Tuesday

end of summer

Tomorrow is my kids' last day before school starts. Henry will be in 8th grade. Jane will be in 5th and baby Elliot will be in 2nd. They are getting big.

As usual, the summer has flown by, but I think they've had a good one. Mostly all I've done is work, but it makes me happy to see them doing fun stuff. They all got to go to the beach (Henry twice) and spend time with relatives in Bell Buckle. Jane got to go to horse shows and pony finals.

This year will be the first they have all been at the same school. It will only be for one year though before Henry starts high school after this year (yes, it does seem utterly bizarre that I am about to have a high school age kid). But I will enjoy this year of only having one dropoff and pickup time. One schedule to keep up with. One Christmas program. One PTA to deal with. Etc, etc, etc. Best of all, this year NONE of them need me to pack a lunch because their school serves lunch. Packing lunches is the bane of my parental existence. I loathe it.

Also, tomorrow I start my new schedule at work where I leave at 3pm two afternoons each week. I work in TV news, which means that my schedule has been that I stayed until after the 6pm news goes on the air every single day. And of course when there is breaking news, I often work into the night.

After my little cousin died a few weeks ago, I came back to work and told my boss that I could no longer live with a schedule where I get home at 7pm every day. I told him I simply had to have two afternoons a week where I, rather than the nanny or grandparents, could be the one to handle picking my children up from school, taking them to riding lessons, pediatric appts, soccer practices, etc. I was very happy he said yes and I am really pleased that we will start this new school year with me able to spend more time with the children.

I am so grateful to my employer for letting me make this change that it would take an incredibly sweet offer to ever lure me away. They have earned my gratitude and loyalty for sure. It's really insane that more companies don't figure out that for working mothers at least, this kind of flexibility is almost priceless. No other bonus or benefit they could give me would be more meaningful.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ay Caramba. Jumpin' Jiminy. Other family-friendly epithets. Without a trace of irony, you post an item wherein your employer, in its evil capitalistic self-interest, grants you flex time, to the benefit of all (an extraordinarily widespread and growing phenomenon, by the way) right next to an item about "leftyblogs," an ill-conceived notion of collecting up all the incessant whining about how bad everything is in one place. Ye gods. Your employer wasn't mandated, or legislated or otherwise threatened with a lawsuit for general unfriendliness to working mothers, and yet granted you flex time. It's a mortal lock that 90%+ of the leftyblogs have some mission statement or otherwise that calls for legislative action to remedy the vast injustice of "Womyn" not getting flex time, or somesuch.

Without a trace of irony.

katie allison granju said...

This is a very messy and random collection of complaints you've pulled together here (referring to comment immediately above mine).

First of all, flextime is NOT a frowing, widespread phenomenon. It's rare, and less common than it was fiveyears ago. It had a short boom and has shrunk again. I'll dig up the stats if you like.

Second of all, the few women in the U.S. who DO get flextime are in professional fields. Women who work in retail or at factories are never allowed flexibility.

Third of all, without feminist-promoted workplace legislation in the 60s and 70s, my worth in the workplace would likely be so low that they would not see it in their self interest to give me flextime so I don't go somewhere else. A female employee (and there were very few) at a TV station in 1973 would be fired if she got pregnant. Imagine what would have happened if she had asked for a different schedule to spend more time with her children.

As for the leftyblogs, com thing, I did not offer any opinion about it. I simply posted the info.

Your scattershot, ad hominem complaints in your comment make no sense.

trumwill said...

My aunt has a business out in California almost entirely staffed with working mothers. They're underpaid in comparison to what they could make elsewhere, on the whole, but because of the flexibility she gives them they have a very low turnover rate.

Anonymous said...

KAG:

Easy killer. There actually weren't any ad hominem attacks in mty post (I didn't call you a name or even a leftist - I just commented on the irony of the two items side by side).

As for the prevalence of flextime, I'll grant you that it's more widespread in professional fields than others, but that sort of goes without saying, no? Retail tends to be more flexible in its scheduling by definition. I would include telecommuting/telework in the flextime discussion, and my data suggests that both phenomenon are still growing, not shrinking, and that they are surprisingly widespread. (SHRM survey says 58% of companies offer some sort of flextime - compressed workweeks, telework, etc. I consider 58% to be widespread.). If you look at a number of traditionally female occupations, such as nursing or teaching, the schedules are even more flexible (in the case of nursing) or more tied to school age children's schedules (teaching).

As for the comment about Women's pay, I would argue that the business world would have come around on this for much the same reason your employer granted you a flex schedule - they can't afford not to. Capitalist organizations, though slow at times, tend to behave in ways that benefit them, and sometimes that means giving workers what they need or want.

And as for leftyblogs, it's just a bad idea, like Air America, the liberal talk radio station is a bad idea. It's not a market response, it's just a place for people who already think alike to get together and whine about how bad the world is with a Republican president. Just a bad idea. Not your bad idea, just a bad idea generally.

sajmom said...

Has anonymous ever worked a retail job? Flexible? Not really. Generally you are stuck with whatever shift you are hired for-which is fine until you have a baby, or your kids start school, or the kids have events they need transportation to, etc. They aren't accomdating to the sudden changes often called for by parenting-if a child becomes sick, parent/teacher meetings,if they have a doctors/dentist appt., family emergencies and other things that come up that require a parent's presence. The parent that takes care of these things is almost always the mother(because that's the way it's done and because her job is usually the lower paying one). I've seen plenty of jobs threatened in the retail business because the employee needed to change their hours, even temporarily. Just because some retail jobs will hire you for a non-typical shift or for a few days a week doesn't mean they are flexible. Employees are completely replaceable-if you have to leave early or come in late too often, sometimes even once, you can be fired. They can always hire someone else.

katie allison granju said...

I suspect this particular anonymous is:

A.)Male
B.)Went to Harvard
C.)Works in finance at a very high level
D.)Has never had to balance working full time with being the true primary caregiver for one or more babies and young children

Am I right, anon ;-)?

Katie

2nd Anonymous said...

I would also guess that this anonymous poster has:

a) no children OR
b) children for whom he has no time
c) a work-a-holic who cares not that his under-lings miss their children's events

As a teacher, to whom you refer to as working in a traditionally female flex-time career, I object to your reference to my job as "flex-time".

I do not choose my hours. I cannot go in late, ever. You see there are 25 high-school children who would be participating in various activities that would shock most adults. Yes, I realize that I get 10 days at Christmas and 10 weeks in summer, however I can assure you that this schedual is not flexible. Also there are a great number of teachers who must also work extra jobs to make a decent living. Thus, the time in the summer is void. If I approached my boss about "flex-time" he would tell me to find a new career. Perhaps in the business world...

And...you come across as very arrogant. Are you really that way when someone is speaking with you in person?

katie allison granju said...

I can't believe you think the free market would have eventually brought women fully into the economic life/labor force of this country without any legal initiatives.

When I was born in 1967, women could not get credit in their own names. Women could not get many types of jobs at all. Women who did manage to get jobs were often summarily dismissed if they became pregnant. Women were the target of aggressive sexual harassment on the job for which they had no recourse if they wanted to keep earning money. Women were openly and without apology paid far less than men doing the same jobs. Women were denied career advancement simply because of gender.

Clearly, market forces alone weren't enough to change this stuff. It required legislative and legal action to get the ball rolling.

I am a mother who is a working journalist. My 60 year old mother is/was a working journalist since age 21. My 85 year old grandmother (who graduated from the University of Missouri College of Journalism in 1929) spent her entire adult life working as a journalist.

I wish you could hear the three of us sit down and compare what working conditions have been like for each of the last three generations of women working in our field.

If my mother had asked for a modified schedule so she could spend more time with her children, her boss would have laughed at her or worse, despite the fact that she was a valuable and productive employee.

My grandmother not only could not ask for anything like that, she was forced to quit when she became pregnant.

Dewi said...

I want to address Trumwill’s comment about underpaying women in exchange for a flexible working life to keep mothers loyal to the employer. That’s wrong and does not work in the long run. Mothers stay at a job when they have both flexible schedules and are well paid! Being well paid is part of loyalty to a company, it goes hand in hand for most working mothers, otherwise it’s not worth the price of leaving your children.

I own a small postpartum doula service that employs 13 women they have more flexibly then any job a mother can have since it includes bringing there in arms nursling to work if needed. They are paid $25.00-$30.00 per hour (most only want to work 15 hours a week during their kid’s school hours). They remain loyal because I pay them very well and respect their needs for flexibly as a mother. This is a huge inconvenience to my business. They can take off whenever they need (including some who takes off the whole summer, which is our busiest time) but I adore these women, because they made me financially successful and helped create my businesses sterling reputation by providing excellent service to clients all these years.
I see the inconvenience as a small price of to pay to provide a working life to women that are truly suitable to motherhood.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous again, here:

First off, not sure what my personal experience, education background (yes, i wen to Harvard. I also had close to fulltime jobs the entire time I was there), our child status, or experience working in retail has to do with this discussion. All of our individual anecdotal experience doesn't change the broad statistical eveidence that corporate employers have migrated to more flexible work schedules. The SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management)survey I quoted yesterday said 58% of employers offer flextime, and I can pull another from Mellon financial (a survey of employers, not their own experience) that suggests that employers have moved farther than that (in the 70's). Remember, this discussion started because of Katie's individual experience, where her employer was happy to entertain a flexible schedule to retain a valued employee.

As for my workaholic-ness, and not having time for my kids, and not caring for underlings, now who's veered off into ad hominem attacks? Yes, I work a lot, but I have (and continue to) requested scheduling flexibility from my employers to spend time with my kid and in general they have been accommodative. Why? Because of the threat of legal action? Because of a legally mandated requirement? No. Because it makes economic sense.

(And 2nd anonymous can kiss my a** I love my son, spend lots of time with him, and furthermore, I have no underlings, and if I did, I wouldn't call them that. If I'm arrogant, you are insulting and offensive. You act like that in person?)

I have had employees who reported to me in the past, and I've always been accommodating - I never really cared when anybody was in the ofice - let's get the work done and keep the clients happy - if you do it from home, or working from 7-3, or 4 days a week is totally fine with me.

Corporations, much to the astonishment of everyone here, apparently, are not inherently evil, always looking to hurt workers (or underpay them, or harass them). They need employees to make money. When the unemployment rate is 5% (look it up), they can't afford to annoy valuable sections of the work force. It takes too long and is too expensive to find and train new employees. Further, recent studies indicate that employers who do the bulk of their hiring through employee referrals have higher stock returns than those which do not. By a long shot. Again, company managements aren't evil or stupid (in the main), and can do that math for themselves. Which companies are likely to have their employees refer friends? Those that treat their employees well. And the same math applies for companies that take longer to fill positions - their stock returns are worse. Which companies are likely to have a hard time finding new employees (to fill the job of the entirely replaceable employee they just fired for requesting flextime)? Those that treat their employees badly.

As for the argument about women in the work force, and that it would only have happened with a change in the legal and regulatory structure - it's a valid debate. I would certainly argue that companies have realized that they can't function without happy female employees in today's economy. In the absence of legal requirements, companies would have had to come around on the way they treat women, or risk not having enough workers to fill the jobs they have (see unemployment rate). In the 60's and 70's, as female workforce participation was increasing from a low base, and the boomers were entering the workforce in high numbers, and unemployment rates were higher, companies had the luxury of bad behavior towards their employees in general. Not anymore.

And to the teacher in the audience - I did not intend to classify teaching as flextime - I merely wished to point that occupations that have been traditionally female don't necessarily adhere to the 9-5 Mon-Fri schedule. The analogue would be someone with a compressed workweek - the decision to have a compressed workweek is flexible, but the dates/times that one then works are not.

Mr. Anonymous

katie allison granju said...

>>In the absence of legal >>requirements, companies would >>have had to come around on the >>way they treat women, or risk >>not having enough workers to >>fill the jobs they have (see >>unemployment rate).

Huh?

No way. Women were entering the workforce in greater and greater numbers every decade since the industrial revolution and nothing was getting much better. When you need a job - any job -- to feed your family, you can't be too picky.

The big changes in treatment of women employees came with: A.) labor laws in the early part of the 20th century B.) next: unionization C.) and then with feminist-inspired anti discrimination legislation and lawsuits in the 60s and 70s.

This idea that employers will always find it in their best financial interest to treat workers fairly or offer benefits like flextime is demosntrably, empirically false.

-Katie

Dedanaan said...

Um, leftyblogs and Air America are bad ideas but Fox News isn't? Isn't Fox News just a bunch of redneck neocons getting together to bitch about liberals? Seems that way to me. Don't call the kettle black, Mr. Pot.

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, Fox News is a bad idea, and I never watch it, and I think Bill O'Reilly might actually be Satan. And I'm pretty offended that you conclude that because I disagree with Leftyblogs, that I must, by definition, agree with Fox News, or Rush Limbaugh, or any of the other partisan hacks out there spreading hate and discord. The last thing this country needs is more polarization, more platforms for those of like minds to work each other into a foaming rage over some injustice or another. So before you go lumping me in with "redneck neocons" (I'm sure there is an oxymoron in there somewhere), let's be clear on the distinction: Fox News, and its attendant success is totally market-driven: "redneck neocons" and others, felt left out by the mainstream media, and Fox News, for purely profit-motivated reasons, stepped in to fill the void. They have been successful, because there was a market need out there. Air America is an ideological exercise, and has been unsuccessful (on almost every metric) precisely because the mainstream media already meets the demand for that particular perspective (note: careful editing here, to avoid siding with one view or the other. I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with the views expressed on Air America, merely that the concept of Leftyblogs and Air America is silly). Once again, it's the liberals (definition: open-minded) who not only take offense when someone disagrees with them, but then proceed to hurl insults.

Anonymous said...

And Katie, to your demonstrably, empirically false comment - was your employer strong-armed by nanny-state legislation to grant you flex time? Are you a member of a Union that bargained for flextime?

The continuing increase of women in the workforce is part of what enabled bad behavior by companies - unemployment rates were higher, wages were lower, labor force participation rates were increasing, creating a larger pool of workers. Today, this is no longer true - companies cannot afford to treat employees badly. The survey data reflects a huge increase in companies offering flextime - IN THE ABSENCE OF LEGISLATION mandating it. Demonstrable, emprical proof that companies treat employees better because it's good for business.

I would also point out (sigh) that I did acknowledge the point was open to debate - changes in the legal framework paved the way for general better behavior on the part of businesses. In the the last 15 years, however, there have been a number of positive changes in company treatment of employees (say, widespread domestic partner benefits in big corporate plans, again, often without legislative mandate - in fact, often in spite of laws to the contrary, or increased prevalence of adoption benefits). This has occurred in the teeth of a decline in union membership, and without legal arm-twisting.

On the other hand, the very same financial institutions that you suggest leave me out of touch with the plight of the common worker (I can hardly concentrate, what with this huge silver spoon in my mouth) still can't seem to get it right - Morgan Stanley just paid a huge judgement for sexually harassing highly-paid professional women. Quick quiz: Morgan Stanley's stock price vs. peers? Morgan Stanley's CEO? Ousted. Morgan Stanley's ability to recruit prized high-producing brokers? Terrible.

Think they want to clean up their act and treat their employees better?

katie allison granju said...

My mother says:

"When your father was hired at the newspaper where I already worked, he was paid more than I. The reason I was told? He was a man. Period. I was a better reporter at that point and actually was assigned to "train" him for a short time. And when I got pregnant with you, I had to quit at six or seven months (I can't remember which). I was told it was an insurance issue, but I always knew it was because I had a stomach and was visibly pregnant. It wasn't a leave of absence or maternity leave. I had to quit or be terminated."

Anonymous said...

I think what most of mean to say is this...Enjoy your children. They grow up so quickly; soon they too will be discussing Fox news and "lefty-blogs". It's so nice to hear their conversations about bugs, candy, and the shape of the clouds in the sky. Have fun getting to be a MOM!

Anonymous said...

Kag:

And your point? Yes, it was bad once. It isn't anymore. Yet again, pointing out that this conversation started because your employer, without laws or legislation or regulation, offered you flextime, because it makes sense. It's a win-win. Why is this bad? Why is there an argument here? Capitalism works, at least sometimes.

I'm sorry your mother had that experience. I'm sorry anyone's mother had that experience. But it doesn't happen anymore (it's illegal), and most employers can't afford to treat a valuable component of their workforce like that (as you, to your glee, learned).