Dual career households

BCG says patriarchal work structures promote leaders with ‘stay-at-home spouses’

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Management consulting giant Boston Consulting Group is calling on employers to pursue more flexible working policies so that talented employees with familial or other commitments are not excluded from leadership roles. In particular, BCG noted, many companies fall prey to a since-disproven stereotype — that women who have children are less ambitious than men.

In the article, authors Brooke Allocco, vice president of Boston Scientific, Frances Brooks Taplett, Global Consulting People Team Director for BCG, and BCG Senior Partners Deborah Lovich and Michelle Stohlmeyer Russell argue that many senior executives currently helming major companies worldwide have “stay-at-home spouses who handle family and other household responsibilities.”

“Having come through the ranks in a traditional culture that compartmentalizes work life from personal life,” the authors continued, many executives operate from the perspective that the people one needs in leadership are those who are willing to spend as much time at work as possible. In such leadership structures, people who are not able to make such gigantic time commitments are consciously or subconsciously pushed out of leadership tracks — an issue that effectively sidelines talented women and men who seek to balance their work and their personal life.

To counteract this trend, BCG recommends that companies allow for more flexible working conditions in general — such as by allowing employees to work from home or to adjust their working hours as needed. And this recommendation is based on empirical data.

One such program called PTO, or “predictability, teaming, and open communication,” had remarkable results when implemented with BCG employees. By setting “the terms for aspects such as working remotely, meeting etiquette (for example, no meetings before 8:00 a.m.), expectations for being accessible online, time off, and personal goals,” the authors wrote, “BCG has seen notable improvements in both personal satisfaction and project performance, including a 35 percent boost in perceived teamwork and collaboration, a 35 percent increase in the value delivered to clients, and a 100 percent increase in team effectiveness.”

In the article, BCG also addressed other means of improving retention of talent and preventing stigmatization of women in the workplace — including gender neutral programs that aim to support working parents instead of just working mothers.

Read the full story at BCG.

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