Last March, Katharine Zaleski, the President of startup PowertoFly, issued a public apology to all working mothers. She said that she “committed a long list of infractions against mothers” and, in an essay for Fortune, expressed her regret that she doubted and sometimes “dissed” her female coworkers’ work ethic. The story simply went viral. While she used to silently slander working moms who had to leave early to pick up their kids from school, after having a child of her own, she learned a lot about the time and effort it takes to be a mom.
It got me thinking about people in the workplace, and the emphasis across companies nationwide on time in office rather than work outputs. In the case of Katherine Zaleski, she learned to have empathy for working moms. Both working moms and dads often struggle with work-life balance and raising kids while having a career.
Tech Pros Working Longer Hours
An article about how more tech pros are working longer hours proves that this isn’t solely focused on just one type of industry. In fact:
- More than 50% of tech workers put in more than 40 hrs per week
- 18% of techies top out at more than 60 hours per week
- Part-time tech professionals work 21 hours a week on average
Raising kids, caring for sick spouses, aging parents – these are all human things that happen in life. Our system is still too focused on hours, rather than talent and added value, and as such, we lose sight of the human aspects of life that must be in equilibrium with professional responsibilities.
Not only does the American system need to change, but individual companies need to come to grips with inhumane churn and burn HR practices. The American work ethic has been perceived as a source of competitive strength for our economy, but balancing the responsibilities of work, family, and other aspects of life are incredibly important. I think that writ large, American companies, civic organizations, associations, and other places of work need to come to grips with the needs of employees: health care, competitive compensation, vacation, maternity/paternity leave. If not, it might catch up to the companies and yield mutually assured destruction. Worse still, it may catch up to us as a country.