about the workplace and the teams and what they do,” she says, sparkling. “It’s what drew me to Sun—the flexibility—and the amazing opportunity to thrive. So what if my boss is there at 10.30 a. m. I don’t feel I need to be. If I’m more creative at 9 p. m. at night— great!”

The program was revolutionary for the company, critical not only in terms of cost-saving, but also in terms of productivity and talent retention. “It’s all about gathering talent,” says Papa – dopolous. “Technology creation is an art form.”

Even today, as Sun tries to weather the economic challenges, it believes its Open Work Place Program is essential. “Our Open Work plan helps to define the company,” says Ann Bamesberger, vice president of Sun’s Open Work program. “More than that, it ensures that our fixed costs, like real estate, for example, remain reasonable, and that productivity stays high. It’s exactly the sort of program that helps in a challenging economy.”

Best Buy

Next time you need to buy a television or a computer and you hop down to the local Best Buy to make the purchase, remind yourself that this isn’t an ordinary shopping expedition. You are heading into the belly of a workplace revolution.

Back in 2002 Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson were both human resources managers at Best Buy, back then a ferociously face-time, eight-to-five, Monday-through-Friday kind of place. But Thompson, a boomer, and Ressler, a Gen Xer, saw that the world outside the company fences was changing—becoming less static. And they saw also that the old-fashioned culture at Best Buy just wasn’t working for them.

So they started dreaming of a workplace that would suit them and the new global environment. It would be a workplace where no one has to get permission to watch their kids’ weekday soccer game. A workplace where people aren’t promoted because they arrive early and stay late. A workplace where there is no when or where—just “how well.” A workplace where performance is mea­sured solely on the basis of results and not hours at the office.

Their dream is now a reality called ROWE—Results-Only Work Environment. In a ROWE you control where, when, and how long you work. So long as you meet your professional objec­tives, the way you spend your time is entirely your decision.

Ressler and Thompson knew they couldn’t just go to their CEO and trot out their vision, so they met in private and rolled out ROWE by stealth. They organized tiny pilots and waited for an opportunity to go bigger. In 2003 they got that chance, and since then, in a remarkably short time, these two pioneering women have radically changed the Fortune 500 megacompany into a worker-friendly haven. They have given employees far more than flexibility—they have also given them freedom. Their clock-less, schedule-less, boundary-less system of working has radically changed lives. Now ROWEs have spread throughout the company.

“When Jody and I first came up with ROWE, we were focused on the corporate office environment, but today we’re actually on the verge of beginning work with Best Buy retail to figure out how this will look in the retail stores. ROWE is not about not going to a workplace; it’s about having control over your time. There are things in every environment that just don’t make sense anymore, and they’re making people stressed-out and feel like children, so we know that there’s a huge opportunity out­side the office environment for this,” explains Cali Ressler.

Workers at Best Buy say they no longer know if they work fewer hours; they don’t really care, and they’ve stopped count­ing. But they are much happier, and they are more productive. Right across the company, departments that adopted the ROWE revolution saw productivity rise by an average of 40 percent.

“At first, we took this on faith—that people wanted to be treated like adults, they wanted to be trusted to do their work in a way that makes sense for them, and that people would really step up to the plate if left free to do their work the way they thought best, not the way the company let them do it,” says Jody Thompson.

“I don’t come in to the office at eight and leave at five, there’s no way. I have two mornings from about 8 a. m. until 1 p. m. where I’m not in the office at all because I’m studying for a master’s,” says Christy Runningen, of Best Buy. “I didn’t ask for permis­sion, and nobody cares. I still get my job done, and I’m happier and more productive than ever.”

Naturally, Jody and Cali encountered hurdles. They’ve had to deal with old-fashioned managers who refused to cede control, with naysayers who said that it would never work and that productivity would plummet. The biggest concern for some managers was that employees would abuse the system— yet, overwhelmingly, that hasn’t happened. Actually ROWE makes it easier, says Thompson, not harder, to see if associates are genuinely pulling their weight rather than just spending long hours in the office.

“The only way that you can scam a results-only work environ­ment is to not get your job done,” explains Thompson. “And, really, what happens on teams is that people who aren’t pulling their weight weren’t doing it before. In ROWE, it becomes really evident, and people are managed strictly on performance, so if somebody’s not holding up their end, it becomes really clear. But they could just skate by and put in time in a traditional work environment.”

Cali and Jody are now national advocates for their system— they are working with another Fortune 150 retailer and a For­tune 100 technology company that are in the process of becom­ing ROWEs, and a host of smaller companies have already made the transition.

But how can a ROWE possibly work in this economy? Best Buy, like so many retailers, has been struggling with sales, so will this freedom evaporate? On the contrary. Cali and Jody say because the system has actually increased productivity and often lowered fixed costs like real estate, it’s actually expanding. “There is a huge competitive advantage baked in to ROWE in tough economic times because when leadership expects teams to ‘tighten their belt,’ everyone is able to voice whether activities are adding value or whether they’re wasting time. Nobody wants wasted capacity in good times, but in tough times there is NO room for waste,” Cali told us. “ROWE employees know how to get results and are relentlessly focused on that.”

Deloitte and Touche

Anne Weisberg and Cathleen Benko of Deloitte and Touche were heavily focused on how to hang on to their valuable female workforce as the nation heads into a talent shortage. Even in an economic downturn, the fundamentals of America’s demo­graphics still apply. Over the next few years, the country will need productive talent to revive and expand its economy but a deficit of well-qualified labor still looms. For Deloitte, with a huge female workforce, it’s a real structural problem. Weisberg and Benko came up with Mass Career Customization, thanks to an epiphany they had one day that just seemed obvious: if products can now be customized en masse, why not careers?

Every employee at Deloitte, not just women, now continually adjusts key aspects of their career. You can work less, work from different places, shoulder more or less responsibility. Basically, you can choose when to “dial up” and when to “dial down,” with the knowledge that dialing up will get you promoted faster, and dialing down will slow promotions. Benko says what is so criti­cal about the program is the attempt to standardize the idea of a flexible workplace. It removes the individual deal-making for flexible working conditions, which Benko said was creating con­fusion at Deloitte.

“We found that many people didn’t like the old system,” she says. “People would often say ‘I just feel guilty or I feel like I’m letting my team down.’ And we were also hearing, ‘Am I eligible for the next level? Can I still get promoted?’ ”


Tom Mars is a present-day Johnny Appleseed on the subject of flexibility. As executive vice president and chief administrative officer of a behemoth-like Wal-Mart, he can change minds by planting ideas around the country, and he can use company muscle to force the business world to pay attention. Much as Wal-Mart’s become a major player on the issue of sustainability, it’s set to engender substantial change on the issue of flexibility. “Just a few years ago I was pretty dismissive of the idea of flex­time,” he admits ruefully. “I’m embarrassed at how shallow my thinking was. I think my attitudes were fairly typical of a lot of people. When anybody would raise it with me, I would think privately, ‘We’re trying to run a law department here.’ ”

But when he has an epiphany, Mars moves fast. A few years ago, when he was general counsel, he looked around at his almost all-white, all-male legal team after attending a legal di­versity conference and decided to shake things up. Within a few years, the Wal-Mart legal department employed more than 40 percent women and more than 35 percent lawyers of color. That’s a move he feels has so benefited the quality of the com­pany’s legal work that he’s consistently used the $250 million worth of annual legal business the company does with other law firms to demand change. Wal-Mart noticed almost all of the relationship partners on their top 100 accounts were white men—so Mars asked for more women and minorities. Wal – Mart ended up moving $60 million in annual revenue to new women and minority relationship partners, converting their white male counterparts into the new minority group. And when Mars wasn’t satisfied that several of Wal-Mart’s outside law firms were embracing diversity, he dropped their busi­ness.

“You can understand that’s just not the attitude we like in people representing our company around the country,” Mars ex­plains, in a folksy aw-shucks style that must have made his will­ingness to use the company’s big stick something of a shock to these unenlightened firms.

As he was being feted for those achievements, Mars started reading information about why women have such a hard time making it through the ranks at law firms and companies. It was a lack of flexibility.

“I thought a lot about this, and frankly, I just decided to do it. I came in to the next staff meeting and told my team we needed to do it quickly and without bureaucracy, and to come up with a good policy within thirty days.” He grins.

Today the legal team at the company works without any time boundaries.

“With the exception of a handful of bona fide workaholics, everybody takes advantage of the program. Everybody leaves during the week to go to soccer games and the like. Somebody reported to me recently they went to go see a movie,” Mars says happily. “Our office has had a policy that office hours begin at seven-thirty, but nobody pays attention now. I run into a lawyer who comes into the building at 10 a. m., and frankly, the cool thing about it is I don’t know if they’re coming into work or if they’ve already been here and are coming back again. We just don’t think about it anymore.”

Wal-Mart also gives the 160 lawyers in the department the ability to cut back hours, or work from home a number of days week. Is he worried about clients or image or anything like that if an employee is with her children from three to seven, and then starts work again in the evening?

“In emergencies we’re all flexible. But that’s not common. These days I always tell people,” he says with a shrug, “we’re running a law department, not a fire department.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that no matter how you mea­sure morale, it’s considerably higher than it ever was before,” Mars concludes. “The element of trust that was introduced when we installed flextime has made not only happier people but better lawyers. They have a greater willingness to do their jobs, and to do them with appropriate independence.”

Treat employees like grown-ups and we act like grown-ups. It’s revolutionary.

By the way, Tom’s innovation in Wal-Mart’s legal department has caught the eye of other departments across the company, and many are moving to implement the changes wholesale. We love to emphasize the power of one, your power to affect change as an individual woman. Think of this as the power of one as well—one man who made big waves with his goliath of a company. Bravo.

Nirvana Squared

There’s just no better way to describe what some companies have pulled off on the freedom front. We’ve given you details about the great program at Capital One, and there are so many other visionary places. What sets them apart is the belief that flexibility should be an institutional practice—a standard across the company instead of a favor bestowed by paternalistic em­ployers. Their routes to this enlightened state were different, but the results—the benefits—are stunningly clear.


It’s getting harder for companies to disguise their true natures. You certainly won’t be taken in by a superficial rouge job if you’ve followed the process we outlined above. You’ll also find, as you really begin to look around, that a company’s Womenomics – friendly attitude will shine through like a healthy glow. And the news is good. Flexibility is moving quickly from being a favor to being the industry standard. We’ve discovered in our research that there are myriad ways to create programs that make for a happier and freer workforce, but we’ve also noticed that those companies that do it best have one of these two traits: either a commitment to full-scale institutional flexibility, or thoroughly modern managers who understand that productivity and talent retention are essential. Here are some examples of what you should be looking for.

A Fresh Start

If you’re looking for a fresh start, the trick is to find out whether your potential mate is really everything he says he is. How do you know for sure this is a company that’s going to suit your Womenomics requirements? When you’re considering a new employer it’s easy, of course, to ask about the job itself; it’s a lot harder to ask about the firm’s commitment to work-life issues. So how do you go about the hunt without scaring off the prey?

Here’s some advice from an unexpected source.

Just as we were finishing this book, we checked in again with all of our women to see how they were doing, and we got some surprising news from Christine Heenan. Remember that when we first met Christine she was being wooed for a big job at Har­vard and seemed pretty confident she would turn it down be­cause she didn’t want to give up her fantastically flexible work life at her own communications company in Rhode Island. Well, she changed her mind. The high-powered Harvard job was too exciting to resist. But here’s the interesting thing: she only took that big job after pointedly raising her schedule requirements with the university.

At the end of her first interview with the search committee, Christine was asked if she had any questions. That’s when she raised her work-life concerns and here’s how she did it. “I said, ‘I think it’s probably fair to say that I work as much or as inten­sively as anyone at this table but I also think it’s quite likely that I work differently. I’m at my kids’ school at 3 o’clock most after­noons picking them up and I run a school newspaper project on Fridays and I value my flexibility. What is Harvard’s commit­ment to work-life balance?’”

She knew the Harvard job would demand more hours in the office than she was used to, but she was also clear that if Har – yard wasn’t going to be able to try to accommodate her family commitments, she wouldn’t take the post. Christine wouldn’t have taken the job if Harvard had responded negatively to her family concerns. Christine also feels the fact that Harvard has a new President, Drew Gilpin Faust, who is herself a working mother, means her boss genuinely understands her priorities. She says that makes a big difference in making her flexibility a practice not just a policy. And she believes that, having raised the issue formally, if her new colleagues ever raise eyebrows when she leaves early, she can always remind them of their interview conversation.

This is the thing about Womenomics, and it’s what makes the traditional ladder idea so ridiculous: there are times to scale back and times to ramp up, just as Christine did. But whatever stage you’re in, it’s worth making very sure that the new job fits your work-life goals. And remember: there is a big difference between policy and practice when it comes to flexibility.

Do your due diligence. This seems obvious, but it’s worth a reminder. Check out the company you’re thinking of joining on the Web, at your favorite social networking site, in the local paper. There are lots of great resources. We love the Sloan Foundation’s Family and Work Institute. They’ve got piles of data and a family – friendly annual survey. Or try Working Mother magazine. They’ve been rating the top companies for us for twenty years.

Take cards or names of people you come across in interviews who might be good sources. Check out the company-related blogs. They can be a trove of candid information. Call anybody on-site who might be straightforward about responsibilities, and potential issues; that connection is invaluable. Ask other women at the company what the reality is. And by the way, the savvy employer expects to be checked out.

“I keep reminding managers here,” says David Rodriguez, head of HR at Marriott, “we’re being evaluated constantly.

Somewhere on the Internet there is a group of people sharing this information. You can’t hide. You can’t say ‘I’m this type of company’ and not expect you will be assessed.”

Be rigorous on details. Any employer can point to a couple of women who job share or leave at 3 p. m. Or he could open up the company manual and point out their progressive-sounding poli­cies. For example, 98 percent of law firms offer part-time or flex­time scheduling. Actual usage rates? Five percent. “It just shows how incredibly stigmatized the schedules still are,” says Flex­time Lawyers’ Deborah Epstein Henry.

Even if the company as a whole has a good approach to alter­native work schedules, just make sure that attitude applies to the corner of the shop where you’ll be working. “Sixty percent of the company you’re looking at could be on some type of flexible work arrangement, but the department you may work in could have a manager who’s totally opposed,” warns Women for Hire’s CEO, Tory Johnson.

Now, we hope you are feeling empowered by Womenomics, but you do still have to be smart about getting the most from your power. Please do not start any interview by leaning across the desk and demanding a job share. It’s important to know when to raise flexibility. “It might be a way to be knocked out of the interview process to say, ‘What I want to know first and foremost is what’s your policy on flexibility,’ ” says Johnson.

Christine’s advice about how and when to raise the issue in the course of your job search? “I think you do have to first estab­lish yourself as having the work ethic and the DNA to do the job as it’s required, before you have permission to say, ‘What’s the threshold for you for doing it a bit differently?’ ”

But she did raise it early because she was ambivalent about even taking the job. First Lady Michelle Obama likes to recount the story of having a babysitter crisis just as she was going for her interview as public liaison for the University of Chicago hos­pital system. At the last minute, she threw her daughter in the stroller and figured that, since this was partly why she was look­ing at this job, they needed to know she put her family first. She took her daughter to the interview—a ballsy move—and got the job. And before her husband ran for president she routinely skipped out for afternoon soccer games.

Melissa James says it’s like any other sales presentation: you have to know your audience. “You need to know the most effec­tive way to talk about it for the person who’s listening. Try to figure that out. But my advice would probably be to put it on the table. It’s important to calibrate expectations from the start.”

So if you feel you’ve got plenty of muscle, raise it early. For most of us, it’s probably good smarts to follow that old chestnut of a standard script: inquire about responsibilities, show off your knowledge of the company, subtly brag about your achievements and prowess, and express enormous enthusiasm for joining the team. Once they are charmed by you and your talent, that’s the moment to test the waters with your potential bosses and HR. Clever phrases to break the ice from Tory Johnson: “Talk to me about the culture of your department. Talk to me about your policies around flexibility. What do schedules look like here? What are the work styles of the people I’d be working with?” Whenever in the process you choose to make your point, it’s far better to get specific before you take the job about both your in­tentions and expectations. Using everything you’ve uncovered in Womenomics, make sure you know exactly how you want to work, and then let them know what you’d like to do and how you plan to do it. Don’t cross your fingers and think you’ll “sort it out later.” By then, patterns and habits will have been established. You don’t get a chance to reset the stage of your work life very often. Grab it.

A womenomics world

f this is your moment to move on, congratulations. If you’ve quit, been poached, or even been laid off, the future looks rosier than the past. You may be feeling nervous and insecure, but your prospects, and the prospects for all women yearning for workplace sanity, are better than ever. Across the country, com­panies are instituting flexibility as a standard work practice, which often does away with the need for those agonizing indi­vidual negotiations. You’ve embarked on your search at just the right time—the work life you want is within reach.

Instead of trying to make an existing job bend to fit what you need, you may be able to find a new model built to suit. No ret­rofitting! And by the way, this is the same for any of you being wooed or simply looking around for something better from your current perch. In this chapter you’ll learn not only how to spot potential employers that meet your needs, but we’ll also show you our favorite Womenomics-friendly companies. Their exam­ple is changing our world of work.

Rule Nine: Know When to Quit

Look, we’ll be candid—it can happen that rules one through eight just don’t work. And that’s when you need rule nine. Some­times, however skillfully you make your case, your boss just won’t be able to overcome the worry list. When you really have tried everything and still can’t get the work life you want from a boss who just won’t budge, you know it’s time to quit.

Christy Runningen of Best Buy had come to that realization before she landed in a ROWE. When she was suffering from those back-to-work Sunday evening blues you read about earlier, she was trying everything she could think of to carve out time in her life to be with her kids. The stress levels were getting un­bearable. You’ll remember, she had permission to work “summer hours,” a system that theoretically allowed her to squeeze her full-time workweek into four and a half days. She would go in very early Monday morning, work hard until Friday noon, and then take that afternoon off with the children.

“I was calculating all of my time and hours and saying, ‘Yeah, I have over forty-five hours in by lunchtime on Friday,’ ” she re­calls. “I was just so excited to be able to take my daughter to the pool, just spend the afternoon with her.”

But her boss kept giving her grief. “He kept saying, ‘I’m here late, so you should be here late too.’ ” Christy was starting to panic. “I thought this is not a balance for me and this is not the way I want to live my life. Nitpicking the number of hours that they are seeing me here; or proving that I’m only leaving my desk for a half hour for lunch, just so I can scrape together some time so that I can be with my daughter.”

She started making plans to leave the company and was con­sidering a job as a day care provider, desperate to escape the prison-like stress. In the end she was rescued. The manager left first. Poetic justice. She moved to another team, joined one of Best Buy’s ROWEs, and hasn’t looked back. “It’s like the heavens opened up,” she says, laughing. But if chance hadn’t intervened, Christy knows she would have been out the door.

For Jennifer Winell, quitting meant leaving not just her job but also giving up on years of training as an orthopedic sur­geon. It was her passion. It was also a field where women are extremely rare—less than five percent of all orthopedic surgeons are women. After qualifying, Jennifer ended up at a tough New York hospital where she was on call constantly—even more than the other surgeons, because she was the only pediatric specialist there. “It was just unbelievably stressful, and I was like Pavlov’s dog. When my beeper went off my heart would start racing, and I just felt, ‘Oh my God, I can’t do this,’” she remembers.

Over the course of her two years at the hospital she tried to tweak things around the edges to win a little more control, but there was a massive expectations gap. Jennifer knew that one day she’d like to get married and have kids, but it was also very clear to her that in that profession, which she calls the ultimate old boys club, she’d never be able to get the flexibility she needed to have a family. “It would never have even crossed my mind to ask for some­thing like that,” she remembers. “It would have been unheard of.” Jennifer ultimately decided not only to quit but also to take some time off so she could choose her next move with greater realism. She researched hospitals, practices, and the entire field of orthopedics. Eventually she decided she had to give up operat­ing, after six years of training. She joined a team that gives her a four-day workweek, and she evaluates cases that might require surgery. Along the way she got married and had a baby. “There are definitely parts of my old career that I miss,” she admits, talking about surgical practice, “but at the same time it’s worth it to me to never be constantly on call again.”

As with everything else, there are good ways to quit and bad ways to quit. We suggest you resist the Scarlett O’Hara impulse to flounce out and bang the door. Here are some tips for quitting with dignity, in a way that burns no bridges:

1. Do pick a day when you can control your emotions. Yes, we’re trying to embrace our deepest feminine selves in this book, but a departure without tears is SO much classier, and SO much more commanding.

2. Do be clear about the reasons for your departure, and be overwhelmingly positive, yes, even about that job

you hate and are now leaving. "Bob, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but after a lot of thought, I’ve decided it’s time for me to move on. We’ve had a terrific working relationship, and we’ve brought in extraordinary business together, more than any of us expected, but I’m afraid I really can’t compromise on the schedule requirements I spelled out. I hope you understand, and with any luck we’ll get another chance to do deals together in the future.” Focus on accomplishments, without bragging (let that annoying boss take credit), and mention your demands briskly and crisply. No long dramatics about school plays and carpools and the chaos that your life has become. You may yet cross paths again.

3. Don’t be anything less than sure ofyour message and your goal. You have to mean it. If you still somehow believe this is part of the negotiation, and you are expecting a last-minute apology and an incredible offer from that troll-like creature in front of you, it will show.

4. Do know, however, that your superior may well be shocked ("What—leave this heaven on earth?”), panicked ("What is management going to say about me losing Sally”), or genuinely remorseful ("I didn’t think we were heading here. I wonder if we can work this out”). You may be asked what it will take to keep you; in that case, calmly say you’ll think it over, don’t commit to anything immediately. Even though you’ve been through Womenomics training, that desire to please, to smooth things over, will be extremely tempting. Resist, at least temporarily.

5. Do think and think hard about the counteroffer. If they make a play to keep you, are they really going to make good on the things you’ve asked for? Or will it just be talk? Do you believe, despite their initial reluctance, that they can really change their ways? Sometimes corporate resistance, or the underlying Scrooge-like spirit of the company, is just too strong. Your gut should help you a lot here. Suggest a trial period if you are worried.

Quitting can feel traumatic we know, but there is a huge upside. It gives you a chance to start fresh, to find a company or field that is compatible with the kind of work life you really need. You owe it to your newly reconstructed Womenomics self to move on and find what you want. We’ll show you how.

news you can use

1. Outline exactly how your proposed freedom will work.

To the letter.

2. Use the economy to your advantage.

3. Anticipate your supervisor’s concerns and answer them head on.

4. Know your Womenomics power and productivity stats cold.

5. Know when to quit, and how.