Workplace cultures that promote and even reward crazy long hours are doing more than causing baggy, blood-shot eyes and caffeine addictions. They’re also seriously undermining efforts to improve gender equity. That is among the findings of a new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today (April 24) examining how long hours, inflexible scheduling, lack of access to quality early childhood education and childcare and other seemingly innocuous workplace practices can create an environment where women have less opportunity to advance and succeed. The report comes as the #MeToo and TIME’s Up movements are sparking a powerful national debate on gender equity and how both new and old workplace practices may be enabling a culture of inequity.
The report, in particular, explores how workplace policies and practices are often adopted piecemeal and in isolation from each other and how this fragmentation misses the crucial insight that gender equity, family-friendly policies, and early childhood care and education are intertwined. Employers who care about gender equity in the workplace, according to the report, need to understand the importance of high-quality childcare and early childhood education programs in the communities in which their businesses are based. Policymakers who care about providing universal early childhood care and education because of their impacts on child development and learning must also care about paid parental leave and other family-friendly workplace policies.
“We can’t begin to tackle unconscious bias, help women climb the corporate ladder, or close the pay gap until we develop policies and benefits that enable working women—and men—to reconcile the pervasive work-family conundrum” says Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Long gone are the 1960s where only 20 percent of mothers worked outside the home and the American family included a male breadwinner and a stay-at-home mother. This anachronistic model no longer fits today’s economy and modern workforce where 70.5 percent of U.S. mothers with children under the age of 18 are participating in the labor force.”
The report is the focus of a conference on Tuesday, April 24 hosted by Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Oakland that will bring together leaders from the business, public policy, early education and healthcare communities to discuss strategies to help employers better connect various workplace policies and practices around gender equity, early education and childcare. A separate report by the Rand Corporation will also be presented that looks at how investing early education can pay huge economic dividends.
The cost of not adopting a well-integrated set of gender equity, family-friendly and early education workplace practices and policies is considerable, for employers, for women, for men and families, according to the report. An alarming gender gap in median annual earnings of 19.5 percent continues, with inequalities becoming even more acute for mothers in the workforce. New mothers in their prime career-building years between the ages of 25 and 35 will experience the most significant earnings shock. The analysis shows that mothers are still assuming twice as much unpaid caregiving and household work than their male counterparts, causing stalled careers and lack of opportunity to advance in leadership positions.
The report offers a robust set of recommendations for addressing not only the lack of specific workplace policies and practices around gender equity and families and their connections to each other.
Modernizing employer work models that integrate family-friendly policies is critical to advancing gender equity in the workplace. Generous paid parental leave, more flexible work time, telecommuting, and providing access to affordable early childhood care and education are critical to working families and supporting mothers in the labor force. Important early childhood care and education strategies for employers outlined in the report include on-site childcare, subsidizing employee childcare expenses, providing referral resources, partnerships with neighboring businesses and more.
What Stakeholders Are Saying:
“Currently, the burden of paying for quality early childhood care and education falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and particularly women who are sometimes forced to leave the workforce because they can’t afford quality care. Increased public and private sector investments in this area will not only help businesses retain qualified talent, they’ll be helping to foster tomorrow’s workforce, since quality interactions between teachers and young children are linked to increased acquisition of social and cognitive skills.”
—Patricia Lozano, Executive Director, Early Edge California
“When we think about now people are perceived for taking advantage of the policies that we have, it really is a question of how normal is it. Do you become the outlier when you decide to take the full eight weeks parental leave as a male employee who didn’t give birth to the child? Or are you seen as somebody who’s leading the charge to role model the types of behaviors that leadership said they wanted to have at the firm? And I think that starts with leadership not just endorsing the policies, but taking advantage of it themselves, but also recognizing that when employees do that, it actually is a commitment to the type of employee that the firm wants. It’s not an outlier that shows lack of commitment.”
—Keith Bevans, Partner, Chicago Global Head of Consultant Recruiting, Bain & Company
“We actually give moms and dads both 12 weeks of paid parental leave. We do believe that the father has a huge role to play in the child’s life, and we don’t want them to feel different than the mom. So we give them both that baby bonding time, and we’re seeing more and more dads take advantage of it. We also want moms to ease back into the workforce, and so we give them an additional 4 weeks of part-time so that they can get used to the new childcare arrangement that they have and feel comfortable leaving their baby.”
—Nina McQueen, Vice President – Employee Experience & Global Benefits, LinkedIn
“We believe that it’s an employer’s responsibility in these times to put forward family-friendly policies that provide flexibility, that encourage men as well as women to become caregivers, and to allow people to work remotely at times if that works for the organization. So that with those kinds of policies in place, we’ll truly see women be able to do all the things that men have historically been able to do when it comes to making commitments to their companies and organizations.”
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf met with the Bay Area Council’s Board of Directors Thursday to discuss a range of pressing issues, from healthcare reform and homelessness to infrastructure investment and public safety. Board Chairman and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson welcomed both leaders to a packed room at Kaiser’s Oakland headquarters. Feinstein updated the Board on her efforts to ban assault weapons, an issue she has championed for decades. She also discussed the importance of making Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permanent as well as her interest in leveraging public private partnerships to repair and rebuild the nation’s aging and crumbling infrastructure.
Investing to expand and improve the region’s congested transportation system was also a top issue as Feinstein emphasized the need for a new crossing south of the Bay Bridge. Tyson thanked Feinstein for her great leadership and urged Council members to join a business delegation we’re leading to D.C. in May to promote California’s importance to the nation as some critics frame the Golden State as out of control.
Feinstein also gave warm praise for Mayor Schaaf, who described the progress Oakland is making in turning around years of crime and addressing a complicated homeless problem. Schaaf also highlighted a measure she is championing for the November ballot—the Oakland Children’s Initiative—that would invest in expanding access to early education and other early childhood programs. She touted the huge returns that early childhood investments have in increasing employment opportunities and avoiding expensive social and public safety costs. This is an issue that has long been a priority for the Council, whose executive leadership has expressed early support for Schaaf’s November measure as she works to get it placed on the ballot. The Council extends its gratitude to Kaiser Permanente for hosting our meeting.
There hasn’t been a lot of rain so far this winter, but Gov. Jerry Brown had the wet stuff on his mind this week (Jan. 11) when he released a $190 billion budget proposal that ups the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” by $5 billion to $13.5 billion. The reserve is designed to protect California against future economic downturns, which Brown believes is coming sooner rather than later. Still, the budget represents a record for California and includes a $7 billion increase over the previous spending plan. The Bay Area Council applauded many of the spending priorities, which include $4.6 billion for commute improvement projects from last year’s SB1 (Beall) legislation that the Council supported.
The plan invests $245 million to expand and protect affordable housing under SB2 (Atkins), another bill the Council supported last year. Brown proposed another $277 million for housing in anticipation of the passage of a statewide housing bond measure expected to appear on the November 2018 ballot. The spending plan also continues the Governor’s efforts to pay down the overall state debt and makes a small dent in the state’s massive pension liability shortfall. The Council is continuing to analyze the plan and will be weighing in directly as it now moves to the legislature, which has a June deadline to approve it.
Behind the Bay Area Council’s continuing advocacy, the California legislature this year took its first (albeit modest) actions to address the state’s historic housing crisis. Much, much more needs to be done, and the Council’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, under the leadership of Chair and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson, this week approved a 2018 policy agenda that calls for escalating our work to achieve deeper, stronger and more effective reforms for spurring the tsunami of new housing the state so badly needs. Already, the Council is identifying new legislation for 2018 that can speed the approval and bring down the cost of new housing.
The 2018 agenda also prioritizes ridding the scourge of traffic fom the Bay Area’s roads and highways and getting more commuters out of their vehicles and into ferries, carpools, shuttles and other forms of transit. The Council is gearing up now for a campaign to win passage of Regional Measure 3, a $4.4 billion transportation investment plan that is expected to hit the June 2018 ballot. Rounding out the Council’s top policy priorities for 2018 is building a stronger workforce pipeline to meet the future needs of the region’s employers. The Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is making immense strides to better align educators and employers to close the region’s yawning middle skills and talent gap, as well as creating new career opportunities for underserved youth.
Along with the top three policy priority areas, the 2018 agenda includes gender equity and workforce diversity, healthcare, advanced communication infrastructure, China and global innovation, carbon reduction and renewables, and water and climate resiliency.
The policy agenda was approved Thursday (Dec. 7) during a meeting hosted by new member Santa Clara University. The Board also welcomed state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. and applauded him for his incredible leadership as the author this year of SB 1, which invests $52 billion in statewide transportation improvements, and SB 595, which authorized the vote on Regional Measure 3. Beall talked about both measures and outlined his plans for new legislation for delivering transportation projects faster and at lower cost. The Council will be working closely with Sen. Beall on that project delivery legislation.
DLA Piper has awarded 21 scholarships to students from some of the world’s least developed countries including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia. Students will receive substantial financial support towards studies in their home countries, robust career mentoring from DLA Piper lawyers, and a series of global placements. The students selected are both high-achieving and ambitious to improve the rule of law in their countries.
DLA Piper Partner and Bay Area Council Board Member Dean Fealk said, “This project epitomizes our many efforts to serve as engaged and responsible stakeholders in our communities and around the world.”
DLA Piper Global Co-Chairman Juan Picón said, “Whilst the firm has a long history of supporting student lawyers and promoting social mobility, this program increases the depth of our work with a smaller pool of students, making it truly transformative…We hope that the students will use their experiences to strengthen the infrastructure within their home countries.” DLA Piper will award further scholarships in December this year. This initiative is part of the Break into Law program. Read the full press release>
The Bay Area Council is urging its members to help secure a $10 million challenge grant from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, to fund an ambitious campaign that aims to end homelessness for 800 San Francisco families by 2019, including almost 2,000 school children. The Benioffs have pledged personally to match contributions dollar for dollar up to a total of $10 million to help the Heading Home campaign, which was launched in 2015 to respond to a dramatic spike in family homelessness following the Great Recession. Heading Home is run by nonprofit Hamilton Families as part of a collaboration led by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee between the city and San Francisco Unified School District with major financial support from private philanthropists like the Benioffs and companies like Google, Zendesk and others.
Heading Home uses a unique approach to rapidly re-house homeless families. The early results have been nothing short of remarkable, with 237 families being successfully moved into permanent housing over the past 18 months. Heading Home case managers remain in regular touch with families about their situation and help them get services they need, which has resulted in more than 90 percent remaining in their housing. The matching grant from Benioff will enable Heading Home to scale up its program to reach its goal of serving 800 families, and bringing down the number of days that a family is living in homelessness before they get help from the current average of 414 to no more than 90. Heading Home has enormous benefits for children, who because of homeless are twice as likely as other children to suffer from hunger, three times more likely to have behavioral issues, four times more likely to get sick, and twice as likely to repeat a grade, be suspended or drop out.
The Bay Area Council just loves a good challenge, and there is perhaps no bigger challenge for the region than bringing some relief to the congested mess that is our transportation system. The Council’s Executive Committee, meeting at member company Facebook in Menlo Park, on Thursday endorsed a 2017 policy platform that will direct significantly more time, energy and resources to finding and implementing both short-term and longer-term solutions to the region’s grinding traffic and overwhelmed mass transit systems. The Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners also renewed the Council’s priority policy areas from 2016 that include expanding housing, closing the workforce skills gap and securing the region’s long-term water supply in the face of continuing drought and increased competition among urban, environmental and agricultural interests.
The message was clear, however, that the highest priority must be on fixing the region’s dysfunctional commute, which ranks among the worst in the country and threatens to undermine the Bay Area’s economic success. Michael Matthews, Director of California Public Policy for Facebook, emphasized the importance of commute improvement in his remarks welcoming the Council to the social media giant’s campus, saying it is a key issue for the company along with housing (just today, Facebook announced a $20 million commitment to help local nonprofit housing and rental assistance programs).
Longer commutes, slower traffic and congested mass transit are choking the region’s economic productivity and putting us at growing competitive disadvantage with other states and regions. The Council has already begun laying the groundwork for a bold and aggressive regional transportation improvement vision that will be unveiled in the coming months. In addition, the Council will be exploring new technologies that can help manage the demand side of the transportation equation, promoting the development of autonomous vehicles and continuing our work to increase the use of private commuter shuttles. Expanding public and private water transportation services will figure prominently, and builds on great progress the Council has already made to increase public ferry service around the entire bay and promote fast-emerging private water taxi services.
Housing, of course, is another area on which the Council will continue to put heavy focus. Our leadership and advocacy this year helped win passage of the only significant housing bill in Sacramento – SB 1069 to expand accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law units) — and elevate the housing issue among elected leaders who as a result are now pointing to 2017 as the year of housing. The Council also backed affordable housing measures in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that both passed last month. Stay tuned for further details on planning for our work on housing, transportation, workforce and water policy. 2017 is going to be a big year.
The ground-breaking Talk Read Sign program that the Bay Area Council developed to promote early childhood education has been recognized with a prestigious “Effie” or Effectiveness in Advertising Award under the category of “good works.” Talk Read Sing was born at the Council’s Early Childhood Education Committee as part of an effort by then-Chairman George Halvorson to close the word and language gap experienced primarily by children in low income families. The Council, supported by several members including Kaiser Permanente, Clear Channel Outdoor, and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, retained top advertising agency Goodby Silverstein to design the materials and entered into a partnership with Too Small to Fail and the Clinton Foundation which has grown the campaign from an Oakland effort to now Fresno, Tulsa Oklahoma, with several other cities in the pipeline. Halvorson was subsequently appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to chair California’s First 5 Commission, where the Talk Read Sing campaign has served as a key messaging tool. To engage in the Council’s early childhood education work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.
San Francisco on Tuesday (April 5) became the first city in the nation to ensure that nearly all employees will have access to fully paid parental leave under legislation authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener, supported by the Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity Committee and unanimously approved by the SF Board of Supervisors. California’s paid family leave program provides 55 percent wage replacement for parents on leave for a six-week period and San Francisco’s program will require employers with 20 or more workers to close the gap up to a maximum weekly amount.
The law is a key tool in advancing gender equity, which is among the Council’s top policy priorities, while helping control employee turnover costs and providing workers time to bond with their new child, which increases the probability that employees will return to work, be more productive and earn higher wages. To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.