September 30th, 2010
Jennifer Sabatini Fraone is Assistant Director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, responsible for Marketing and the New England Work & Family Association. The Center for Work & Family is hosting a 20th Anniversary Work-Life Conference and Gala Celebration on September 30, 2010. Please note that the views of our guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sloan Network.
In 1990, when the Boston College Center for Work & Family was founded, “work-life” was squarely considered a “women’s issue.” Organizations desiring to recruit, retain, and promote valuable female talent developed policies to support dependent care, flexible scheduling and other initiatives that would enable mothers to remain in the workforce.
Fast forward to 2010, where the focus of the work-life field has dramatically shifted. At the 20th Anniversary conference at Boston College, the Center for Work & Family will appeal to member organizations to pay more attention to men and their work-life needs. As part of the September 30 conference theme: Celebrating our Past, Envisioning our Future, the Center will facilitate a dialogue about future trends including a closer examination of Men, Millennials and Meaning.
According to the Center for Work & Family study The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood within a Career Context (June, 2010) and other recent research, men are increasingly experiencing work-life conflict. Traditional gender roles no longer apply in a marketplace where women earn over half of all graduate degrees and have (in some industries) the earning potential of their male counterparts. These factors, and the desire that many younger men report for being a full partner in parenting, have led the Center to focus on the emerging fatherhood identity. According to Brad Harrington, Executive Director of the Center, “Men are no longer defined by their role as breadwinners. Just as women want equal opportunities to enrich their lives professionally, men are seeking to expand their roles in the personal realm, through active, supportive fatherhood and service to their communities.”
“We’ve come a long way in the last 20 years,” according to Prof. Harrington; “The progressive organizations that we work with have developed a wide array of policies to support their employees and many are striving to foster a culture of flexibility, agility and viewing employees as a whole person.” These policies are no longer seen as an accommodation for working mothers, but as a way to attract and engage the most talented employees, especially the newest generation in the workforce, the Millennials, who increasingly desire the ability to lead rich and meaningful lives outside of work. “As we look to the future, we want to continue the momentum of the work-life movement, recognizing that we are all touched by the joys and the challenges of integrating our personal and professional lives,” said Harrington.
The Center, renowned for serving as a bridge builder between academic research and corporate practice, has assembled a convening of thought leaders to frame the conversation and encourage discussion among the Center’s Corporate Partners. The conference will be led by Harrington, with presentations from NYU professor Kathleen Gerson, author Courtney Martin, IESE Professor Steven Poelmans, and First Gentleman of Michigan Dan Mulhern hosting a panel entitled “Men: Forging a New Path in Work & Life.” The founding director of the Center for Work & Family, Bradley Googins, will summarize and reflect upon the conference proceedings. Later that evening, the 20th Anniversary Celebration Gala at the Boston College Club will feature remarks from Lt. Governor Timothy Murray and esteemed Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Both events have generated a great deal of interest and are filled to capacity.
The Center’s 100 Corporate Partners include: John Deere, the Signature Sponsor for the 20th Anniversary events, Kraft Foods, Allstate Insurance Company, Marriott International, Merck & Company, Chevron Corporation, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Dell, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, United Parcel Service, Pearson Inc., Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts, Chubb & Son Insurance, Dow Chemical Company, FM Global, Timberland and many more.
Founded in 1990, the Boston College Center for Work & Family is a global leader in helping organizations create effective workplaces that support and develop healthy and productive employees. The Center, part of BC’s Carroll School of Management, links the academic community to leaders in the working world dedicated to promoting workforce effectiveness.