The problem with “family friendly”

The problem with “family friendly” June 24, 2014

So this is something of a vent after a frustrating day at work.

I work in our international group, and coordinate valuations from other countries for our clients.  Today was a deadline, and we’d been chasing our actuaries in the Netherlands, who had said two weeks ago, that they’d have results by last week.  Now, yesterday, I finally got the reply from them that, not only did they not have the results, but they hadn’t even finished cleaning the input data, because, they said, “they have other clients, too.”

Now maybe I just have the misfortune to be dealing with a couple screw-ups (we had similar issues last year), or maybe the entire office is short-staffed, but these women (because both my contacts are women) seem to leave early and aren’t accessible after-hours, and it just leads me to wonder if what I’m experiencing is the consequence of what I’ve read in the past, that women in the Netherlands may not be marrying as often, and aren’t having as many kids, but they’re still quite happy to work part-time, with the financial support of their partners/boyfriends, if they’re unmarried.  (See here and here for some articles from 2010.) Are my Dutch actuarial colleagues just not committed to the job, and if they don’t get it done by the end of the day, they just finish it up the next day, regardless of deadline?

(And this is not a European-wide issue — I have female colleagues in Scotland, Spain, Germany, and so on.)

But that’s the reality — all family-friendly policies aside, the work has to get done.  It’s fine to simply take on fewer projects to begin with, assign more people to a team, and so on, but can you really tell a client, “I’ll send over the results next week instead”?

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