This is turning out to be a blockbuster year for National Work and Family Month -- even bigger than we envisioned when we drafted the preliminary sketch of all the events and festivities we would create, participate in or hear about from our many partners and allies across the work-life community. What's most fun about this national education campaign that we created nine years ago is its organic, ever expanding nature. All sorts of people, employers and institutions start to mobilize, each acting out their own unique interpretation of what the intersection of work and family means to them, personally as well as professionally.
Yesterday, on Oct. 25, another important and very high-profile voice lent her support to our mission. At an event at the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the launch of her own department's celebration of National Work and Family month. She was introduced by U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne S. Verveer, and she was followed by Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of Families and Work Institute, who spoke about why creating a more flexible and effective workplace is a strategic imperative.
Secretary Clinton shared her perspective about how much work-life progress has been made by employers in general and by her agency in particular since the time she herself was working and pregnant with Chelsea. She reiterated that work-life issues are not women-only issues. In her words:
"It is a human issue, and a family issue. After all, there is little doubt that balancing work and family responsibilities is done in one way or another by people everywhere, every day. And I believe strongly that we need to open this issue up for discussion, to assist in solving problems, to help build a strong workforce and strong families."
I applaud Secretary Clinton for making such a strong and public commitment to creating a workplace where employees have the support they need to be successful in the workplace and at home. This type of leadership is critical to changing cultures, and we need more leaders both in the federal government and in private businesses to follow her example.
Excerpts of Clinton's speech were quickly broadcast on CNN, so National Work and Family Month has most appropriately been featured as national news. It's wonderful to see the interest, participation and discussion over work-life issues peculate through so many different communities.
And October hasn't turned into a pumpkin yet.