October is National Work and Family Month!

October is National Work and Family Month. To start us off, here’s some information on the current state of work and family.

October is National Work and Family Month

…and I’m proud to be part of the cause.

October isn't just for Halloween anymore (my family as the Star Wars gang!)
October isn’t just for Halloween anymore (my family as the Star Wars gang!)

World at Work and its Alliance for Work-Life Progress, as well as many other organizations and advocates (include yours truly) are participating in National Work and Family Month (#WAWNWFM) in order to raise awareness of work and family issues. Part of this effort is a blogfest on the Huffington Post (of which I will be a part), plus events and social media outreach throughout the month.

Robin Hardman wrote an excellent blog piece, entitled “Musings on National Work and Family Month” to get things kicked off. In the piece, she discusses the progress being made in raising awareness of work and family concerns. Hardman provides a chart of the number of times “work-family balance” appeared in the New York Times over the past two decades. Her findings are very encouraging:

A graph of the number of times the NY Times mentioned "work-family balance"
A graph of the number of times the NY Times mentioned “work-family balance” (Robin Hardman)

Hardman celebrates work and family’s higher profile, but then sobers up her readers by enumerating how far we need to go to move beyond awareness to actual change. The US still lags behind the world in most family-friendly policies, such as parental leave, vacation time and access to health care. Too many corporate cultures are still “all-in” for work even when families need the time for “shared care” responsibilities. The picture is even bleaker for dads. I think Hardman sums it up beautifully:

So, yes, we still have a long way to go before we can put conversations about work and family to rest, once and for all. But at least we are finally having the conversations. My small, probably completely unscientific, foray into internet research proved more than just an entertaining exercise. It showed, at least, that the question of work-life has moved from invisibility toward something like prominence. While the phrase hasn’t yet made it into the dictionaries (I know; I checked), the concept is out there being talked about and taken seriously.

Think about that, next time you’re watching Mad Men. Times really have changed. It’s National Work and Family Year.

In short, lots of progress; lots more to go. Let’s roll.

What do you think about the increased awareness of work-family issues? What still needs to change? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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