Conciliating Work and Family: A Catholic Social Teaching Perspective

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Conciliating Work and Family: A Catholic

Social Teaching Perspective


Gregorio Guitia´n


(
Journal of Business Ethics
,
Springer 2009
, pp.513
-
524)



ABSTRACT. Although work

family conflict is highly

relevant for both families and businesses, scarce
attention

has received from business ethics perspective. This article

focuses on the latter, presenting a set
of relevant insights

from Catholic Social Teaching (CST). After reviewing the

foundations and principles
presented by CST regarding

work

family relationship
s, a set of normative propositions

are presented to
develop work

family policies and for a

correct personal work

family balance. It is argued that

business
responsibility with employees’ family should be

considered as a part of Corporate Social Responsibil
ity. In

addition, the applications of these principles and propositions

can lead to a mutual enrichment of both
business and

family.


KEY WORDS: Catholic Social Teaching, Corporate

Social Responsibility, work

family balance, work

family

conflict, work

fami
ly enrichment


Introduction


Family and work are rich and complex aspects of

human and social life, especially given the current

economic and cultural circumstances (Cullen et al.,

2003
; Donati,
2001
). A multiplicity of factors, such

as a
growing global ec
onomic competition, an ageing

population along with an increasing number of

families in
which both the father and the mother

have day jobs, single mothers or fathers, workers

with duties of
eldercare, etc., have given rise to new

modalities of the so
-
calle
d work

family conflict.


At first glance, the conflict would seem like a

‘‘private’’ family affair; however, the evident consequences

of
the problem have pulled down the

myth of separation between work and personal life

and account for the
interest generat
ed in addressing

this issue. Several studies point out that work

family

conflict is correlated
with absenteeism, decrease of

productivity, job dissatisfaction, lower
organizational
commitment, lack of
life satisfaction, anxiety, burnout,

psychological dist
ress, depression, physical ailments,

heavy alcohol use or
marital strain (Hansen,

1991
, pp. 348

349; Marchese et al.,
2002

1;

Matthews et al.,
1996
). This shows that
the conflict

goes beyond the case of business. Ultimately, work

and family conflict is a h
uman and social
problem.


Empirical studies, from different perspectives,

have sought to determine the characteristics, antecedents

and consequences of the work

family conflict,

as well as the identification and implementation

of possible
solutions to the
conflicts that may arise

(Edwards and Rothbard,
2000
; Frone,
2003
;

Greenhaus and Beutell,
1985
; Greenhaus et al.,

1989
; Gutek et al.,
1991
; Yang et al.,
2000
, etc.).


Other authors have also focused on the reasons for

which a firm might introduce family ne
eds of

employees as a structural variable for the work

organisation (Chinchilla and Torres,
2008
).


The literature has been copious; many studies

focused on the effects of family polices implemented,

such
as flexibility, technical and personalized support,

family
-
related services, etc., on performance

(Breaugh
and Frye,
2007
; Christensen and Staines,

1990
; Connelly et al.,
2002
; Frye and Breaugh,
2004
;

Galinsky and
Stein,
1990
; Glass and Riley,
1998
;

Gonyea,
1993
; Mesmer
-
Magnus and Viswesvaran,

2006
; Thomas

and
Ganster,
1995
, etc.). It is generally

recognised that the overall result of such policies is

generally favourable,
but the multiplicity of variables

that have to be taken into account implies that every

policy has its pros and
cons (Marchese et al.,
2
002
).


However, little has been proposed from a normative

perspective in providing values, principles or

guidelines which might help and are at the root of a

successful work

family policy and personal balance.

An exception is Greenhaus and Powell (
2006
) wh
ose

approach, perhaps in a non
-
intended way, has made

best contribution to this perspective. Mele´

(
1989
) dealt also with business duties regarding the

employees’
family rights. In this article, we wish to

contribute to enriching the normative perspective

with the insights
inspired by Catholic Social

Teaching (CST).


Literature on business ethics based on CST is not

abundant. Nevertheless, the existing works show the

reasonability and practical possibilities of this perspective

(Abela,
2001
; Alford and Naug
thon,
2001
;

Cortright and Naughton,
2002
; McCann,
1997
;

Mele´,
2005
; Naughton and Cornwall,
2006
).


Accepting CST contents do not necessarily require

sharing the Catholic faith. Although inspired by

faith, CST
presents rational arguments which can be

share
d by everybody. That is why Papal Letter
-

Encyclicals, which
are basic documents of CST, are

often addressed to all people of good will.2 In this

context, we also wish to
contribute to the important

topic of work

family conciliation from a CST perspective.


First, we present a set of basic concepts and

principles of CST on the relationship between work

and family
as well as some practical aspects. Then,

we discuss how the work

family conflict has to be

considered
within the Corporate Social Responsibility

(
CSR) context. Next, we suggest some recommendations

for
managers and, finally, we point

out the contribution of a correct management of

work

family relationship
to the business case.


Work and family in CST


Work and family are the two spheres in which

peo
ple spend most of their time. Although being

distinct,
work and family are interdependent as they

are mostly related with the fulfilment of the person:

the
sensitivity that every person shows regarding

these two aspects of human life accounts for it.


The
better we understand the meaning and

interconnection of work and family, the better we

can
approach the human dimension involved in

work

family conciliation issues. CST bibliographies

on work and
family are extensive.3


The unity between work and family


T
he vision of CST on work stands on the common

ground that work (and so business) is ordered to

serve
human beings by making life more human; this

is more appropriate to the human condition. This

approach
is explained ultimately by human dignity, a

concept,

the groundings of which have been

expressed in
philosophy and CST in these terms:

‘‘the human being is always a value as an individual,

and as such
demands to be considered and treated as

a person and never, on the contrary, considered and

treated as
an o
bject to be used, or as a means, or as a

thing’’ (John Paul II,
1988
, n. 37). Furthermore,

theology
contends that as an image of the Creator,

the human person is endowed with a special dignity

reflected in
the calling to collaborate through work

in the dev
elopment of the created order.4 Work is,

for the person, a
reflection of his dignity and an

essential factor for his flourishing.


On this basis, the letter
-
encyclical
Laborem Excercens
,

the most representative document of CST on

human
work, describes the
rapport between work

and family. The document places emphasis on the

subjective
dimension of work, namely, the fact

that the person who works is called to perfect

himself through that
very activity (John Paul II,

1981a
, n. 5).5

Experience shows how every p
erson, through

work, transforms not only the environment but also

him or
herself, enriching or impoverishing his or her

life and spirit. In this way, the subjective or personal

dimension of work is closely related to the dignity of

the human person: it poi
nts to the need to consider

the employees’ flourishing through work. It is

understood that man needs others to attain his

flourishing.6
Even more, according to CST, man

‘‘cannot fully find himself except through a sincere

gift of himself.’’
(Vatican Counci
l II,
1965
,
GS
, 24).


This is what happens in work when the worker

works with the willingness of serving others and

acquiring
virtues.


Frequently, managers assume that the point of

business is to make a contribution to the society,

to
accomplish something

collectively, to provide

something unique, to build society, etc. (Novak,

1996
, p. 36).
These insights reflect that the purpose

of business is, in one way or the other, to serve the

society through
economic activity, which includes

organising human work.


Consequently, if it should serve human beings by

making life more human, then business management

should consider the worker’s personal flourishing

through his or her work. On this point, CST not

only
accepts that a human being has value as an

individual
and demands to be treated always as a

person, never
as a means, but also emphasises the

requirement to contribute to, or at least not to

prevent, human
flourishing through the working

conditions.


Proposition 1
: The aim of work is to serve human

beings and

make life more human. Business management

should contribute to this end, or at least, to

avoid impeding it.


As far as the family is concerned, CST stresses its

crucial role for the welfare of the person and society.

The family is seen as the first and mo
st vital cell of

human society with the consequent priority ‘‘over

every
other community, and even over the reality of

the state’’ (PCJP,
2004
, n. 254). This is in line with

the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights which

recognises the right of every pers
on of full age to

create a
family, and it states that the family is ‘‘the

natural and fundamental group unit of society and is

entitled to
the protection by society and the State’’

(United Nations,
1948
, art. 16, 1 and 3).


CST, along with other voices,7 s
tates that a better

and more human society


with its implications for

economy and business


depends on families, since

principles, values and virtues of individuals are initially

fostered there. Thus, the family is called to

make life more human. As well

as being the most

desirable
context to receive the gift of children,

family is a privileged place for the creation of valuable

competencies:
it provides personal maturity and

internal enrichment, educates in responsibility and in

the meaning of the
common

good, teaches one to

combine in practice authority with affective support,

inculcates a spirit of
solidarity and other social virtues

and thus becomes
de facto
the first school of citizenship,

etc. (Benedict
XVI,
2005
). Naturally, these

competencies are n
ot taken for granted, that is, they

can be the result of a
certain quality of family life not

always achieved.


If work can contribute to human flourishing, then

the family can also contribute, and probably even

more.
On this point, Pope John Paul II insis
ted that

‘‘man does not attain his fulfilment except in relation

to and in
union with other men, and especially

with those who are of his own flesh and blood’’

(
1980
, n. 4).


Proposition 2
: The family has a primary importance

for the flourishing of the per
son and society. As a

consequence, the family is one of the most important

terms of reference for shaping the ethical and social

order of work.


Beyond the need of children for the family, for the

mother or father, husband or wife, the family is also

espec
ially linked with the love through which they

fulfil themselves. In this sense, CST emphasises that

the
family is the natural environment for the

development and fulfilment of the person and a

critical place for
his or her happiness and hope.

On this basis
, CST states that human nature is a

calling to a symbiotic relationship between work and

family: both are directed to the flourishing of the

person. Work is the basic and necessary condition

for the
possibility of family life, and on the other

hand, the fa
mily is the first school of work for every

person (John
Paul II,
1981a
, n. 10). In addition, one

important function of the family is to make work life

easier through
the resources of solidarity it generates

(PCJP,
2004
, n. 249).


Proposition 3
: Work and fa
mily are intrinsically

related to the dignity and flourishing of the person,

as well
as the improvement of society. Both are

called to contribute to the fulfilment of the person.


Priority in conflicts between work and family


The work

family conflict, as
has been said, brings

about lack of satisfaction with life, anxiety, burnout,

psychological distress, depression, physical ailments,

etc. Actually, the life of the employees becomes less

human, contrary to what it ought to be. Thus, if the

organisation of
work becomes an enemy of the

family,
then it is also an enemy of individual. It can

be assumed that as far as work and family maintain a

severe
dialectical relationship, there is a serious

obstacle for the fulfilment of the employee required

by his or her
personal dignity. Therefore, there is

some ethical disorder therein.


In this context we come to a key point


from a

normative perspective


of the relationship between

work
and family
.
Normally, the employee is not an

isolated entity, rather he or she is

placed in the

context of a
family, which is for him or her, among

others, a strong point of reference from an ethical

point of view. This
is especially so when the

employee is a father or mother, a husband or wife.


The bonds of blood and love that link e
mployees

with their families are qualitatively deeper than those

involved in their relationship with their companies.


It is worth noting that one of the reasons for which,

in practice, companies implement family
-
friendly

policies is precisely to attract a
nd sustain talented

employees (Chinchilla and Torres,
2008
). This

reflects
that the ‘‘family factor’’ has a higher value in

the life of some employees; otherwise, companies

would not
have to make an effort to retain them.


CST holds that the family has a n
atural priority

over work: ‘‘work is for the family, because work is

for the
sake of man (and not vice versa) and it is

precisely the family, above all else, that is the specific

place for
man’’ (John Paul II,
1981b
, n. 5). The

family is not an accidental
dimension but one that is

essential in order
to carry out work truly in the

service of the human person.


Thus, if the organisation of work is to consider

the human flourishing of the employees, then their

familial
dimension is one of the values most relat
ed

to their fulfilment as persons. That is why CST

regards the
family as ‘‘one of the most important

terms of reference for shaping the social and ethical

order of human
work’’ (John Paul II,
1981a
, n. 10).


It is important to highlight that the order ment
ioned

does not mean a conceptual opposition

between work
and family for they need each other.


For instance, experience shows how frequently

family shapes the meaning of work. Unity and order

between work and family means integrating them in

such a way tha
t neither work nor family permanently

overwhelms the other, even though work

should be oriented towards the family. This subordination

also
requires a balance on the part of the

family, since an excessive emphasis on the family,

even with the best
intentio
n, is a source of conflict in

relation with work (Friedman and Greenhaus,

2000
). In this sense, the
work

family balance

demands personal decisions guided by a proper scale

of values. It happens that ‘‘the
individual conscience

also often lacks the capacity

to assess the complementary

nature and individual value
of various forms

of activity


educational, cultural, community and

professional


in order to make a proper
choice’’

(Vignon,
2002
, p. 93).

In addition, it might be convenient to revise the

approach

to the work

family relationship, as this is

quite
focused on conflict, as scholars acknowledge

(Greenhaus and Powell,
2006
, p. 72). Conflict does

exist;
however, if we are only interested in the

problematic dimension of the relationship, we then

lose sigh
t of
one interesting


and no less real challenge:

under certain conditions (for example, a

supportive
environment) work empowers family and

family empowers work.


The fact that both spouses work might be an

opportunity to discern what is really more impor
tant

than
other tasks, to increase productivity at work by

making a good use of time (a parent who does not

work
extra hours feels the challenge to demonstrate

her or his efficiency more than others), to learn to

organise
and program family tasks and activ
ities, to

increase the communication between the spouses as

it is crucial
for family organisation, and to involve

the children naturally in family tasks (this way, they

learn to
cooperate with others, be responsible and

appreciate the value of division of
labour).


Some studies suggest that family itself has the

ability to find solutions for work

family conciliation

(Pe´rez
Ortiz,
2006
). This shows that the family itself

under certain conditions has the capability to

generate natural
and satisfactory soluti
ons to the

problems.8


Fortunately, there are some preliminary signs on

the side of social sciences of a more positive

approach
(Friedman and Greenhaus,
2000
; Greenhaus

and Powell,
2006
). In any case, one of the

pending issues in
this field is to analyse i
n depth the

positive aspects of the work

family relationship.


A second aspect is to consider a deeper and more

complete vision of work, especially in respect to its

human dimension. By pointing out the subjective or

personal dimension of work, CST shows t
hat work

is
indeed more than what it seems at first sight: it is a

human activity that transforms the world and the

person, a part of a human project geared towards

one’s own perfection and is open to the others

(of whom
the family occupies a privileged pl
ace).


Actually, work is a ‘‘total, social fact’’, namely,

economic, social, moral, juridical and emotional

(Donati,
2005b
, p. 587).


As a primary human activity, work is subordinated

to the person and the family, but not vice versa. This is

what CST point
s out with the principle ‘‘work is ‘for

man’ and not man ‘for work’’’ (John Paul II,
1981a
,

n. 6).
Yet this perspective does not negate the fact that

the first aspect of human work to be taken into

account
by business firms is the provision itself. It is a

matter of integrating the labour provision in its personal

and
social context. The solution depends on

each specific situation and should be found prudentially,

with
practical wisdom.


Proposition 4
: Work and family form a unity or interdependence

in whic
h the family has a higher value.

Work should be prudently oriented towards family.


In this context, the role of the woman in both family

and work has a particular importance. On the one

hand,
CST recalls that the pursuit of solutions for

current, urgent s
ocial problems is often mediated by

the
contribution of women. This is so, for instance,

in education, health care, ecology, quality of life,

issues
related to migration, social services, drugs, etc.


(John Paul II,
1995
, n. 4). On the other hand, the role

of the mother for the well
-
being of her children is

evident. In such cases, the work

family conflict

entails special difficulties for women. It must be

noted that
the subjective dimension of work is closely

related to the family when the worker is a mothe
r.


Considering the dignity and fulfilment of women

in the context of the organisation of work, for CST

‘‘the
true advancement of women requires that labour

should be structured in such a way that women do not

have to pay for their advancement by abandonin
g

what is specific to them and at the expense of the

family,
in which women as mothers have an irreplaceable

role’’ (John Paul II,
1981a
, n. 19).


Proposition 5
: Work and family conflict in women

neither should be solved at the cost of their motherhood

nor

should it prevent the irreplaceable role of

women in the family.


Work and family within the Corporate Social

Responsibility context


An additional application of the CST vision is related

to the personal and social aspects of work and family

involved in
concepts such as CSR. It is well known

that in the current economic context, sustainability

has
become an indispensable variable of every business.


Through this and other related concepts

(especially CSR, but also Corporate Citizenship,

Corporate
Sustaina
bility, etc.), companies also give

expression to their social responsibility and service to

society.


Personal and social dimensions of work

family conflict


The work

family conflict has two dimensions which

should be considered by the social responsibilit
y or

sustainability of the company.


First, there is a personal dimension in the work


family conflict closely related to the concern of CSR

about
labour conditions of the employees. On the

one hand, it is a reality that women suffer the worst

in the
work

family conflict; consequently, the current

European approach to work

family conciliation

is identified
with the issue of equal opportunities for

women (Donati,
2005a
, p. 52; European Commission,

2007
, pp. 3

4, 6

7). Hence, work

family

conciliation policies
, as far as they are oriented to

solving the real problems of
women, should be included

as part of the social responsibility of the firm

when dealing with equal
opportunities.


If, on the other hand, and as scholars argue, the

work

family conflict is a sou
rce of outcomes such as

absenteeism, anxiety, burnout, psychological distress,

physical ailments or depression, then work

family

policy would also merit being included under the

social responsibility of the firm regarding working

conditions.


Second, the s
ocial dimension of the work

family

conflict is also related to the social responsibility of

the
firm. The work

family conflict posits problems

not only to parents but also to children (for instance,

Crouter et al.,
2001
). It has been said that ‘‘children

n
eed to know and feel the love of their parents, and

we
as a society need to provide those opportunities

for parents to give that love to their children’’

(Friedman
and Greenhaus,
2000
, p. 145). Through

flexibility policies, employees can devote more

attent
ion and
energy to their children and ‘‘the

nation benefits from well
-
adjusted kids who do well

in school and exhibit
fewer behavioural problems

(

). Society needs to choose to value quality of life

and the development of
the next generation to a

greater ex
tent than we do now’’ (Idem, pp. 145


147). Work

family policies are
also, on the part of

the companies, an exercise of responsibility since

they are a form of protection of
childhood and a

contribution to the sustainability of society.


Proposition 6
: Bus
iness should consider the familial

dimension of their employees and include family

protection within its duty to contribute to a

sustainable society.


In the context of the human rights


It is common to take human rights as a reference for

the social respo
nsibility of the firm. As has been

mentioned above, the family, due to its importance

for the person and society, is entitled to the protection

of society and the State. Accordingly, companies

should consider family aspects involved in

work (and just
those
) as part of their respect towards

human rights. And so, also from this point of view,

work

family
policies are a response to the responsibility

of companies to protect the family.


Moreover, the progressive ageing of populations in

developed countries, mo
stly provoked by a sustained

low birth rate (United Nations,
2007
), is also related to

the work

family relationship. The work

family

conflict is sometimes an obstacle to having children

(Gonza´lez and Jurado
-
Guerrero,
2006
; Lo´pez and

Montoro,
2002
). From
the point of view of the sustainability

of our society, and even from one which is

exclusively pragmatic, it makes sense to promote

proper family policies which make it easier to increase

the birth rate, according to the present situation as well

as prospe
cts we already know. By doing so,
business

firms show also their commitment to the sustainability

of some societies. For instance, this is quite
evident in

Europe where the birth rate of some countries is a

cause of concern in the midterm and long
term.


K
eeping in mind these two dimensions (personal

and social), we suggest that the work

family issue

takes
part in the responsibility of the company before

society. CSR (and other expressions of social

responsibility)
should include work

family conciliation

po
licies as a normal component of the social

sustainability or social
responsibility policy of the

firm, in as much as they constitute a clear contribution

to ‘human ecology’ of
society in both short

term and long term.


Unfortunately, if we look at the well
-
regarded

institutions that set trends in policy
-
making geared

towards
sustainability, family policies for their

employees are not regarded as a significant factor for

sustainability.9
For example, in the Guide G3 for

Sustainability Reports, work

family co
nflict policies

are not even
mentioned when dealing with equal

opportunity policies (Global Reporting Initiative,

2006
, p. 34). With a
few exceptions, it appears that

the most common concept of social responsibility or

sustainability practiced
by firms tod
ay does notrecognise that family policies are a significant

implementation of the social
responsibility of the

firm.


CST contends that the more power one has the

more responsibility it demands (Vatican Council II,

1965
,
GS
, n. 32). Family policies adapted

to the

particular situations of employees and the circumstances

of the
firm itself is probably something within

the scope of a company; it is a great contribution to

the common
good and has a yet undiscovered social

relevance.


The reasons why a business
firm implements

conciliation policies might be many; however, they

reflect, in
the end, to what extent the business culture

has internalised the personal or subjective

dimension of the
employees. In this context, we

suggest a correction towards a better ap
proach to

family policies through
two images.


Frequently, the underlying vision might be

explained by the image of a skier. The skier (the

employee) leans
on two boards (work and family).


Conciliation consists of coordinating both boards in

such a way th
at the person manages to slide down
tothe finishing line. Work and family attain unity in

the employee; otherwise, if we do not take into

account
the employee, work and family become

independent and do not ‘know’ one another,

like two separated ski
boards.

In this vision, the

employee is the ‘key’ in work

family conciliation.


As far as we understand, this vision is correct but

insufficient. Should we not support to some extent

the
effort of the employee?

A complementary approach to the relationship

might b
e suggested by another image. If we intend to

achieve a business and humanistic perspective, it

could be meaningful to understand the relationship

between work and family like that of a building and

its foundations. Both form a unified structure

although
w
hat is visible is only the building. Business

(for instance, a construction company) is most of all

interested
in the visible aspect of the building (work),

which is in the end a service to persons, in this case,

housing.
However, the company is equally in
terested



although invisibly


in the building being based on

solid and
reliable foundations (the balanced work


family relationship of their employees).

A building with unstable foundations or totally

devoid of them will collapse if subjected to excess

w
eight or
certain natural occurrences. A work

organisation that does not take into account the

familial dimension of
their employees as an essential

element, inherent to work itself, is not sustainable

through time from a
humanistic


and sometimes

even eco
nomic


point of view. Yet, solid foundations

on which nothing is built
make no sense. A

balanced work

family relationship without efficient

and quality work makes sense
neither for enterprises,

nor for families (this would lead to unemployment

and we know

full well the effects
of unemployment

on the family).


All of this suggests that a more unified vision of

work and family, while of course making sure at the

same
time that the company performs well, is yet to

be achieved. In addition, supporting a work

f
amily

balance
is, in the current society, a noteworthy

feature of CSR.


However, it is clear that the scope of CSR

regarding family is limited. Public powers, other

intermediate
groups and, ultimately, each individual

person also bear responsibilities. The

latter is an

important point,
for it is also suggested that work


family balance depends on the personal choices of

the employee
(Poelmans,
2001
). It has been noted

that the effort to build an organisational culture

which promotes and
supports the needs a
nd duties of

the family cannot substitute the responsibility of

each employee before
her or his family (Frye and

Breaugh,
2004
, p. 218). In line with this, experience

shows that there are a
number of cases in which the

values orientation of the employee is

at the root of

the conflict (Mele´,
1989
,
pp. 651

652).


Proposition 7
: Implementation of appropriate conciliation

of work

family policies should be included

within
corporate social responsibility.


Recommendations for managers


As we have explained in th
e second section,

the family is a basic good for the flourishing of the

person and
society; thus, it is widely recognised that

it merits protection and support. When companies

consider the
familial dimension of their employees

according to their possibilit
ies, they are fostering a

human reality
regarded as a good by the whole

society. Furthermore, it has been shown that an

improper work

family
relationship gives rise to

inequalities and significant disorders which have

been traced from several
perspectives
(medical,

sociological, ethical, economical, etc.).


Therefore, proper work

family conciliation policies



where needed


give shape to the protection

and
support of a good (family) crucial for the person

and society. Thus, to integrate the familial dimens
ion

in
the work organisation of a company is not a

form of discrimination towards those employees

hypothetically
not involved in any family. Rather, it

seems that, under certain circumstances, to do

nothing in respect to
the work

family balance of

employee
s is often a source of inequality of opportunities,

especially for
women.


Keeping in mind the normative principles and

possible consequences mentioned in the preceding

sections,
we suggest a set of recommendations which

might help managers to develop work

family policy

and for a
correct personal work

family balance. At

the same time, these recommendations incorporate

some
outcomes of the studies provided by social

sciences and reported in this study.


(1) Make the aim of work

family policies to

seek synerg
ies between work and family,

and not just to avoid
the effects of the

work

family conflict. Work and family are

called on and can enrich each other.

(2) Analyse the current familial situation of

employees: mothers or fathers, husbands or

wives, daughters o
r
sons (elder care), etc.

Then, consider the conditions for their

human flourishing in the light of the current

work organisation and the work

family policy

of the company.

(3) In a proper situation, work should be prudently

oriented towards one’s family,
as

human flourishing
requires. This orientation

is present in the scale of values of many

employees. A supportive attitude with
regard

to this order on the part of supervisors is

important for the personal work

family balance

and
fulfilment of employees. S
eek

work

family policies that reflect this support.

(4) When the company detects significant

work

family conflict, an examination of the

sources of the
conflict is needed. Sometimes

this might come from a disorder in the scale

of values of the employee, a
lack
of personal

order at work, etc., and this should be

picked up on. In as much as the conflict is

provoked by
work organisation factors, the

dignity of the employee as well as the very

purpose of business (to serve
society through

economic activity but
not against the personal

dignity of the employees) raises some

ethical responsibility on the part of the company.

Hence, some conciliation policy

should be implemented.

(5) Since work

family policies are due to personal

circumstances, they must be adapted


as far as they can


to the particular situation

of the employees. Given that the work

family

balance depends on a scale of
values as well as

personal choices, consider


as some companies

do


providing services focused on
personal

decisions (time manag
ement programs,

technical or psychological support, etc.)

(6) Finally, see work

family policy as a part of

the good that business does for society, for

it is not just an
internal affair of the company

but also has societal effects.


Ethics and business suc
cess in dealing

with work

family conciliation


In this last section, we depart from the normative

approach and present, as a complement, the results of

some studies on the business case for work

family

conciliation, which are related to concepts expressed

by
CST.


As we have seen, CST puts emphasis on the

positive rapport that work and family are called to

maintain,
given the role
-
play they have in the
fulfillment
of the person. Work and family should help

each other. In
fact, the few studies available focu
sed

on this positive
spillover
‘‘lend support to the notion

that work
experiences can enrich family life and that

family experiences can enrich work life’’ (Greenhaus

and Powell,
2006
, pp. 78

79; Huang et al.,
2004
).


Moreover, most of these studies ‘‘foun
d [out] that

family
-
to
-
work enrichment was substantially stronger

than work
-
to
-
family enrichment’’ (Greenhaus

and Powell,
2006
, p. 76).


In contrast, scholars have focused more on the

dimension of work. Hence, it is not surprising that

some
authors are bec
oming more aware of the need

to deepen the role of the family (Frye and Breaugh,

2004
, p.
218; Voydanoff,
2007
, pp. 146

147).


From the point of view of CST, this is a worthy

effort


given the value the family has within the

relationship.

If we look into
the particular advantages the

family can provide to business companies, we find

some
similarity with the insights of CST. It has been

stated that managing a household (with its
financial,
,
interpersonal, entrepreneurial, and administrative

requirements), co
ping with interpersonal
difficulties,

teaching children, etc., are resources that can be

applied to one’s work (Crouter,
1984
).
Moreover,

the sensitivity to the emotional needs of family

members makes it easier to be emotionally
available

to work colleague
s (Friedman and Greenhaus,
2000
,

p. 133). For instance, a female manager
reports that

‘‘being a mother and having patience and watching

someone else grow has made [her] a
better manager’’.


She adds, ‘‘I am more able to be patient with

other people and let

them grow and develop in a

way that is
good for them’’ (Ruderman et al.,
2002
,

p. 373).


As far as the bottom line is concerned, the conclusions

of an international analysis on work

family

issues
show that work

family policies are an opportunity

to: (1) r
educe productivity losses associated

with a lack
of balance; (2) provide an incentive

to increase workers’ motivation and commitment

and thus get higher
levels of productivity from the

current labour pool; (3) attract and retain the bestquality

people and
enable
them to advance and (4)

obtain community recognition by being seen as

‘‘good’’ corporate citizens (Haas et
al.,
2000
,

p. 256).


Particular studies have reported that there is an

increase of productivity where work

family policies

are
present (Galins
ky and Stein,
1990
), and that

shareholder value increases as companies announce

family
-
friendly decisions (Arthur and Cook,
2004
).


Finally, other authors contend that family
-
friendly

policies provide a competitive advantage in attracting

and retaining hig
hly productive workers

(Galinsky et al.,
1991
; Haas et al.,
2000
).


As we can see, family
-
friendly policies refer to

qualitative factors which, perhaps, are not directly

related to
economic results but might influence

them. For instance, retaining valuable

human

resources could be, in
the end, crucial for business

performance. In line with this (and in the context of

America), Friedman and
Greenhaus argue that

‘‘employers also need to pay attention to family

issues. It’s a business concern with
bottom
-
line

implications. In a global economy, with heightened

competition, American employers perhaps

more than ever need the advantage of committed

employees’’ (Friedman and Greenhaus,
2000
,

p. 145).


Furthermore, the need for support for the personal

effort to achi
eve the work

family balance is

overwhelmingly confirmed by an ‘‘accumulating

evidence’’ (Secret,
2000
, p. 218), achieving a general

consensus regarding the crucial importance of a

positive and supportive attitude towards work


family
conflict situations fr
om the part of those with

authority or supervisory role in the firm (Breaugh

and Frye,
2007
; Hansen,
1991
; Mesmer
-
Magnus and

Viswesvaran,
2006
; Secret,
2000
; Swody and Powell,

2007
;
Thomas and Ganster,
1995
). In the end,

the key is for the business culture

to adopt the values

on which the
policies for conciliation are fundamentally

based.


Conclusions


From a normative perspective, the contribution of

CST to the understanding of the work

family

conflict has
it roots in the human dignity and the

meaning of w
ork and family for the fulfilment of the

person. The
meaning, unity and order between

work and family have given rise to seven propositions

of which the
possibility of mutual enrichment

and prudent orientation of work towards family

stands out. These
propo
sitions inspired some practical

recommendations to managers to reflect on

work

family conflicts and
to find possible ways of

reconciliation.


Our proposal includes considering the work


family issue under the social responsibility of the

firm. We
argued th
at the characteristics of the

work

family relationship in the current social and

economic
circumstances, along with the effects of

the conflict, make work

family policies a significant

factor in the
implementation of CSR. In other

words, we suggest that no
wadays sustainability,

CSR, etc., are incomplete
if a firm is not family

responsible for a family. In addition, CST principles

have inspired six normative
propositions for managers

approaching work

family policies and conflict.


The social sciences have sh
own that a healthy

work

family relationship provides companies with

some
qualitative and valuable competencies from the

part of their employees. These can benefit productivity

and
other key factors related to human capital,

such as retaining valuable emplo
yees. This latter fact

reflects
that, in practice, even though work is

important, it is not the most important factor for

many employees.
Family
-
oriented work is not just

an ideal but also a reality in the life of valuable

workers, and is


as it seems


a

need for business.


Certain evidence suggests that our approach is not

just a matter of humanising business but might be

also a
way to improve economic results of business.


However, regarding the latter point, further empirical

research is necessary. So
far, little research has

been
done on the costs and benefits of such policies

and further analysis on the positive
spillover
between

work
and family is needed. In any case, the challenge

is for managers as well as employees to find ways of

achieving a syne
rgic alliance between work and

family.


Notes


1 This study provides specific bibliography on each

one of the effects mentioned.

2 These documents are available at
www.vatican.va
.

3 Here we mainly refer to the CST insights on the

role and interconnection o
f work and family for the

fulfilment of the person. In particular, we focus this

section on the unity and order between them.

4 The roots of this vision can be found at Genesis 1:

26

28.

5 For further detail on this topic, see: Stres,
2002
.

6 This conclusi
on has come from many different

perspectives. See, for instance: McIntyre,
1999
.

7 On this point it is worth noting that significant

social problems are related to the breakdown of the

family,
as shown from experience (Colson,
2001
).

8 It would be interest
ing to study the impact of

divorce and other forms of family break
-
up on the

work

family conflict.

9 This is the case of the World Business Council for

Sustainable Development (
http://www.wbcsd.org
) or

the Guide G3 for Sustainability Reports, by the Global

Reporting Initiative.


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Gregorio Guitia´n

is Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at the

University of Navarra, Spain. He has a
doctorate in theology

and a degree in economics.

His current research interests are

Catholic Social Thought
and Economic and Business Ethics,

mainly from a Christian perspective.


Faculty of Theology,

University of Navarra,

31080 Pamplona, Spain

E
-
mail: gguitian@unav.es