Page 20 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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your child care or elder care provider
is unavailable. Many State employees
are unaware this resource even exists;
but even if they did know, IQ’s service is
limited and cannot guarantee a caregiver
or a spot in a day care center. In contrast,
our colleagues in the Ofce of Manage-
ment and Budget, the White House and
the D.C. courts all have access to the
“Cadillac” version of InfoQuest, which
does guarantee emergency backup care.
Te cost of having employees miss
work due to not having a backup for
their child care or elder care provider
would be useful to know in evaluating
the merit of this expanded program. Te
government agencies cited above clearly
believe that it makes sense for both the
institution and individual employees to
spring for the higher version of Info-
Balancing Act at State
Frustrated by all these challenges, a
group of Foreign Service and Civil Service
colleagues, both male and female, started
a group in the department last year
called “Balancing Act at State.” Its goal
is to address these work-life challenges,
encourage more consistent implementa-
tion of our existing policies, and advocate
for greater attention to a host of related
issues such as telework, child care,
alternative work schedules, job-sharing
and parental leave policies. Members of
the group view focusing on these issues
as an investment in employees and the
After conducting a comprehensive
survey of our nearly 200 members to dis-
cover the above priority areas, we began
working with the Bureau of Human
Resources’ Work-Life Division to address
these concerns. WLD is a small ofce of
about fve full-time employees (in addi-
tion to three current vacancies) tasked
with handling all of the above work-life
issues, along with everything from the
Combined Federal Campaign to the Stu-
dent Loan Repayment Program.
We’ve recruited a number of senior
advocates like Principal Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Public Afairs Dana Shell
Smith, who recently wrote an insightful
article in the
Atlantic Monthly
about her
experience with work-life balance in the
Foreign Service and the need for both
personal responsibility and institutional
policy to encourage all managers to sup-
port a healthy work-life balance.
Balancing Act at State is working from
the bottom up and from the top down to
urge State’s most senior leaders to ensure
greater consistency in the implementa-
tion of these policies and encourage
managers to pay greater attention to
them. Te State Department we envision
would seek to educate employees (espe-
cially managers) about work-life balance
policies by, for example, including them
in all mandatory leadership training.
It would also use awards to recognize
Attention to these issues will enable
the Foreign Service to recruit and
retain a 21st-century work force—
without relying on luck.
AFSA Insurance Plans
AKA Hotel residences
American Red Cross
Churchill Corporate Services, Inc.
Clements Worldwide
Embassy Risk Management
Middle East Journal
National Peace Corps Association
St Timothy’s School
Strategic Studies Quarterly
Vinson Hall