Today, in Washington DC, hundreds of business leaders, workers, moms and advocates from around the country will be discussing what needs to change to make work something that works for our 21st century families at the White House Summit on Working Families  (you can live-stream it from the link.)
It’s the first time a conversation like this has happened at such a high level. And thanks in large part to Women AdvaNCe, North Carolina will have a strong, loud voice at the meeting.
We’re expecting the Tar Heel delegation to be 28 strong. Women AdvaNCe  has been working in targeted counties to bring the conversations about pay equity, paid earned sick leave and the need for stronger family support and worker protections. Now they are going to tell Washington what they think. Twenty-three women from six different counties—from Alamance, Durham, Guilford, Orange, Wake, and Robeson counties—will be providing feedback on these issues and more in Washington. Another five of us will be attending through MomsRising, the North Carolina Families Care coalition and the NC Justice Center.
“The number of women in today’s U.S. workforce has grown to 47%, and many women serve as both their family’s breadwinner and primary caregiver,” said Mary Swann Parry, Director of Advocacy at Women AdvaNCe. “Today’s families need workplace flexibility with supports like paid sick and family leave, so that parents don’t have to choose between staying home with a sick child or going to work so that they can afford to buy groceries. It’s about economic stability.”
Lack of paid sick and family leave also hurts business, according to Durham’s Laura Helms Reece, CEO at Rho, Inc. “It is not financially smart to lose people to bad policies,” she said. “It is more expensive to hire someone else than to offer current employees those sick days.”
Reece participated in a recent round table discussion  led by Women AdvaNCe in preparation of the D.C. Summit, where working women and business leaders gathered to discuss how NC businesses and policymakers can help close the leadership gap for women in North Carolina.
Expect to hear a lot more about the need for workplace policies that make good business sense and that don’t force parents to choose between putting food on the table and letting a sick child recuperate at home with mom. Local laws are being passed around the country to provide this basic protection.
Not only is Women AdvaNCe planning a local summit on September 26 related to these issues of equity, but they and others like Working America  and MomsRising  are working in coalitions like NC Women Matter,  NC Women United,  and North Carolina Families Care  to raise our voices so families aren’t forced into impossible choices.