Slaughter envisions ‘The Efficient Workplace’

“The next phase of the women’s movement must be a men’s movement,” Anne-Marie Slaughter told a standing room only-audience at Olin’s Emerson Auditorium this morning. “We’re not going to move the needle at the top levels of leadership until we stop focusing only on women and focus on all people,” the president and CEO of The New America Foundation said.

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Slaughter is an economist, former Princeton professor, and ex-director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department. Her article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” published in The Atlantic two and a half years ago sparked a conversation and debate that has inspired her new call for a “humanist movement” to create real equality in the workplace and private lives.

Slaughter proposes a new metaphor for careers that aim for a more realistic balance of work and life demands. Instead of a corporate ladder or jungle gym climb to the top, she suggests that people approach different phases in their lives like an athlete who undertakes interval training. There are intense, high-pressure periods interspersed by more flexible intervals that reflect cycles in work and life including childbearing, promotions, parenting, new jobs, etc.

Just as the digital revolution has made on-demand, customized, and self-curated media possible, Slaughter predicts the workplace will also shatter standardization and evolve into a more customized career model. Slaughter’s vision is one of an Efficient Workplace where, “If family comes first, work does not come second, and life comes together.”

Changes in attitudes, behaviors, biases, child-rearing, and the very vocabulary used to describe what men and women value in their lives at work and at home are necessary to bring about the next phase of the women’s and men’s movement that Slaughter outlined in her talk. No small task, by any means. But she has a book coming out in the spring that may provide more details on how to make it happen. Stay tuned.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s talk was co-sponsored by the St. Louis Business Journal, Prosper Women Entrepreneurs, and Olin Business School.

 

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