Catalyst learned early on that, to advance women in business, they had to help corporations address life-work issues. At M.I.T.'s Sloan School and Simmons College, researchers and practitioners are helping organizations in ever field become both flexible and more effective.
In the professional services field, several firms have restructured travel assignments to give their consultants sufficient time at home and at the home office. Contrary to initial concerns, these companies have discovered that their clients prefer these arrangements. The new scheduling model makes it possible - combined with robust professional development - to retain talented women and advance them on the partnership track.
Advocacy in the legal profession has resulted in a new receptivity to such ideas as partnerships for part-time attorneys. Several national law firms have created systems for keeping their women lawyers connected during "off-ramp" periods - including networking lunches and skills training. In academia, some universities are "stopping the tenure clock" for a period of time, to allow for maternity and childcare leaves, as well as part-time work.
In recent years, the issue of life-work balance has been transformed from an individual problem to a societal challenge. Catalyst gives highly-publicized awards to companies that institutionalize flexible work arrangements. Working Mother Magazine annually recognizes the "100 Best Places to Work" based in part on policies that support working parents. Smart employers routinely scrutinize the methods used by these companies and apply them to their own workforce.