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Fathers Figure

Don't forget men when setting work/family policies for your business.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the March 1999 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

Men make up more than half the work force and share the responsibility for the creation of children, but companies often overlook men when they're developing family- friendly policies. That's not fair to men or women.

Considering men in family policy isn't just a matter of being a nice boss--it's good business. "In supporting men with their family-care needs, you'll also be supporting women," says James Levine, director of the Fatherhood Project at the Families and Work Institute in New York City and author of Working Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family (Harcourt Brace & Co.). "You'll be challenging the assumption that it's women, and women alone, who have to take care of kids and elderly parents."

Levine says you need to realize that just because your employees aren't talking about their family responsibilities doesn't mean they don't have them. Let the fathers in your company know that you're aware they have personal concerns outside the workplace and that you want them to be comfortable bringing up those needs.

It's important to keep a level playing field. Also be flexible for employees without children and/or aging parents. If employees have other personal obligations that would benefit from flexibility in the workplace, look for ways to accommodate them. At the same time, make sure all employees understand that flexibility doesn't mean less responsibility to their jobs. For example, a request for time off for a personal need should be accompanied by a plan for how missed work will get done.

For more on balancing work and families, see "Your So-Called Life" on page 146.

Jacquelyn Lynn has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, for 12 years.

Stock Tips

Keeping your supply cabinets full without emptying the bank.

Pens, notepads and tape may seem insignificant, but your techniques for purchasing office supplies and managing inventory can have an impact on both productivity and profitability. Staples has assembled some office-supply tips:

  • Monitor how fast you go through supplies so you'll know how often to shop and how much to buy.
  • Store supplies in an accessible location so you can track what's on hand.
  • Even if you physically go to the store, use a catalog to do research and create a list of needed supplies.
  • The manager at your office supply store is a valuable resource who can help you take advantage of the various products and services available.

It's Who You Know

Your introduction to the experts.

High-growth, high-tech companies across the country are linking up with financiers through a variety of programs designed to introduce entrepreneurs to investors. In North Carolina, STREAK, sponsored by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) in Research Triangle Park, provides young companies with access to mentors and potential investors by bringing them together with a network of experts.

Entrepreneurs must submit applications and meet certain criteria, which include having a written business plan, being at the proper stage for equity investors and demonstrating growth potential. For each company chosen, STREAK will assemble a team of experts to address the company's needs. Each team typically includes a venture capitalist, accountant, corporate or patent attorney, marketing professional and successful entrepreneur in the same industry. Companies receive feedback on business strategy, marketing plans, funding options and presentation skills.

The MIT Enterprise Forum, with 18 chapters worldwide, and the UCSD CONNECT Technology Financial Forum, a service of the University of California, San Diego, offer similar assistance. To find out if such programs are operating in your area, contact a local economic-development organization, the business department at a nearby university, or your local Small Business Development Center.

Contact Sources

Council for Entrepreneurial Development, (919) 549-7500

Families and Work Institute,,

MIT Enterprise Forum Inc., (617) 253-0015

University of California, San Diego CONNECT, (619) 534-6114

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