With every new release of Hillary Clinton’s emails, Americans have gotten a better sense of what working in the U.S. State Department is actually like. The center of our national diplomacy is a place where people lose sunglasses, get stuck on the tarmac, and struggle with official phone trees.
The State Department has been revealed, in other words, to be a professional American workplace, though, of course, an unusually powerful one. And like other offices, it’s one where employees struggle to balance their work and home life.
In early December 2009, Anne-Marie Slaughter, then the State Department’s director of policy planning, emailed Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to Clinton. She asked that Abedin take off some of the days before Christmas, to set an example so that other employees would know it was okay to be home for celebrations. The email said:
This is probably entirely inappropriate, but I had gathered you were thinking possibly of taking off on Dec 21. I would urge you to — for your own sake. The pace is absolutely killing and you deserve it. But it would also mean that a lot of folks who would like to take some time off with their family before Xmas (e.g. moms like me who are necessary to make Xmas happen) would feel much freer to do so.
A few months later, Slaughter asked if Clinton could work from home in the days after the massive 2010 blizzard in D.C. “Your staying home tomorrow will make lots of parents at higher levels feel ok about staying home with their kids. I may be one of them!” Slaughter wrote.