Editor Note: We received a press pass from BlogHer to cover the conference. The author paid for all other expenses.
Following Arianna Huffington’s keynote at BlogHer, I was fortunate to be invited to a press junket to learn more about “Make Life Work,” a new campaign to raise awareness and promote real solutions to the difficulties faced by families across the U.S.
Our team at SEJ is primarily women, and, obviously, work/life balance is something we all struggle with, so learning about “Make Life Work” from those directly involved was truly exciting.
Stacy Morrison, Editor-in-Chief, BlogHer; Judith Warner, Senior Fellow, The Center for American Progress; and Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post Media Group announced this new joint initiative in response to the increasing conflict between work and family life Americans face today.
BlogHer, The Center for American Progress, and The Huffington Post are teaming up to emphasize the notion that the way we have established out workplaces is unsustainable. With the evolution of technology and online communities (present in BlogHer and HuffPost) and in conjunction with the governmental entity, we hope this campaign will thrive.
“These are issues with a deep personal resonance for me as a mother,” said Arianna Huffington.
“At HuffPost, when it comes to the issues facing the American family, we’re committed to using all the tools at our disposal with the goal of not just telling stories but changing lives. This partnership will allow us to double down on that commitment,” noted Huffington.
Changing Demographics Spark Need for Changing Conditions
Rapidly changing demographics, workforce participation, and family makeup have created seismic shifts in American households, yet attitudes and policy have not kept up with these changes.
For example, in the United States today:
- Only 30% of children have a stay-at-home parent
- 40.9% of women are the breadwinners for their families, as opposed to 11.6% in 1967
- Fathers expect to participate and share in the tasks of child rearing, and they are doing so at a rate almost three times what it was in 1965
That demographic reality comes to life in a preview of BlogHer’s upcoming 6th annual Women and Social Media Study, sponsored by Ketchum. The study reveals that women who report the highest levels of time starvation are actually those with the most traditional family unit—two parents and children—and what is sacrificed under such time pressure is personal health and fitness, a choice with serious long-term ramifications for the American health care system, the economy, and ultimately the health of future generations.
“I have had a front-row seat to the increasing pressures on the American family,” said Stacy Morrison, “from when I started as the former editor in chief of Redbook magazine in 2004 to now, when I see BlogHer’s community members openly share their struggles to have sane, normal family lives. I am thrilled to be partnering with two powerhouses to bring the voices of the blogosphere and beyond to bear on this defining issue of our times.”
This issue has garnered support on all sides of aisle: Last year, 73 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of Independents, and 96 percent of Democrats said they thought it was important for Congress and the White House to devote attention to family-friendly policies.
BlogHer and The Huffington Post will create content hubs to support a rich body of work and social conversation around the issues of work/life conflict, featuring the voices of average Americans from a broad variety of households, as well as the decision-makers who are driving solutions.
The Center for American Progress, a progressive, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC, will lend their extensive knowledge and research on these topics in companion pieces, represented by Judith Warner, a recognized expert on the changing American family and author of “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.”
“The Frame is Shifting”
“For too long, work-life conflict has been framed as a private problem that individual men and women need to face, and solve, on their own,” said Judith Warner. “Now, fortunately, that frame is shifting.”
“Overwhelming majorities of Americans believe our government should help support families with measures like paid leave, access to high-quality early childhood education, and the right to access flexible work arrangements,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress. “’Make Life Work’ will offer a unique opportunity to show how those desires can be made into realities, through both public policy and private sector workplace change.”
“Make Life Work” aims to show there are workable solutions that do not overtax businesses, but instead strengthen both our workforce and our overall economy by focusing on three key solutions:
- Paid Parental Leave: With the shift in family makeup – adoptive families, gay and lesbian families, stay-at-home-father families,and the like — becoming the norm in America, paid family leave is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity. America cannot afford to be the last developed country to adopt this policy.
- The Right To Request Flexibility: The majority of Americans do not have access to flexible work arrangements. It’s time to change the dialogue between workers and employees, acknowledging that workers need flexibility to manage certain life and family issues, such as caregiving, medical issues, and more.
- Universal Pre-K: Introducing children to a school environment as early as possible results in cognitive, behavioral, and academic gains that translate into better success and graduation rates. Universal Pre-K also helps shorten the time period during which families have to find affordable full-time care, a critical issue when many American households are spending more on childcare than on their monthly mortgage or rent payments.
“I’m very excited to be partnering with BlogHer and the Center,” Arianna noted at BlogHer. “The key here is to realize that we can approach these issues on multiple levels – what teh government can do, what employees can do, and what the community can do.”
“Make Life Work” has launched on the Huffington Post website to leverage its journalistic aspect. The coverage will range from granular issues, like designated workplace spaces for breastfeeding, to bigger issues like paternal leave.
Members of the community will be invited to share stories and have conversations to assess what we can do at the individual and company level. Parents are encouraged to build tribes where they can barter what they do for each other among working parents.
What changes could you make to “make life work”?