Valerie Jarrett champions flexibility for working parents

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Thursday, two single moms challenged businesses to be more flexible with working parents - and one of those moms has the ear of the President and First Lady. Valerie Jarrett was the key note speaker at the Women Employed luncheon, but Rhiannon Broschat is motivation for the cause.

"I was backed into a corner, there was absolutely nothing else I could have done," Broschat said.

Broschat is a Chicago single mom whose 11-year-old son has autism. She shared that a couple of sick days and calling in when CPS canceled school led to her being fired.

"If you have to stay home with your child versus going to work in a situation you have no control over, you're going to choose your child over your job, and your job has to kind of understand that," Jarrett said.

Jarrett, who is also a single mom, recalled awkward moments in her corporate life trying to balance work and family.

"Every single day in our country, moms are not at the Halloween parade, they're not at the check-up, they're not at the parent-teacher conference. They're not doing what they need to be doing at home and that needs to stop," Jarret said.

Now a senior White House advisor and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Jarrett is challenging businesses to offer workers paid leave and schedule flexibility if not for the employees' interests, then for their own self-interest.

"The companies and the employers that get that, their employees are more profitable, they're more efficient, they're more loyal, you have less turnover, and ultimately, in the private sector, they're more profitable," Jarrett said.

Broschat does not regret her decision to stay home with Alex that day last winter. She now has a new job with more flexibility. As for Jarrett, she continues carrying the message of more work/life balance with her remaining time in D.C.

Jarrett was in town recently to meet with local business executives about ways to offer flexibility and fairness to working parents. She says 60 percent of families have both parents working and 40 percent of working mothers are the sole or primary earners, so striking a balance becomes even more a necessity.
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