On July 26th, the University of Houston – C.T. Bauer College of Business hosted the “Practices that Pay” panel event, presented by Bauer’s Working Families Initiative.
The Working Families Initiative is led by Bauer College Board member and alumna Elizabeth Killinger, who currently serves as president of NRG Retail and Reliant. It is an association of faculty, business leaders and staff working to spread awareness on developing a family-friendly culture that helps individuals to thrive both in the workplace and at home.
The July 26th panel was moderated by Diane Scardino, Vice President of Texas Children’s Hospital, and included Linda Coberly, managing partner at Winston & Strawn LLP Chicago, Tandra Jackson, managing partner at KPMG, and Joanne Nolte, Equal Opportunity and U.S. Diversity & Inclusion manager at Shell Oil Company. The panelists were also joined by Bauer College Professor Steve Werner.
The panelists discussed how companies can encourage a family-friendly culture and particularly how business leaders can model that behavior. “Leaders should be sensitive to the needs of others and not make assumptions about what people need. They need to be flexible and adaptive, listening to your issues and coming back with solutions,” said Nolte. Coberly added that such family-friendly policies need to acknowledge that circumstances can differ from person to person.
Although the panelists represented various industries, they agreed that respect across organizations was a major commonality in creating a family-friendly environment in any company. “For most people, their relationship to management is their first immediate supervisor. So, even if top management is very supportive, if the immediate supervisor is negative toward using these policies, you don’t have a family-friendly culture,” said Werner “The other thing that affects the culture is coworker support. Being derided for using these policies can also make the employee feel that they don’t have a family-friendly culture (in the organization).”
The panel marks the Bauer College’s Working Families Initiative’s first event after its 2015 founding by Bauer Dean Latha Ramchand. “This is just the beginning.” Ramchand told the panel guests. “Our real goal is what comes next.”
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