Corporate Family Responsibility

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Occasional Paper
OP no 06/3
March, 2006

WHY BECOME A FAMILY-RESPONSIBLE
EMPLOYER?
Nuria Chinchilla
Elizabeth Torres

IESE Occasional Papers seek to present topics of general interest to a wide audience.

IESE Business School – Universidad de Navarra
Avda. Pearson, 21 – 08034 Barcelona, España. Tel.: (+34) 93 253 42 00 Fax: (+34) 93 253 43 43 Camino del Cerro del Águila, 3 (Ctra. de Castilla, km 5,180) – 28023 Madrid, España. Tel.: (+34) 91 357 08 09 Fax: (+34) 91 357 29 13 Copyright © 2006 IESE Business School.

IESE Business School-University of Navarra - 1

WHY BECOME A FAMILY-RESPONSIBLE EMPLOYER?
Nuria Chinchilla*
Elizabeth Torres**

Abstract
In this paper we examine the reasons why companies might want to become family-responsible employers. Three models of the relationship between people and organizations are used to illustrate. In the mechanistic model, work-family policies are adopted as a marketing strategy. In the psycho-sociological model, companies use work-family policies to attract and retain talented employees. And in the anthropological/humanistic model, companies foster commitment through a family-responsible culture, as a consequence of treating employees as complete human beings

* Professor of Managing People in Organizations, IESE
** Research Assistant , IESE

Keywords: Family Responsible Employer (FRE) Model, Flexible policies, Work-Family. IESE Business School-University of Navarra

WHY BECOME A FAMILY-RESPONSIBLE EMPLOYER?*

Over the last two decades, important socio-demographic changes have occurred: women have entered the labor market in large numbers, the rate of divorce has increased, the number of single-parent families likewise, the birth rate in Europe has never been lower. Indeed, Spain has one of the lowest rates: 1.3 children for every woman of childbearing age(1). Diseases such as stress and depression are also on the rise.

And yet, organizations do not take these changes into account in the way they manage and organize their workforce. Work is still basically designed for male employees, as in the last century, with working hours that are incompatible with other needs such as caring for dependants (children, adults or the elderly) and being at home. One consequence of these socio-demographic changes is that people experience major conflicts among different areas of life, especially between work and family. This is something that affects not only working mothers, who carry primary responsibility for the family, but also working fathers, who are now more involved in family tasks. According to the Families and Work Institute(2), many people would be willing to forfeit certain benefits and compensations at work in exchange for flexibility to strike a more satisfactory balance between work and family life. Employees’ families are starting to become a new stakeholder of the company. Organizations are not the only ones responsible for people’s family life, but they can contribute significantly to improving it. There are three main arenas that influence a person’s life: family, company and society.

Company

Person

Family

Society

*

Presented at the Princeton University Conference on “Ethics, Families and the Corporation: How the Family Molds Capitalism”, March 9-11, 2006

IESE Business School-University of Navarra

We all know that the family is the basic nucleus of our society. The time a person spends with his or her family is important to organizations. Why? Simply because the family is the school where people acquire and develop competencies. The family performs a crucial and indispensable social function. Within the family, helpless babies are transformed from selfcentered bundles of impulses, desires, and emotions to fully socialized adults. The family teaches trust, cooperation and self-restraint. Companies and society require these attributes, which only families can inculcate(3).

The fact is that work time is organized as if the people...
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