03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

21st Century Workforce: 'The Times They Are a Changing'

According to a recent report released by Maria Shriver entitled, "The Shriver Report: A Women's Nation Changes Everything," there has been a dramatic shift in our nation's workforce and women make up a greater part of our current workforce and economy than ever before. Today, women account for approximately 50% of our nation's workforce compared to only 1/3 of the workforce in 1967 (a generation ago). Women are graduating from college today at a higher rate than men. At the same time, 60% of these women have children under the age of 3 and four-in-five families with children still at home do not fit the traditional male as breadwinner, female as homemaker description.

The Shriver Report presents a framework for discussion on ways our society can better support working families and how policymakers, political leaders and employers can begin to address the impact and implications of these workforce changes. By taking a look at their assumptions and out-dated work practices, institutional leaders can begin to evaluate and create new work policies and arrangements that better address the needs of 21st Century families. According to this report, in today's families 23% of our children live with a single mother; in today's families 39% of all births are to unmarried mothers; in today's families 60% of women with children under the age of 3 are in the labor force; and, between 1977 and 2007, the number of employed men age 65 and older rose to over 75% while the employment of women age 65 and older climbed to almost double that figure -- 147%. Obviously, dramatic changes have occurred.

As an organization dedicated to inspiring, promoting and maintaining a family consciousness, the Twiga Foundation supports the fact that these statistics are important and relative to our goal of promoting workplace flexibility and effectiveness. By providing work options to their employees, businesses and organizations can begin to assist employees and their families in addressing issues such as care giving, individual and family health, community health and safety, child care and education, transportation, environmental concerns, housing, career development and mobility and many other areas that intersect our lives and are interwoven with the needs and responsibilities of families.

Beginning with the belief that family is at the heart of our society, how we individually define our family unit becomes less important than how we define our roles as productive, compassionate, and ethical members of our home, workplace, community and society. By helping families balance the demands of their workplace while at the same time meeting the needs of their families and home responsibilities, employers can also help support a vibrant, more productive workforce and promote happier and healthier employees.