This morning I had the privilege to attend Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force Event on Work and Family which was co-hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls. You may remember that the White House held a Forum on Workplace Flexibility on March 31st of this year. Today’s event was intended as a continuation of the conversation that started that day (and for many of us, started much earlier than even that).
Today’s forum was an incredible and energizing event that focused on 2 areas: equal pay for women and men; and implementing the workplace flexibility that we all need to meet the demands of our home life while also meeting the demands of our work life. Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, said that she doesn’t ever, “turn down an opportunity to talk about the ‘Lilly Ledbetter’ story, because it is every woman’s story.”
Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the demands on middle class families today and how, “reality has a way of intruding on life.” He recognizes the need to redefine the structure of work and family life, not because it is a women’s issue, but because it is a family issue, an employer issue and a societal issue.
Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, announced that the Department of Labor will be conducting a new Family and Medical Leave Act survey in 2011. They will also be sponsoring a supplement to the American Time Use Survey to include questions on parental leave, child care responsibilities, family leave insurance program usage, and other work and family issues. In addition to the surveying they will be doing, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau- headed by Sara Manzano-Diaz will be holding forums across the country called the “National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility” where business and community leaders will come together and share ideas to make workplace flexibility a reality, and eventually, the standard in business practices.
The White House Council on Women and Girls launched their Work-Flex Event Starter Kit where anyone can download resources and videos to host their own educational event on workplace flexibility.
As I transitioned from my work to home life on the train from Washington DC to Connecticut, I gazed out the window at the many communities and cities you see along the way – and I wondered about the people living in the homes and their struggles. One of the most striking things about the speakers today, representing the Office of the Vice President, White House Council on Women and Girls, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was that they all understood how these are not just women’s issues, but issues that affect our families, our communities, and our economy.
Tell us what you are doing to continue this conversation in your communities and workplaces.