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Work/Life Balance in Theory, Not in Practice

The National Law Journal reports that the Diversity and Flexibility Connection, a new initiative headed by the Project for Attorney Retention, will bring together a dozen general counsel from major U.S. companies with managing partners from law firms with good track records on work/life issues in an effort to develop a list of best practices that promote both diversity and work/life balance among attorneys. What's unique about this initiative is that it combines law firm diversity and work/life balance initiatives, instead of treating them separately.

Still, don't count Yahoo among the participants, at least if a More Magazine profile of new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz (via the Wall Street Journal blog, The Juggle) is any indication. Essentially, Bartz says that work/life balance is a myth that leads to guilt for working moms.

So what's Bartz's solution? Focus on doing one thing well at a time, instead of trying to be perfect across the board. And from what I could tell, Bartz chose business over family, or at least, that's how it seems to me. From the profile:

When [Bartz's] daughter was an infant she would spend four days of the week working in California, while her family was back in Dallas. “For four days, I got to use my mind, I got to sleep, I got to have a real career. I had the best of both worlds,” she said. “It was awesome for me, and I don’t think [my daughter] is any the worse for it.”  When her daughter got older, mother and daughter would gather around a calendar at the beginning of each school year, and Ms. Bartz would mark a handful of commitments, such as a Halloween party and a Christmas pageant that she wouldn’t miss.

“I’d tell her, ‘These are the times Mommy will be here. Anything else will be a surprise,’” she said. “So she was surprised when I showed up, instead of depressed that I wasn’t at everything. She learned about schedules, she learned about commitments, and I did get to enjoy some of the school times.”

Still, by anyone's measure, Bartz is a success in the workplace. Do Bartz's experiences justify leaving the system as is? Or can it be changed, as PAR believes, to open doors for other women? What are your thoughts?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 15, 2009 at 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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