The Debate: Working Long Hours and Parenting

The expectation and normalization of working long hours in the work place and it's impact on parents.

 

 

On the PSP Career Networking Group a parent described the following experience:

 

So, I had an interview with a direct marketing firm yesterday. 

 

About 15 minutes into the interview, the woman I would be working for said,
"So, the hours are technically 9-6, but you'll never leave before 7. You'll frequently stay later. Is that a problem?"

 

I said it was because I had a 4 year-old son.

 

"Oh, childcare issue?"

 

"No. I just want to be able to see my son."

 

She replies, "Oh. No one here has a family. Well, I do, but my kids are grown. Anyway, those are the hours."

 

I declined pursuing the position because of the hours and it would be a pay-cut. But thought that it was so sad that this company has chosen to create such a parenting-averse culture and that she as a working parent wasn't going to change it. I've been around the block enough that I think I could probably whittle through the workload in under 10 hours per day, but staying past 7 is expected there anyway. So many places seem obsessed with hours over productivity. Ergh!

 

Is this something other job seekers on this board have encountered? Places that make it pretty clear that you as a parent aren't really welcome aboard?

 

The response to this story raised a range of issues & a lively debate:

 

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Yes, I have encountered it!

Someone just sent me this blog post - great perspective, especially for those working in a creative field:

 

http://www.thesfegotist.com/editorial/2012/march/14/short-lesson-perspective

 

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This introduction of work hours sounds to me like an inducement to get to whether or not you had children. Employers are not to ask these questions, and so here is a nifty workaround. The result is, without much effort, she got you to remove yourself from the applicant pool. I know it sounds sinister, and it is. To me, "the tell" was when she went to childcare issue, rather than anyone with a life would want to be home by a reasonable hour. A fair way to deal with this is to post the hours in the job announcement. To do so in the first interview is insensitive and exposes their technique to pursue indirect lines of questioning--questions that, presented directly, would traditionally get them into trouble.

 

If presented with this again, querying the interviewer about workplace culture and flexibility vs. inflexibility of work schedules might allow you to have a more open-ended conversation about their expectations. There are occasions when an environment of staying until 6 or 7pm has less to do with productivity and more to do with a culture of staying late because employees then segue to after-work social activities. In other cases, the long hours are key to job success but can be executed at a home office. So perhaps there can be an understanding that you are back on the clock after 8pm and until 10pm.

 

In general, it helps to clarify as much as possible (at least in your own mind) how your work will be judged, based on quality/productivity versus quality/productivity PLUS face time. This doesn't mean that face time isn't important in some offices, but you also have an opportunity to be known most for your efficiency rather than for logging the most in-office hours.

 

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I feel ya. I've been looking for a new job in the city and most all say 'long-hours required' or 'very fast-paced/challenging/heavy workload' and of course the first thing that comes to my mind is is that I will never see my little 13 mo. old again. So I'm still looking, perhaps more freelance route at this point. I just don't want to miss out on time with her, but I realize most parents don't have that option.

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I think it's very common. And in a way she did you a favor by being so up front about it because at least you found out now instead of after taking the job (it's also illegal though by the way - you could sue for discrimination I suppose (I'm not a lawyer so don't take that as legal advice) I do know that hiring managers are supposed to be less obvious about the fact that they don't want parents working there.

Unfortunately, our society still mostly believes that the "ideal worker" is someone without kids or someone who has a wife or husband at home to deal with all of that "family stuff" and can give 60 to 80 to 100 hours a week to a job for 50 weeks a year. it's very short sighted to lose out on parents who are often the most qualified, experienced, and dedicated employees (because they tend to be in the mid point of their careers when they have children) and instead go for younger and therefore less experienced but less "burdened" employees. Or ones who are willing to forsake seeing their children to do the job. When we all know that happy people make happy workers which make good products, teams, and companies. And people are happiest when they are able to do fulfilling, interesting work AND have close, day to day relationships with the people they love. Studies have shown that "dual centric" (meaning those focused and involved with both work and family) employees tend to feel more successful at work and to actually BE more successful employees. But the corporate world has some now not gotten the memo. here's a summary of the report on "dual centric" workers: http://familiesandwork.org/site/research/reports/dual-centric.pdf

I could go on and on but I think one way forward is to continue to create our own examples of working parenthood that works. and to shout those out too.

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As a parent of two little ones myself (2 1/2 and 4 months) and as someone who works in a field where long hours are the norm (attorney) I am going to have to disagree with most of what has been written so far. The expectation of an employer, and the hours required to be worked has nothing to do with the whether someone has children. This idea that an employer who requires long work hours is somehow discriminating against parents doesn't really hold water IMO.

If I am an employer (which I am) and I am hiring someone, I am going to tell them "This is the job, and these are the requirements of the job." Either they can do it or they can't, and I don't really care what the reason is. If I need someone to work 10 hours a day, and they can't do it, I don't care if the reason is childcare, or their bowling league because if they can't fulfill the requirements, that is where my interest ends. You can argue that valuing hours spent in the office over productivity is silly (and it probably is), but it isn't someone's place as a job applicant to suggest that the corporate culture should adjust to their needs.

The instant situation does not represent a job environment that is specifically "parent averse". It is a job, like so many others in NYC, that is FREE TIME averse. If you don't want to give up your free time, you should consider a job with shorter hours. The fact that you want to spend your free time with your children rather than a hobby, traveling, etc. is of no consequence to an employer. A claim that this employer is discriminating against parents is like my little brother coming out of an interview and claiming that an interviewer was discriminating against people who want to spend 8 hours a day playing video games. 

Either you can do a job, or you can't do a job.

As to Jan's response: (1) there is nothing illegal about telling a job applicant the amount of hours required to be worked, yes, I am aware that you may not inquire into certain personal matters, but it doesn't seem that the interview questions were crafted in such a manner; (2) I disagree with the generalized assessment of the "ideal worker" being unattached.  I am sure there are some fields where this is true, but when I am hiring, I look upon potential employees who are married with children as a positive. This is because an employee with a family to support NEEDS to work, NEEDS the benefits, and is less likely to pick up and leave in 9 months when something better comes along.

I certainly agree that those with a balance of home and work life are more happy, and I have patterned my career in that mold. But I don't for one second begrudge the law firms out there who would require me to work 12-14 hours a day for failing to offer me a job built around my needs rather than theirs.

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I'm don't like to wade into these things, but this demands a response.  It really does.

 

We live in a society in which companies expect individuals to neglect their families (or "free" time) in order to work more hours so that they can employ fewer people for (theoretically) the same work.  In a competitive marketplace, the business pressure to cost save in this manner (for exempt employees at least such as attorneys) creates a never-ending cycle which erodes our ability to parent, hold our marriages together, and otherwise be a happy, productive society.  I'll leave the solutions to that (government regulation to create a level playing field for companies that want to do the right thing) to another forum.

 

I believe it is a colossal cop-out to say, "Hey, it's not discrimination so long as I don't specifically say no parents..."  We figured this out long ago in civil rights legislation and we call it disparate impact.    Essentially, disparate impact creates a of cause of action where employment practices that are not outright discriminatory are still in violation of your civil rights when they have a disproportionate "adverse impact" on a protected group.  

 

Now, the previous poster says this has nothing to do with parents.  It is equally discriminatory against hobbyists, travelers, and video gamers.  I can't follow that comparison.  These are all optional endeavors and to equate them to parenthood requires two conclusions:

1) The choice of crafting our future generations is no different a choice than golfing, watching tv, or knitting and therefore deserves no elevated consideration.

2) Whether or not to be an active, engaged, and present parent is a matter of personal choice.

I cannot accept either of those conclusions.  However, I fear as a society we are increasingly moving towards acceptance of those ideas.  I believe that the society that ceases to respect children and the need to create society for their futures is a culture on the brink.

 

Now, what about jobs that legitimately require lots of time away from home?  First, an earlier poster made an excellent point.  The OP pointed out that the interviewer specifically mentioned that no one there had children.  This to me is outright direct discrimination without need for a disparate impact theory.  That being said, we have no further information on whether reasonable accommodation could have been made for her.  There are countless studies that show a longer work day is very often a LESS productive work-day.  However, if there is an absolute need for more time, I am certain that in the vast majority of workplaces, accommodations can be made to make the parent as or more productive than a non-parent worker.

 

Finally, there are exceptions.  Just as a filmmaker is allowed to discriminate against whites when casting for martin luther King, jr, some jobs just require you to be away.  My job is one of them.  My work is overseas for the most part and therefore I have to get on a plane and sleep on foreign soil.  It is not nearly as bad as it sounds, but it is the core of my work.  Even still, colleagues of mine that get pregnant or otherwise just want to spend more time with the family are accommodated.  They can request (and generally get) non-field assignments where they work more or less business hours.  It works because we all work together to make sure it does.  Some people who are single just get tired of the field, but we recognize that employees with families have a more pressing need.

 

I guess what I am trying to say is: it takes a village.  I have employed many people over the years, and I always considered their families' well-being part of my responsibilities in so far as it was impacted by their employment with me.  

 

Just my 2 cents.  Thanks and stay strong.

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I'd like to add something to just one theme in this admirably frank discussion.

 

Studies have shown that "dual centric" (meaning those focused and involved with both work and family) employees tend to feel more successful at work and to actually BE more successful employees.  But the corporate world has some now not gotten the memo. 

 

There are countless studies that show a longer work day is very often a LESS productive work-day. 

 

I am reminded of hearing about my husband's early training as newspaper reporter. Each night the managing editor would walk the around the newsroom at 7pm, frowning, and saying to the people still there sweating over their stories, "If you can't get it done in 8 hours, maybe you shouldn't be doing it!". Hear hear.

 

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To clarify: what I mean is, we need more employers like that managing editor, those who think a job well done (even ones with deadlines) shouldn't take longer than 8 hours and who will recognize and reward efficiency over face time. It is amazing how much more efficient you become once you are a parent and discover all the things in a work day that suddenly don't need to waste your time. It frustrates me to see workplaces where efficiency isn't recognized or valued over long hours for the sake of long hours.

 

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I guess we can just agree to disagree.


Parenting is a CHOICE. It is absolutely, 100% OPTIONAL. The world doesn't need more people. The decision to have children does not make you special, and you are not doing some type of saintly service to the world when, after ELECTING to have children, you decide you would also like to do it well. Those of us who choose to have children are no better or worse than those who choose not to have children, but would rather spend their time pursuing other endeavors.

When we decided to have kids, we all knew that there were things that we would have to give up. That is the trade off. I can't help but think of the "GO TO INDIA" scene from Knocked Up as I write about this, but I might be the only one who gets the joke. I knew that when I had children, I would have to give up sleeping 8 hours a night, I would have to get home earlier from work at night, etc. Since I had a job where staying past 7pm was the norm....I got a new job. The old job wasn't full of parent-hating monsters who wanted me to be a bad father. It was people who legitimately believed it was in their best interest as a business to work 12 hour days. They all had kids by the way, but most were at an age where their kids were at least in junior high.


Now the question becomes....who am I to walk into my boss' office and demand to be treated different than everyone else simply because I want to spend more time at home? The rest of the lawyers there didn't have their schedules adjusted when they had kids so why am I special? I am in an industry where the majority of seasoned attorneys I deal with (1) have children; and (2) don't spend an amount of time with their children that I would be happy with. But that doesn't give me the right to say everyone has to change to accommodate me does it? I just don't get where this victim-card mentality comes from for
people who voluntarily decided to have children. For me, the answer was to take a job making slightly less money than I would be able to make in a "sweatshop" but that combined with other sacrifices, allows ample time to spend with my family. Yes...I now sleep 5-6 hours a night instead of 8 hours. But to
me, it seems obvious that when I decided to have kids, it was ME who should be making the sacrifice, and not the people who employ me.

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The decision to have children does not make you special, and you are not
doing some type of saintly service to the world when, after ELECTING to have children, you decide you would also like to do it well. Those of us who choose to have children are no better or worse than those who choose not to have children, but would rather spend their time pursuing other endeavors.

Goodness, that seems like a rather floppy straw man. I don't think anybody is saying parents are better than other people. PSP are more insufferable, perhaps, than many, but I'm sure nascar fans or audiophiles or bicycle nuts would give them a run for their money.

I would argue that all people should have the flexibility to have an actual life, whether made up of kids or cosplay or playing angry birds, and that employers shouldn't expect to own them for more than their 8 hours, and should show them respect as actual humans who exist to do more than simply work for them.

That there are plenty of companies who manage to do this, proving it is possible, and that it's the workers' general agreement that they'll put up with such conditions (and the barriers to the workers banding together in the absence of legislative controls) which allows it to continue.

But, of course, I'm a radical leftist, and I probably think most of the specific jobs and employers that have come up are absurd to begin with. ;)

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Hi,

Original poster here. Just for the record, I don't expect special treatment as a parent. I hope for flexible treatment if it's possible. I've been in work environments where artists negotiate flex hours to pursue their art, athletes take extra time at lunch to train for events. As long as everyone does their job, its all good. I really just thought it odd that the interviewer would so bluntly say "no family people here." BTW, she works a four day week at this company, so somehow she has a flexible week. Believe me, if the ad had posted "long hours required in the office everyday" I wouldn't have responded and would have saved myself and the interviewer some time.

I'm lucky enough to be able to turn away from jobs like this now, but a lot of people aren't. So, I am firmly in the camp that all employees, parents and singletons, etc, need to band together to change the hours=success equation. I've worked at several companies where the game of "Oh, I worked until 10:00
last night" look-at-me thing is played by folks who were spending the day talking to co-workers, texting via phone with friends, and basically wasting time to extend the day and hope for kudos because they work such long hours. I'm guessing the place I interviewed with probably doesn't allow that time wasting, but you never know. I've also worked at retail outlets for minimum wage and the shifts were automatically 12 hours. So, I know and appreciate that my concerns are just a small slice of an overall economic and business culture pie.

Thanks to everyone for chiming in on this. All Opinions are great and helpful to me as I weigh what I want vs. career vs. paying the bills vs. family time vs. alone time too!

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I recently declined an offer for the same reasons. It was a lateral move for me with a slightly higher base. However, the time commitment was for me impossible to manage since I have an 19 month old. The negotiation went well until I requested information on work-life balance and flex hours.

 

Declining the offer felt so good to me. I made the right decision. I'm telling you this because you feel a little sad about the whole experience. In reality, it was a great experience for you because you made the right decision. Imagine yourself getting out of work around 8PM 3 to 4 times a week and not seeing your little one? yieks!

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I agree that it is not illegal to state the required hours of the job but in this case once the applicant mentioned children, the would be employer specifically said that no one at that company had children and that the environment was not friendly to working parents. that is where I thought the slippery slope had happened and veered into something hiring managers shouldn't say.  I always recommend to parents NOT to mention the fact that they have kids in an interview because if they open the door to that information, then the interviewer is legally allowed to take the conversation that way.  If you don't mention it, they are not allowed to ask and you are not required to answer if they do ask.  

 

I agree with you Jeffrey that setting long hours isn't discrimination against parents or any one group in particular.  Employers can set the number of hours they expect employees to work and employees must adhere to those hours in order to get and keep those jobs.  But I stand behind my assertion that when employers ask employees to work extremely long hours, they are going to lose some employees who don't want to spend their lives that way and that it hurts the company to lose out on those employees.  Also, that a larger percentage of those employees will be parents because kids tend to be more important to most individuals in our society than video games or bowling leagues. So people with hobbies might decide to suck it up and continue to work long hours but people with children will find it harder to make that choice and are more likely to struggle in the job and then leave.   It's not discrimination. these people make a personal choice based on their personal interests.  But I do believe it's bad for business to apply a one size fits all policy across the board for all employees at all times of their employment.  

 

Studies have shown that more than 50% of employees who ask for flexible or reduced work arrangements and don't get it leave the company within 6 months.  One can easily say "well too bad for them. they couldn't do the job" but this hurts companies too. The employees who tend to ask for flexible arrangements are by and large parents.  Parents often happen to be in the middle of their careers and therefore are more likely to be more highly trained/skilled.  And, as was previously stated, parents tend to see the benefits of working (salaries, benefits, bonuses, etc.) and are more likely to be loyal to the company so that the company gets to keep people with experience in those jobs longer.  And so losing out on this group of trained, experienced, loyal people hurts employers.  

 

Companies can (and many do) take the stand of "You do the work the way we want for as many hours as we say or hit the road - take it or leave it" mentality but I feel that they lose out on some very qualified people who would like the "way we work" to be modified. Possibly only for a short while, possibly for several years, but the point is that if there is SOME flexibility on both sides, both the employee and the employer can benefit.   and there are a growing number of large, highly profitable companies who are realizing that allowing employees to customize their work arrangements at different times in their lives (to do things like spend time with children or take care of sick spouses or volunteer in Africa or yes even go bowling a lot) allows them to retain great people that they have invested in training who can be excellent leaders in the company.  so yes, sometimes, they are building the jobs around the people in them and their circumstances at that time, not a firm one size fits all requirement for every worker.  and that approach can actually end up benefiting the bottom line.  

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I can't argue with most of what you said. It may very well be a good thing for businesses to open themselves up to more flexibility in order to avail themselves of a greater talent pool. My comments were not meant to opine as to what the "smart approach" is for businesses in this instance. It was more to address the entitlement mindset that we, as parents, should get a special set of rules simply by virtue of the fact that we choose to procreate, and that anyone who doesn't bend over backwards to accommodate us is the bad guy...or worse yet "discriminating" (a word that is thrown around far too often in inappropriate circumstances).

We all knew what we were getting into when we had children. Criticizing an employer for requiring more of our time than we are willing to give, due to a situation we put ourselves in voluntarily seems a bit silly to me.  

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Couldn't the same argument be made in other situations? For example, why should an employer "bend over backwards" to accommodate someone because they *choose *to observe a particular religious holiday? There are somethings we have to accept as a society - people are going to procreate, observe religious holidays, have a disability, etc. Everyone is not going to be childless, secular/non-obeservant and w/o disability. That's just the way it is. And unless we are willing to say that people belonging in
certain groups should have fewer employment options than those that do not, it makes sense for people to expect and receive *reasonable *accommodations. Of course, what is considered "reasonable" is debatable. I also don't see the value of characterizing procreation as a "choice" since as we know,
someone has to do it.

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Having children and people with disabilities...not even close to the same category.

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For me, the problem with this situation lies in the interviewer's use of the word "technically." Maybe I'm making too much of it, but it seems to me that the rules versus reality situation she described probably points to deeper cultural and structural problems at the company. Why not just honestly state what the
job's hours are from the outset?

I think being a parent saved you from a bad scene (that is, assuming you would have otherwise wanted the job).

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I'm sure there's probably been a kerfuffle in the time it's taken me to type this, but just in case there hasn't:


"It isn't someone's place as a job applicant to suggest that the corporate culture should adjust to their needs."

Well, I suppose somebody ought to tell them they're missing out of folks because of their corporate culture, and since they've already screened all the people who are working there, I guess job applicants aren't a bad choice, though I doubt raising the issue would help their chances of being hired.

As to the 'anti-entitlement' bit, I think that's a fairly silly argument. The vast majority of people have kids, the vast majority of employers (especially in crummier jobs) don't make much in the way of accommodation for them.
Your corner office lawyer might get six weeks leave, your office supply admin two weeks unpaid, your taco bell worker... well, probably can't afford to take much of anything.

I think setting up a societal expectation that one shouldn't be limited to particular types of jobs because one has totally reasonable time constraints is a good idea.
Sure, there may be specific jobs which mean working late or early (say, overseas stock trader, fishmarket worker, night-shift janitor, ER nurse, etc.) but most general office jobs don't need to be so tight. It benefits the employer's bottom line at the squeezing the employee harder and making them the employer's property for more and more of their waking hours, and I can't get behind it.

It's also the sort of structural hurdle which is more pernicious than specifically anti-women (for to choose a historical example) employment rules, which are relatively easy to overcome legally, and is one of the major reasons men do less kid-work and women are less frequently in your badass company jobs.

(Which is not to say I'm against hard work or long hours.
I used to work as an architect, and worked through the night innumerable times. I worked as a photo assistant, a job which was often 15-20h at a go, and I currently teach, meaning I am in front of my computer grading until 1am most nights (and teach all day saturday). But mandating 'hours' instead of 'work' and claiming a greater and greater slice of one's humanity ain't a good thing, and should be opposed whenever the opportunity arises.)

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Firstly let me say that the comparison of someone who chooses to have children and someone who involuntarily lives their life in a wheelchair borders on offensive but I am sure you didn't mean it that way, so let me address the other stuff. 

Of course we can, as a society, accept that people are going to procreate. I agree completely. What I disagree with is the suggestion that in a competitive environment, employers should somehow be forced into hiring employees that don't live up to the job requirements. Why should the bottom line of MY company be affected by the fact that YOU think you should be entitled to spend "X" amount of hours home with your kids? Don't get me wrong, I think that is an admirable desire, but I am not willing to make the jump and say that your employer should reduce your hours rather than say....I don't know....you waking up earlier?

I start a business to make money, so shouldn't I be able to hire the people who are best able to help me reach that goal? What you are doing when you insist that business owners should cater to you is imposing YOUR choice to have children on THEM. If you think that businesses should cater to parents and only work 9-5, god bless you.....go start your own business and stop complaining about mine.

I am all for "reasonable accommodations" but walking into a job interview and being offended that they work long hours isn't what I consider reasonable. If you are at a job for a while and then have kids and want to change your hours...good for you. I am sure if you have proved yourself a valuable employee your request will be considered. But if your employer says "no", then it is time to find a new job rather than complain about being a victim of a situation you placed yourself in voluntarily.

 
Procreation is absolutely a choice. Very few people "have to do it", and in fact the world would be much better off if far less people were doing it. The real problem is that the dumbest among us are the ones having the most children, but that is a topic for another day. This idea that we "have" to make babies and that we are somehow doing society a favor by creating more humans to breath our air and eat our food is something that is ingrained in us from an early age, but it doesn't hold much water.
 
There was an interesting article in the New Yorker recently that addressed the myths of "needing to have children" and it was tough for me to read because it attacked so many of my preconceived notions. But after reading it, and being honest with myself, I concluded that the reason I had kids was for ME. My kids bring so much happiness to myself, my wife, our parents, etc. and it is very easy to argue that having them is a selfish act meant to fulfill our own needs rather than any greater need of society(the odds of the average kid growing up to cure cancer are probably about .000000000001% right). This myth that we "need" to have children would make more sense if the world were currently procreating below the replacement rate, but the reality is that we are WAY too far in the opposite direction. Here is the link, it is a good read:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/04/09/120409crbo_books_kolbert?currentPage=2

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Perhaps we should acknowledge that attorneys, whose livelihoods are often based on billable hours, are going to have a very particular perspective on this. For many other fields, the questions are (as others have stated already): a) Why wouldn't one be able to come in 7-5, or accomplish 2 hours of work remotely, if the employee has proven their ability to do so? b) What happens if an employee is ruthlessly efficient and accomplishes her/his goals within the bounds of a normal workday? To me, a well-run institution is focused on meeting meaningful goals, not obsessing about empty units of time.

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Well Jenny, it has become more and more muddled as more and more people chime in to share their life-philosophies. But as for me, my original comments were not meant to take a position on what is a good workplace or what is a bad workplace. I share the opinion of most on here in thinking that flexible employers and happy employees make for more productive employees. I agree that valuing productivity over hours worked makes sense. My point was that it is not my place, the place of anyone on this board, or the place of a job applicant to tell an employer how to run their business. If someone is running a business and looking to hire someone to come sit at a desk from 9-7 then either you take the job and sit at the desk.....or you look for another job. Having a child is not a disability and you are not entitled to special accommodations simply because you procreate. Of course operating a business in that manner might not be in an employer's best interest, but that is his/her prerogative.


I actually think that in a way, it is a job applicant's place to tell an employer how to run their business. That is why they would be hired. Depends on the job/ profession, but most corporate jobs want people who are constantly striving to do things better and faster, to generate more revenue, to lower costs, etc. I work in retail buying and planning and I've often gotten interview questions along the lines of, "What would you do differently in our stores?" (e.g. How should I change how I run my business?")

If I was interviewing for an HR job and someone asked me how I would improve recruitment and retention, I would suggest offering employees more job flexibility/ control over their time. And yes, if someone told me I had to work from 9-7 or later in the office and I had gotten an offer from them, I would try to negotiate that to something that worked for me just like I would negotiate salary or benefits. If you don't ask, you don't get. And if the company really needs a person at a desk until 7pm they can say no.

The problem is that there aren't that many flexible jobs out there. So it's not always as easy as find another job. I think we all need to try to influence our employers to have the kind of work culture we want to work in, rather than just say take it or leave it to the status quo. I also think when we reject a job offer or quit a job because of lack of flexibility, we should clearly state the reasons. Hopefully if this happens enough, it will get companies thinking about the talent they are losing out on. I left an inflexible company for a flexible one after my daughter was born and it was a great move for me and in my opinion it was a loss for the inflexible company.

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"My point was that it is not my place, the place of anyone on this board, or the place of a job applicant to tell an employer how to run their business"

Of course, that's perfectly true. And the fact that society has no place telling business owners how to run their businesses is why there have never been movements which resulted in regulations on child labor, minimum wage, hazardous working conditions, discrimination, collective bargaining, etc etc. ;)

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I will also wade into this conversation to share something I read yesterday which struck me deeply. It might help some of us keep the overall essence of this conversation in perspective.
While doing research on boys (for those of you who don't already know, I coach parents of boys), I decided to read a particular section in The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian where he says that boys need a tribe in order to thrive.

The tribe is comprised of three families---parents and grandparents; extended family, peers, teachers, and mentors; community, society, and the larger culture---that need to coordinate efforts and build communal values together. When the three families "...do not make child-raising the PRIMARY [my
highlight] purpose of culture, children feel unsafe and unloved..."

YES, it takes the entire village. Because we forgot this core principle about human existence, we lost our way. Having lost our way has come at a high price---just take a closer look at our collective pain and suffering. I believe finding our way is doable, but it will take the entire village to get us there...

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