Literature Review Women in the Workplace: Work Life Balance and Equal Opportunity to Enhance Women Empowerment By Asih Budiati Swiss German University, Batch 19 I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY More and more women now perceive employment and career paths are critically important to them and that parenting as an option is currently unattractive since they feel that parenting is incompatible with their career. Working women have the sense if they want to be succeeded; doing dual role both office and family is totally out of the question.
On the other hand, if they prefer to multitask between office and family, almost certainly they will end up having “mommy track” labeled by the organization. The current greatest fear will be when working mother discourage from workplace improvement while married working women having maternity crisis. Discourage from workplace improvement, having “mommy track” label, and maternity crisis are some of the results from a feeling caused by lack of supporting policies thus far surrounding supports or initiatives for women within the workplace.
This is where equal opportunity and work life balance policies are needed, specifically for women, in order to ease the burden or pressures during combining work and family life, and to improve a major result of women empowerments in the world. Key word: work life balance, equal opportunity, women empowerment, working women, maternity. II. INTRODUCTION For over than a decade, people believe that the basic interest of equal opportunity in working environment is to have the same entry paid labour and equal pay.
This believe creating women feel compelled to work like men to be succeed, to make them look essential, to be accepted as a core member of the organization, and to get the same acknowledgement as men . As a result, equal opportunities which have ‘successfully’ made women being the same as men were criticized for silencing women. Women can no longer be able to speak out about their difficulties, as this will highlights their difference and their lack of suitability for the work.
Which lead people to argue that those equal opportunities initiatives have failed to get to the root of gender inequality; because the initiatives only focusing on allowing women to work and behave like male working pattern and forget that women and male are having basic different need. Women’s argument for highlighting women’s different needs and demanding different treatment compared with men within the workplace, mainly due to women biological reason.
The biological reason is nothing nearly physical strength or ‘sensitive mood’ feeling that sometimes related with women, but more on the biological motherhood, with corresponding to the maternity rights, also not to forget that the majority of women still do take on primary responsibility for childcare and domestic work. Work life balance has been discussed for the last decade as the solution to re-acquire the essence of equal opportunity. People start to believe that the implementation of work life balance will create significant effect to enhance equal employment opportunity in particular to women empowerment.
This literature review will provide answer for the role of government, organizations, and workplace environment under the general framework of promoting work life balance and equal opportunity within workplace. Also to discuss what are the barriers for the implementation and under what conditions work life balance and equal opportunity policies can be implemented further can be fully adopted. III. LITERATURE REVIEW Work Life Balance, Equal Opportunity, and Mommy Track: Definitions Work life balance is a terminology refers to achieve balance between work and home responsibilities.
Equal opportunity is the policy to ensure the right equivalent opportunities for employment regardless race, color, age, gender, national origin, religion, or mental or physical disability. Mommy track is a status, or a career path given by employers by offer working mother some certain benefits (such as flexible hours) but usually provide them with fewer opportunities for advancement that discourage women from improvement due to their responsibilities of being a mother. Women’s Reproductive Rights
In consensus with the Millennium Development Goals, through which world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieve universal access to reproductive health care by 2015 and to end discrimination against women, also as agreed in the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994), the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), and the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993) have firmly established that women’s rights in particular reproductive rights must be enforced, and that they are an inalienable part of established international human rights. “Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives”, 2005, The Center for Reproductive Rights). What are Women’s Reproductive Rights? According to The Center for Reproductive Rights (2005), women’s reproductive rights are the framework offers a powerful tool for advancing women’s reproductive health and empowering women to address the social conditions that jeopardize their health and lives. In global, they include two key principles: that all persons have the right to reproductive health care and to make their own decisions about their reproductive lives.
More specifically, they encompass a broad range of internationally and nationally recognized political, economic, social, and cultural rights that include the following: •the right to life, liberty, and security •the right to health, reproductive health, and family planning •the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children •the right to consent to marriage and to equality in marriage •the right to privacy •the right to be free from discrimination on specified grounds •the right to be free from practices that harm women and girls •the right to not be ubjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment •the right to be free from sexual violence •the right to enjoy scientific progress and to consent to experimentation There is no doubt that women’s health and rights are now clearly included in the global international issues. Governments today are obligated to support global commitments to women’s health and rights by introducing gender sensitive laws and policies that guarantee and safeguard women’s rights. Women in the Workplace
The number of working women around the globe has increased dramatically for the last decades, according to the International Labour Organization. The number of employed women grew by almost 200 million over the last decade, to reach 1. 2 billion in 2007, this compares with 1. 8 billion men. The statistic number reflects tremendous progress toward women’s empowerment; however, still women feel they do not have the same opportunity with male workers. Based on study by Jessica Arons (2008), in 2004, women in the United States were paid 76 cents for every dollar men received for comparable work.
African American women earn only 71 cents, Latinas 59 cents, and Asian Pacific American women earn 86 cents for every dollar men are paid. In addition to unequal wages with male workers, women also found difficulties in professional developments and acknowledgements. According to Trait theory (Crampton & Mishra, 1999) women have not been granted access to top levels of management because of factors that are inherent to the feminine gender; certain traits that women generally possess which prohibit them from gaining promotions.
Motherhood status is the most particular trait to women’s advancement in professional workplace, leaves women with limited, conflicting and often unfavorable options no matter how they choose to perform. The Equal Opportunities Commission (2005) adopted a broad view of pregnancy and maternity discrimination, “any disadvantage at work caused wholly or partly by pregnancy or by taking maternity leave”. One of the most common cases faced by pregnant women is employer could not renew a temporary contract or make a contract permanent at the end of a probationary period.
Having uncertain future job status conditioned by disadvantage work situation could generate crisis to women employee during her pregnancy or maternity, which violating the international agreement related with women’s reproductive rights and health rights. In relates with Maslow’s Theory -which described the five levels of human needs- job security falls to the second basic human needs. This shows how important the issue is.
Employee could perform best when they have fulfillment in their basic needs, and it is part of organization’s responsibility to provide as a return to employee’s contribution. Another issue raised, most organizations doubted women’s flexibility after having maternal status. For example, working mothers are assumed will found difficulties to cope with last minute meetings, urgent requests, and unscheduled high priority business trip since they also have family responsibilities.
In addition, organizations sometimes can also very unfair in evaluating employees’ performance using time spent parameter. Performance is often judged on the basis how long you stay in the office or how often you come on Saturday, which almost certain will show low performance rate to working mother. This discriminating performance evaluation using time spent parameter should be examined, organizations must be fair and value work performance based on achievement.
It seems no matter how much the potency shown, the ‘glass ceiling’ is too thick to be broken should the attempt comes only from women. Women need help from their surroundings environment, which includes men, organizations, and most important the government support, to strategies the women empowerment at the individual, social, and organizational level. As stated by Goodman, Fields, and Blum (2003), women and men possess similar career aspirations and values, women’s lack of prominence in positions of power must be explained by barriers to workplace advancement. Women Policies in the Workplace There is an increasing demand for change in the workplace through the adoption of work life balance and equal opportunity as a guiding policy. This is because the issues are not only linked to working parents, but also to everyone. As Drew et al (2003) comment “Flexible working arrangements are not a ‘women’s issue’, they are a ‘people issue’. All employees, irrespective of their family situation or personal responsibilities, need and want to have greater balance between their lives inside and outside work. The following discussion describes the role of government, organizations, and workplace environment to promote work life balance and equal opportunity. The discussion also identifies the barriers for the implementation and under what conditions work life balance and equal opportunity policies can be implemented further can be fully adopted. i. What are the role of government, organizations, and workplace environment under the general framework of promoting work life balance and equal opportunity within workplace?
Government, organizations, and policymakers should consider equal opportunity and work-life balance, in particular for women, as a human resource (HR) issue. In this regards, government and organizations should create special policies for women to give more support and flexibility for women in the workplace, to make them feel more compelled to work and make them believe that company understand their different needs, also to support them in a way that they will have equal opportunity with male workers.
However, the policies could not work alone without having support from the entire surroundings workplace environment. Government and organizations should socialize the new policies, monitor the implementation, and ensure that people have the same understanding with the policies. ii. What are the barriers for the implementation of work life balance and equal opportunities policies? Though government and organizations have addressed the work life balance and equal opportunity for women in their policies, in reality very often legal employment policies were demoralized during practices.
For example, there are some companies still do not providing replacement for women on maternity leave, which will put pressure on the women at home as well as their colleagues in the office. This practice potentially makes women re-entry to the workplace in more tense, as their colleagues may have personal hard feelings about them for the extra workload they had during her maternity leave. There are also some cases where women after taking career breaks to take care for their infant, found a very significant barriers to e-entering the workplace, especially at a level comparable to their previous employment. iii. What can be done to eliminate those barriers and under what conditions are those policies can be implemented further can be fully adopted? To eliminate the above barriers, women related issues must be supported by a workplace environment that takes seriously the responsibilities of working parents. The environment, most important organizations, must understand the difficulties of having dual life, work and non-work (family) life.
As an organization, it is important to indicate organizations’ level of commitments relates with the work life balance and equal opportunities policies by showing responsible to give assurance to their worker who takes maternity leave that their job is secure, not discriminate them, ensure they get all the entitlements stipulated in the policies, and monitor the implementations. In overall, organizations need to change their workplace’s culture to value more on families and parental related issues by stipulating in the organization’s policies.
Organizations should clarify that the benefit of work life balance policies is not tend only for women; it is for equal opportunity to all employees. The policies can be fully adopted once people have the same understanding and commitment to the implementation. IV. CONCLUSION Government should enforce the implementation of work life balance and equal opportunities policies in organizations. Government should emphasize the need of implementing work-life balance and equal opportunities policies in order to improve women empowerments and encourage employees to balance their work and family life.
In summarize, the policies should be able to articulate the employees’ rights; in this particular case is the women’s rights. The following are some of the policies proposed by writer in regards to work life balance and equal opportunities policies for women: -Policies linked with family-friendly workplace and flexible work time arrangements to reconcile the demands of work and family in organizations. -Policies that prohibit employers in providing lesser pay or benefits to women employees than male mployees for equal work value. -Policies that prohibit employers in favoring male employees over women employees in carrier improvements, promotions, training opportunities, study and scholarship grants. -Policies that prohibit discrimination against employees based on their sex, marital status, or pregnancy. -Policies that prohibit employers from dismissing or discriminating women employee while she is on maternity leave. -Policies that enforce employers to secure the job of women employee during her maternity leave.
The employee is entitled to return to the same position before the leave was taken, and the leave does not break the employee’s continuity of service. -Policies that clearly stipulated fair entitlements for women employee as per government’s legal regulations. At present, there has been significant improvement in this regards over the last decades. As part of the government and organizations commitments, workplace policies were revised to address the work life balance and equal opportunity for women, including the parental (maternity) entitlements.
Women now have greater protection in their employment when they have a child. With a supportive environment and policies, women could eliminate the maternity crisis and “mommy track” label, as well as encourage them to workplace improvement. A major result of this would be increased employment opportunities for women in the world. Reference: Center for Reproductive Rights. 2005, Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives, The Center for Reproductive Rights, New York. Davis, M. F. , Fagnani, J. , Giovannini, D. , Hojgaard, L. , Clarke, H. 004, Fathers and Mothers: Dilemmas of the Work Life Balance, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht. Evans, J. M. 2000, Firm’s Contribution to the Reconciliation Between Work and Family Life, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. http://www. cerf. mcmaster. ca/papers/june2000/evans. pdf Gatrell, C. 2008, Embodying Women’s Work, McGraw Hill, New York. Hantrais, L. , Ackers, P. 2005, “Women’s Choices in Europe: Striking the Work-Life Balance”, European Journal of Industrial Relations Vol. 11 No. 2. http://peer. ccsd. cnrs. fr/docs/00/57/09/37/PDF/PEER_stage2_10. 177%252F0959680105053963. pdf Linos, A. , Kirch, W. 2008, Promoting Health for Working Women, Springer, New York. Paludi, M. A. 2010, The Psychology of Women at Work: Challenges and Solutions for Our Female Workforce, Volume 1-3, Praeger, London. Poelmans, S. A. 2005, Work and Family: An International Research Perspective, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey. Redmond, J. , Valiulis, M. , Drew, E. 2006, “Literature Review of Issues Related to Work-Life Balance, Workplace Culture and Maternity/Childcare Issues”, Crisis Pregnancy Agency Report No. 6, Crisis Pregnancy Agency. http://www. tcd. ie/cgws/research/Literature%20Review%20of%20Work%20Life%20Balance%20CPA%20Report%2016. pdf Russell, H. , Banks, J. 2011, Pregnancy and Employment: A Literature Review, The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme and The Equality Authority, Dublin. http://www. esri. ie/UserFiles/publications/BKMNEXT189. pdf Russell, H. , Banks, J. 2011, Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Framework and Review of Legal Decisions 1999 to 2008, The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme and The Equality Authority, Dublin. ttp://esri. ie/UserFiles/publications/BKMNEXT190. pdf Russell, H. , Watson, D. , Banks, J. 2011, Pregnancy at Work: A National Survey, The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme and The Equality Authority, Dublin. http://www. esri. ie/UserFiles/publications/BKMNEXT191. pdf Saltzstein, A. L. , Ting, Y. , Saltzstein, G. H. 2001, “Work Family Balance and Job Satisfaction: The Impact of Family-Friendly Policies on Attitudes of Federal Government Employees”, Public Administration Review Vol. 61 No. 4. http://teaching. fec. anu. edu. u/BUSN2007/Saltzstein%20et%20al_2001. pdf Smithson, J. , Stokoe, E. H. 2005, “Discourses of Work–Life Balance: Negotiating ‘Genderblind’ Terms in Organizations”. Gender, Work, and Organization Vol. 12 No. 2. http://onlinelibrary. wiley. com/store/10. 1111/j. 1468-0432. 2005. 00267. x/asset/j. 1468-0432. 2005. 00267. x. pdf? v=1&t=gq4rpsy1&s=77c7f15c9f8b8609ad1ab47db3ea8a73b5d34743 World Health Organization. 2005, The World Health Report 2005: Make Every Mother and Child Count, World Health Organization Press, Geneva.