Business executive discusses evolution of workplace

By Miguel Gonzalez
News Editor

The College invited Anne-Marie Slaughter, the Chief Executive Officer of New America, for a discussion titled “Reinventing the Workplace” at Mayo Concert Hall on Nov. 19.

Slaughter gave an overview of her book, “Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work and Family,” which was published in 2015. According to The New York Times, Slaughter’s book was an expansion of an article she wrote for The Atlantic.

The CEO believes that people will eventually work six hour days. (Miguel Gonzalez / News Editor)

In her book, Slaughter discusses how mothers like her face numerous obstacles at the workplace while taking care of their families. According to The New York Times, some of these issues include gender discrimination, lower salaries and pressure to put in more hours to avoid being fired.

Slaughter was the former Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She was also the first female to be the director of Policy Planning for the U.S. Department of State.

She emphasized the importance of having a variety of skills and experiences.   

“I don’t think of myself as a head of a organization,” Slaughter said. “I think of myself as a writer, speaker, teacher and mentor. I think about being a portfolio of skills and experiences.”

In her book, Slaughter argued that the workplace has not changed much since the 1950s where women were subjected to family life and men were the breadwinners. She suggested ways to change the workplace in order to maximize productivity and efficiency.

Slaughter anticipated that companies will need to change the way they evaluate productivity. Instead of measuring productivity through hours, Slaughter argued that companies must measure productivity through quantitative evidence, such as reaching a specific number of sales in a certain time period.   

She also explained how competitive the job market is today. Between emerging automatic machines such as robots and artificial intelligence, job opportunities could be limited in the future. However, Slaughter remained optimistic about the future of human employment.

“I do think there is enough work to go around,” Slaughter said. 

Slaughter also argued that people will eventually work six hour days. At the end of the 19th century during the industrial revolution, she estimated that workers logged in between 14 to 16 hours per day.

Through the early 20th century, labor laws and regulations helped shorten work days to 12, and then to eight hours per day after the passing of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1940, according to CNBC. She projected, based on the ongoing pattern, that workers will eventually hit a low of six hours per day.

Slaughter explained that workers can use the extra time to care for families or be active in their communities.

According to Slaughter, the first industrial revolution took people off the farm and into factories and cities. She now predicted that people will be living closer to their workplace, which will also increase their time with their families. 

“The workplace will be much closer to home,” Slaughter said. “It may not be in a really tiny village. It’s going to be in clusters of relatively livable communities.”

Along with the length of job hours and location, Slaughter anticipated that the quality of jobs will also shift –– the market will center around care and craft-centered jobs. She defined a care job as any career where the worker is investing in others. Slaughter pointed out that the healthcare industry will grow as more adults of the baby boomer generation retire.

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day since 2011. In addition to healthcare, she mentioned teaching as a primary example of a job focusing on care.

“Teaching is absolutely a care career,” Slaughter said. “As a teacher, you are investing in the welfare of your students.”

Slaughter also projected a rapidly thriving industry in craft products. She pointed out the prospering craft beer industry as an example of how people can specialize in craft and produce quality materials.

“Most craft brewers are young entrepreneurs,” Slaughter said. “They are willing to take a risk.”

She contended that consumers will invest in higher quality products that promise authenticity, rather than buying cheap goods at stores like Walmart.

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