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Beyond Work-Family Balance: Advancing Gender Equity and Workplace Performance Hardcover – December 11, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Beyond Work-Family Balance, by academic researchers Rhona Rapoport, Lotte Bailyn, Joyce K. Fletcher, and Bettye H. Pruitt, grew out of a decade-long search for ways to restructure business life that would "enhance organizational effectiveness while making the workplace more equitable and improving the quality of working people's lives." While few would oppose such goals at face value, their full attainment has nonetheless remained elusive as business pressures increase and unrealistic gender assumptions--like institutional refusal to acknowledge the increasing emergence of women as primary breadwinners--remain entrenched in our corporate cultures, structures, and practices. This book advances a conceptual framework for appropriate organizational change that is tied directly to the dual agenda spelled out in the two-pronged premise of its subtitle: Advancing Gender Equity and Workplace Performance. With no one-size-fits-all solution possible for such complex issues, the authors draw on related studies in a dozen different workplace settings to instead present a starting point "so that organizations so inclined and the people in them can embark on a similar journey" of exploration and solution. The result will be of interest to anyone who agrees that such change is badly needed and long overdue. --Howard Rothman


A welcome contribution to theory and practice, this volume describes aprogram developed by the authors (academics and professionals experienced in the work/family and organizational behavior fields) to create a more equitable and satisfying workplace. Their program is different in that it attempts to tie together two organizational goals usually tackled separately: improving the bottom line and improving employees' ability to manage their work and personal lives. The authors' underlying beliefs that work and family life should be integrated and that when it is, gender and diversity issues will be addressed and employees will be more effective contributors to their organizations. When it is not integrated, management often experiences costs without productivity gains, while employees often feel work/family initiatives have not been successful. The authors detail actions taken in several consulting assignments with various companies, sharing surveys and meeting agendas. They describe a process that includes many discussions, frequent feedback, and reevaluation. Problems andfailures as well as successes are reported. Clients are assisted inunderstanding assumptions associated with work needs, personal requirements, communication methods, outcome measurements, and rewards. The ideas presented in this volume are provocative and the suggestions realistically appraised. Recommended for graduate, research, and professional collections.
-- F. Reitman, Pace University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1st edition (December 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787957305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787957308
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,146,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Drago on February 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The long-awaited, "Beyond Work-Family Balance," is finally out! Many of us have been waiting for
the better part of a decade for a full treatment of the worklife
integration experiments at Xerox and elsewhere, and this is it! If you are
looking for a book to get you charged up about the business case for
work/life programs, go elsewhere. If you want the most honest, detailed
account of attempts to make the business case successful in practice, this
is the book for you. The basic argument starts with integration: we cannot
improve things unless and until we are willing to bring the public sphere
of employment and the private sphere of home together, a process that can
range from embarrassing to painful. The second ingredient is the dual
agenda of improving business performance and gender equity. The tightrope
involved in carrying this dual agenda into the workplace is what makes the
book interesting, powerful, and realistic. The authors argue that an
interactive research approach is required to make the dual agenda work,
with the researchers listening and learning almost as much as the
participants in the business world, a process that requires constant
feedback, reflection, and communication. Indeed, an entire chapter is
devoted to lessons for research teams wishing to pursue research while
applying a dual agenda to themselves. Sometimes the dual agenda succeeds,
and employees and managers learn how to improve the functioning of
workplaces for all participants (yes, stockholders even benefit). But the
fundamental honesty of the authors leaves us wondering: is it worth it?
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book we have all been waiting for. After decades of reflection and debate about how best to develop innovative, high performance organisations, on the one hand, and how to enhance gender equity and work-personal life integration on the other hand, this book tells us that the two are not only compatible, but mutually dependent. Written in a non technical and thoroughly engaging style, the book argues that work practices and norms which are inequitable are also ineffective. The authors have the rare knack of presenting a deep and thoughtful analysis in such a clear way that their argument seems simple and obvious.
The heart of the problem lies in the gendered assumptions that underpin many everyday working practices . The authors point out that assumptions based on traditional masculine values and life situations include the defining of commitment in terms of long working hours that preclude time for family or personal life, and the valuing of stereotypical male competencies, such as heroic action and firefighting, above interpersonal and other competencies regarded as more “feminine”. Drawing on action research in a range of organisations they demonstrate how these assumptions and the practices that follow from them, undermine effective performance, but are so taken-for-granted that we rarely question them.
What really distinguishes this book is that the authors go beyond identifying problems to provide a well tried method for bringing about meaningful change It does not offer one size fits all solutions but does provide a process for reaching tailor made solutions.
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Format: Hardcover
As a coach and consultant to attorneys struggling to make
the business case for effective and usable work-life practices, I found this book to be an invaluable tool and resource.
Law firms are bastions of gendered assumptions about ideal
workers. The insatiable demand for ever-increasing billable hours makes developing and maintaining a normal life outside of work an extraordinary challenge, particularly for women attorneys. "Beyond Work-Family Balance" clearly articulates the tacit gendered assumptions underlying current law firm work practices and effectively establishes the connection between gender equity and workplace performance.
I wish the managing partners of every law firm would read this.
I'll refer all of my coaching clients to it. At least it will
confirm that it's the system - not them - that has the problem.
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