It’s called “TST” (tempi senza tensioni, “Time Without Tensions”), a program aimed at balancing work and family life. It was produced by the Il Sentiero di Arianna social cooperative (“Arianna’s way”), which is part of the Economy of Communion, and received first prize in the fourth edition of Family Friendly Businesses that is put on by a forum of family associations in Lazio, Italy.
The cooperative, which is part of the Consorzio Tassano Servizi Territoriali network, primarily works in the field of home assistance, education, school services and career support. The TST program produces a series of specific services for employees (dispute resolution, family help, counseling services, working remotely, telecommuting, flexible banking hours, informative actions for management, being a Jack of all trades, and pathways that help employees returning to work after a period of reconciliation). These have shown themselves to be highly effective in creating a positive workplace culture that is based on authentic relationships of collaboration and cooperation.
Started in 1996 by nine young women, who for a year pooled the resources that they had earned and reinvested them in training and development, today Il Sentiero di Arianna counts more than 130 members, 85% of whom are women. The tightly knit initial group and the pioneers of the local coop, inspired by the values of the Economy of Communion project that Chiara Lubich launched in 1991, became the foundations upon which the business was developed.
Since its constitution, the Sentiero di Arianna cooperative has promoted a family friendly business culture, which in turn positively influenced other businesses it is connected to. It is an organization where the news of a pregnancy is always good news, where someone can become a mother and return to work without worry.
Yet it is also a company where the women who are not mothers are the innovators, knowing how to fuse positive organizational improvement processes that harmonize work with caring for those closest to them. The needs of people and families are many.
“If you go back to the origins of the word ‘economy,’ you find the word ‘house’. Those of us in business cannot feel separate from everyone else. You cannot be a worker and then, when you go home, be a parent. Each person is unique, and as such they have their work experience,” said the firm’s president, Simona Rizzi, as she received the prize on October 9 in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome.
Among other things, the prize states: “This is an entity endowed with a vision that is particularly attentive to people. Starting with the needs of its employees, they developed an innovative organizational flexibility that set up tangible support both internally and throughout its territory, weaving a network of social and economic relationships to find appropriate solutions that meet the need of harmonizing work and family life.”
“This award is the result of a long journey the cooperative has been on since its origins up to today. It is a journey that has developed through many important experiences these past years,” Rizzi added. “It is the women themselves who have won, with their ability to build a business that is fit for people and to build an economy that is fit for a community.”
“Businesses that adopt best practices of reconciliation also demonstrate increases in productivity among other things. The women who work there reach management and high-profile leadership positions sooner,” was a comment from the Minister for Family and Disability, who was interviewed at the awards.