Sunday, September 20, 2015

Who cares?

Anne-Marie Slaughter has another op-ed piece complaining about the “toxic” work culture pervading American companies (“A Toxic Work World,” NYT). In her words, “the people who can compete and succeed in this culture are an ever-narrower slice of American society: largely young people who are healthy, and wealthy enough not to have to care for family members.” So what can be done to change this? “To support care just as we support competition, we will need some combination of the following: high-quality and affordable child care and elder care; paid family and medical leave for women and men; a right to request part-time or flexible work;” etc. But can care really compete against competition? How about reducing a bit the competitive pressures on companies and individuals? Or the relative rewards bestowed upon non-attached hypomanic workaholics? This, apparently, isn’t in the cards. “We” will need to wait for a “culture change: fundamental shifts in the way we think, talk and confer prestige” – so “we would not regard time out for caregiving — for your children, parents, spouse, sibling or any other member of your extended or constructed family — as a black hole on a résumé.” Who knows – with enough proselytizing, the reigning (and aspiring) 1% could even realize that the bottom line and shareholder value are overrated.