Monday, April 18, 2011

Ann Crittenden is my new best friend

Those of you who read my FB posts know I'm obsessed with goals. I can't help it. I'm an overachiever wrapped up in a baby-lovin' body. Speaking of which, I've been thinking hard lately. One of the leaders of my church mentioned that workplaces need to become more family-friendly. My brain did a happy dance, and we all know what that means. Ideas falling out all over the dance floor!

My brain started to wax nostalgic for its favorite soapboxes and injustices, so I went to my local library to dig up The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden. Subtitle: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued. Yeah, baby. What was that I just heard? The echoes of battle drums?

In a nutshell, though we all love our mamas with our lips, we don't value their work with our dollars. Moms who work outside the home find advancement nearly impossible due to umsympathetic workplaces (ie, no paid maternity leave, no part-time benefits, and no allowances for parental responsibilities). Mothers who stay home aren't paid or even acknowledged for their efforts, and if they return to work, they have to start over.

So, thought I, why not make the family-friendly workplace my job? I could consult with businesses, help women pioneer real-life benefits in their jobs, and write about problems and solutions. I'll spare you the numbers for now, but let's just say that for all its supposed child-friendly attitudes, Utah's workplace policies lag way behind.

The possibilities are endless: paid parental leave, on-site daycare, prorated pay and benefits for part-time workers, job sharing, etc. I could go on.

So after I got all fired up, I decided to see what other fine prose has come from Crittenden lately. I checked out If You've Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything. Are you laughing yet? That's because you know it's true, right? I don't think most bosses really believe that. But it was reassuring to me, at least.

Here are some skills nearly every child demands of its parents (and they all translate into valuable workplace skills): multitasking, negotiation, listening, patience, empathy, appreciating differences, developing others' capabilities, letting go, consistency, and perspective. Smart bosses recognize that parents often possess these skills, and value parenting in their employees for the assets it creates. For example, one parent who was negotiating international peace treaties recognizes that the parties involved were just insecure children at heart. She used her empathy skills successfully and made changes that affected millions of people.

I don't know where my ideas will lead. We all know I'm never short of them. If you have any extra ideas for me, please keep them to yourself--I've got plenty. If, on the other hand, you have some extra lifetimes you could lend me to fit all this stuff in, send them my way.

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