Companies a Mother Could Love
Three Bay Area firms have been deemed among the top 100 best places for mothers to work. Working Mother magazine named biotech giant Genentech in South San Francisco, electronics leader Hewlett Packard in Palo Alto and Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco. Two other California companies also made the list: Patagonia Inc, maker of outdoor gear in Ventura, and Scripps Health, a hospital/research complex in San Diego. In announcing the winners, magazine CEO Carol Evans noted there is an overall improvement in mother-friendly benefits in corporate America. In particular, she reports that a growing number of companies are offering customized work schedules. "There are some very, very creative ideas," notes Evans, who authored the book This Is How We Do It: The Working Mothers’ Manifesto. The magazine used five main criteria as the basis for its judgments: flexibility, leave time for new parents, childcare, eldercare and the number of women occupying top jobs. "Our country needs women to have babies, our companies need women’s brain power and time," Evans asserts. "Those two things going together really demand that companies wake up to this new culture." To see a complete list of winners, go to workingmother.com.
Cost of Living Outstrips Wages
Feel like no matter how hard you work, you can’t get ahead? That may be more than a feeling, it may be a fact. According to a report by a think tank headed by a former top aide to President Bill Clinton, the typical double-income family is worse off financially than ever. Since wages have not kept pace with rising costs of food, housing, healthcare and college, more Americans are taking on greater debt. "In our estimates, it’s becoming harder for families to afford what we consider a typical middle-class lifestyle," asserts economist Christian Weller of the Center for America Progress. Furthermore, the majority of Americans have not socked away enough money to brace for financial setbacks such as a job loss or a medical emergency.
On the Job Front
NATIONWIDE – The tech industry added 140,000 jobs nationwide in the first half of this year, the strongest showing since 2001. According to the AeA, a high-tech trade association, the growth is almost double that during the same period last year. High-tech manufacturing added 33,100 jobs, while the high-tech services sector added 44,500 jobs . . . The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit to halt Exxon Mobil Corp from forcing its company pilots to retire at age 60. The EEOC says that mental and physical fitness should determine continued employment, not age . . . In another case, the EEOC sued Southwest Airlines for allowing a male co-worker to verbally and physically abuse female employees on a regular basis at Oakland International Airport. In addition to making inappropriate remarks, the worker posted nude photos and exhibited lewd behavior . . . A class-action lawsuit on behalf of 186,000 Wal-Mart workers alleges the nation’s largest retailer denied affected workers time to eat or rest. The case, being heard in a Philadelphia courtroom, also alleges that some employees were forced to work after clocking out to restock shelves before the overnight crew came in . . . While the numbers are sliding, California is still the state with the greatest number of workers employed by foreign countries (547,000), according to a recent report by the Organization for International Investment, a lobbying group for foreign subsidiaries. Unfortunately, the overall number of workers employed by foreign firms is down almost 10 percent from its high of 5.66 million in 2000. Among Californians, 11,000 positions were lost. Experts are concerned the drop reflects a decline in the competitiveness of US workers.
STATEWIDE – The UCLA Anderson Forecast last week predicted the current housing slump will result in a slowdown of the economy that will hurt job growth and increase the rate of unemployment in California from the current 4.7 percent to 5.1 percent by the end of 2007 . . . Starting in October 2007, future real estate agents will be required to complete more state Department of Real Estate classes before winning their licenses. The move is backed by the California Association of Realtors . . . A new law protects architects, engineers, land surveyors and landscape architects from being sued by public agencies for defects not the result of their negligence or willful misconduct. The professionals involved argued that unrealistic requirements by public agencies had made the contracts in question uninsurable
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Beach Hut, a deli franchise based in Granite Bay, will open new locations in the next few months in Citrus Heights, Natomas, West Sacramento, Davis, Vacaville, Stockton and South Lake Tahoe . . . Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill will open restaurants in Elk Grove and Roseville in November.
FOLSOM – Intel Corp plans to lay off 159 more workers here by mid 2007. That brings the total to 350 layoffs locally. The move is part of an overall strategy by the company to eliminate 10,500 jobs worldwide.
LINCOLN – A Target store opens in two weeks at Lincoln Crossing Marketplace. Several restaurants will follow, along with a Holiday Inn Express to open in 14 months.
SACRAMENTO – Tech consulting company Delegata Corp is expanding its space and staff. It plans to hire 30 workers this year and 40 more in 2007 . . . Wage earners in the capital city earn 7 percent more than the national average, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Specific industries fare even better: Service industry salaries were 16 percent better than the national average, followed by maintenance and repair (+14 percent), and production occupations (+4 percent). Construction wages were on par with the US average.
WOODLAND – River City Bank has opened its second branch here. A Stockton branch is planned for 2007.
Poor Leadership Sinks Morale
What is the primary cause of low morale on the job? Surprisingly, it is not salary or benefits. In a survey of the nation’s human resource executives, nearly three out of four put the blame for low employee morale on poor leadership. Only 11 percent put the blame on salary or benefits issues. Slightly more (16 percent) cited heavy workloads as the primary cause of low morale. "Leadership, or the lack thereof, creates the work environment. If there is confusion about what leadership expects, frustration sets in and morale sinks," claims John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. While human resource executives recognize poor leadership as the leading cause of low morale, a second survey question revealed that most do not consider this issue the most pressing one facing their organizations. Only 13 percent said lack of leadership was their top priority. The most pressing issue, cited by 35 percent, was managing change. 28 percent said recruiting was the top issue. "The other difficulty is meshing all of the various personalities, work styles and priorities that exist within a department. This is only going to become more challenging as organizations see their workforces become more multigenerational, multicultural and multinational," Challenger predicts.