Women & The Workplace: Who Wins?

Women & The Workplace: Who Wins?

What can working women learn from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg? A LOT.

Recently, I blogged about my reaction to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's corporate mandate to end telecommuting for all employees.

I'm not the only one talking about women and work right now. In fact, I'm in excellent company.

Maria Shriver recently posted this article in response to Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Women, Work, & The Will To Lead.

I don't know about you, but all this dialogue about women, work, and success feels like a new wave of feminism is unfolding.

And while I never set out to be an advocate for working women - and never really considered myself a feminist - this whole debate about women behaving like men to get ahead vs. women finding a feminine approach to balancing both motherhood AND management is necessary and emotional. 

Yes, I said emotional.

When companies like Yahoo and Best Buy put an end to telecommuting, they're clearly operating from a business mindset of weeding out the slackers, increasing productivity, and redefining their corporate culture and efficiency.

And while I GET the business bullet points, I don't support what this means for working moms and dads who must now decide between going back into the office or quitting their job to stay home and raise their children - an unfortunate consequence of these No Telecommuting policies.

Last year, when my husband and I had exactly nine days to prepare to become foster parents to our then-13 month old niece, there's absolutely no way we could have kept both our careers on track AND created a safe, secure, loving, nurturing environment for The Wee One if we'd been working in offices and had hellish commutes.

Initially, my husband cut down on his work schedule. And while that was the right thing to do for baby, it had a negative impact on our household income. Fortunately, we were prepared, but had we been living paycheck to paycheck like many Americans, we would have been painted into an uncomfortable corner.

I credit our success as instant foster parents to our good fortune and ability as small business owners to create our own schedules, give The Wee One the time and attention she needed in those early months of transition, and take our time finding the right support, eventually hiring the most amazing nanny and finding excellent day care. Even then, the support was incredible but the financial burden was still felt.

Let me be clear. We are NOT part of the one percent.

Having said that, during the ten months we raised my niece, we were able to afford what many working Americans consider luxuries: day care, a nanny, and the ability to set our own schedules and work from home.

There's no other way we could have made this situation work.

So how will other American families make it work - both culturally AND financially - when they're forced out of working from home and back into the office?

Will they decide to end their corporate careers in the name of family? (And ultimately affect their earning power over the long haul.)

Will they sacrifice precious time raising their children to commute to an office for the almighty paycheck? (And ultimately affect how their children are raised and by whom.)

In an era where American companies are outsourcing work to other countries, where our middle class is shrinking, and gender roles are shifting as a result of lost jobs and changing family dynamics, where does that lead America's families?

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of the conversation. Would LOVE your thoughts, comments, and shares.