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Wall Street Firms Addressing Work Life Balance Needs of Women Executives

In case the work life balance survey of over 1,300 senior corporate executives that we reported on in a post last week did not serve as a wake-up call to large law firms to start more seriously addressing the work life balance needs of their attorneys, along comes a new article from the New York Times this weekend that reports that Wall Street firms are making new efforts to address the work life balance needs of women executives given firms' realization that the financial world needs a more diverse work force.

In what should ring a bell for management at large law firms, Wall Street firms are finding that the women executives they are courting now value balance more than financial security. As a result of such choices, bank executives say fewer female MBAs are choosing careers on the Street, and the banks also say they have had limited success staunching the flow of women who leave midcareer. Recruiters also report that female financiers have become more aggressive about demanding both fulfilling careers and fulfilling family lives, and are willing to walk away from firms that fail to meet those needs.

The problem is that while many women are hoping flexible schedules and part-time work can help them overcome Wall Street's grind, those sorts of solutions have traditionally been viewed as antithetical to the around-the-clock client service mentality that is a hallmark of Wall Street. Clearly, a new mindset is needed.

What are some solutions? The article reports some of the same ones we have suggested for law firms in the past. For example: telecommuting - firms such as Lehman are now investing in technology to enable trading from home.

Or job sharing. Elizabeth Stoeber - a former investment banker at Morgan Stanley - has proposed an arrangement to a number of banks that reflects the kind of flexibility that banks say they embrace: she and her partner would share a full-time job at a bank and split their responsibilities.

And by the way, the trend towards work life balance is not just being driven by women. The article reports that many men as well are getting tired of 80 hour workweeks.

See the full article here or here.

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