Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce
U.S. Rep. McSally Chairs Hearing on How Businesses Empower Women to Overcome Barriers to Success
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally (AZ-02) today led a hearing as the Chairwoman of the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce to learn how the private sector is currently empowering women to overcome barriers to success.
“As part of this working group’s mission to dig into the root causes of the barriers that women face, we want to study what businesses have already done to ensure that their female employees can achieve their full potential. Wherever women succeed, businesses will succeed,” stated Rep. McSally in her opening statement. “The private sector is the innovation engine of our economy and more private sector businesses and organizations than ever are recognizing that training, promoting, and retaining women is essential to their continued competitiveness—and their bottom line. That’s why our focus today is businesses on the cutting-edge of empowering women and producing opportunity for them to succeed.”
Members heard testimony from policy experts, business leaders and CEOs on the effective practices they have implemented for their female employees, such as increasing workplace flexibility, providing caregiving options, or addressing residual bias.
Gap Inc. became the first Fortune 500 Company to announce that they pay female and male employees equally for equal work in 2014. Debbie Maples, VP of Global Loss Prevention & Corporate Security at Gap, stated, “Gap Inc.’s mission is to advance women in the workplace. We recognize that employees need flexibility to balance work and life responsibilities. Based on our experience with these efforts, the benefits of implementing flexible work programs are undeniable: production turnover dropped by 50%, employee engagement scores improved by 13%, and several hundred thousand dollars in savings were realized by reduced employee turnover costs. At Gap Inc., we know that our business succeeds when everyone has the chance to stand as equals and thrive.”
Brian Barkdull, CEO of American Southwest Credit Union, which serves the Sierra Vista area in Rep. McSally’s district, stated, “We have always had about an 85-90% female workforce. What I have learned over the years is that life happens: day care issues, sick kids, doctor appointments, sports events, band, dance practice, classroom presentations, maternity-related events, or community participation. What is our culture? We accommodate. We have high quality service standards and demanding strategic initiatives, so we continually strive to find the right balance for our workforce.”
Kymberlee Dwinell, Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northrop Grumman Corporation, which employees 300 in Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca, Arizona shared, “Developing, maintaining and growing a diverse workforce is critical to our success and a priority for our company. Companies with three or more women in senior management functions scored higher in key factors of leadership, accountability and innovation than companies with no women at the top across nine standard criteria of organizational excellence. It’s clear that private sector support of women in the workforce, especially in leadership roles, is important for a successful business. Companies like Northrop Grumman understand the value of providing additional support to women in the company, as well as young girls across the world. Diversity is truly a strategic asset.”
Dr. Donna Ginther, Professor of Economics at the University of Kansas, stated “Women have made tremendous progress in the workforce, but that progress has stagnated, in part because of the lack of policies to support women and mothers who work. The United States lags behind other developed economies in the policies we have to support women in the workforce. One of the keys to growing women’s wages and improving the economic outcomes is creating an environment that enables women to participate in the labor market while they have children.”
“This isn’t about women being victims and this is not about women needing more assistance than men. The take away from this hearing is that companies have found that if they fully engage with their employees and provide them what they need, like increased flexibility, then companies will be more profitable and companies will increase their value,” stated Rep. McSally in closing.
Rep. Martha McSally launched the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce in July, 2016. The group has held two hearings so far examining the barriers women face in the workforce. A video announcing the creation of the working group can be found here.
U.S. Rep. McSally Leads Hearing on Empowering Women in the Workforce
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today led a hearing as the Chairwoman of the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce about addressing the barriers women face in the workforce. The hearing featured testimony from experts and women business and non-profit leaders including T. VanHook, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Tucson.
“Women have made great strides and have achieved so much in this country, but the fact remains that so many women and girls still face barriers to achieving their full potential,” Rep. McSally said during the hearing. “Many women today are struggling to balance the competing demands from their workplace, and their families. They are expected to do it all, and they are exhausted.”
“As the husband of a working professional and father of two young girls, I am concerned about the challenges women face in the workforce,” said Congressman Luke Messer, Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. “But more regulation and one-size-fits-all government programs are not the answer. Our goal is to listen to working women about their needs, learn from experts and innovators, and then champion policy ideas that empower women not restrict their options.”
“Women occupy and will continue to occupy half of the formal workforce… They are contributing to the national economy while serving as the primary caregivers of their families, in many cases sandwiched between generations, running between jobs, juggling responsibilities, and balancing family budgets on a shoestring,” T. VanHook, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Tucson, said in her testimony.
T. VanHook, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Tucson, testifies at a hearing led by Rep. McSally in Washington, D.C. about empowering women in the workforce
The Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce plans to hold a series of similar hearings in the coming months. These hearings will provide a forum to discuss key pillars related to women in the workforce including expanding opportunity, increasing flexibility, removing barriers, and empowering the next generation.
McSally Launches Working Group to Empower Women
Women in America still face significant challenges to achieving their full potential. These barriers don’t just limit women, but their families, our economy, and retirement security, to name a few. This issue shouldn’t be just about cultivating partisan talking points, but finding solutions that will actually improve opportunity and outcomes for girls and women. That’s why the GOP Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce will take an in-depth look at the challenges women face with a focus on their root causes, to identify real solutions that will benefit all Americans.
Read Rep. McSally's blog about the working group and its goals below.
Leaning in to empower women
U.S. Representative Martha McSally
July 14, 2016
Our country is based on the ideal of equality for all its citizens. Yet, ask any woman today what obstacles she’s faced in her career or education simply because she’s a woman, and you’d hear a very different story.
It’s been illegal for employers to discriminate based on sex since the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Despite that, women continue to earn less than men. A comparison of median salaries between men and women, and an often cited statistic, shows women earn 21% less than men. There are many factors responsible for this earnings gap. Among them are choosing lower paying career fields, leaving the workforce to care for children or parents, challenges with childcare, and, let’s face it, blatant discrimination.
This earnings gap doesn’t harm just women, but their families, communities, and our economy.
Four out of ten American families look to women as the sole breadwinners. That means when women earn less, families have less to spend on things like clothes, school supplies, groceries, and health care for children and dependent parents.
Multiplied over a full career, a woman earns approximately $430,000 less than a man throughout her lifetime. This affects how much she is able to save or pay into Social Security, making women much more likely to live in poverty as they get older. The National Institute on Retirement Security reports that women are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, a figure that increases with age.
With these facts, there’s no doubting women still face substantial barriers to getting ahead. That’s why we’re taking action.
Today, I am starting a working group along with my Republican colleagues that will take an in-depth look at the root causes for the challenges women face in the workforce. Labeled, the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce, the group will engage in a series of listening sessions around the country, meet with relevant organizations, think tanks, and scholars, and hold hearings and roundtables. The goal of the group is simple: to identify solutions for expanding opportunity and improving outcomes for women.
Too often, this issue is leaned upon simply to cultivate partisan talking points and political ads or simply ignored all together. For the new mother trying to balance work and a home life; the daughter wondering how she’s going to care for an ailing parent; the recent college graduate seeking to get her foot in the door; and the countless women and girls who have big dreams and high goals, this issue is so much more – and it deserves real solutions.
Our working group will focus on four key pillars related to women in the workforce: expanding opportunity; increasing flexibility; removing barriers; and empowering the next generation.
Congresswoman Katharine St. George, a Republican from New York and one of the first proponents of the Equal Rights Act who coined the phrase “equal pay for equal work,” famously said of her work: “I think women are quite capable of holding their own if they're given the opportunity. What I wanted them to have was the opportunity.”
Today, over fifty years later, we still have work to do. After all, this is America, where we pick the best man for the job, even if she’s a woman. It’s time we fulfilled that promise.
U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R) represents Arizona’s Second District in Congress. Before that, she served 26 years in the U.S Air Force and was the first woman to fly in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat. She is passionate about fighting for equal opportunity for women.