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'Ask For What You Want and Then Zip It:' Advice For Women Returning To Work After a Career Break

More than 200 people gathered in London this week to talk about strategies for getting back to work after a career break. “You have so much to offer,” Julianne Miles, co-founder of Women Returners, told the crowd. Her UK-based group is dedicated to helping employers structure “returnships,” or paid internships that train people coming back to work after time away, often to raise children.

There is an obvious gap to fill. Companies, facing a dearth of female leadership, a stubborn gender pay gap, and imperative to embrace more diverse thinking, need to attract experienced women. In the UK, there are 550,000 professional women on career breaks; about three-quarters of them say they want to go back to work at some point. Among the attendees at the conference, nearly 70% had professional or postgrad qualifications and a similar share had over 10 years of work experience.

“It’s a market failure we need to sort out,” said Sharmini Selvarajah, head of the returners policy team inside the Government Equalities Office.

In 2014, formal returnships in the UK were offered at three institutions: today there are 37. These programs started in finance, where the absence of senior women is notable, and...

Make #GivingTuesday a Day to Remember

It’s that time of year again—the holidays are upon us and the Combined Federal Campaign is in full swing. Last year, #GivingTuesday—celebrated the Tuesday following Thanksgiving—was the biggest donation day of the campaign. In the Washington area, it raised approximately $1.8 million in a single day. This year, #GivingTuesday is Nov. 28, and we are looking to top that amount with the generous support of federal employees.

For a number of years now, I have had the honor and privilege of leading the local federal coordinating committee that oversees the CFC’s National Capital Area. During this time, and indeed throughout my career in federal service, I have seen the workforce’s dedication to public service and the communities in which we live.

Being in public service is about giving back.

As the largest CFC in the country, we pledged more than $47 million to support thousands of local, national, and international charities through the 2016 CFCNCA.

But the generosity of our workforce doesn’t stop there. Each year, feds donate thousands of hours of volunteer time to many charitable causes. Whether helping disadvantaged children learn to read, volunteering in soup kitchens, or building houses...

The EEOC Just Made It a Lot Easier To File a Sexual Harassment Complaint

The U.S. government rarely moves quickly, and seldom responds to cultural currents.

But either by design or coincidence, the Department of Labor perfectly timed the release of a new website making it easier to file sexual-harassment complaints.

On Nov. 1, amidst nationwide soul-searching over the treatment of women in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission unveiled a website allowing anyone who thinks they may be a victim of harassment to initiate an inquiry online.

Filing an EEOC complaint is the first step for anyone who intends to sue their employer for any sort of discrimination, such as age, race, religion, or gender, which includes sexual harassment. Previously, a complainant would have to call the agency or make an office appointment to start the process.

Now, anyone who suspects they have grounds to file a complaint can go online and enter some basic information such as the form of discrimination, the nature of the workplace and, critically, when the incidence of discrimination last occurred. Depending on their state, workers can have as little as 180 days to file a complaint before the statutes of limitations expire, which can end the process for many.

If they meet all the requirements...

The Potential Payoff for Applying Metrics and Analytics to Government Is Significant

Our recent column on metrics and analytics triggered several stimulating exchanges. One thread running through the reaction to these proven practices, which have been widely used in business for decades, is that they have not gained broad support in government. Corporate managers are inundated daily by performance data. And of course predictive analytics are central to virtually every research field.  

Government differs in several key ways. First, competitive markets make it important for companies to perform at their best. For reasons buried in history, government has focused on poor performance – the few employees whose poor performance is unacceptable, while companies celebrate high performers and their accomplishments. Second, government’s HR policies continue to reflect the people management philosophy inherent in civil service laws. Meeting minimal performance standards is all the law requires.  There are no programmatic incentives in government for high performance.

But more importantly, the plans to invest in developing metrics or use analytics to study the data are made at senior levels. In a business, leaders are always open to ideas or practices that contribute to improved results. They are quick to adopt practices to grow their company’s success. Again, government is different.

One of the barriers...

Five Annoying Questions to Ask Your Grandparents at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. We love the turkey and sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and stuffing. But many of us dread of the inevitable political battles that will pop up over dessert.

The drumstick stakes are YUGE. A November 2017 poll by the Cato Institute shows that 6 of every 10 Americans say that “the political climate prevents them from sharing their political beliefs.” Republicans are especially nervous—73 percent say “they keep some of their political beliefs to themselves,” compared with 53 percent for Democrats.

And, to make things even more uncomfortable, 71 percent of those surveyed “believe that political correctness has silenced important discussions our country needs to have.” Of course that’s before Uncle Fred has a few glasses of wine and decides that everyone needs to hear his opinions about everything.

So: How do you negotiate the dangers? One option is to stare into your plate and hope that no one says anything anyone might find objectionable. But that strategy doesn’t seem likely to work.

Another option is to get younger diners start the conversation, with questions sure to annoy their grandparents. Here are five puzzles to get you going.

First, Grandma and Grandpa...