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Workplace Flexibility

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On March 31, SHRM was invited to participate in a high-level White House forum that brought together roughly 100 leaders from business, labor, academia, advocacy groups and government to discuss workplace flexibility. 

The meeting was hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls.  Mike Aitken, Director of Government Affairs, represented SHRM. 

SHRM was invited to the Forum because we are viewed as a thought leader and influential voice on this issue.  In 2009, SHRM developed its innovative 21st Century Workplace Flexibility Public Policy to encourage lawmakers to support voluntary employer-provided leave benefits.  In addition, SHRM chairs the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave, a broad-based group of organizations, companies and associations dedicated to protecting the integrity of the Family and Medical Leave Act and promoting workplace flexibility policies.

As proof of their personal commitment to this issue, both President Obama and the First Lady participated in the event.  Forum participants also heard from experts in the flexibility field including CHROs from Marriott and Sara Lee, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management for the federal government, and Claire Shipman, author of Womenomics and senior correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America (and a keynote speaker at SHRM’s recent Legislative Conference). 

A video of President Obama’s closing remarks at the forum can be accessed by clicking on the picture above.

Breakout sessions on best practices, the benefits of flexible work arrangements, and the changing American workforce gave participants an opportunity to share ideas on the advantages as well as the challenges of offering 21st Century flexible workplace policies and programs.

The links to two blogs (below) from senior White House staff who participated in the event provide a good “feel” for the forum:

Several participants expressed interest in working with SHRM on a new approach to encouraging, rather than mandating, more flexible leave policies. 

Mike Aitken used the forum to talk about the need to amend antiquated labor laws to allow for more innovative workplace practices.  He also discussed SHRM’s guiding principles on the issue and made plans for following up meetings with many of the participants, including White House officials.  Click HERE to see the principles.



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The next issue of HR Issues Update will be published on Friday, April 23, 2010.
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