NEW REPORT: How Working Women Are Reshaping America’s Families and Economy and What It Means for Policymakers
Read the full report (pdf)
Washington, D.C.—In the fall 2009, the Center for American Progress and Maria Shriver launched The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, a comprehensive look at how working women have transformed today’s workplaces and today’s families. That report concluded that the institutions around us— government, faith communities, business— have yet to adapt to this new reality.
Today, CAP launches the long-awaited policy roadmap based on the findings of The Shriver Report. This roadmap, “Our Working Nation: How Working Women Are Reshaping America’s Families and Economy and What It Means for Policymakers,” offers detailed, practical solutions that will help American workers and families meet the dual demands of work and family, while bolstering our economy.
The report outlines a set of policy recommendations for our government and our businesses to adopt that address the needs of today’s workers and families as they really are—not as our outdated policies imagine them to be. Women now make up half of all workers in the United States, and two-thirds of mothers are breadwinners or co-breadwinners in theirfamilies. Workplaces can no longer assume that every worker has a wife at home to take care of their family’s needs. The recommendations in the report will strengthen our economy and enhance the well-being of families.
“By laying out specific, tangible action items, Our Working Nation gives policymakers and business leaders the tools they need to update today’s workplaces and government policies for a workforce filled with workers who combine work and family responsibilities," said co-author and CAP Senior Economist Heather Boushey on a press call with reporters today. "We learned from The Shriver Report that Americans want and, especially in times of economic hardship, need this change. And policymakers are starting to get it—now they have the tools to deliver on their promises to the middle class."
“The laws we do have on the books—the provision of unpaid, job-protected leave offered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the prohibition against sex and pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act—don’t protect all workers and don’t fully meet the needs of the workers covered by these laws, especially lower-income workers,” said Ann O’Leary, CAP Senior Fellow and executive director of the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic & Family Security, or Berkeley CHEFS, located at University of California-Berkeley School of Law. Our Working Nation builds the case for ensuring that all workers have access to basic benefits—such as paid sick and family leave—and for government and business to lead the way in providing workers with flexible and predictable work schedules so employers can get the most out of their employees and workers can meet the demands of both their work and their family.”
The report focuses on four key areas where the most the important changes need to be made. We must:
- Update our basic labor standards
- Improve fairness in the workplace
- Provide direct support to caregiver
- Improve our knowledge about family-responsive policies
Specific recommendations include:
- Instituting predictable and flexible workplace schedules
- Ensuring that workers have access to paid family and medical leave
- Establishing the right to paid sick days for all workers
- Ensuring our antidiscrimination laws are fully enforced and enhanced
- Providing direct support to caregivers
- Collecting better data on work-life policies
Read the full report (pdf)