Commission Meeting of May 23, 2007
NAOMI C. EARP Chair
LESLIE E. SILVERMAN Vice Chair
STUART J. ISHIMARU Commissioner
CHRISTINE M. GRIFFIN Commissioner
RONALD S. COOPER, General Counsel
PEGGY R. MASTROIANNI, Associate Legal Counsel
BERNADETTE B. WILSON, Program Analyst
This transcript was typed from a video tape provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
CHAIR EARP: Good morning. The meeting will now come to order.
Welcome, everyone. In accordance with the Sunshine Act, today's meeting is open to public observation of the Commission's deliberation and voting.
At this time I'm going to ask Bernadette Wilson to announce any notation votes that have taken place since the last Commission meeting.
MS. WILSON: Good morning, Madam Chair, Madam Vice Chair, Commissioners. I'm Bernadette Wilson from the Executive Secretariat.
We'd like to remind our audience that questions and comments from the audience are not permitted during the meeting, and we ask that you carry on any conversations outside the meeting room, departing and reentering as quietly as possible.
Also, please take this opportunity to turn your cell phones off or to vibrate mode.
I would also like to remind the audience that in addition to the elevators, in case of emergency, there are stairways down the halls to the right and left as you exit this room.
Additionally, the restrooms are down the hall to the right.
During the period May 15th, 2007 through May 21st, 2007, the Commission acted on five items by notation vote:
Approved litigation on three cases; Approved a competitive contract to establish an EEOC brief bank; and,
Approved the Enforcement Guidance on the Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities.
Madam Chair, it's appropriate at this time to have a motion to close a portion of the next Commission meeting in case there are any closed meeting agenda items.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Ms. Wilson.
Do I hear a motion?
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: So moved.
CHAIR EARP: Is there a second?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Second.
CHAIR EARP: Discussion.
CHAIR EARP: Hearing none, all those in favor, please say aye.
(Chorus of ayes.)
CHAIR EARP: Opposed?
CHAIR EARP: The ayes have it, and the motion is carried.
Thank you, Ms. Wilson.
Good morning again. On April 17th, the Commission held a meeting on balancing work and family and how that applies to the federal nondiscrimination laws. At that meeting we heard from experts about how the laws EEOC enforces may apply to workers who struggle to balance work and family responsibilities.
For those of you who were unable to attend that meeting, give us a few days and the transcript of the April 17th meeting will be available on our Website at www.eeoc.gov.
As was just announced by Ms. Wilson, the Commission has unanimously voted to approve new enforcement guidance on this topic. The guidance is entitled "Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities." Copies of the guidance will be available at the end of this meeting.
The guidance will also be posted on our Website later today.
Work-family balance is an emerging issue in employment law. At first glance, work and family balance may not seem a natural issue for EEOC, but as enforcers of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act, closer scrutiny reveals EEOC's role.
While it may change over time, today caregiving responsibilities affect women far greater than it affects men. Women comprise nearly half of the U.S. labor force. In 2005, 59 percent of mothers with children under three were in the civilian labor force. That's compared with 34 percent in 1975. Clearly, this has implications for sex-based disparate treatment and may also intersect matters of race and disability.
Today I am pleased to announce the issuance of EEOC guidance on this topic. We have worked long and hard to craft a document that will be useful to employers, as well as creating a document that will assist our investigators in probing work-family issues.
I would like to thank the Vice Chair, Madam Silverman, and Commissioner Ishimaru for their work on this guidance and their work on setting up both this meeting and the April meeting.
I would also like to thank the Office of Legal Counsel for their work on this document. In particular, I would like to thank Peggy Mastroianni, Dianna Johnston and Ernie Haffner. You'll hear from Peggy, from Dianna and Ernie later this morning.
This guidance on work-family balance illustrates circumstances in which an employment action may constitute disparate treatment based on sex, be in violation of Title VII, and show some situations where employers may run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating on the basis of a worker's association with an individual with a disability.
Our guidance is limited to the sex based discrimination and discrimination under the ADA's associational provision as these are the areas the Commission is tasked to enforce. We, however, encourage employers to develop and implement best practices.
While the meeting last month focused on the law, during today's meeting we will hear from our invited experts on best practices employers should consider for achieving work-family balance. Panelists will discuss work-family balance programs and best practices for workers in various occupations and at high, middle, and low income levels.
We begin our meeting today with an overview of the new enforcement guidance from EEOC's Office of Legal Counsel. Then the Vice Chair and the Commissioners will make some preliminary remarks.
We will then look beyond what the law prohibits and what the law requires and discuss with our distinguished panelists what types of best practices employers are adopting and those who aren't adopting best practices, what kind of things they should be looking at.
I would like to welcome the first panel forward. Dianna Johnston is an Assistant Legal Counsel, and Ernie Haffner is a Senior Attorney Advisor, both in the Office of Legal Counsel. Mr. Haffner was the principal drafter of the new enforcement guidance, and he worked under Ms. Johnston's direction.
Dianna, let's start with you.
MS. JOHNSTON: Good morning, Madam Chair, Madam Vice Chair, Commissioner Ishimaru, Commissioner Griffin. I'm happy to be here to discuss the guidance that the Commission is issuing today on unlawful, disparate treatment of workers with caregiving responsibilities.
Although the federal EEO laws don't prohibit discrimination against caregivers as such, they do apply when adverse treatment of such workers constitutes discrimination on a protected basis, such as sex. Changing workplace demographics have created the potential for greater discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities.
Although as Chair Earp noted, caregiving responsibilities disproportionately affect women generally, those responsibilities can vary by race and ethnicity. For example, African American women with young children are more likely to be employed than other women raising young children.
Increasingly, too, caregiving responsibilities are borne by men. The guidance is a proactive measure to assist our investigators and stakeholders by addressing an emerging issue of discrimination in today's workplace.
One of the most significant changes in the 43 years since Title VII's enactment has been the increased proportion of women who work outside the home. Again, as Chair Earp noted, women now comprise nearly half of the U.S. labor force, but they nevertheless continue to be families' primary caregivers. These workers may be vulnerable to sex-based discrimination linked to their caregiving responsibilities.
Although we don't see the kind of blatant sex discrimination today like sex-based job advertisements that was prevalent in the 1960s when Title VII was first enacted, other forms of equally pernicious sex discrimination persist.
Writing for the Supreme Court in 2003, Chief Justice Rehnquist noted that "the fault line between work and family is precisely where sex-based over generalization has been and remains the strongest."
Therefore, sex-based discrimination against caregivers takes place in the open. For example, in a recent case of a working mother who commuted between her home in one state and her job in another, the supervisor allegedly said that he had "a very difficult time understanding why any man would allow his wife to live away from home during the work week."
In another case, an official questioned whether a worker could be a good mother and a good employee at the same time.
Sex-based stereotyping isn't limited to women. As Chief Justice Rehnquist noted, "stereotypes about women's domestic roles are reinforced by parallel stereotypes presuming a lack of domestic responsibilities for men."
Men who defy sex-based stereotypes by actively assuming caregiving roles may face blatant hostility from their co-workers and supervisors. For instance, in one case a male worker was allegedly denied nurturing leave to care for a newborn baby on the grounds that, as a man, he couldn't be considered the baby's primary caregiver unless his wife were dead or in a coma.
Although the clash between work and caregiving responsibilities is most likely to arise in the context of child care, it's important to recognize that other kinds of caregiving are also common and can lead to discrimination. These include caring for family members with a disability and elder care. Many of today's workers are in the sandwich generation, which has simultaneous responsibility for child care and elder care.
As I noted previously, the federal EEO laws don't apply to all employment decisions adversely affecting caregivers, and the point of this new guidance is to address the circumstances in which such discrimination constitutes unlawful disparate treatment under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Before I turn this over to Ernie to talk in more detail about the document, I want to note that this document is attributable to the excellent staff work and interoffice collaboration. Staff in each of the Commissioners' offices has been intimately involved and incredibly helpful in bringing this project to fruition.
And although all of the offices have significantly contributed, Vice Chair Silverman and Commissioner Ishimaru deserve particular thanks.
In the Office of Legal Counsel, substantial work on this project was begun by Kerry Leibig. Unfortunately, her work on it was cut short because she had to assume caregiving responsibilities. Since then most of the credit for the document belongs to Ernie. In addition to exemplifying his exceptional skills as a legal thinker and writer, this project has demonstrated his ability to work collaboratively with many people and to create from a wide variety of complex ideas, a cohesive, user friendly document. But for his considerable talents, we wouldn't be here today.
At this point I'd like to turn the presentation over to Ernie.
MR. HAFFNER: Thank you, Dianna.
As Dianna mentioned, in the next few minutes I'm going to present a brief overview of the new guidance. Before I do that though, I wanted to say that I've had a really rewarding experience working on the project, and I greatly appreciate having had the opportunity. It's fulfilling to contribute to such a significant project that we all know is going to make a real difference in the work place.
Now, onto the guidance. The basic legal principles in the new guidance are actually not new. Disparate treatment claims involving caregivers are analyzed no differently than claims filed by anyone else. As with any other worker, a caregiver is only protected against discrimination if it is based on one of the protected characteristics that are specifically covered by the EEO laws. Discrimination based purely on parental or caregiver status is not protected.
However, the EEO laws do reach discrimination against caregivers that is based on sex, race or any other protected status, just as they reach claims brought by non-caregivers that are based on a protected EEO status.
The crucial question then is when is discrimination against a particular caregiver unlawful disparate treatment based on sex, race, or some other protected EEO status? The new enforcement guidance provides assistance to EEOC investigators as well as to employers, employees, and other stakeholders in answering that question.
In addition to the guidance, the Office of Legal Counsel will provide training for EEOC staff on recognizing, investigating and analyzing caregiver claims.
What makes caregiver claims unique, however, is their context. They involve a working mother, a woman of color, or a new father in countering a discriminatory workplace barrier that prevents them from being able to balance work and family responsibilities.
Not surprisingly, one of the common barriers faced by workers is sex-based stereotypes about caregiving and child care, in particular. These stereotypes are at the root of many instances of disparate treatment of caregivers.
Under the EEO statutes, workers are entitled to be evaluated as individuals, not as members of groups that share common characteristics. Caregivers are sometimes subjected to unlawful disparate treatment that violates this cardinal principle. For example, an employer may assume that a new mother will not be as committed to the workplace as she was before she had a baby or that a pregnant worker will be less dependable than other workers.
In a recent case, the Second Circuit stated that it "takes no special training to discern stereotyping in the view that a woman cannot ‘be a good mother’ and have a job that requires long hours or in the statement that a mother who received tenure ‘would not show the same level of commitment she had because she had little ones at home’”. Such stereotyping places women with caregiving responsibilities in a double bind in which they are simultaneously viewed by their employers as bad mothers for investing time and resources into their careers and bad workers for devoting time and attention to their families.
Disparate treatment based on hostility toward workers who assumed caregiving responsibilities is not limited, however, to women and also impacts men who face different but equally harmful sex based stereotypes. For example, perceptions about men and caregiving might lead to a father's being harassed after he switches to a part-time schedule to take care of his son so that his wife can attend law school.
Some discrimination of caregivers is based on an employer's perceptions of what is in the worker's best interest. For example, in a recent case, the Seventh Circuit stated that "realism requires acknowledgement that the average mother is more sensitive than the average father to the possibly disruptive effect on children of moving to another city.
Nevertheless, the court determined that it was unlawful sex discrimination for a supervisor to assume that a working mother would not want to accept a promotion that required her to relocate.
In addition to leading to assumptions about how female employees might balance work and caregiving responsibilities, gender stereotypes of caregivers may more broadly affect perceptions of a worker's general competence. Such stereotyping can be based on unconscious bias particularly where supervisors engage in subjective decision making.
A recent study by researchers at Cornell University found evidence of a motherhood penalty in which women are penalized merely for the fact of being mothers. The effects of such discrimination can include a lower chance of being hired for a mother than for men or for women without children, a lower starting salary, and even being treated more harshly for tardiness.
In addition to sex and pregnancy discrimination, there are other EEO protections that may be implicated in a caregiver claim. This is particularly true for women of color. At the Commission meeting on April 17th, Jennifer Tucker, Vice President of the Center for Women and Policy, explained that women of color do not experience their workplace cultures with their race and sex neatly compartmentalized as two separate facts of life. Thus, it is common for a woman of color with caregiving responsibilities to encounter discrimination that is based on both race and sex. For example, harassment directed at a Latina based on her ethnicity might escalate after she becomes pregnant.
Finally, unlawful disparate treatment of a caregiver might be based on his or her responsibility to care for an individual with a disability. For example, an employer might refuse to consider a male worker whose wife has a severe form of multiple sclerosis because it is concerned that the worker's responsibilities for caring for his wife will keep him from being able to perform the job. As with pregnancy and sex-based stereotypes, unfavorable employment decisions based on such assumptions are unlawful.
I see the red light has been on for a while.
In closing, I wanted to circle back to an observation that Dianna made in her remarks. Unlike many other forms of discrimination, discrimination against working mothers and other caregivers is often blatant. With the issuance of the new guidance and greater awareness, I think there is the potential that some of it may be driven underground. Well, that's bad, of course, but more optimistically, there's the potential that most of it will be driven from the workplace.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
MR. HAFFNER: Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: Are there questions or comments, or statements that the Commissioners would like to make at this time?
CHAIR EARP: You can be released. Thank you.
One final housekeeping note before we begin. The timing light will turn yellow, giving each panelist and Commissioner a two minute warning. When the light turns red, it means stop, your time has expired. You may finish your thought, but please respect the time limit so that those scheduled later in the meeting are not rushed.
I would now like to turn the meeting over to the Vice Chair and Commissioner Ishimaru to provide an overview of the panels and to introduce our experts.
And I also want to thank them again for working so collaboratively and nonpartisanly to bring this guidance to fruition. Truly, we would not be here today but for their time and effort.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Before we introduce the panels, we're going to do some opening statements if that's okay.
CHAIR EARP: Okay.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Wonderful. I'd like to welcome all of our speakers as well as the many people joining us here today for the meeting, and I also want to thank you, Madam Chair, for devoting not one, but two Commission meetings to this important topic.
And I would like to thank my colleague, Commissioner Ishimaru and his staff for collaborating with my office to co-chair today's meeting.
And finally, I want to thank my staff and, in particular, Elizabeth Bille. Thank you, Elizabeth, who worked so tirelessly on this issue. Elizabeth you've successfully embarked on your first foray into balancing work and life by convincing your soon to be daughter to wait until after today's meeting to emerge.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: It was touch and go there, but we're pleased to make it through the meeting.
Okay. This morning we're once again examining the issue of work-life balance. At last month's meeting we delved into the legal aspects of this issue, and while I think that most people recognize that work-family issues are impacting our work force and our workplaces, many have questioned whether and to what extent federal EEO laws apply or, to put it more bluntly, does EEOC have a dog in this fight?
We thought so, and we hoped that by holding the April 17th Commission meeting, our distinguished panelists could help us sort through some of the unanswered questions in this emerging area of the law.
And I'm happy to say at that first Commission meeting we found some common ground and some answers to our questions, and as a result of what we learned, as well as a great deal of research and hard work by our Office of Legal Counsel, the Commission came to a consensus on this issue.
So I'm absolutely delighted that we were able to begin this morning's meeting with the introduction of our new enforcement guidance. I believe this document strikes the right balance. Our guidance explains and helps illustrate when Title VII applies to work-family conflicts.
For example, where there is evidence that fathers in a particular workplace are treated more favorably than mothers or that an employer based a job decision on stereotyped assumptions about working moms, it's not simply unfortunate or unfair. It may, in fact, be sex discrimination.
Our guidance also explains when Title VII applies to discrimination against other caregivers, including fathers, and the special impact work-family issues can have on women of color, and it clarifies that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against someone because they have caregiving responsibilities for an individual with a disability.
But our new guidance document also makes it clear that caregivers per se are not a protected group under the EEO laws. There can only be a violation where the evidence shows that an employer's action was based on sex or some other unlawful criteria.
As with all of our guidances, this guidance is designed to educate our employees and inform the general public. It will help EEOC employees better understand how the laws we enforce apply to workers with caregiving responsibilities and enable our field staff to recognize these often subtle issues when applicants and employees dealing with these situations appear at our doorstep.
To that end, I was pleased to learn that our Office of Legal Counsel also is preparing training materials for our staff, our field staff.
In addition, this guidance will serve to educate the public on this important issue and inform employers about their responsibilities in this area. I, too, would like to thank Ernie Haffner and Kerry Leibig for their efforts on this document and Dianna Johnston and Peggy Mastroianni for their leadership on this matter. You really did a fantastic job. I know it was a challenging task and there were a lot of cooks in, but I think we have a good finished product here, and we should all be pleased, and you should be particularly pleased.
Beyond our new guidance, I think the EEOC has an additional role to play, and that is to draw attention to the wonderful and innovative things that many employers are doing to make it possible for employees to balance the demands of work and family. So today we will be examining what employers can do voluntarily to help their workers achieve work-life balance.
As we will hear from our witnesses today, employees across the spectrum may have very unique needs and face very distinct challenges in this area. Fortunately, a number of companies are really thinking outside the box to come up with policies and benefits and practices that can help all types of employees with their struggle to balance work and family.
It is my hope that through today's meeting we will be able to highlight the good work that many companies are already doing on this front, and by doing so perhaps we can inspire even more companies to implement work-life policies and programs aimed at all of their employees.
I look forward to hearing from the speakers on this important topic.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair.
I, too, am pleased to be here and want to congratulate our friends in the Office of Legal Counsel, Peggy Mastroianni, Dianna Johnston, Ernie Haffner, Kerry Leibig for their hard work on this.
This document obviously is a product of a great deal of work, research, writing and rewriting. I think it reflects very well on the Commission and our ability to recognize emerging issues in employment law, grapple with them in a timely fashion, and issue guidance that will help both our stakeholders and staff.
I want to thank my friend, the Vice Chair, and her staff, Mindy Weinstein and Elizabeth Bille, for working with my office to finalize the guidance and to put together the meeting on this issue.
I would also like to recognize Ken Morse, in Commissioner Griffin's office, and Thais Mootz, in the Chair's office for all of their work in helping us to get this out of here in a timely fashion.
I want to thank the people in my office who lived this on a daily basis, and especially Sharyn Tejani for working to get this out. And I want to thank you, Madam Chair. It's easy to talk the talk, but we're really walking the walk by getting this out, and it was a choice you had to make to get it out. I certainly appreciate that on a variety of levels.
And it shows, I think, by this unanimous vote how important this issue is to all of us and how it enjoys bipartisan support and nonpartisan support, which is good.
As Ernie and Dianna said and the guidance makes clear, we are not creating a new protected class here today. What we're acknowledging as Congress did when it discussed the Family Medical Leave Act is that historically, denial or curtailment of women's employment opportunities has been traceable directly to the pervasive presumption that women are mothers first and workers second. This prevailing ideology about women's roles has, in turn, justified a discrimination against women when they are mothers or mothers-to-be.
In this document we're recognizing the connection between parenthood, especially motherhood, and employment discrimination. When employers take actions or limit opportunities for their employees because of beliefs that the employer has about mothers and caretakers that are linked to sex, the employer may violate Title VII.
It's important for employers, lawyers, stakeholders, advocates, employees, our personnel, and judges to realize that these types of cases can be proven using the same types of evidence as used under other Title VII cases. As the guidance states, comparator evidence, while it can be helpful, is not required. Rather, what plaintiffs must produce is evidence of sex discrimination, and that can be done using any of the types of evidence we see in other cases, such as evidence of stereotyping, statements of relevant employer officials, and statistics.
I know that we are planning training for our offices on disparate treatment of caregivers, Title VII, and the ADA, and I think that this type of training will help us in all aspects of our enforcement work. So much of this type of discrimination is based on stereotypes, and that is an up and coming issue in discrimination law in general.
So congratulations to all of those who have worked on this, and I look forward to seeing the training that will be done.
The bulk of today's meeting will discuss the topics of best practices in the work-family policy, an issue that is especially important for our agency, employers and employees. The law, especially the law we enforce, only goes so far. We don't have a national childcare system, and we don't have requirements for paid leave or paid sick leave. But employees have children and other caregiving commitments, and employers need their employees to come to work and want to reduce employee turnover.
Employees who need childcare or need time off are left to figure it out with their employers. What we will hear today is that some employers are helping their employees to meet these needs either out of a sense of social responsibility or out of a desire to recruit and retain talented workers or because it is put on the table in union negotiations and bargained for.
Whatever the motivation, there's a body of best practices for all types of employees that allow those employees to meet their work and family obligations, and we hope by publicizing these efforts and the business case for such practices, we will increase the use of such policies.
One interesting fact about best practices is that the changes employers put in place as caregiver-friendly benefits often end up benefitting the workforce as a whole. This is similar to the universal design concept of the ADA. What works in designing for individuals with disabilities is actually sound design for all of us. Workers with disabilities often need flexibility in their schedules in order to address their health needs. Older workers are looking to reconnect to the workforce or to work at something less than full time.
The workplace benefits that were started to help care givers, who were mostly women, can end up helping many of the classes who are protected by the statutes we enforce. Besides increasing the work opportunities for these groups, being able to attract applicants from under utilized individuals means that employers are able to have more applicants and select better workers.
Of course, having caregiver-friendly policies means nothing if employers are reluctant to use them for fear of derailing their career or because they can't afford them, either financially or time-wise. So as important as having a policy is having one that employees feel able to use and one that is suited to your employees' financial and caregiving circumstances.
As we will hear today, caregiver-friendly policies come in many shapes and sizes. What is available and necessary varies tremendously, and the variation is linked to economic class. The self-help caregiver practices that, for example, Professor Dodson will talk about for low income workers are a far cry from what professionals demand and get.
We will also hear about how middle income workers have to negotiate for benefits, such as using sick time to care for sick kids that many of us take for granted.
Finally, it is important that all employers, not just the enlightened ones we hear about today, start working towards caregiver-friendly workplaces. This is not an issue that is about to go away.
As Dr. Boucher stated at our last meeting, Mom works, and it does not seem like she is headed home. And thanks to the good employers in this area, it is becoming an issue that employers must address in order to stay competitive.
I look forward to hearing our speakers today.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I, too, want to thank you for holding two meetings on this topic because I think this one dovetails nicely with the last one and really helps us understand the issue, get the guidance out and really educate employees and employers alike about, I think, a different way of looking at their rights and protections that they may not in the past have thought about.
So we're all eager to hear about the best practices employers can follow to help create a workplace that actually allows employees to be successful not only at work, but also in caring for their children and family members.
I, too, want to congratulate the Vice Chair and Commissioner Ishimaru for their leadership on this issue and in bringing together all of the panelists that we're going to hear from today, but especially in helping with OLC to develop the caregiver guidance that we'll issue today.
Our Office of Legal Counsel also deserves a lot of credit, and you guys have just been doing an amazing job really. You've really been cranking some great work out of that office, and we appreciate it.
The need to create a balance between work and family responsibilities has received considerable press coverage over the past few months, with major articles appearing in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Times, USA Today, the Indianapolis Star, and many other papers.
With the massive number of retirements expected from Baby Boomers over the next decade, it is in all employers' interest to learn how to attract and retain qualified workers, including those with caregiver responsibilities.
I hope that our meeting today and our educational efforts, as we as a Commission will pursue in the future, will help employers develop work environments that enable workers to achieve a balance between their work and their family responsibilities.
A recent study by professors from Harvard and McGill University entitled, "The Work, Family and Equity Index: How does the United States measure up?" notes how far we as a nation have to go to adequately address this issue. This study indicates that the United States has good laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion and disability.
However, the study states that when it comes to insuring decent working conditions for families, the latest research shows many U.S. policies still lag dramatically behind all high income countries as well as many middle and low income countries.
I look forward to hearing from our panelists today and working with my fellow Commissioners on getting the word out about the steps employers can take to attract and retain workers with caregiving responsibilities.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
Now we'll turn the meeting over to the Vice Chair and Commissioner Ishimaru to provide an overview of panels and to introduce the experts.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Well, thank you, Madam Chair.
Our second panel today that will be up next will provide an overview of work-life balance programs and benefits that many companies are currently offering to their employees.
Our third panel that follows will discuss the work-life issues and challenges that low and middle income workers face, the business case for providing work-life policies for these workers and best practices for low and middle income workers.
Our final panel will talk about the business case and best practices for high income workers, including women of color.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Our first outside speaker today is Cornelia Gamlen. Ms. Gamlen is testifying on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world's largest association devoted to human resource management.
Ms. Gamlen is also the president of Gems Group, Limited, a management consulting firm that providers strategic HR consulting and solutions.
MS. GAMLEN: Good morning, Madam Chair, Vice Chair, Commissioners. It's really my pleasure to be here today to talk about this very important issue of achieving work-life balance.
In addition to owning my own consulting practice, I'm also a long time member of the Society for Human Resource Management, and I've held a number of volunteer positions with the society. I've served on its board of directors and I chaired its workplace diversity committee, and I currently serve on the workplace diversity panel.
A lot of the issues that we're talking about today have really overlapped with the work of the workplace diversity panel.
SHRM has long recognized the importance of assisting employees with balancing work and family life, even before the recent attention to the issue. It's important that employees feel secure in their jobs when they need to be absent from the workplace to take care of family members, but it's also important that employers have adequate staff to insure productive and seamless operations.
In order to develop and implement successful programs, employers and employees must work together to find mutually satisfactory methods of balancing family needs with the employer's business needs, and we believe that most employers have worked in concert with their employees to achieve policies that provide work-life balance through generous time off, leave of absence and other benefits.
Today I will highlight what employers are doing to help employees who serve in a caregiving capacity achieve this balance, discuss how SHRM can assist its members to promote and establish successful policies, and also address how through training we can raise awareness of workplace flexibility issues.
Since 1996, our research department has conducted the annual SHRM benefits survey and the roster of benefits has grown substantially and includes a variety of family-friendly benefits. Many companies offer non-traditional scheduling options to employees to help them balance work and personal lives. These options help employees and allow the organization to recruit and retain motivated employees who may have difficulty working a traditional nine to five schedule.
Fifty-seven percent of the companies offer flextime, allowing employees to choose their work hours within established limits. Fifty-one indicated that they offer some form of telecommuting, and compressed work weeks and job sharings were other options that were reported.
In addition, childcare and elder care benefits also play a very important role in recruiting and retaining individuals, especially those with caregiving responsibilities, who are part of the sandwich generation. Members have reported that their organizations permit their employees to bring their children to work in an emergency and also offer a childcare referral service.
Our 2006 benefit survey reported 26 percent offered an elder care referral service and five percent emergency elder care.
Members also reported other family-friendly benefits including lactation programs, adoption and foster care assistance.
While SHRM believes supporting caregivers is important, we also recognize that all employees regarding their caregiver status make valued contributions to their organizations and must balance responsibilities of their work and home lives. The 2006 benefit survey show that several benefits that companies offer assist with non-work related activities, and these assist both caregivers and non-caregivers alike.
Twenty-three percent offer postal services. Thirteen offered dry cleaning services. Twenty-two percent offered food services or subsidized cafeterias, and three percent offered prepared take-home meals.
SHRM values the importance of innovative work-life balance programs, and we annually recognize those organizations that have implemented successful programs to assist employees achieve work-life balance. Every year we recognize the 50 best small and medium places to work. With the assistance of the Great Place to Work Institute, we select and rank companies based on responses to its trust index, which evaluates credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie, and the culture index which evaluates employee demographics, benefits and perks and other aspects of work culture.
In 2006, the following practices were noted: providing new mothers, including adoptive mothers, with six weeks of paid leave and $800 for nursing and cleaning services; offering unlimited bereavement leave and extending the employers' Take Your Child to Work Program for an entire week.
As the leading HR association, SHRM plays a critical role in insuring that its members are aware of the federal and state EEO laws. Through our information center, our members can receive information to assure that their organizations are in compliance with the applicable laws, but we want to go beyond that and make sure that our members have access to appropriate resources that can help them move their practices beyond compliance and develop and implement innovative workplace programs so that they can remain competitive.
In addition to our research and awards, we encourage our members to share examples of innovative programs to assist employees achieve work-family balance. Members can obtain information about typical practices offered by other employers via print and online publications, as well as through a variety of our tool kits.
The tool kits are designed to help members implement workplace programs and initiatives. They contain sample policies, resources, articles and white papers that are contributed by our members.
The work-life balance tool kit recommends that organizations set a road map based on its vision for work-life balance and policies and programs that are necessary to achieve that vision.
Through our Website we can help identify available networks and resources, along with standards to measure the success of a company's work-life initiative. We recommend that employers benchmark against similarly situated companies that are in the same industry, the same geographic location, as well as with a similar staff size.
Our 2006 benefit survey found that large organizations were most likely to offer many family-friendly benefits compared with the smaller and medium size organization where some of the resources may be more limited.
Related tool kits on topics such as alternative scheduling, telecommuting, attitude surveys, communication, employee retention and leaves of absence can also assist our members with their work-life balance initiatives.
Finally, we recognize the importance of training and believe that effective training programs can help to bring about change and promote respectful workplaces. We realize that to foster a respectful workplace though we have to move beyond compliance, and we encourage members to emphasize the principles of inclusion and respect, and all of their training and diversity initiatives.
Diversity is a very broad concept that goes well beyond the EEO mandated protections, and many of our members report that their training and diversity initiatives include other dimensions of diversity, such as education, socioeconomic status, marital, family and parental status, and cultural variables.
The objective of the training programs is to raise awareness about the dimensions of diversity, and the differences represented in today's work place. Recognize and practice workplace behavior that demonstrates respect; value the unique contribution each individual brings to the workplace; but finally, to encourage managers to be more open and look at workplace issues in ways that are new and different to meet the needs of the changing workforce.
Taking a comprehensive approach and focusing on respectful workplace behaviors and practices enables organizations to provide more flexible policies and cultures that enhance work-life balance initiatives for all employees.
SHRM appreciates the opportunity to be here today to provide comments to the EEOC on achieving work and family balance, employers’ best practices, and again, thank you for the opportunity.
I would be happy to address any questions that you may have.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
Time for questions, Vice Chair?
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Ms. Gamlen.
From the SHRM survey and/or your own experience, when companies offer these family-friendly benefits, including flexible scheduling options, are they available for everyone, both the high paid and the low paid workers?
MS. GAMLEN: Generally they're going to be available across the board. The only time I've ever seen restrictions might be if it's a new employee into the workplace. You know, the employer may want to have a little bit more of a feel of how that individual is going to perform or if there's something intrinsic in the job itself that requires the individual to actually be present at a certain time or in a certain location.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Okay, and are there types of employers that are more likely to provide family friendly benefits? For example, companies in particular industries or particular parts of the country or companies with particular types of jobs?
MS. GAMLEN: One of the things that we found in the survey was that the larger the company, the higher the percentage of the flexible family benefits that were offered because a lot of times that has to do with the availability of resources.
For a very small company, and some of my clients, they tend to be companies that have around 100 employees, and their resources are just limited, so they’ve got to tailor what they can do certainly within some reason.
The type of industry is going to drive a lot of the flexibility that organizations have. If you're in a manufacturing environment, it's harder to allow somebody to telecommute, for example. But if you're in more of a knowledge worker type of an environment, like a lot of the companies here in the Washington area, it's sometimes easier particularly with the technology today to give employees that flexibility even if it's on an intermittent basis.
If somebody’s got a situation that they've got to take care of personally, they've got the ability, you know, to hook into their own home wireless network and often be able to get some work accomplished while they're also balancing some family needs.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: What do you think are the greatest barriers, be they financial, organizational, cultural, et cetera, that employers face in providing more family-friendly benefits to employees?
MS. GAMLEN: I think a part of it is culturally, and culturally from our own work ethic and our own culture in this country. I see a big change over the years that I've been in the workplace, and I see more and more people expecting that they're going to be in a situation where their employers are going to be a little bit more sensitive to their needs, and the employers are responding to that.
So I think a lot of it has to do with educating our employers to recognize that there's a lot that they can do that isn't going to impact the business side. Along with that, what I think is helping the employers is, as was mentioned earlier, the turnover in the workforce.
As a lot of us who were in the Baby Boomer generation are preparing to leave, hopefully, in the next several years, there's got to be some flexibility not just to perhaps retain us in some kind of a phased retirement, but also to recognize if they're going to keep the workers who are entering the work force now, their expectations are a lot different than those of us that came into the work force in the 1960s, and they're going to have to meet those needs if they want to use it as a retention tool.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Yes, I agree with you that I think generational views on everything really do play a big role in this.
Can you talk just briefly a little bit more about SHRM's work-life balance tool kit? Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
MS. GAMLEN: What SHRM has done, and there's a number of the tool kits that really tie into the work-life balance, the work-life balance tool kit really gave employers a road map. This is the way you should go about approaching implementing a work-life initiative within your organization.
So it gave some guidance around what are some of the things you should be thinking about. What are some of the policies and practices that you could implement like things like telecommuting and flexible schedules and some of the other family-friendly benefits? What do you need to do to communicate this to your employees? Because it's no good to have these practices if the employees don't know about it.
But then in tandem with that, there are a number of other tool kits that SHRM has developed, and they're all available to our employees on line - to our members on line that touch on each of those specific areas. So there's one that looks just at alternative scheduling and what employers need to do about that, and then others that look at telecommuting.
In fact, I had a client that was interested in a telecommuting policy, and I had done quite a bit of research on that a number of years ago when I was still working for a large company, and I went online and found the sample policy that one of the SHRM staff members had written, and it was right on the money. I said, "Boy, this covers absolutely everything that I would have recommended," and it saved me and my client an awful lot of time to be able to say, "Here you go. You know, you may have to tweak it a little bit, but it's here and it's something that can be very, very helpful to you."
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Okay. Thank you. I see my time is up.
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, it's one thing to have policies, and it's another thing to have employees use the policies. Can you give us some idea, some feel for what employees are actually using the policies you talked about? Is it mainly women? Is it mainly people with caregiver responsibilities?
MS. GAMLEN: I think you're probably going to see a larger proportion of parents using some of these policies because their needs tend to be a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more immediate.
But I think also more and more of us who have responsibilities for elder parents are finding ourselves back in some of those same situations as when we had caregiving responsibilities.
But when we look at the stresses that most employees have, and I think it's probably a little bit more dominant in some of the metropolitan areas as this one. I think even individuals who may not have those immediate needs in their daily lives still find those situations where caregiving is important. Something crops up out of the ordinary.
So more and more employees, I think, are looking to them and are asking about them.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But do you see some sort of gender differential?
MS. GAMLEN: I haven't. I haven't personally experienced that and I'm not going to say that it doesn't exist, but it hasn't been my -- in fact, I would say what I was seeing more when I was in a large organization was more and more men coming forward and expecting some of these same benefits and considerations.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: One thing that I've heard when I've talked to people about this, and there's been reports in the media as well, is that workers who don't have work-life balance issues resent at times the fact that there's all of these activities going on trying to deal with this in the workplace.
Is that something that members of SHRM see and how would you advise companies to deal with a situation like this?
MS. GAMLEN: That actually has been an issue that I've heard from other colleagues, and particularly from people who have never had children and have said, "Why do the parents get all of these considerations and we get not?"
One of the ways that I have addressed it both with large companies when I worked for them and in my consulting practice is, again, bring it back to a diversity issue, that everybody is unique in the workplace and you know, don't make assumptions about if Suzie is not a parent then she doesn't have any family responsibilities because unbeknownst to you, she may have an aunt or an uncle that she's providing some type of caregiving responsibilities to.
What I often encourage my clients to do is make sure you're engaged in a dialogue, and that dialogue has to be balanced, you know, with not prying too much into somebody's personal life, but recognizing that there may sometimes be issues that are out there that are masked, and don't be surprised if they surface up.
And I think if you can encourage some more open communication in the workplace, the employees then tend to be a little bit more open in coming forward and saying, "Look. I'm going to need a little bit of time off to take care of some personal business, and the employer is going to be a little bit more open to do that.
But a lot of it has to do with sensitizing the managers around the changing demographics that we're seeing today.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And I've also found in a number of companies that there are good policies in place, but the work culture is such that this is a career killer. It will have an adverse impact on your career.
How do these types of program lose this problem of stigma?
MS. GAMLEN: I think it's a matter of time. I think employees who are in those situations that need some changes in their life at a given point in time need to continue to demand the opportunity to come in and out of the work force.
I know I was reading an article not too long ago about one of the large consulting practices who were allowing women to go out and women who wanted to stay out of the work force for a number of years and raise small children, but giving them the opportunity to either come back in on a consultative basis perhaps to work on a project, and after a certain period of time, three to five years, they could come back in and resume pretty much where they had left off without having to start all over again or go to another firm.
So they were really keeping that door open, and I think as more and more -- and again, large consulting practice, but I think as more and more of that becomes publicized, it starts to take on a life of its own, and I think we'll start to see some of those changes.
Communication is just such an important issue though. You know, if policies exist and the programs are there, but the employees don't know about it, you might as well not have them in place, and I think that's why SHRM encourages that and gives some guidance to our members on how do you do employee communications.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Great. thank you very much.
MS. GAMLEN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I think you're right. I think it is cultural and really generational, and that as sort of the torch is passed on, you know, all of those behaviors and those concepts about what it means to be an employee will change as well.
I really want to commend SHRM for the use of its knowledge center and not only to advise their members about the law, but also to really work with them to figure this out and figure out how to develop policies.
In your statement you talk mostly about larger companies having the resources. Have you had any experience to observe maybe some smaller companies pooling resources or anything like that in a geographical area to develop some policies?
MS. GAMLEN: There are a lot of examples of smaller companies forming consortiums particularly around issues like childcare. In fact, I think in Fairfax County when I was still with a large company, there was a group that was coming together to look at some of those. It was sponsored by the Council of Governments, but to provide some resources for the smaller to the mid-size companies who obviously can't go out and implement a child care center; to pool some of the resources around referral services.
So, yes, there is a lot of that that goes on, a lot of it being regional though.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Yeah, when it comes to, I guess, childcare reimbursement plans and things like that, I understand that small or very small companies may have trouble matching it or anything like that, but does it really take a lot of resources to implement a reimbursement plan, a pre-tax reimbursement plan?
MS. GAMLEN: To do the pre-tax reimbursement plan or some of the set-asides that an employee can actually put money aside, that doesn't often take a lot of time and resources. I think the problem becomes for the smaller companies that they have to be administered.
In a large company, you've got the resources that you can self-administer them. If you're looking at a company that has 100 employees and you've got two working parents not working for the same company, but if one of the parents is working for a larger company, they're going to be more apt to take advantage of it through that organization than through the smaller organization.
So they've got to pretty much do a cost analysis that says is it to our advantage. First of all, how many people are going to take advantage of it? And then can we commit the resources to it?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Do you know or have you come across any companies that have shift work and are also figuring out how to provide childcare for the different shifts, things like that?
MS. GAMLEN: Usually -- I'm trying to think if there's any of my clients that are dealing with that. In recent years, no. That can provide some challenges if you need evening childcare situations. Again, I think larger companies have tried to move toward perhaps doing on-site childcare centers or looking at resources.
I've read about that over the years, again, trying to find some of the similar resources where there are centers in their community that can offer that kind of assistance to cover some of the shift type of work.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: All right. Thank you very much.
CHAIR EARP: Ms. Gamlen, a quick question and a comment. The comment is, first, to thank you for being here and your testimony, and thank SHRM for the work it does. And to just comment that I really hope in the work that SHRM is doing it will pay some attention to the smaller and mid-size companies because, frankly, the most rapid growth for job creation, as well as the most rapid growth in our own charge receipts don't come from the large multi-nationals, but it comes from the small and mid-sized companies where, as you've already noted, they don't have sufficient staff to perhaps do training or administer diversity programs of any sort.
So I want to encourage you and would look forward to working with SHRM in anyway on that aspect.
And my question goes to something that Commissioner Ishimaru raised. It's about the tension that programs similar to family-friendly policies can generate, and I just want to ask you about the Mommy Wars or at least the illusion, the theory. I've not encountered these wars because I've been both a working mom and a stay-at-home full-time mom, but the idea that a supervisor on the ground who may be female or maybe not, who doesn't get the information, how do you train that person not necessarily from a legal standpoint, but just as a manager dealing with a workplace problem that says diversity supports you, Ms. Supervisor, in respecting and recognizing the individual differences and needs the employees have, but EEO says you treat your workers just the same?
So if you have a class of workers that both need these policies and a group of workers who do not, what do you tell that front line supervisor?
MS. GAMLEN: I think when we talk about a lot of the family friendly benefits, you know -- and we've been focusing a lot on what can aid the parent in the workplace. I think what companies and what we all have to keep in mind is that at any point in our life any of us can be caregivers even if we don't have children. We can be assuming elder care responsibilities both for our parents and for older relatives as well.
So I think it's important to let people know that these benefits are there really to support all of our employees because their own personal situations can change over time.
A lot of the other benefits that we talk about, you know, yes, there's childcare; yes, there's all of that additional time off, but then there's a lot that we can do to support our employees through things like concierge services because everybody’s got some level of a personal life. Everybody’s got some family life, and family takes on a lot of different definitions.
And the more that we can help to ease some of the pressures in our employees' lives, I think we can start to attack some of these perceived factions of the stay-at-home moms versus the working moms, and help to give everybody just a little bit more sanity in their working lives and in their personal lives together.
CHAIR EARP: You raise a good point about labeling or you implied the point, if we're calling it parental assistance in some way, that's a misnomer and maybe at the risk of not creating the illusion of a benefit that's reserved for a particular class, we should be careful what we call it.
MS. GAMLEN: Yeah.
CHAIR EARP: Are there other questions or comments for Ms. Gamlen?
CHAIR EARP: No. Thank you, Ms. Gamlen.
MS. GAMLEN: Thank you very much.
CHAIR EARP: We appreciate it.
CHAIR EARP: I'd like to welcome the third panel to come forward and ask Commissioner Ishimaru to please introduce the experts.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair.
On this third panel we'll first hear from Donna Klein, President of Corporate Voices for Working Families. Corporate Voices for Working Families is a nonprofit coalition of leading corporations committed to building bipartisan public and private sector support for federal and state public policies that strengthen working families.
Next we'll hear from Lisa Dodson, a Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Professor Dodson's research, teaching and publications have examined the work and family strategies of lower income families.
Our final speaker on this panel will be Carol Joyner. Ms. Joyner is a National Advisory Board member of the Labor Project for Working Families, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for union members, policy makers, and community-based organizations on advocating for family-friendly workplaces.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you, Commissioner.
MS. KLEIN: Good morning, Madam Chair and Madam Vice Chair, Commissioners Ishimaru and Griffin. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in today's meeting.
My name is Donna Klein. I am President and Founder of Corporate Voices for Working Families.
Prior to heading this organization, I spent 23 years at Marriott International as a Vice President of WorkForce Effectiveness and had global responsibility for work-life balance and associated strategies, policies, and programs, obviously with a great focus on lower wage populations since Marriott International has 85 percent of its population in the hourly work force ranks.
I have submitted written testimony. So I'm going to use my time this morning to underscore just a few important points, four points to be exact.
The Corporate Voices for Working Families Coalition is 55 best practice companies employing over a trillion dollars, driving over a trillion dollars in revenue with over 400 billion employees nationally. All of these companies have implemented responsible and socially conscious internal policies and procedures to support their ever changing workforce.
I think all will continue to do that work and will continue to provide those supports, everything from childcare to resource and referral, to support for workers who have elder caregiving responsibilities. I think they will continue to do that. I think they will not expand their investment in those programs.
A large majority of our partner companies are leaders in workplace flexibility as well, both about where, when and also how work gets done.
Those who employ -- and we have 15-some companies who employ lower wage workforce -- are actively trying to support their lower wage hourly workers as well as their professional management staff, but it is much, much harder to do.
Most companies' policies and programs assume an ability to pay for services. They assume there is some disposable income. When disposable income is lacking, the ability to access policies is severely limited.
Flexibility, on the other hand, is rarely available. Childcare, financial assistance for childcare payments is rarely available.
At Corporate Voices we have issued multiple publications. One most recently profiled a document at those companies who have been successful in model practices and programs for lower hourly wage workers. That publication, if you do not have it, is available on line at cvworkingfamilies.org. It profiles programs that Marriott has done for lower wage workers, Bank of America, HEB Grocery in Texas, 60,000 employee grocery chain, CVS Pharmacy, J.P. Morgan, Chase, et cetera.
The results do indicate a positive business, bottom line impact measured in retention rates, ease of recruitment, increased engagement and loyalty on the part of low wage workers, and real productivity gains.
Number three, we are currently engaged in some original research on lower wage flexibility. Again, it is rarely available, a lot of it due to Fair Labor Standards Act implications, et cetera.
This piece of research that we are currently engaged in covers six lower wage employers, major lower wage employers, with a work force that makes under $12 an hour and under. So we'll be very anxious to share with you the results of that research when it's completed, which should be later this year.
But the preliminary data collection on lower wage workers indicates that the return on investment for implementing low wage flexibility has twice the impact in engagement scores as it does for professional and management employees, twice the impact.
We are assuming that a lot of that has to do with they have so fewer benefits they're much more grateful. So therefore, they're more engaged.
Also stress and burnout scores in the lower wage work force are also significantly lowered when they do have some access to flexibility, and that has implications not only for retention, but also medical costs.
Number four, corporate voices for working family companies are pleased to share our experience with both the public and private sector, with all employers in order that the workplace in general becomes more family friendly. Currently, really only large consumer brand companies are involved in this issue and have been involved in this issue for the last 20 years. But there is a lot that needs to be done with public policy at both the state and federal level to make family-friendly workplaces sustainable; to make it worthwhile for companies to implement policies and procedures; and only when we make it scalable from large companies to medium and smaller size companies will we really have an America where working families can meet both their employment needs and still be responsible family members.
We are very pleased that the EEOC is initiating action in this arena, and we pledge any support we can provide or our 55 partner companies can provide to educate employers in all sectors of the economy.
Thank you so much for your attention.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
MS. DODSON: I also want to thank the Commission for inviting me here to share some of my research. My name is Lisa Dodson. I'm a research professor at Boston College, and the kind of research that I do is in depth, face-to-face, spending a lot of time with people, talking with people.
Over the last eight years I've interviewed hundreds of low wage parents, as well as employers and teachers and people who work directly with low income parents, people who are working in the bottom third, and I draw from those interviews for my comments.
The outstanding issue that emerges talking to parents, but also to other people as well is that too many of our parents don't have access to earnings that allow them to actually buy stable, reliable childcare so that they can work in the labor market in a routine and consistent way, and this disproportionately affects mothers certainly because as low wage parents will tell you, but also their employers will tell you that stable care for families is foundational for good job performance. It is essential for good job performance and, thus, for the ability to excel in advance through work.
The mothers who I've interviewed speak of a diverse array of childcare kinds of options because they cannot purchase them. In my written testimony, you have one account of a woman named Norma. She relies on the availability and also the goodwill of five different adults every single week for her children after school because she simply can't buy any other kind of care.
And I want to emphasize that Norma's situation is by no means extreme. Norma says that there's a thousand ways that her house of cards can fall down, and when it does, she is held culpable. She's held culpable, and also another element that affects disproportionately low income mothers is that she also can find herself in conflict with child protection statutes because of the way her informal arrangements, which only more destabilizes families.
I think that Norma is systematically thwarted in her efforts to advance and lift her children with her as she climbs. I think that that's true because her caregiving arrangements make her an undesirable employee. She's undesirable as a worker not because of personal irresponsibility or because of a lack of work ethic, but because she is engaged foremost as a mother.
My years of research have really taught me that the Normas of the world are the ones who are most likely to experience discrimination in the labor market because when their house of cards comes down, they act on the value that their children come first, and that means their job has to come second.
I have begun to see this situation as one of facing a kind of triple jeopardy. These are mothers that may be punished as individuals by specific workplace sanctions because they can't perform as though they have the reliable market-based childcare that many of us have relied upon in our own lives.
In one study that we did out of 120 jobs, 50 percent of them ended up being interrupted or being punished; workers were punished, lost pay, lost jobs altogether because of family caregiving issues.
So they individually face that, but additionally, they also may be treated as an undesirable class of workers altogether because employers know that they have very frail arrangements.
I interviewed several directors of nursing homes who told me that they preferred to hire nurse's aides from other states or from other countries because even if their children have problems they're not going to get a call about it because the children are too far away. Being a reachable mother may, in fact, be a source of discrimination at this point.
And then the final issue, I've already mentioned the third potential jeopardy is that if you do come up with this kind of array of childcare arrangements, informal, sometimes not terribly sound, then you can be in trouble with Child Protective Services as well.
I'm going to turn now to the best kinds of ideas and approaches that I've come upon, but I do want to sum up that above all we must level the work opportunity playing field for all parents and for all mothers in order for them to use work as a way to climb.
So here's some of the practices that I've come upon, and let me just say that all of these I come to from the bottom up. These are ones that I've come upon in going out and doing work, and many of them are not actually part of any formal policy within a workplace.
One of these is a practice that is self-scheduling. It was kind of bottom up flexibility approach in a very large and I want to emphasize unionized health facility in New York City. On particular shifts low income parents were invited to come together. They were all mothers, and meet monthly and come up with their own schedules with two imperatives. One was that they took good care of the people in the facilities, and the other was that their other priority that they brought was that they were able to also take care of their families. So they came together and they worked that.
But at that point management stepped away, stepped down and stopped the top down kinds of directions on flexibility. One size does not fit all in workplace flexibility. People have very different kinds of conditions.
Another practice that I've come upon, and as I say, I go out and spend a lot of time, and so I kind of stumble on some of these, is a large community-based organization in Boston. Scores of employees’ children have begun to come to the center after school to hang out in the area because they had no place to go. And rather than punish parents for this, what one manager did was he began to invite college students to come and volunteer to spend time and to help children with their homework.
So he tried to use that place. Now, absenteeism went down. Interruptions at the end of the day went down, but he pointed out that this is not sanctioned by the upper level management, and that at any point, as he put it, he's working below the radar and things could fall apart any time.
So this is one of these indigenous, kind of ground up strategies. Another one was an employer --she's the manager of a casual style restaurant chain -- I can never give names -- in New England, and she decided to entirely jettison the company rules about scheduling in her restaurant. She simply got rid of them, and the staff of 14 come and go throughout the day, overlapping different shifts.
She keeps two lists of schedules. One is the one she hands into upper management, and one is the one of what people are really working. You know what? But they're feeding the people, and they're also having to go home less often because they're taking care of their children.
And then I have others, but I'll give this as my final one today. A senior supervisor at a large nonprofit allows employees to leave work parts of the days to go visit schools, and he does it without losing pay, but once again, this one is not one that he is publicly making aware.
I just want to pull out just a couple of elements of these. Also I have parent practices as well, but these are generally ones that are really under the table, and I wanted to emphasize these that were more collaborations.
Here are a couple of elements that I think are important from these. The first is that an outstanding feature is that these are employers who chose to behave as though the care and safety of workers’ families and children is something worth investing in. That was a leadership they decided to take, which I think is a very important issue here.
In another case, too, I want to say that the fact that the most outstanding example I've given you was a situation in which there was organized labor involved, and they were at the table, and they were part of the process, and that these strengthened the workplaces in the cases where this happened.
I think another issue that for me is a particular conundrum is that in order to learn about these, you really have to dig deep and go out and talk to people because, in fact, many of them are hidden because they bend or break the rules.
And there is a tendency to overlook the real conditions and the real problems of low wage families. They're not the same as those who have income and who can actually go out in the market and make trades and make decisions. They're never easy. They're always hard. These are parents who are primarily mothers who are unable to do that at all.
Thank you very much.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
MS. JOYNER: Thank you, Madam Chair, Madam Vice Chair, Commissioners. I am very pleased to be here today and honored to be able to represent the Labor Project for Working Families as the EEOC begins to really dig into this issue of working family and create guidance that actually offers some protections, increases protections.
Every day working people are forced to choose between their jobs and their families. Take the bus driver who has to get his kids to childcare by 5:00 a.m. because his shift starts at 5:30; the home health aide who makes just above minimum wage and can't afford full-time work because she can't afford the childcare that she needs to get full-time work. And then there's also the secretary who can't afford to take unpaid family leave to care for her seriously ill parent. It's offered to her, but she can't afford to take it.
Current workplace practices and public policies make it extremely difficult for working people who need time and resources to care for their families. New work-family policies, policies like child and elder care benefits and subsidies, flexible work schedules, family leave, leave to care for sick children and the like, would make a world of difference for American families. Achieving these new policies, however, requires organized constituencies across the nation advocating for change and a great deal of public will.
Unions are committed partners in the push for such change. In both individual workplaces and the public policy arena, unions represent a large constituency of working families. In fact, the nation's nearly 14 million unionized workers represent more working families than any other organization in the United States. They are, therefore, an important voice in the movement to bring America's family agenda in line with those of most other industrialized nations.
We have a long way to go to build the infrastructure that ultimately will improve and expand the childcare system, address the growing issues of elder care, and win paid family leave and flexible work schedules for all Americans.
Problems faced by working families today are huge. Working families today are facing several major problems: a lack of quality, affordable childcare services; the absence of workplace policies supportive of parenting and caregiving; no paid family leave, making this important policy unavailable to many who need it; and inflexible work schedules that often fail to balance the needs of industries with those dictated by family life.
Since the early days of the U.S. labor movement, family and children's issues have been union issues. A very basic part of that struggle has been fair wages, and I agree with Lisa and the other people who suggested that fair wages are critical to work and family issues. The parent needs to be able to provide for their families first in order to take care of the secondary issues of childcare.
The labor movement has to fight for progressive social policies and also provide direct help and assistance for working people. Labor has generally used three main strategies in the struggle for better conditions for working families. They've used collective bargaining, legislation and organizing.
Bargaining successes related to the direct provision of childcare and elder care include contracts providing for child and elder care funds, on site and near site childcare centers, extended hour childcare, sick and emergency care.
Unions also have had success in bargaining for generous family leave and alternative work schedule policies. Some examples of union advances on family leave policies include contracts providing for paid maternity and paternity in adoption leave, contracts allowing members to use their sick time to care for sick children, and short term leave giving members flexibility to accompany children to appointments or attend school events.
Alternative work schedules won in union contracts often include flextime, compressed work week schedules, telecommuting, part-time return to work schedules, and assistance for new parents after the birth or adoption of a child.
Today, due to the current economic growth and its impact on the workplace, limiting mandatory overtime has become a main focus of bargaining for many big unions. The Communication Workers of America successfully negotiated weekly overtime limits of seven and a half and eight hours depending on the job classification in a recent settlement with Verizon Communications. Any voluntary overtime counts toward that limit.
The United Auto Workers and the California Nurses Association have also won similar contract provisions limiting overtime. Unions use collective bargaining to address a number of the needs for working families as I mentioned earlier. Such needs include childcare, flextime, alternative work schedules, and paid family leave allowing working people to take time off after birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child or even to care for a sick relative.
No systemic study has yet been done which documents the number of union contracts with work-family provisions or the types of provisions covered in such contracts.
The most comprehensive study done to date shows that as of 1998, at least 1.6 million workers were covered by some type of childcare benefit through their union contracts. An earlier, less comprehensive study found over 860,000 workers receiving some kind of childcare benefit. Both studies define childcare provisions in a somewhat narrow sense though. They do not, for example, count parental leave as a childcare provision. Both studies also draw from a portion of union contracts in the United States. Hence, they under count in most cases both the number of contracts with such provisions and the numbers of workers receiving childcare benefits through those contracts.
In terms of studies, I also just want to add that what we have failed to do, I think, corporations as well as the unions who’ve been engaged in the work-family struggles, have been to really document and publicize the return on investment, and that's an argument that's often made in collective bargaining, but I also know that corporations have struggled over the years to really well document the return on investment that these sort of benefits provide for the industry, as well as the employers.
A good source of data on union won family-friendly provisions in the best contracts database is in the Labor Project for Working Families' database, and you can get that online for your information, and it's laborproject.org.
But the Labor Project has been very integral to the movement of this issue inside the labor movement, and they list the various contract language. They also have three important documents. One is a flexpack that talks about flextime that nonprofits have used as well as unions to really understand how flextime can be used inside the workplace, the different types of flextime and how you can develop communications with employees inside of a nonprofit or a union in order to gain flextime benefits.
In addition to that, they have a guide called a Day in a Life, and they also have a curriculum called Making it Work Better, which talks about how you can work inside of organizations in order to improve the work-family benefits and services that those industries or unions offer.
Inside the Best Contracts though currently includes contract language for over 300 bargaining agreements. The following case is drawn from this best practice contracts - was submitted as part of this testimony, and it also can be found on line in the Labor Projects Website.
In terms of childcare, there are many examples of childcare issues, and in the interest of time I'm going to zip right through them. There's the 1199 employer childcare fund and many other unions who’ve provided childcare services. There's also a great deal of work that's been done on flexibility and flexsecurity, which provides both flexibility and job security combined, and in the interest of my time -- I do see my red light -- there's also a great deal of discussion on the different types of leave that have been negotiated over time.
What I would just want to finish saying is that in America with all of our wealth and pronouncements of family values, we trail behind our international colleagues, and the outstanding achievements of joint employer and union initiatives lead the struggle to reshape the workplace and to show that work-family issues are critical not just for union members, but for all American families.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you. Thank you to all of you.
Questions, comments from Commissioners?
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Thank you to all the speakers on this panel. It was really fascinating to hear. I think often the issues that you brought up are not talked about when we look at the articles in the paper. So we really appreciate it.
Based on all of your research and experience, what do you think is the most important message for companies that employ low and middle income workers in terms of what they should do to promote work-life balance? I'd like everyone to answer that.
Why don't we start with you, Ms. Klein?
MS. KLEIN: After several decades in this work, the field has really moved to a solution of choice which has taken us a couple decades to get to, and we feel very strongly it's about flexibility.
And so if there is one program, policy, operation change that many in the field would suggest corporations do, it is flexibility. We look at it as a work-life issue, not just a work-family issue. Everyone has the right to flexibility. The research that we have done indicates that there is a definite return on investment, as I said, preliminarily on the low wage side, but the indications are still it will be there once we have the documentation.
It is fairly cost neutral for a company to implement, but it is such a dramatic change in management practice and just such a dramatic change in the way even business schools teach business management that it requires a lot of education to do it, but if any issue has gotten attention over the last even probably a decade in this field, it has been flexibility.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Ms. Dodson.
MS. DODSON: Well, I never can answer that question as a cost neutral question because I do think that the outstanding variable for low income parents in order to make decisions is that they be paid a wage that allows them the kind of income to purchase caregiving services. So that is always my very first, and there's nothing neutral about that.
But I would say flexibility is also extremely important, and I think it's important when you talk about low income workers, is to understand what that means given their real circumstances. Because I think our design of flextime has come from precisely, as Donna I think has laid out so well; it’s come from the assumption that we are negotiating based on our own values, our families, our resources. We're negotiating a way to be flexible to spend more time with family.
And when you can't have that kind of negotiation, and I think that that's knowledge employers need to have about what are the real circumstances. So for me one of the really important issues is to raise these up and have them be part of what we describe.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Ms. Joyner.
MS. JOYNER: I agree with both of those. In addition to that, I would say that communication is really key, and that employers and employees need to come to the table and have an honest conversation about what the needs are in a particular workplace and begin to marry the needs of the industry with the family need. Oftentimes we look at the need of a particular industry, and that drives the work of a particular corporation or organization instead of looking at how the workers are being affected that are doing that work.
So I think it starts with a more collaborative relationship between the employer and the employee and having an open dialogue about what their needs are, both to meet the industry bottom lines and also provide care in the services that are required, but also meeting the family needs to sustain American society.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: All of you have spoken repeatedly about flexibility. As a working mother with two small children, that's probably, besides what we do here, my favorite part of this job. I mean, flexibility is key. It makes it all work or not work, but work better than it would most times.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: But I think a bit of the elephant in the room here, and it's not an issue that we deal with directly at the Commission, is the restrictions on hourly workers, as you mentioned, Ms. Klein, which is the Fair Labor Standards Act, and of course, there's state laws that are even more restrictive.
And I'm just wondering how do you get flexibility within those restrictions, and more particularly, Ms. Dodson, as you were talking about these programs from the ground up and I was picturing, you know, that neat place of business where they make their own schedules and pretend otherwise to management, I was wondering did they do that because of management views, management policies, or because of these laws. What have you found? And are there any answers within the current legal structures?
MS. DODSON: Well, you know, I'm not a legal scholar, and so I look at this more as a social scientist who’s going out and gathering information. What I would love is for all the public at large and certainly employers to see these examples of employers who took it upon themselves in some cases at some risk, took it upon themselves to do work differently, to do work in a way that included the recognition that these low wage employees have families and that it must be very complicated for them to meet those needs.
When I interview employers, they are extremely well versed in this, and some are very intolerant and have no interest whatsoever and totally bottom line, but there are many others who feel this is a real problem.
I've had employers say that they feel it's immoral to pay the wages that they pay, that they're raising children and they think that they would like these people to have the same access to safe care.
So I guess my answer, it's not a legal answer, but it's an answer that, again, is that they're people who are showing leadership and who are, in fact, looking at this outside of the box, and from that I think that we can learn a great deal, and I believe other employers and other people in general would find these to be moving and important examples that could be integrated into our conversations about this instead of always being marginalized.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Ms. Klein, do you have anything to add on what you can do within the current restrictions?
MS. KLEIN: It's very, very limited. You can do things within a two-week time frame, but other than that, you really can't do too much, and some employers -- I agree with Lisa -- have done things very under the table. Even very large employers do things very under the table.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Because we have a 40-hour work week, right?
MS. KLEIN: yes.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: We get into those types of laws. So I don't even see how --
MS. KLEIN: And so they patch their payroll systems in such a way that it looks like it's really okay for them to allow flexibility, and it really isn't. So this is a great risk for the employers.
Personally, I think that the Fair Labor Standards Act is very antiquated in terms of contemporary work life. I do know it comes up every year for revision. I know it has historically not been successful. I think it's going to take some collaborative conversation with labor and business to figure out how it can be modified so that labor has its needs satisfied, but also business has some flexibility.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: When I worked on the Hill, I worked on the comp time bill, and I understood the concerns. It's sort of geared towards the worst employers out there and to make sure that there's laws --
MS. KLEIN: Exactly.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: -- rules that they have to follow, and yet I see low wage workers coming up against that in the society, and it's just seeming like it's not working.
MS. KLEIN: Well, that workforce is what's the growing workforce in the country --
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Yes.
MS. KLEIN: -- is the low wage work force. So it's a problem that's not going to go away.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Okay. Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair.
As I'm sitting here listening to this, it strikes me that this is probably the first time at least in my recent memory that a government body is looking at these issues, and it's certainly the first time that we're looking certainly at middle and low wage worker issues, and I think that's important.
And some of the reading that I've done, reading David Shipler's book on the working poor and Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickeled and Dimed, you really get this sense that people, especially in low wage jobs, are, struggling isn't even the word for it. It's sort of beyond the pale of how you get by every day. And I remember a year ago or so there were some leaked documents that came out from Wal-Mart, and this is not to bash Wal-Mart, but to talk about how at least in their business model, these low wage workers, these entry level workers are sort of fungible, and there's no real need to keep them in the workplace because you can always get more. You can always find someone else; unlike in other parts of the work place where employers tell us and tell me when I go visit them, they say, "We want to keep our workers. You know, we value them. It costs us money to keep them, you know, to train them. We want to keep them for as long as we can.”
So I guess for low wage workers, and if you're dealing with an employer who has the model that low wage workers are fungible and you can always find more, what sort of incentive is there for that sort of employer to provide the types of policies we've talked about, and how do you do it absent this bargaining arrangement where, in fact, the unions were able to bargain to get some of these protections, some of these benefits for workers? For many of these workers, especially at the low end of the spectrum, there is no leverage because people can be replaced willy-nilly and are.
But I throw that out.
MS. KLEIN: Yes, a very good question. Decades ago, even one decade ago the majority of employers looked at low wage workers as being invisible and disposable. Demographics changed that, and as I think the demographics of the national work force changed, they were put into a position to look at that differently. They began to be more sophisticated in terms of and began to actually measure -- these, again, are best practice companies -- actually began to measure the cost of turnover for low wage jobs, and they became educated, if you will, and decided that it was not worth their while from a business perspective to continue turning over the work force.
If you look at the hotel industry particularly, the turnover rate for hourly employees is about 100 percent. Many employers manage to that percentage. At Marriott ours was like 20 percent, and we continue to try to drive it down, but it really takes very, very concentrated effort to do that.
I think with the advancement of a lot of the human capital measurements the science of human resources, if you will, we've been able to better document the actual cost of turnover at the hourly ranks, and I think employers are becoming much more sophisticated now and recognizing that they do have to manage turnover, and there is a cost to regarding those employees as disposable.
Immigration is increasing that. Employers invest in work specific english. They invest in these employees, and they want a return on that investment and expect one.
But there are many, many employers still who are not at that place, and it's really driven by demographics. If an employer is not able to fill a lower wage job at the turn of a hat or instantly as they were at one point in time, then they're not going to be in business long unless they begin to look at exactly what's going on in the workplace and the marketplace because it's a market. It's a supply and demand issue.
So as we continue, I think, as employers to look for the best and the brightest, not only in professional management employees, but also in hourly employees, employees that are trainable, that can be advanced, et cetera, I think it's becoming much more prudent for employers to really move from that position. That in no way says they have or the majority have, but I think there's a trend in the right direction.
MS. JOYNER: Barring collective bargaining, as you suggested, I think that there needs to be a real focus on the Fair Labor Standards and incentivizing companies to recognize the value of their employees at the low wage workers, the ones who seem to be disposable.
And some of the incentives might be, in the form -- I know a few years ago there's – and they still probably exists -- a tax credit for employers who provide work-family child care centers and things like that, and so those are the types of incentives I think the federal government could provide. If they increased that, look at those as models for encouraging companies to provide services in support, particularly to low wage earners and then to do some education also around projects that don't cost as much, such as flextime or having employees to participate in scheduling of some sort so that it doesn't hurt their bottom line, but it also gives the employees some recognition that they have some family giving responsibilities.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: But this is fairly new in the bargaining context, I assume; that putting work-life issues on the bargaining table are new.
What sort of responses --
MS. JOYNER: Within the last 28 years.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: right, right, but what sort of responses have you found, have the unions found when they've brought this up during the negotiation sessions?
MS. JOYNER: The responses from unions?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: No, from employers.
MS. JOYNER: Employers? Well, I can talk about personal experience, which is I was the founder of the 1199 employer childcare fund and came on board shortly after it was negotiated to build the fund, and the response was split actually. There were a group of Catholic, the Archdiocese, hospitals and nursing homes in New York, and there was also the nonprofit that were not Catholic hospitals in New York. And the Archdiocese came out and supported this childcare fund demand immediately because they also heard from their congregants that childcare is a major problem in this city. We can't afford it. We can't both work and, you know, take care of our children. We need more money in order to do that, but we also need assistance.
And so the Archdiocese was the first group in New York to sign onto the 1199 employer childcare fund, and as a result the other employers came in in the next contract because they saw it as a program that not only benefited the union and the members and their families, but also it benefited the industry and it helped people to be a little less stressed from work and all the other things.
So I mean, that's just my one example. I do know that there has been resistance clearly. It's always resistance at the bargaining table, but I also have seen employers come together around this issue, and while maybe they can't provide services or collective bargaining and agree to the collective bargaining demand, they can develop a work group and try to address what the real issues are in another way.
So while it looks like, you know, it's the traditional labor-management tension, oftentimes it creates a space because people can relate to the issue from either side of the table.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I would also assume that for people who wouldn't use the benefit, there's also that tension, but also a space as well.
MS. JOYNER: Other union members who wouldn't necessarily -- bringing up the issue about the Mommy Wars again?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Right.
MS. JOYNER: Well, I mean, my short story on that is that when 1199 put out its contract survey to determine what they should fight for in 1989, they listed childcare. Well, there was a big struggle inside the union to get it on that list, but they listed childcare, and 85 percent of the workers in the union said that they thought it was important for the union to fight for childcare as a collective bargaining demand, and only 40 percent of the members had children.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: I see. So there was that differential there.
MS. JOYNER: Sure.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: That created space.
I wish we had more time, but thank you and thank you, Madam Chair.
CHAIR EARP: Christine.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Ms. Klein, you talked about measuring the cost of turnover and work that was done in that area. Is there any other research that's been done in making out the business case for having family-friendly policies that you can point us towards?
MS. KLEIN: Oh, there is just so much research you wouldn't believe it. We have been at this for, as I said, over 20 years, and everything from the Conference Board to Families Work Institute to Boston College to the major universities have done research, and most of the companies, interestingly, are much more interested in their own company-based research than they are in academic research.
The companies also have measured this and quantified the benefits in very, very many ways. That is the work Corporate Voices does, our business impact, the flexibility report documented, the internal proprietary research that 29 companies did that supports flexibility, for instance.
We will do the same with the low wage flexibility now. Companies by and large hold their research as being proprietary, but they only share it with other companies, and it's really what the purpose of Corporate Voices is. But there is a load -- I'm sure Lisa can tell you -- about documentation in this field.
And the business case is there, but it is, many would say, a soft business case.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I couldn't find it.
MS. KLEIN: Yes, well, soft in terms of there are hard measurements. There are hard measurements about increases in retention, increases in productivity, increases in engagement, et cetera. But it's very hard to control for exactly what is causing those increases.
So if a true pure research methodology would hold other things obviously equal and only vary the work-life benefit and companies don't do that kind of research and aren't going to invest in doing that. That's a very academic model. So what they end up doing is they go with kind of an 80 percent gut feel and 80 percent solution. If it looks like what they're doing is adding positively to the business bottom line and they're 80 percent sure -- it's called the 80 percent rule -- that, indeed, it is, they will make their decisions in that direction because that's all the time they have to devote to that decision making.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: So they implement something and productivity goes up, and they say, "Okay. That's" --
MS. KLEIN: Well, you can't really isolate why productivity goes up.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: So they say this is a factor.
MS. KLEIN: So they say it's a factor and they've accepted it as such, and so that's why they trend in that direction.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Does anyone know is there any really good academic research on this that really does have hard measurements?
MS. DODSON: Well, I always do it upside down from that. I look at what workers say, what low income parents say makes a job worth holding onto --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Yeah, but employers don't always buy that.
MS. DODSON: And there is evidence obviously that when you're able to work with and provide caregiving and you have that kind of support from an employer, but they don't bottom line that.
MS. KLEIN: There is something, if I can just add something.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Go ahead.
MS. KLEIN: There is something that's interesting about this discussion in terms of return on investment, and I think Carol mentioned something about tax incentives, which I think are really a space that we really haven't moved into. We really need to figure out how to incent corporations to do more, to invest more, and there have to be either tax tradeoffs or something for that to happen.
But years ago we did a piece of research. Actually Conference Board did it, about the impact of tax incentives given to employers to create on site childcare, and it absolutely had no impact. They were not motivated to create on site childcare because of the tax benefits, even if it was a dollar for dollar tax incentive.
So it's important research to really look at.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Lisa, let me ask you. Have you done any research specifically with parents of kids with disabilities? Because you know, my experience tells me that even if you have money, you can't buy access to day care and you can't buy access to after school programs, and frankly, you're lucky if you can get the services that you need at school for your child.
So I would imagine as an employee, a parent who is an employee and also as a kid with a disability, they're actually experiencing something even more difficult. Have you done anything?
MS. DODSON: Absolutely. I mean I haven't specifically singled out that sample, but of the low income parents who I have interviewed, there's a disproportionate rate of certain kinds of both special learning needs and of different kinds of chronic conditions, attention deficit disorder, asthma, and so these as a whole, low income children have a disproportionate rate of a number of different conditions, which will interrupt work and will also make it a lot more difficult to find childcare.
You know, with low income parents it's so hard to find childcare anyway that very often what they're doing is they're not presenting their children with the complexities that they actually bring with them into the childcare, and they're just hoping to sort of do crisis management, knowing they’re going to get more phone calls, asthma being the big one, and be pulled out of work.
I want to say, too, that this is something mothers make a big point of not mentioning in the course of hiring or talking about themselves in the workplace. You know, saying you have children at all creates the sense that you are in jeopardy. Saying that you have a child that has complex health problems is obviously even more so.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Yeah, yeah. I know. I mean, there's still a struggle to get day care, childcare to administer any type of medication.
MS. DODSON: Exactly.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: And so a lot of times you do have to out yourself because your child is going to need something during the day. I know Department of Justice is still fighting this fight with large day care providers.
MS. DODSON: Yes, yes.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Let me ask, and this goes a little bit towards what you were talking about the tax incentive issue. Are there any current family-workplace balance legislative initiatives that labor organizations are pursuing nationally right now?
MS. JOYNER: On a national level? I know that there are a couple of states are pursuing paid family leave and hoping to generate enough energy to make it a national issue similar to the California model.
There's also I believe Washington State looking at some legislation around paid family leave, but also particularly time off for being able to use your vacation pay in order to use it for like school events, doctor appointments and sort of --
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: So take it in smaller increments versus -- yeah.
MS. JOYNER: Yeah. That's my response.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Okay. So there's really nothing.
MS. KLEIN: We are creating a piece of legislation as a collaboration of employers. Dependent care spending account used to be Section 129 of the tax code, was created 21 years ago, and it allowed for a cap of $5,000 per employee per year to be used for dependent care expenses tax free. Two issues with that. That was 21 years ago and childcare expenses have increased exorbitantly since that point in time.
And, number two, it was never utilized by lower wage workers because it only was available to you if you're licensed, registered childcare.
So we are working on a piece of legislation that somehow limits the regulation about only being applicable to licensed, registered childcare because a big percentage of the population, of course, uses family care, which many times is not licensed or registered, and we're trying to have that cap increased to $7,500 this year and $10,000 in 2008 and have it indexed to inflation.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Okay. Thank you all very much.
CHAIR EARP: Very, very compelling testimony from the three of you. Thank you very much for giving us this perspective.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
PARTICIPANTS: Thank you.
CHAIR EARP: I think we need to have a ten-minute break. We'll do that and come back in ten. (Whereupon, a short recess was taken.)
CHAIR EARP: [In progress] - of the day, and I will ask the Vice Chair to introduce them.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you final panelists.
First, we will be hearing from Dr. Anika Warren, who is the research director at Catalyst, Inc.
For those of you who don't know Catalyst, it's the leading nonprofit corporate membership research and advisory organization working globally with businesses and professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women and for business.
And then after Dr. Warren, we will hear from Horacio Rozanski, who is testifying on behalf of the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force. And I've had the pleasure of working with Mr. Rozanski and his colleagues on the Hidden Brain Task Force, which is part of the Center for Work Life Policy.
The task force focuses on how to create the conditions that allow employers to better - to create the conditions that allow employers to better retain and more fully tap into their productive energies of women and of people with color.
Mr. Rozanski in his day job is also the vice president and chief personnel officer of Booz Allen Hamilton.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Thank you, Dr. Warren.
DR. WARREN: Good morning, Madam Chair, Madam Vice Chair, and Commissioners.
On behalf of Catalyst I extend my sincere appreciation for the opportunity to speak with you about work-life experiences of women of color.
In this statement I will draw on Catalyst research, workforce statistics, and extant literature on work-life experiences of women of color to inform the business case for focusing on women of color, as well as to substantiate the need for organizational practices that promote the interests of diverse populations of employees.
I will also describe organizational practices that are recognized for enhancing work-life experiences, and advancing professional interests of women of color.
In response to emerging labor force trends over the past 40 years, work-family and work-life dynamics have received increasing attention in corporate America, academia, and the media, yet little attention has been given to the unique work-life experiences of diverse populations of employees such as women of color.
The term, women of color, reflects the unique and often complex experiences of oppression and privilege that some women encounter as a result of living in a society dominated and defined by those who are demographic opposites, white men in the U.S. for example.
Although the term, women of color, does not allow us to examine variations within each racial or ethnic group, and does not provide us with - it does provide us with a common language to discuss shared experiences among women in the U.S. of non-European descent.
For example as a result of the broader definition of family as defined by more collectivist cultures, more often descriptive of women of color, the family care-giver role is more broadly defined or described as a role where a girl or woman takes care of the emotional, familial, and financial needs of people who are biologically related, as well as those who are not biologically related, for example, non-blood kin, aunties and uncles that they’ve met through their family connections. This broader definition of family may have a profound impact on the work-life and work-family experiences of women of color.
Now I'd like to talk a bit about the business case as it relates to work force statistics. Although only a paucity of literature exists on the work-life experiences of women of color, the extant labor force data suggests that women of color, including those with children, have historically and consistently participated in the U.S. labor force at higher rates than their white female counterparts.
In support of labor force participation data, some scholars suggest that women of color have performed work and family roles simultaneously as a result of their historical experiences of gender, racial, ethnic, and/or economic oppression.
Other scholars further suggest that some women of color's ability to effectively manage their work-life conflict, or their work-family roles is a result of their ability to survive challenging situations with limited resources.
Historically, working women of color have been disproportionately represented in low wage support roles, and/or low level positions such as administrative assistants, sales workers, or service providers.
Today women of color are the fastest growing segment of the work force. They are earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at higher rates than many other populations, and increasingly gaining employment in management roles.
The data tell a compelling story. Yet it suggests that despite work force trends and educational trends with regards to women of color, they are not receiving adequate opportunities for advancement, and are still disproportionately represented in low wage roles. And that means they have fewer financial resources to provide for their family, and less flexibility as discussed by prior panelists.
But percentages alone do not permit one to understand the work-life complexities and diverse experience of this population. So I'd like to build a business case a bit with the research data that supports it.
The development of effective work-life practices and policies requires an understanding of how organizational, familial, and cultural complexities intersect. For example, low wage jobs often lack adequate health care benefits, vacation time, sick days, and the flexible work arrangements that often facilitate work-life effectiveness as indicated earlier.
As a result, work-life conflicts are potentially more severe for those in low wage roles. However data on work-life conflict among working women of color, of middle class or higher status, suggests that their economic advantage allows them to deal with fewer challenges than their peers.
For instance in a 2001 Catalyst study, we found that the only area in which women of color law graduates were more satisfied than their white female counterparts was work-life balance. In addition, a global comparative study looking at three regions of women and men, Latin regions, Anglo regions as well as Asian regions, found - and they examined work-family stressors, well-being, and work hours of these three culture regions. They found that participants from the Latin region reported working the most hours; having the most children; and experiencing the highest level of job satisfaction. Morever, being married, and having more children was positively related to the well-being for the participants from the Asian region.
Within the U.S. a study examining racial or ethnic bias found that participants experienced higher levels of work conflict when they were also dealing with stresses related to work racial and gender biases.
Accordingly, other barriers that were found in a variety of Catalyst studies focused on women of color, found that the following institutional barriers affect them at work: lack of influential mentors and sponsors, limited access to informal networks, particularly opportunities with influential colleagues, lack of role models of their own ethnic group specifically, too few high visibility assignments, and gender and race based discrimination that hinders their professional advancement.
Conversely, other researchers have found that women of color experience work-family conflicts related to stress which have direct impacts on their personal development and family responsibilities and family relationships.
Women in this study, particularly those in senior positions, reported that they were being treated differently by their supervisors when requesting leave for family reasons when compared to their white female counterparts.
In sum, women of color are more likely than their white female counterparts to participate in the U.S. labor force; encourage negative bias about many of their demographic groups; and experience institutional barriers.
They are also less likely to conform to U.S. mainstream patterns of motherhood, suggesting that stereotypes and barriers pose unique work-life challenges for this population.
I know one of the objectives today was to talk about organizational practices. As many of you are aware, there are very few that focus specifically on the unique dimensions that affect women of color's work-life experiences, but there are a few that I would like to highlight today that impact their opportunities to succeed professionally which we know from research is highly correlated with their ability to succeed at home.
The first , Pepsi Co. This initiative is called the Women of Color Multiculture Alliance. It serves as a strategic support and resource group focused on advancing - attracting, retaining and developing women into middle and senior management ranks.
The alliance has four primary priorities: enlisting support and awareness; building a sense of community; educating and developing an increasing representation; and improving retention.
Major activities include power pairs, a program that builds authentic relationships and advancement opportunities for women of color through facilitated dialogues with immediate and skip level managers. They also have a national leadership development conference for this particular initiative, and regional networks.
So two others that I wanted to highlight were Xerox and IBM, both because they’ve created targeted initiatives for specific populations. The Xerox initiative was established in 1986, and it's called Black Women's Leadership Council.
The mission of the Black Women's Leadership Council is to serve as a catalyst to the advancement of the professional opportunities of black women at Xerox by partnering with senior management. And another objective is to satisfy this population while also satisfying the bottom line which we all discussed earlier.
So in closing, because I’m going to be respectful of my red light, I wanted to talk briefly about J.P. Morgan's Micro Inequities, which is a phenomenal project, but I can speak to that later.
Thank you for the opportunity.
CHAIR EARP: Mr. Rozanski.
MR. ROZANSKI: Madam Chair, Madam Vice Chair, Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force.
On a personal level thank you for walking the talk by allowing me to submit my written testimony past the deadline, given that I was on paternity leave when -
- the deadline happened. I am somewhat less thankful for the placement in this morning's proceedings, given that I get to speak after all these fantastic remarks. And I’ve been rewriting as fast as I can, trying to address some points that maybe have not been covered.
A couple of words on the Human Brain Drain Task Force. It was founded in 2004 by Sylvia Ann Hewitt, Carolyn Buck Luce from Ernst & Young, and Cornell West from Princeton. And it’s composed of 35 global corporations who represent collectively 2-1/2 million employees in 152 countries.
What I think ties these companies together, and why we’re working together on these issues is that this is a group of companies that either gets it or is trying to get it. Now what do they get? They get the fact that we are losing talent left and right, and that as a society, as employers, we just cannot afford to do that.
We are losing scientists. We’re losing highly educated workers. We’re losing people who would be tremendously productive and very important to society, because we are in some ways, sometimes on purpose - and I think the Commission does a tremendous job making sure that doesn't happen - but most of the times these days just for lack of knowledge, not providing them with the opportunities to remain employed and remain satisfied, and have a career, not just a job.
The - we've done a lot of research, and I will not try and take you through it. But rather let me focus on some of the things that have come out of that research in terms of what are some of the key themes and practices that are at the leading edge of trying to turn this tide.
I'll say first that there is no silver bullet, and that is the bad news. There is no one way that we are going to find that actually keeps all these people who are leaving the workforce or slowing down in their careers, if we just did the one thing.
On the other hand the good news is, there's lots of bullets being fired in this war, and a lot of them are hitting the target, and some really interesting practices are emerging that are really going to change things.
Six things to focus on, maybe six key themes.
The first one has been talked a lot about this morning, and it is to establish a rich menu of flexible work arrangements, from flex-time to telecommuting, to providing all sorts of opportunities for people to have a schedule that fits their needs. That's been covered a fair amount. I'll just - an interesting factoid from my Booz Allen experience, we do periodic staff surveys. And the staff survey, the last one was two years ago. Ninety percent of the women responded that they wanted, at some point in their careers, look at part time as an option. That’s a very high number; it was impressive in and of itself. But perhaps most impressive, 70 percent of the men said the same thing.
So these issues that we’re talking about are not just issues for a small portion of the population. They are real issues that affect everybody in very meaningful ways.
So looking at flexible work arrangements is absolutely key.
The most interesting piece of research from the task force, which is now been turned into a book by Sylvia Ann Hewitt, is about on-ramping and off-ramping.
The notion that women and minorities in particular have much more nonlinear careers than people who are not in the same positions of having to care for others, or being primary caregivers.
The result of those nonlinear starts and stops is the career stops. People get frustrated; people just don't reach their full potential, either leave the work force altogether, or never contribute to the level that we as employers need them to contribute, that we as a country need them to contribute.
And perhaps the seminal thought coming out of that research is to start to think about flexibility, not just as a point in time, which a lot of the programs that are in place today address, but over the arc of one's career.
If you imagine one's life, as you start perhaps out of school, single, with not a care in the world, unlikely to get sick very often, and frankly, we find we get really good rates on health insurance for them. And then you move through your career to where perhaps you have children, and then the children when they are little have certain needs that are different from when they grow up. And then you get older, and so do your parents, and your parents get older with you, and they have needs that you need to provide for and so forth.
Requirements are going to change. Requirements are going to vary. And at any one point in time, a worker may look more or less appealing to an employer, depending on where they stand in their career.
But if you think about having that worker as an employee for life, somebody who is really going to continue to provide value to your company for a very long period of time, then you start to change your mindset about the kinds of programs that you want to offer, and the opportunity for people to come in and out of the career and of the job after needs change, and perhaps go part time for awhile, and then come back on. We created this thing called the Adjunct Program which has been getting some press lately where we essentially drew the analogy from the reserves, where we said, well, one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year keeps you connected to something you care deeply for, and you stand ready to serve when it matters. We tried to create the same spirit of service within Booz Allen for a population that perhaps didn't want to work full time, but perhaps was interested in coming in and out over time, and at some point might want to recommit or might not.
It's got value to the employees for sure. It's got great value for us, because all of a sudden, as a professional services firm, we have access to a flexible work force that has already been trained, that is very highly qualified, and can come in and out as they want to, as we need to. So this is a real win-win.
Third is the notion of reimagining work life. This is going to be a theme for a long time to come in my view. Two thoughts about that. One, Dr. Warren has already talked about, which is, the definition of family and the definition of extended family really changes depending on your demographics. And being knowledegable about that, and being able to address that specifically through programs is going to be absolutely key to keep women of colors in the work force, to keep a number of people in the work force that otherwise are simply going to have to opt out, or are going to want to opt out if they are given the choice.
The other thing about reimagining work life, and this is a personal view of mine, is that we have done a great disservice to this discussion by talking about work-life balance and using that phrase, because we’ve created a tradeoff that perhaps doesn't exist. It's not about work versus life. And the creation of this work -- because I think that oversimplifies the theme. The reality is that if your life is in order, you’re probably more productive at work. And so it's not that you need to leave work to take care of your life; it's treating all of that as a unit, and taking a whole look at the person, and trying to cater to the entire person's needs, and trying to create jobs that actually cater to the entire person's needs, that create satisfaction, that then will drive innovation, that then will drive ultimately engagement and in greater productivity.
Fourth, help women claim and sustain ambition. There are great examples out there about women’s networks and opportunities for women to talk to other women who are experiencing the same kinds of issues, the same circumstances, and try and work together to both push the employer to solve them, but also to provide peer support. There is a lot of loneliness on these journeys that can actually be avoided.
Fifth, the notion of harnessing altruism. The populations that tend to opt out tend to opt out because they are not just driven by one thing, be it career advancement, be it making money. They are driven by a lot of things. That can be captured in lots of meaningful ways that give back to the community and give back to the employer.
One of the most interesting things that's out there these days is with the movement or spare time off programs. A lot of companies have allowed for the opportunities for employees to donate some of their unused time off to others, as opposed to it being lost. That’s terrific on oh so many levels I really don't have time to cover given the time.
And the last one is the notion of reducing stigma and stereotypes. All of these programs are going to fail miserably, unless we make them part of the mainstream, and unless we make them work.
In closing, we are at a turning point, redefining work and the work model is absolutely critical, and I thank you for taking on this issue.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Thank you. I mean my time with the task force has just been fantastic. It's been like, whenever I attend the meetings, I just walk out listening to all the companies' work - I think I was there when one of your colleagues had the ah-ha moment when she came up with the idea on how to keep the people engaged. I feel like it's a mini-MBA for me in HR so.
We've talked a little today, and you just mentioned again, the stigma around alternative work arrangements. Great policies on paper, hard to enforce or employees' perceptions about them.
What do you think employers can do to address this problem?
And also I'd like to hear from you after, Dr. Warren?
MR. ROZANSKI: I think that the question lives at two levels.
One question is, a lot of people I think are putting these things on their books simply to look good, but really don't have the intention to enforce it. And I think those companies are going to fail on this quest miserably, and either are going to change their ways, or not. The companies that do get it, and that do want to make this work, I think have great opportunities to turn this around and make it be explicitly a good thing.
One of the things we've done, for example, is our appraisal process for managers now includes work-life management as a competency. And we actually test in the 360 process whether the manager knows how to provide adequate work-life arrangements for their staff.
And you can negate a promotion if it comes back that the manager doesn't care or doesn't know how to do it. That all of a sudden takes the stigma completely out of it, because I now as a manager, I have a direct incentive to take this on, and it's a great message from leadership. I think a lot of times the issue does not live at the top of the corporation, because the most senior people, many of them get it, and not only that, but they have a holistic long term view of the companies they’re trying to lead. It's when you get into the lower levels of management, where people have a quarterly quota, or a weekly something that they need to produce, that they let those needs kind of get ahead of vision. So those big messages from the top, the real incentives from the top I think are the key to changing the stigma.
DR. WARREN: I definitely agree. I think that’s right on target. I would add a few things. In addition to having a top down approach, I think work redesign is critical. Determining what are the business objectives, and how can we help redesign or restructure how we do work in a way that affects all employees as far as building work-life effectiveness. I think that's a key piece.
I think sometimes organizations tend to focus on an individual. They need to think of it as a team based or an organization or a structure-based change. So each individual may have unique circumstances, whether it's related to ability status, or their family status, or whatever that may be. However, there has to be some kind of role modeling, some championing, some training of managers so managers are capable of deciding how do we deal with this within this particular context. That means if there’s a larger organization they have to deal with the technological needs of being able to commute from home.
So I think it has to be a restructuring of how work organizations do business based upon their industry and their individual corporate needs. And I also think it has to be a collaborative approach that build win-win solutions for both the organization and the employee, so that the employee and its team is not negatively affected, but productivity continues to increase.
And research suggests that well-being at work and job satisfaction increase productivity, and we know that that also affects the bottom line. So I think those are some things that organizations can do, and also to see it as the only way to move forward as we globalize.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Dr. Warren, I'm curious about Catalyst 2001 Women in Law study, where you found that women of color law graduates were more satisfied than their white female counterparts with respect to work-life balance.
What do you think explains that differential?
DR. WARREN: I spoke about that briefly in both this testimony as well as in the statement that I provided.
I think one of the trends is when you look at women of color law graduates versus their white female counterparts; as those are women of color who have succeeded as far as educational attainment, traditional educational attainment. And as a response, whether that's their fourth generation college grad or first generation college graduate of their family, in response to being able to live with limited resources, being self reliant and being tenacious, they are then I think just historically able to deal with limited resources in the way that their white female counterparts haven't had to in the past because of just kind of discrimination experiences.
So if you put them in the same situation, the middle or upper class status, and you look at women's ability to manage situations at work, I think they are used to working with less. So I think that is one thing.
I would add to that, also, they have more financial resources, and maybe familial support, because of this notion of extended family care, and things of those natures that are culturally based.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: The Hidden Brain Task Force found that most women who off ramp do so because of child care or elder responsibilities. And they also found that they do so because maybe their jobs weren't as satisfying as they wanted them to be.
To what extent do you think these women would remain in the work force if employers offered more flexibility? Or does it have to be more than just a flexible job, it has to be a job that is worth going to at these levels?
MR. ROZANSKI: I think at these levels it's both. I think at this level it's about professional satisfaction, and the ability to fit that in a broader context.
The - there is a plethora now of new programs that are helping with child care, with elder care, and so forth, and many more coming, and I think that will help to some degree.
But I think that some of what comes out of these studies is, people are looking for a commitment from their employer to then establish a two-way commitment by themselves. And so I think we’re looking at the creation again of programs that are unlike the programs that we’ve had recently, which are too linear.
The programs that exist today look at flexibility within a week; you know, I can work on Monday but not on Tuesday. They don't look at, I can work this year but not next year. And that's really what we’re talking about, as people go through their life and life stages. And I think those kinds of changes, and those kinds of programs, I think, are going to be more meaningful.
But ultimately, given a choice, they are only going to come back to the work force if they think that over the long run they can achieve their personal and professional aspirations.
And so there has to be the component of being able to participate in those programs in a way that it does not detract from the long term potential.
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: I often think that sometimes whether or not someone stays in the work force depends on when they have children within their careers, and whether they’ve reached a level where they both have control and do enjoy what it is they are doing in the work force.
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: People actually have control, that’s good to know
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: Well, more control than say a first year associate at a law firm for example.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Dr. Warren, I've been to many of these meetings on caregiving, and one thing that strikes me quite often is the lack of information, the lack of data on people of color and women of color. So I thought your perspective was very helpful.
When you look though at the women of color generally, does it break down differently for the subgroups? Because I know when I've looked at minorities in law firms for example, I was out in San Francisco once, and we were looking at the question of minorities in law firms, and the aggregate minority rate in law firms was good. But when you peeled it back, most of the minorities happened to be Asian, and the African-American and the Hispanic law firm/lawyers were not there.
Is there - are there any differences here that you know of that you could share with us?
DR. WARREN: Yes, there are differences. I will share them, but I will start by saying there’s more within-group variation than there is between group, we know, right? Because there are complexities whether you’re Asian female or a Latino, then you may have a variation within your own population that far exceeds that of cross group. So I want to add that as a caveat.
I’ll speak also to some of the trends in Catalyst research before I talk about the general research. And Catalyst has a series of studies focused on each women of color group. There is less data available on Native Americans, one, because they are underreported, and two, because there is less Census data. So we have difficulty researching them just because of the small N and the small number that there are in the work place that we can actually analyze in an equitable sense.
But with regards to trends with women of color and work life, one thing we found is that for Asian women, there are kind of two general camps we like to cluster them in: those who are highly acculturated to U.S. mainstream society; and those who are less acculturated, because they’re first generation U.S., or they’re immigrants, or things of that nature.
And we see two different distinct things occurring here. With Asian females who are highly acculturated, they’re more likely to participate in work activities and experiences. They are less acculturated to their Asian values than those that are immigrants or things of that nature.
Another thing is, those who are considered less acculturated are also less likely to complain and/or differentiate themselves as a member of the Asian group.
So I think there are some trends there.
Another thing that we see is the stereotype of the passive Asian. And many people who have been to Asia, they would say that not all Asians and not all cultures are passive, and not all of them are quiet and shy. So there is this assumption about how they lead -
- how they lead, and what is an effective leader. So when we start defining what it means to be a leader in our society, we have to consider what are the stereotypes that create barriers around that, and how do we parent as an Asian person, whether that's because you have a house of two or a house of eight. So I think that’s one thing within that community.
With regard to Latina/Latino communities, I think one of the challenges is the stereotypes that they have there; sometimes also associated with African-American and blackness, and that is, being lazy or too directive or too aggressive or too assertive.
And also with regards to Latin communities, one thing we find in the research is, they are more likely to have the struggle of the family constellation of having traditional family norms within their cultures, so distinctly different from that of the mainstream U.S. culture as a particular challenge for them.
Another is the variation between the Latinas versus the Latinos, and how those roles might differentiate. With both the Asian populations, as well as the Latina/Latino populations, we’re dealing also with multiple languages.
And also we forget sometimes that our black female counterparts and black male counterparts also come from multiple bilingual backgrounds, whether that’s their Caribbean descent or African descent.
And with regards to that population in particular, the stigmas and stereotypes are particularly challenging for Blacks and African-Americans because of their history in the U.S., and it's quite different and distinct from the others, both the reasons for coming and the origin of the work that they do.
Also, we know that black females, for example, tend to participate in the labor force higher than any other population, whether they have children or do not have children; tend to work longer hours; and suffer from disabilities and ailments that other populations do not on the same level, whether that is hypertension, diabetes, and other health care benefits and things that they may need that other populations may not need at the same level.
And that really draws into this whole notion of disabilities, and how do we create equitable opportunities.
I think - I'm not going to answer your question much longer, because I think I've given you quite a bit.
But I would also share one other piece, and that is, the stereotypes and barriers associated with the negative aspects of these populations rather than the positive resourceful aspects of these populations, whether it's their self reliance or their tenacity. And I think that because the stereotypes are so assumed, and people aren't usually conscious of them, we often treat people in ways that aren't effective in helping them advance, and seeing that they do have unique and distinct ways of advancing business and their families simultaneously.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: That was very helpful in a short period of time.
Mr. Rozanski, it's my understanding from talking to the Vice Chair that Hidden Brain Drain talked about race as well, about people on ramping and off ramping based on race.
And I just wanted to lay that out for the record, because I think that’s another fascinating piece that we won't get into today.
I am interested in the impact of leaving the work force, on ramping and off ramping for women, over the long haul, and what it means for retirement savings, and for the big picture once people leave the work force.
People are out of the work force. They won't be able to add to their retirement savings, the way many of these pension plans are set up nowadays. They’ll have less in Social Security. They live - women live longer. They - the effect on divorce is more detrimental to women as I understand it from the research.
What happens to women over the long term of on ramping and off ramping, and are there best practices that companies have to try to deal with this issue?
MR. ROZANSKI: The issue, to be candid, is so new that I'm not sure we fully understand it, because most of the people that we’re dealing with, this is the first and second generations in the work force at these levels. And so we’re not sure what’s going to happen 15, 20 years from now.
But having said that, we are seeing a greater reentry of women into the work force at older - there are some fascinating researches just coming out about the number of women, for example, in New York city that are living alone that are past 60 years old that is actually greater than 50 percent of the women that are 60 in New York.
And so a lot of those people are coming into they workforce. Because employers are not set up to give them opportunities at work, the unfortunate thing is most of them are starting their own businesses.
And the only reason I say unfortunate is because, as you said, they don't have huge capital to draw on, and they’re starting business ventures, and most small businesses don't succeed.
And so it's a little bit of a double whammy. They take whatever they have left, they invest it into a new business, and they really end up in a very bad spot.
So I think this is going to have to be an issue that gets addressed over time with a lot more focus than it has been addressed today.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Madame Chair, could I ask one more on-ramp, off-ramp question?
I understand the off ramps; people take time off. What always concerns me is whether the on ramps are open to people who haven't been in the organization. And has the Hidden Brain Drain addressed that issue?
It's clear to me that it makes sense to cultivate people who have once worked for you, to encourage them to come back, and you talked about that.
But from reading the literature, it appears that quite often the on ramp to get back on for many highly accomplished women, that on ramp isn't available. It's like road closed.
What has the Brain Drain talked about -
MR. ROZANSKI: There are some interesting practices out there that are starting to emerge on that very subject, and that is a very keen observation.
For example, Lehman Brothers has a program called Encore. And what it is, is they take people who have had prior investment banking and trading experience, largely women who have been out of the workforce for three to five years
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: ..but not necessarily for..
MR. ROZANSKI: - they get resumes from people at Lehman. And a lot of it is based on the major financial service centers. And so there’s a lot of knowledge, and these resumes pour in, people get invited. And what happens is, essentially what Encore offers them is both the opportunity to get caught up and brought up to speed on the latest regulations, the latest technologies and so forth, and then the opportunity to interview for a job if they want it.
And of course if somebody is giving you that opportunity, why wouldn't you, and if you’re coming to get retooled, why wouldn't you? So it's a great program, because it has great value for the organization that sponsors it, but it’s a little bit more selfless. It's not just for alumni, and you are not mandated to get a job with them if you get it.
So there are interesting, again, this is all so new that we have a couple of practices and we are trying to figure out how they work. But there’s stuff coming along that might actually help.
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: Thank you, Madam Chair, I would just note a couple of years ago in the Wall Street Journal there was this article that I saw that talked about highly accomplished women leaving the workforce for a period of time and being totally unable to find any job, any job, at any level, after that, and to break back in.
So I think the work of the Hidden Brain Drain has done, and Catalyst does, is very, very helpful.
CHAIR EARP: I think that we are well aware that age discrimination plays a role in some of this.
One quick question before turning this to Commissioner Griffin.
So the program that Lehmans has that you mentioned essentially is a prequel to a kind of retooling to get back?
DR. WARREN: It's actually an event. The Encore program is more of an event where they ask employees to submit resumes and have friends submit resumes, whether they work for Lehman or they do not. And then they have a series of events where people can come, and they can hear information about opportunities at Lehman, jobs, things that they’re interested in doing.
And as mentioned previously, you don't necessarily have to take the job. But it's an event to inform you about possibilities and potentials.
There are quite a few other programs out there currently. Ernst & Young has one; Deloitte & Touche. I'm trying to think of some of the others. A few law firms, as well as PriceWaterhouse Coopers and some of the big four. What they’re tending to do also with regards to recruiting from external to their own alum is, they’re also finding people who have retired, or who are interested in part-time work, whether that’s as counselors or consultants, to come on on a per project basis.
In addition there’s Mackenzie. Booz has a problem that deals with adjunct workers who are part-time employees that come back.
So there are quite a few that do on ramping processes that are relatively effective.
Two that are frequently cited are Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche, or D&T.
CHAIR EARP: That's very interesting.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Dr. Warren, the companies that you mention appear to have some really good mentoring and leadership programs for women of color.
Have you seen how this translates to those companies paying attention to their needs as caregivers or as a way to keep them working longer and more often?
DR. WARREN: Yes, one thing that I'll share with regards to the PepsiCo initiative that I highlighted is the Power Pairs program has now been initiated outside of just women of color. And people through all organizations – they’re now doing Power Pairs and Power Groups. So because of their task force, other companies like Motorola, Xerox, they have task forces that focus on specific groups. This type of knowledge building is increasing people's awareness of what individuals need, and what the organization needs to do to fulfill those.
So for example one of the things that PepsiCo has, they have a website with resources. You need day care immediately, go to the website. If you are looking for a dry cleaners within the neighborhood, type in the zipcode. So there are companies that have online hubs and websites that facilitate that.
Another is having self evaluations or check lists online that says, here are some criteria to consider when you are looking for work-life balance, or you’re looking for some resources related to daycare.
I also know that there are programs at CSFB where CSFB has joined with some of the, particularly in the New York office, some of the daycare, where if you have a child who needs to come to work with you in the city because you have an appointment there, you can actually go to one day or two day daycare right in the city where it’s paid for by the company.
So there are a lot of organizations that are doing small things. I think it's one thing that is not publicized, because there is a stereotype that if we put it out there, everyone is going to use that. But we know from research that only 50 percent of women and 20 percent of men are likely to use some type of flexibility or program because they feel like it might impact their career in a negative way.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Good, thank you.
I love the concept of measuring managers on their ability to understand and actually provide work-life balance policies for their employees.
As my friend, Commissioner Ishimaru, likes to say, what gets measured gets treasured.
So I wasn't clear, is Booz Allen actually doing this?
MR. ROZANSKI: We started doing that last year. And it's - we're not the only ones, but it’s…
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Who else is doing it, do you know?
MR. ROZANSKI: Some other colleagues that I’ve talked to in other organizations I'm trying to think about.
I'm not sure that anybody is doing it as explicitly as we are, but everybody is trying to find ways in their measurement systems to include measures around diversity that are indirect ways to get at this same thing. And one of the trends in diversity is to actually bake that into compensation and bonuses, so that it actually - because it's not just what you measure, it's what you pay for, is what gets really treasured.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Exactly
MR. ROZANSKI: And so I think that’s a trend that is starting to pick up some real speed.
For us it’s absolutely essential because we, another piece of research that the Brain Drain Task Force works on is extreme jobs. And these are jobs that are very fast-paced, have very uncertain types of work schedules and so forth. I’m trying to create an environment in which people that do those jobs can actually do them effectively and do them for a long period of time, and that we don't lose all of the caregivers, male or female, is critical.
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: I have a classmate that worked at a big firm in Boston, and she recently left. She was one of the holdouts that always used to tell me, she loved it. She loved it. And she had two kids. Then she started telling me, at midnight they arranged for a limo to take her home for 20 minutes to go in and look at her kids asleep or something.
And I think it finally got to her. They did everything they could, but they did it to keep her there. They didn't really do it to give her any type of work-life balance.
So anyway, thank you very much. This was very helpful.
CHAIR EARP: One question for both of you.
Ms. Rozanski, given your concern that when we call it work-life balance, that's oversimplifying and mislabeling, and given Dr. Warren, your concern about the specific needs of women of color, and given our concern as a law enforcement agency, that we want to send a message in as pointed a way as we can, but at the same time, everyone in this room is aware that affirmative action morphed into quotas and became something that appeared to be repugnant when they were completely legitimate.
We don't want to call this parental leave. We don't want to focus specifically on women, because we know the data are clear that more and more men are becoming involved, and we know that the issue here is about creating an environment where all employees can achieve. But we may not be able to capture the public's attention or employers' attention, if we don't talk about the potential sex discrimination that the trend indicates.
What are we to do about putting this out there in a way that satisfies all the interests?
Dr. Warren, can we start with you?
DR. WARREN: Sure. I think one thing that you’re highlighting is the notion of language. So what words do we use? And I think we need to start talking about facilitation and effectiveness, because work-life facilitation, for example, allows for the notion that organizations or corporations will be held accountable for facilitating it on behalf of employees.
Some people use the term, flexibility, because, for example, it may not be a family issue; it may not be a life issue; it may just be flexibility, like I work part time as a professor at Columbia, so I need flexibility. It's not about my family; it's kind of about career, but it's about a passion, so I think that's another piece.
So I think with regards to dealing with things for example like affirmative action, and what occurred with that, in one of our Catalyst studies, what we found is that women of color were more likely to say they benefited from affirmative action, but white women were more likely to benefit from affirmative action.
So we have that double bind in perception. So creating a language, and a definition that is inclusive of men, because these issues affect all employees and all organizations, and I think putting it in a way that doesn't necessarily put the onus or the responsibility on the individual, but on the organization, is critical. So we have to deal with that terminology in that way.
CHAIR EARP: Thank you.
MR. ROZANSKI: The first word in our task force name is Hidden. And it started from the Hidden Brain Drain, but that actually transpired through a lot of the work, and a lot of the research that’s been done. There’s a lot of aspects of somebody's life that are hidden from the employer that actually affect the employment experience in a huge way, whether retaining or not retaining, whether achieving high or low productivity.
And so the, I think terms around work-life integration as opposed to balance, terms around inclusiveness, even as opposed to diversity, are terms that are going to go a long way towards making - first of all, changing some of the stigma that might be out there rightly or wrongly associated with some of the other terms, but also I think moving the collective thinking to kind of a better place.
CHAIR EARP: I think that's right. I think in some industries even the term, diversity, has started to be spun as a negative. I don't know, maybe ever 20 years we need to check that.
Are there additional questions, comments?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: No, just along these lines, when I asked you about measuring managers on work-life balance issues, and then you used the word diversity and bonuses and things like that, a little piece of me sunk, because I know there are a lot of people out there that will attack that aspect. So I think maybe changing the name is a good thing.
CHAIR EARP: Yes, we should at least consider the language, Vice Chair?
VICE CHAIR SILVERMAN: I have no other comments. I'm just so pleased by being able to get this message out today. And I hope that there’s more that we can do, not just as a law enforcement agency, as I said at the beginning, but as a bully pulpit to talk to people, to let them know that there’s lots of important and good reasons to do this, and there’s lots of people out there that want to contribute, that have to contribute to the work force, and there’s a way to make that happen.
So thank you for sharing your best practices with us.
CHAIR EARP: Commissioner Ishimaru?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: And I want to thank you again, Madam Chair, for your leadership in having us do this. It's tremendous that we were able to spend two meetings on this, and I hope there’s more in our future.
CHAIR EARP: Well, thank you. You were the last panel, and you certainly were not the least of the panelists. You were absolutely wonderful.
There being no further business, do I hear a motion to adjourn the meeting?
COMMISSIONER ISHIMARU: So moved.
CHAIR EARP: Is there a second?
COMMISSIONER GRIFFIN: Second.
CHAIR EARP: All in favor?
(Chorus of ayes)
CHAIR EARP: Ayes have it, meeting's adjourned. Thank you.
(Whereupon at 12:30 p.m. the proceeding in the above-entitled matter was adjourned.)
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