Bain exec: Flex-work options key to corporate gender parity

by HCA25 Sep 2014
While Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg made headlines as newly appointed executives of multinational organisations, the fact remains that only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
As a result, Bain & Company has undertaken several successful initiatives to help bridge this gap in leadership. One of its first undertakings was implementing options for flexible work arrangements, which allow employees to maintain a robust professional life while still fulfilling personal obligations such as caring for family and traveling.
“I’m just as likely to leave my office at 3:30pm to go to one of my kid’s baseball games, get on a conference call at 5pm while I’m driving back, and then do email from 9-10:30pm to make up for whatever I missed,” said partner Julie Coffman.
Coffman, a mother of three, understands the demands that can be placed on women outside the workplace. Where she feels many companies go wrong, though, is in assuming women want “soft-pedalled” assignments as a result. On the contrary, women should be reminded why they fell in love with the job in the first place, and given complex work to feel energized again.   
Also, Bain is a proponent of promoting staff by way of a career lattice. Instead of viewing career paths as a mutually exclusive choice between climbing to senior ranks or falling off the career trajectory, it allows employees to exercise different roles and move in a latitudinal direction. These options include:
  • Part-time employment
  • Rotating client-facing roles
  • Extended leave of absence
  • Transfers and externships
  • Maternity and paternity leave
“I took a six-month sabbatical three years ago and that was a huge rejuvenator for me,” said Coffman. “I’m thankful that Bain has allowed me to flex my time and help me create the illusion that I have it all.”
This article was adapted from a longer feature on work-life integration in HR Director Magazine. To read more, click here.


  • by caca 25/09/2014 5:18:47 PM

    In terms of parental leave funding, I'd like to see some money go to companies who will specifically use the funding to create proper plans to support working parents.
    Creating these plans are resource intensive because even though it is handled on a case by case basis - it needs to remain fair. If you've got a 'bad' manager then perhaps it isnt fair that they arent willing to provide some flexibility.

    With all that said, I think flexibility as a whole to everyone should be offered for better worklife balance.

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