Go to contents

[Op-Ed] Purple Jobs

Posted December. 15, 2009 09:32,   


As more women join the workforce due to automation and advances in information technology at workplaces, the traditional job categories blue collar and white collar have become meaningless. New categories have sprung up like gold collar (knowledge-based workers who lead innovation with creative thinking and novel ideas), gray collar (blue-collar workers who work like white-collar workers due to technological innovation and automation), green collar (employees in the energy and green growth sectors), and pink collar (housewives who join the workforce not to realize their dreams but to feed their families).

Gender Equality Minister Paik Hee-young proposed the concept of “purple collar” in her ministry’s report for next year’s plans yesterday. The term refers to workers who balance both work and family. The color purple represents equality and balance between work and family. The ministry announced that it will increase the number of purple jobs in which workers can work flexibly. Purple jobs are not just confined to women’s work. A job search portal surveyed 1,577 workers last year and found more men (80.4 percent) valued family over work rather than women (77.6 percent).

Indeed, developed nations are leading this effort. First Tennessee Bank of the U.S. has flexible working hours allowing employees to come to and leave the office at different times, choose shifts, or work part-time. This has saved the company three million dollars per year in turnover costs and raised customer satisfaction 50 percent. Sony employees can work at home while taking childcare leave. Accumulated leave also allows staff to take annual leave as long as 20 days if their children are sick.

Purple jobs could include temporary jobs, different times for coming to and leaving the office, working on certain days of the week, and working from home. Examples are doctors and nurses doing three-shift work, jobs in manufacturing or finance where two people can split a full-time job, or positions at libraries and museums that are open holidays or nights. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says a talented female workforce can only boost the Korean economy. Private companies create purple jobs, but the government needs to create an environment conducive for creating such jobs.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)