What HR can do about the ‘opt-out’ revolution (Guest commentary)

Many female Gen Xers are choosing to leave the workforce just when organizations are starting to really need them
By Charlotte Shelton and Laura Shelton
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/09/2006

If you’re a female baby boomer (born between 1946 and 1963) who has fought hard for equal opportunity, you may be reeling with confusion about why the Generation X women in your organization don’t appear to be as committed to their careers as you are. Some boomer women, in fact, are quite angry at the next generation, wondering if all their sacrifice was in vain.

Many Gen X women (born between 1964 and 1977) are much more interested in creating a balanced life than in shattering the glass ceiling. Some talented, well-educated women of this generation are actually opting out — leaving long commutes, goading bosses, gruelling work schedules and uncomfortable panty hose behind for lives that offer more balance and flexibility. While a few of these opt-out revolutionaries are becoming entrepreneurs or “mompreneurs” with home-based businesses, many others are reverting to the 1950s lifestyles of their grandmothers.

These women want to give their children more active parenting than many of them received as the first generation of kids who came home to an empty house after school. However, for many of these young women, the underlying reason behind their corporate escape is, quite simply, career disappointment.