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Regional Forum on White House Working Families Summit Held in Chicago

May 1, 2014

The White House, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and Center for American Progress hosted a Regional Forum on Working Families in Chicago on April 28. The forum was one of five being held prior to the White House Summit on Working Families in Washington, D.C. on June 23.

The Chicago forum brought together 150 advocates, policymakers, and business leaders to discuss the issues facing working women and how businesses and public policy must respond to meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce — a growing number of whom are women.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Congresswoman Jan Shakowsky, and DOL Women’s Bureau Director Latifa Lyles kicked off the event with introductory remarks.

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, discussed what they and the White House see as primary issues for working women that both policymakers and businesses need to step up and address.

Issues that came up were:

  • paid sick leave,
  • raising the minimum wage, and
  • better child care, such as universal pre-K.

The speakers noted that within a three-month period, 29 percent of workers have a child care crisis.

Tchen pointed out that when employers identify ways to support and invest in their workforce, it benefits their bottom line and yields a positive return on investment.

There was also a lot of discussion on the importance of workplace culture and leadership within organizations recognizing the value of their staff. Tanden pointed out that for a woman to feel valued by her employer, she should not have to win the “boss lottery.”

Ann Ladky, executive director of Women Employed, highlighted the importance of “raising the floor” and encouraging employers to create jobs that are competitive and improve the quality of life for their staff.

Participants were encouraged to share their individual stories of best practices that employers have implemented to create jobs that support working families and the needs of the 21st-century workforce.

More information about the White House Summit on Working Families is available on the event’s website.

— by Tameshia Bridges Mansfield, PHI Midwest Program and Policy Manager

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