President William J. Clinton issued an executive order on May 2 banning employment discrimination against parents in the federal workforce. The order prohibits discrimination against federal employees with children in all aspects of employment from recruitment to promotion. Legislation to provide these protections to parents in both the private and the public sectors is stalled in Congress. The stated intent of that legislation is to prohibit employers from assuming that simply because a person is also a parent, that person cannot satisfy the requirements of a particular position.
A new study, meanwhile, indicates that adults—and particularly young men—are beginning to place a higher priority on family in relation to work and income. The study by Radcliffe Public Policy Center (RPPC), released the day after the executive order was issued, found that for both men and women, family is more important than more money. Among adults aged 20-39, 82% of men and 85% of women said family time is their top priority. Fully 71% of the men and 64% of the women in this age-group also said they would exchange salary for more family time. Older male workers were significantly less interested in that trade-off, however. And although the study shows a significant break with the traditional family mold—96% of all polled said parents should equally share the child care—68% also thought that one parent should stay at home when the child is young. In releasing the study, Paula Raymond, director of RPPC, said that today's workers have "more control over their careers than ever before...[and] any employer who ignores workers' needs and expectations in the new economy does so at their own peril."