Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

Women: Backbone of the Family and Society

By Andrea-Teresa "Tess" Arenas - 04.25.2010

Throughout the world, women are the backbone of the family and society. In the USA, women regardless of professional achievements, are still relied upon by the family and society as the central care givers.

As with many Baby Boomers, women are acutely aware of the cultural expectations as caregiver for up to three generations.  First, as siblings; often the eldest daughter is the co-mother in large families of color.  These care-giving roles in such families can continue into adulthood, even retirement.

I am often called upon as the eldest daughter in the family, to solve my siblings work and family life issues, despite their being in their 40’s and late 50’s, since my madre’s early and unexpected death.

As a parent, like so many other Baby Boomers, women of the family continue their financial and personal support to their children through the first grandchild.   Then, the women are expected to be the unpaid child care provider when she has a moment to spare after work and on weekends.

Finally, as we age, we are also becoming responsible for the care of our parents.  Depending on economic status, some women are able to “contract out” for support services for the family ranging from:  housekeeper, cook, nanny, personal assistant, lawn service, etc.

Lower income women are the people the family “contracts out to.”   None of this is news.

However what is newsworthy, is that women can be supported in their roles as “world care givers” by their employer and the employers of family members.  

Companies in need of dynamic, loyal, and creative task managers, can step up to the plate by:

  1. Providing supplement health insurance for elders
  2. Providing adult day care centers on site
  3. Providing adult day care tax deferred accounts for all employees
  4. Providing child care tax deferred account for all employees
  5. Establishing flex time policies and practices
  6. Providing day care for grandchildren raised by grandparents or adult children living at home
  7. Using video conferencing in place of traveling to meetings
  8. Allowing employees time each day to handle the administrative work of the extended family like  using lunch hour to make calls to various service  providers.
  9. Create on site banking services, dry cleaning services, health clubs, and employee clinics
  10. Provide daycare, school transportation for children of employees

To be honest, I have yet to consult with a client that offers all of these services. However, there are several companies that offer many of these services.

One such company is Johnson Wax Consumer Group, in Racine, Wisconsin. In its early days, the services offered to employees were perceived as “anti union” or “union busting” strategies.

However, as Unions lose their relevance in the modern day workplace (given their on-going concessions to management) the charges of “Union busting” no longer stick.

Any company offering a wide array of services would be quickly added to the Best Places for Women to Work list.

Let us hear from you if you are getting any of these.

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