Ernst and Young Case - Retaining Women in the Workplace

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The initiatives implemented at Ernst & Young produced the results they did for a major reason. As discussed in Chapter two by Hakim, Pocock and Rapoport, the contemporary workplace needs to undergo changes to fall more into line with contemporary behaviours, attitudes and job expectations of employees and their families. This, in turn, should result in a more flexible workplace for women and a resulting higher retention rate of women, post-maternity leave. In short, contemporary women in the modern day work force need flexibility to juggle the continuingly blurred line of work and family life in order to retain their jobs and continue to actively participate in the workforce. Hakim (Nankervis, Compton & Baird : 2005) argued that modern-day women fall into three different categories, ‘Home and family centred', ‘Work and career centred' and the largest group known as the ‘Adaptive' who swing between both centres depending on their workplace policy arrangements. Hakim argued that there is no longer a ‘one size fits all' approach to workplace flexibility for women and that every individual needs a tailored program when trying to juggle career and family. (Nankervis, Compton & Baird : 2005). This is apparent in the Ernst & Young results as when the company introduced positive family-orientated changes such as the flexible working hours that the ‘woman principal' adopted, more women were returning to work as they could still care for their children when needed. Pocock suggests that Australia has come to a point where traditional employment institutions and values are remaining unchanged yet, the attitudes, expectations and behaviours of the workforce have changed significantly and these ideals are ‘colliding'. (Nankervis, Compton & Baird : 2005). She argues that all too often, employers are designing work for employees without the immediate responsibility of family and/or caring for family members. Pocock also argues that this will need to change in order to retain women in the workforce. Women constitute a substantial amount of today's workforce and this issue must be addressed in order to retain them in the workforce. (Nankervis, Compton & Baird : 2005). When this is applied to the Ernst & Young case, it is plain to see that changing the culture of the workplace and tailoring the work to fit in with family life will result in more women coming back to work as their job will interfere less and less with their family life, making it a more feasible option to return to work if their job is designed to fit in with their family life. Rapoport's argument is similar to Pocock's but she reiterates that more has to be done than just introducing family-friendly policies. Rapoport asserts that more has to be done to find a balance between company objectives and employee's family needs. Rapoport argues that workplace practices are based on the outdated view that the male is the breadwinner and the female is the one providing the unpaid care work for the household. Application of this to the case study reinforces why Ernst & Young found the results they did. Ernst & Young have company objectives, their female employees, whom hold a substantial amount of big clients, have families to look after. If Ernst & Young go beyond superficial ‘family-orientated' policies, then they will have ‘Increased commitment and higher retention rates' being achieved by women returning from maternity leave. (Nankervis, Compton & Baird : 2005). This in turn could produce a more satisfied employee that is returning higher profits for the company. In conclusion, these initiatives returned these results because there is a need to be more flexible in the contemporary workplace. To retain women, of whom the company spends upwards of $300,000 training, we need to change the way we handle family issues in the workplace, and this showed that when Ernst & Young implemented family-friendly policies and female-friendly initiatives, the rate of women coming back to work...
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