Flexibility: not just being women’s issue.

Jessica Rohman interviews Carla Greenan, Executive Coach with over 20 years of experience at Ernst & Young LLP. Greenan gave us a peek into new research and best practices from her Great Place to Work Conference session: “Reinvigorating and Reinventing Workplace Flexibility – it’s not a ‘Women’s Issue”.

GPTW: Your Conference session on April 3 in New Orleans will address the topic of workplace flexibility not just being a “women’s issue” anymore. Why is it important for organizations to be paying attention to this right now?
CG: A takeaway that is particularly notable is that flexibility is the most important among the non-cash/benefits perks, among all generations. Gen X, in particular, rated flexibility as the most important perk (21%) over top-notch benefits (19%). The survey found that Gen X men (40%) were most likely to leave if flexibility was not offered, followed by Gen X women (37%), Gen Y men (36%) and Gen Y women (30%), which shows the increasing importance men are placing on this issue.
Flexibility is everyone’s issue. Companies need to realize the value flexibility has for all employees, not just women. In late June, EY commissioned an online, external generations survey that reached more than 1,200 US professionals. It included managers and non-managers – Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomers. Recent research also indicates that there is an increased trend of dads participating more actively in the home, which leads to healthy development for children and also allows for working moms to continue to focus on their career goals. Through our many flexibility policies and procedures, EY is helping to build a better working world by advocating for all our people to be both personally and professionally successful.

GPTW: What are some of the most exciting things EY is currently working on in this area?
CG: In December 2012, we launched a pilot coaching program called Career & Family Transitions that supports women and men welcoming a new baby through birth or adoption. Due to its success, the pilot is now expanding into a long-term program expected to reach about 375 moms and dads by December 2014. EY business unit leaders nominate mid-level professionals to participate, and we have had a 100% acceptance rate to date, including dads. The program is unique in that EY’s internal Executive Coaching team has dedicated several executive coaches to help these working parents through individual and group sessions held before and after the birth or adoption of their child. Additionally, training is offered for the EY professionals who serve as participants’ counselors both prior to their leave and focused on their return to work, which is expected to reach about 250 to 300 counselors by December 2014. EY felt it was important to focus our efforts on this high-performing talent pool to keep our pipeline open for our successful moms and dads.

GPTW: EY has been recognized on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list for many years, and is a regular speaker at the Great Place to Work® Conference. Why does EY continue to focus so intently on sustaining a great workplace culture
CG: Ernst & Young LLP is very proud to be recognized by Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for the 16th consecutive year. This remains a focus for us because it demonstrates our long-term commitment to making sure that every one of our people, no matter what office or practice, whether they stay a short or longer period of time, is having experiences and building relationships that will last a lifetime.
Our focus on building a better working world includes recognizing and appreciating the contributions of all our people. That starts by providing the right culture to foster high-performing teams and an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. At EY, differences matter — whether they’re cultural, generational, gender-related or otherwise — and empowering our people to bring their varied experiences to work every day ultimately leads to better outcomes for our teams and our clients.
Text by Jessica Rohman (published on Courtesy Great Place To Work Italia.

Caption: Ernst & Young, London head office.

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