“Life has changed a lot in half a century. It’s time our workplaces caught up.”
Melinda Gates joined LinkedIn and wrote her first column for the Microsoft-owned Corporation. She didn’t hold back.
It’s one of the biggest issues affecting women in the workforce. It’s not discrimination or the gender pay gap, which are equally important and inhibitive. It’s the mental load, and lack of flexibility in the corporate environment writes Melinda Gates.
The US philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation argues that for all the progress we’ve had over the last 50 years, our offices are still stuck in the past.
The workplace as we know it was set up on the assumption that women will stay home to look after the kids, ageing parents and the household duties. An assumption that wasn’t true back then, and definitely isn’t now.
“Men and women alike have taken on more caregiving responsibilities—many find themselves straining to balance their jobs and their families, and life both at home and at work suffers as a result,” Melinda writes.
The modern American workplace was built on an outdated assumption. Now, it’s holding our entire economy back. https://t.co/vxktOL44CY pic.twitter.com/eOqMwSnQxa
— Melinda Gates (@melindagates) September 29, 2017
Companies are asking employees to work more hours than ever. The access to technology and email after hours means we’re available to work weeknights and weekends. And in many companies, there’s the underlying expectation that you should be available to work 24/7 if you want to get ahead.
This time-driven and workaholic culture is the reason why many of us suffer from burnout. And why women and migrants, in particular, lean out of the workforce altogether – a loss that not only has downsides for individuals and society but the company’s bottom line.
“When employees—both male and female—have to dedicate so much energy to simply keeping their heads above water, instead of thinking of ways to create more value. That slows down economic growth and leads to less prosperity for all.”
Yet workplaces are slow to adopt practices that help support employees. Research suggests that family-friendly policies, the flexibility to work from home, and diversity and mentorship programs are the solution to a more inclusive workforce. Melinda says both employees and employers both have a role to play in the future of work from balancing the mental load to challenging the traditional eight-hour workday.
While writer Julie Bort for Business Insider, points out the irony in Melinda’s first LinkedIn column –Microsoft started its days as a company that demanded unrelenting hours, and office all-nighters weren’t uncommon. Melinda is using her influence and platform to share the best examples of innovative individuals and workplaces who are creating and pushing for a more inclusive approach to the future of work, and that can only a be a good thing. We’re looking forward to the next one.
Follow Melinda Gates on LinkedIn.