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.