Even Wall Street Gets it

August 6, 2006

Editor’s Note: Yes, it’s nice that companies realize that work-life balance is important to women. Good one, Rachel. -Elisa

Ladies, time is on our side. I just finished reading this NYT article, Wall Street’s Women Face a Fork in the Road, which covers the problem Wall Street firms are having with retaining women execs aged 35-50, and the trouble they are now having getting the so-called Gen Y-ers to even consider joining the investment field.

The gist of it all is that the investment field, which typically demands brutal work hours, is seeing some of their best and finest women simply quit to take care of family responsibilities – children, sick or aged relatives – and the firms are feeling the brain drain. Here’s the nut graph:

All of this has accompanied a subtle but crucial sea change for women throughout the business world. Twenty years ago, the gender debate centered on breaking the so-called glass ceiling that kept women out of executive suites, gaining equal access to the workplace and securing equal pay for equal work. Today, concerns more often revolve around reshaping the very architecture of Wall Street work in order to keep women involved, including compensating managers for achieving diversity goals and reaching out to female employees with families.

When I finished reading the article, I did a victory lap around the study and pulled my shirt over my head a la Brandi Chastain, because to me this proves something I’ve thought for a long time: time and demographics favor reshaping professional life to better suit women. It’s inevitable, really – as women earn the majority of college diplomas and become at least an equal part of the professional world, companies can’t afford to lose them forever by locking out work/life solutions.

Now, of course, standard caveats apply: 1.) this is what the firms are saying in print – is the day-to-day enviroment as family-friendly as their PR spin is; 2.) this is all well and good for the white collar sector, but what about our sisters elsewhere – how does this translate to the everyday world?

But let’s stop a moment and appreciate that even in that macho bastion of Wall Street, logic is trickling through. Have a great rest of the weekend!