Reference Work Entry

Handbook of the Philosophical Foundations of Business Ethics

pp 1191-1202

Work/Life Integration

  • Erin C. TarverAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Georgetown College Email author 


Some provisions of the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) are clearly important from the perspective of business ethics, particularly those calling for equal rights for women to employment and financial security. Some other provisions of CEDAW are equally as important for ethical business practices and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but are frequently overlooked because of the presumption that they are not strictly business concerns: the rights of women to participation in public life, marriage, and family rights; the rights of rural women to adequate living conditions; and general rights to equality. This chapter will discuss the conceptual commitments that underlie the assumption of a clear demarcation between work and life concerns, and examine the criticisms of this assumption made by feminism. It will, in particular, be interested in:
  • The public/private distinction

  • The meaning of “work” or “labor”

  • The relationship between CSR and care ethics

  • Fostering a broader understanding of the family or familial relations

  • Examining the connection between fair wages and work/life integration

These discussions suggest that the ability for businesses worldwide to uphold the tenets of CEDAW is dependent upon a reconsideration of the character of the Ideal Worker and a nuanced understanding of the effects of workplace policies on the wider communities in which businesses operate. In particular, though work/life integration is not strictly speaking a “women’s issue,” the ethical and policy considerations addressed herein currently have disproportionately negative effects for women; thus, addressing them is crucial for achieving the aims of gender equality.


CEDAW Feminism Feminist Globalization Gender equality Human rights Labor Care ethics Women’s work Ideal worker Public/private distinction Family Wage gap Corporate social responsibility (CSR) Fair wage