Moms Worked Full Time on Childcare Last Year in Addition to Their Job

New research, collected and released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and analyzed by the Brookings Institute, shows that in 2020, the mothers of young children spent about eight hours a day on childcare while spending six hours on average working. Chabeli Carrazana, reporting for the 19th, explains that the data are averages based on thousands of interviews by the Bureau of Labor Statistics with people across the country about how they spent their time on a daily basis between May and December 2020 when the pandemic closed down schools and childcare centers. Specifically, Carrazana reports that

  • On average, moms with children ages twelve and under spent about eight hours a day on direct or indirect childcare last year while working an average of six hours a day, while dads spent an average of five hours per day on childcare while working eight hours a day. Data were not collected for nonbinary people or LBGTQ+ couples.
  • Overall, moms spent twice as much time as dads doing primary care activities like feeding, bathing, dressing, or playing with children.
  • Fathers of children between ages five and twelve did increase the amount of time they spent on direct care, but mothers of elementary school children still did three more hours of direct and indirect childcare combined than did fathers, even with the increased time spent by fathers.

The fallout for women’s careers has been described in a previous post. Carrazana cites the US Census Bureau as confirming that “in April 2020 alone, 3.5 million moms of school-age children shifted out of active work, moving into paid or unpaid leave, losing their jobs, or leaving the labor force completely. . . . About half of all moms were not working that month.” Hundreds of thousands of mothers left the workforce completely over the past year.

This “shesession” has been particularly punishing for women of color, for whom the unemployment rate remains high at 8.5 percent, compared to 5 percent for white women. . In addition, single mothers, who typically have a higher employment rate because they are the sole breadwinners for their families, still lag five percentage points below where they were in January 2020 before the pandemic.

Labor shortages are in the headlines daily, but women cannot fully participate in the labor force without the availability of quality, affordable childcare. In fact, women’s participation in the labor force is the lowest it has been since 1988.

We must both get the COVID-19 crisis under control and fund childcare. Our economy and women’s careers depend on this.


Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash (BY CC 0)

Paid Leave for Miscarriages and Other Family Loss: New Legislation

I am the oldest of four children. After my mother gave birth to me and my sister, she had two late-term miscarriages, and I remember her intense sadness and depression after each loss. Even though she went on to deliver two more healthy babies several years later, the sadness never fully lifted for her. Twenty years later, my father asked me to help him help her. We talked with her about the fact that she had never been able to grieve the two lost babies. It was simply taboo at the time for her or anyone else to bring up the topic. She agreed that it might be helpful to her to have a formal acknowledgment of her lost babies. We had a funeral and placed grave markers in our family plot inscribed with their names and birth/death dates. She shared that this ritual did help her a lot.

Because of my mother’s experience, I was drawn to an article by Jennifer Gerson writing for the 19th about new legislation sponsored by Representative Ayanna Pressley and Senator Tammy Duckworth called the Support through Loss Act. Gerson notes that “while pregnancy is typically widely celebrated, those struggling to grow their families typically do so privately out of any combination of grief, stigma or fear of retaliation should their employer find out that they are trying to conceive.” They point out that miscarriage, failed IVF cycles, or unsuccessful adoption or surrogacy plans can be losses that individuals and couples are expected to bear privately, often with the admonition from professionals to “move on” and resume their lives immediately.

Pressley and Duckworth note several reasons why we need to change these dynamics. We need to publicly recognize that family building can involve painful challenges, and employers need to demonstrate compassion and understanding about related grief and loss. The bills’ authors point out that providing paid family leave and support services for grieving families is a critical workers’ rights issue. Workers need protection from fear of retaliation if they access leave and mental health resources when dealing with a loss. Duckworth states that it is “time to recognize the contributions of women in our economy” by providing paid leave and support that, according to Erin Grau, the cofounder and COO of Charter, addresses “the full spectrum of challenges around becoming a parent and being a parent today” in the workplace.

To bring about these changes, the new legislation sponsored by Pressley and Duckworth calls for

  • Expanding paid family leave to include pregnancy loss as part of bereavement leave
  • Allocating $45 million for coordinated research about pregnancy loss
  • Requiring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to distribute information on pregnancy loss, miscarriage prevalence, treatment options, mental health options, and other support strategies

Both Pressley and Duckworth became committed to sponsoring this legislation because they and their constituents have experienced loss as aspiring parents. This is an excellent example of the added value that women bring to leadership.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Olympic Athletes Who Are Women: It’s Not an Even Playing Field

The media coverage of the recent Tokyo Olympics Games has featured a number of “Olympian-mother success stories,” reports Lindsay Crouse of the New York Times. Crouse notes a few examples:

  • Aliphine Tuliamuk and Sally Kipyego, both with babies and young children, represented the United States in the Olympic marathon.
  • When the sprinters Quanera Hayes and Allyson Felix qualified for the Olympics, they brought their toddlers onto the track to celebrate.

Crouse also points out, however, that while motherhood in elite sports is something to celebrate, there is also another reality for athletes who have children: having children puts their careers and incomes at risk.

Crouse reminds us that in 2019, Olympic runners Alysia Montaño, Kara Goucher, and Allyson Felix challenged the sports industry for celebrating them as mothers in advertisements while cutting their pay when they missed races because of pregnancy and childbirth. Their public complaints got Nike to change its contracts to include some protections for the pregnant athletes it sponsors. But, Crouse notes, the real root of the problem is a societal one:

  • The United States is the only wealthy Western country that does not ensure paid leave for all parents or health benefits and equitable, quality healthcare for all.
  • Black women are still about three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy. Racial disparities in healthcare are serious in the United States. For example, Serena Williams almost died after childbirth.

Talya Minsberg writes about an especially egregious situation that Olympic athletes who are new mothers had to face: the Olympic Committee prohibited them from bringing their nursing babies to the games because of COVID-19-related restrictions. When the athletes protested against this decision, the International Olympic Committee reversed the ban but provided impractical accommodations, according to the Spanish swimmer Ona Carbonell.

Crouse points out that how the sports industry treats mother-athletes reflects our culture. For this reason, athletes historically have been powerful agents for change:

  • Black men taking a knee for racial justice has contributed to the change in the criminal legal justice system brought about by the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Female college basketball players argued and won for equality in access to training equipment.
  • The United States Women’s Soccer Team filed a lawsuit for equal pay during the Olympics, as reported by Alexandra E. Petri and Andrew Das.

Crouse closes her article by noting, “Yes, cheer for Felix and all the other brave, determined and talented mothers out there defying the constraints imposed on them. But remember that they are succeeding despite the fact that we failed them.”


Photo courtesy of maisa_nyc (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Wally Funk Makes It to Space after Sixty Years of Trying

At the age of eighty-two, Wally Funk finally made it into space, the oldest person ever to go on a space flight. She spent sixty years trying to get there. Mary Robinette Kowal, writing for the New York Times, shares that Funk became a pilot at the age of seventeen and found her passion for flying. She dreamed of becoming an astronaut, and at the age of twenty-one she saw an article in Life magazine about a new program starting to train women astronauts. She applied to the program and was accepted. In 1961, she and twelve other women went through the testing program to become astronauts as part of the Woman in Space Program. Kowal explains that the women who passed, which included Funk, did as well or better than their male counterparts. In fact, Funk excelled. None of these women ever made it into space, though. They were blocked because of their gender, and the program was canceled.

Funk spent sixty years trying to become an astronaut: she applied to NASA twice in 1962 and again in 1966. She logged 19,600 hours as a pilot and taught more than three thousand people to fly. NASA did not fly an American woman, Sally Ride, into orbit until 1983.

Mariel Padilla, writing for the 19th, notes that while Funk finally launched into space on July 20, 2021, with Jeff Bezos on his maiden Blue Origin’s space flight, her individual opportunity to realize her dream does not solve the foundational problem for women and nonbinary people of who gets to decide about who gets opportunities. In this case, a wealthy white man, Jeff Bezos, and other wealthy white men, such as Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, are the gatekeepers making these decisions based on who can pay the most money to them to become space crew. Funk was the exception. Kowal quotes Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, as saying, “Individual stories and victories are important, but they are not justice.”

Padilla points out that “women are making their marks as engineers, leaders and astronauts. Last year Kathy Leuders became the head of the agency’s [NASA] human spaceflight division, shattering a glass ceiling in the industry.” This is hopeful news, but there is still a long way to go.


Photo courtesy of Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (CC BY 2.0

Stalled Careers: New Research on the Intensive Margin in the Pandemic

Much has been written about the impact of the pandemic on the careers of working parents, especially for working mothers, because of the pandemic childcare crisis. The number of women in the labor force has decreased during the pandemic, called the “shecession,” because they carried up to 70 percent of the burden of childcare and home schooling in their families when schools and childcare closed, and women in large numbers either dropped out or were fired from their jobs. Claire Cain Miller, in an article published by the New York Times, notes that new research shows that mothers, and some fathers who did not lose their jobs, “worked fewer hours, declined assignments or decided not to take a promotion or pursue a new job” due to the childcare crisis. Economists call this reduction in hours or stepping back from career opportunities the “intensive margin”—how much people work as opposed to how many are in the labor force. This trend has both short-term and long-term consequences “because American employers tend to penalize people who work at less than full capacity.”

Miller reports on a survey conducted during the 2020–21 school year by Morning Consult for the New York Times of 468 mothers who worked for pay. The survey found that

  • One-third said they had worked fewer hours during the pandemic because of childcare issues.
  • One-fifth had moved to part-time work.
  • 28 percent declined new responsibilities at work
  • 23 percent did not apply for new jobs
  • 16 percent did not pursue a promotion.

Miller notes that the Census Bureau has been surveying families weekly during the pandemic. The latest report, based on data collected between June 23 and July 5, 2021, found that

  • Respondents living with children who were unable to attend school or day care for pandemic-related reasons said that an adult in the household had cut paid work hours in the past week as a result.
  • One-quarter said an adult had taken unpaid leave to care for children.
  • One-fifth used paid leave, like vacation or sick days, to do so.
  • Single mothers not living with another working-age adult have experienced the biggest decrease in hours worked.

The intensive margin—working part time or working less than full capacity—can have career repercussions and a long-term impact on earnings and promotions. Miller cites economist Misty L. Heggeness, a principle economist at the Census Bureau as saying, “We are going to see gender equality slip if we don’t pay attention to the intensive margin.” Once again, it appears that the pandemic is not the only problem impacting women’s careers. The root problem is still gender inequality.


Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski (CC BY-SA 2.0)

How to Encourage Men to Take Paternity Leave: New Research

Many men are reluctant to take paternity leave, even when it is available as paid leave, because they fear it will hurt their careers. This reluctance results in an extra burden for working mothers, who often face career-limiting choices regarding balancing careers and parenthood. A new study conducted in Norway, reported by Seema Jayachandran, shows that indeed, men who took paternity leave earned 2 percent less than if they had not. Norway is fertile ground for this type of research because of a major policy change in 1993 that gave fathers of children born after April 1 of that year eligibility for four weeks of use-it-or-lose-it fully paid parental leave. As a result of this new policy, Jayachandran reports that the share of fathers taking leave jumped from 5 percent to 50 percent, giving researchers a large database to use.

Jayachandran reports that a new study by economists on this Norwegian data found that one of the causes of the diminished earnings for men who took paternity leave is that “the short amount of time away from the office gives co-workers a small advantage over leave-takers that shows up in promotions and other workplace advantages.” They were able to discover this finding by comparing cases where all the men’s “competitors,” or male coworkers with a similar education level and age and with children around the same age, went on leave at the same time—then the impact to a man’s career was negligible. However, if a man took leave but his competitors did not, then his earnings suffered. It turns out that men are right about the consequences of taking paternity leave.

What can be done? How can companies correct this negative impact for men so that women’s careers do not suffer when they become parents? Jayachandran suggests that

  • Companies could require men to take paid paternity leave, thereby removing choice from the decision.
  • Companies could strongly encourage paternity leave by paying those who took it more generously.
  • Senior executives could be role models by taking paternity leave.

The bottom line seems to be that it needs to become the norm for men to take paternity leave and that there should not be an economic consequence for doing so. Paying attention to making this change happen will help solve the gender pay gap for women and will increase support for women’s careers if they become mothers. The American Families Plan put forward by President Biden includes twelve weeks of mandated paid parental, family, and personal illness leave, of which paternity leave would be a part. Let’s see what difference this can make.


Photo courtesy of Paul (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Banning Forced Arbitration in Employment Contracts: Another Victory on the Horizon for the Me Too Movement

In 1991, after law professor Anita Hill described the lewd behavior of her boss, Clarence Thomas, during his hearing in Congress to become a Supreme Court Justice, the term sexual harassment was born. Thanks to Hill, we now had a phrase to describe the ancient practice used by powerful people (usually men) over less powerful people (usually women) in the workplace. For much of the 1990s, lawsuits paying huge settlements to victims were regularly announced, and workshops on stopping sexual harassment along with new policies and procedures designed to protect workers were prevalent. I was one of those trainers and coaches hired to help organizations stop sexual harassment. Then, suddenly, the workshops stopped, the lawsuits became scarce, and lawyers took over the development of sexual harassment policies and procedures. The sexual harassment behavior never ended, but no one was talking about it anymore. Years later I learned why. Employers, with the help of their lawyers, had begun to quietly embed forced arbitration clauses into all employment contracts and to require nondisclosure agreements when sexual harassment complaints were filed. These practices took away the voices of the victims and protected the harassers for public accountability.

Amanda Becker, writing for the 19th, explains, “The Federal Arbitration Act is a 100-year-old law that was initially designed” for another purpose. During the 1990s, the Supreme Court expanded its scope. “In 1992, just 2 percent of U.S. workers were subject to mandatory arbitration clauses,” explains Becker. “By 2018, more than 56 percent were, or roughly 60 million workers.” Most workers don’t realize they have signed an arbitration clause. New employees are sent to human resources to sign a lot of papers, and buried in fine print are “bits of legalese,” according to Becker, that employees are unaware of but that take away their right to sue over sexual assault and harassment. I have written about the damage these clauses cause in a previous post. Becker notes that the New York City Commission on Human Rights called forced arbitration “the most significant barrier to determining whether a workplace has a pervasive culture of sexual harassment” because, along with nondisclosure agreements that victims must sign when receiving a settlement, patterns of wrongdoing are hidden from public scrutiny and accountability.

Gretchen Carlson found herself in this exact situation in 2016 when she discovered that she could not sue Roger Ailes of Fox News for sexual harassment because, unbeknownst to her, she had signed an employment contract that contained a forced-arbitration clause. When her lawyers told her that she had no case because of this clause, she was shocked. She ended up suing Ailes personally as a civil rights case. In 2017 she began working with a bipartisan group of legislators in Congress to end the practice of forced arbitration. These legislators had been trying to pass the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act since 2017, when the Me Too movement brought to light the widespread use of mandatory arbitration clauses. They have now brought a revamped version of the bill back and are trying to pass it again.

Becker explains that forced arbitration and nondisclosure processes cause harm in a variety of ways:

  • Claims are not heard by a jury of peers but instead by private arbitrators.
  • Arbitrators are mostly male and mostly white. The American Association for Justice found the two largest arbitration providers are 88 percent white and 77 percent male.
  • Employers get to choose the arbitrator and tend to choose those with a history of finding in favor of the employer.
  • Claimants are prevented from publicly discussing the matter, so they cannot band together to create systemic change
  • Women and people of color are disproportionately subject to mandatory arbitration.

Thanks to the Me Too movement, many (but not all) organizations have stopped using forced arbitration agreements.

  • In 2017 Microsoft became the first Fortune 100 company to endorse the legislation to end forced arbitration.
  • In 2018, Uber announced that they would discontinue use of forced arbitration in contracts.
  • In 2019, Airbnb stopped using forced arbitration clauses in employee contracts but not in their terms of service for hosts and guests.
  • In 2020, Wells Fargo stopped using forced arbitration clauses in cases of sexual harassment or assault.

The voluntary changes made by the companies above are all well and good, but they are a small portion, and we still need federal legislation to end this practice once and for all. Urge your legislators to support the passage of this new law when it comes up for a vote in Congress.


Photo courtesy of anton petukhov (CC BY 2.0)

Family and Medical Leave for Freelance Workers: Update

Charlotte Cowles, writing for the New York Times and who is about to take maternity leave as a freelance worker, asks “how to take family leave if you’re a freelance worker.” This question is of particular interest to me as a self-employed worker for more than thirty years (also known as an independent worker, contract worker, or gig worker). Cowles points out that this question is more important than ever because

  • About 35 percent of American workers freelanced in some capacity in 2019.
  • One-third of them freelanced full-time.
  • Research, yet to be conducted, will probably show that the pandemic reshaped the American workforce, resulting in much higher numbers of permanent independent and freelance workers in the population.
  • Freelancing is seen as a viable long-term career in a study conducted by the Freelance Union.

Cowles points out that freelancing has a lot of advantages, including more flexibility, fewer annoying meetings, and arguably better job security because one is not dependent on one employer for all of one’s income. But the downsides include a lack of employee benefits and job protections. Because I and my spouse are both self-employed, we have struggled over the years to pay 100 percent of expensive healthcare premiums for two people. Because the federal Family and Medical Leave Act does not cover freelance workers, we have lost income and clients when we needed to take care of ill and dying parents.

Do freelance workers have any options? Cowles says yes, but they are limited. It seems that a few states do have some limited family and medical leave insurance policies for freelancers that self-employed people can pay into. The benefits are limited, but it’s better than no benefits at all.

  • In some states, like New York, you may have to pay premiums for two years on a family and medical leave policy before you have access to benefits, while other states have shorter waits or none at all.
  • Some states require that you pay for a separate disability policy in addition to the family and medical leave policy.
  • Several states will be phasing in similar policies over the next few years.
  • These programs also cover a varying degree of non-child-related family and medical leave.
  • None of them provide job protection.

It does seem that support for freelance workers may soon improve, thanks to the pandemic and President Biden’s American Families Plan. Cowles notes that the United States is notoriously at the bottom of the pile as the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have a national program for paid parental leave. While the Biden plan is focused on making paid family leave available to all workers, paid for by tax increases on high earners, it does not specify whether it would cover freelancers. It seems that a door to that possibility may have been opened, however, by the inclusion of freelancers in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits program. Because of this recognition of freelancers as essential workers, it seems possible that independent workers might be eligible for coverage by federal family leave policies in the future. Cowles points out that a 2020 poll by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that 75 percent of voters were in favor of a national paid family and medical leave policy that covers all workers. These numbers include 87 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans.

Maybe the time has come for self-employed people who contribute so much to the economic well-being of our country have some federal support to deal with life’s challenges.


Photo courtesy of Andrew Scheer (CC0 1.0)

The New Global Plan for Gender Equality

I remember the Beijing World Conference on Women in 1995 when Hillary Clinton created a global scandal by declaring, “Women’s rights are human rights.” Her speech was considered so outrageous that the Chinese government cut off her microphone in the middle of her speech. Clinton was the first lady at the time, and the United States government asked her to “soften” her speech, which she refused to do. There had never been a global summit on women’s rights before, and I remember hanging on every word reported about the proceedings and wishing I could be there too. As noted by Alisha Haridasani Gupta and Emma Goldberg of the New York Times, by the end of that summit, “Almost every country in the world had committed to the ‘full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life.’” This commitment was considered a big deal but also toothless and unfunded. That was the last time, twenty-six years ago, that a global summit on women’s rights was convened—until now.

At the end of June 2021, the Generation Equality Forum was convened by UN Women, political leaders, corporate executives, and grassroots activists in Paris. Gupta and Goldberg note that organizers of this forum created a system designed to avoid the mistakes of the 1995 convening that produced a platform with no concrete plans and no funding. For the 2021 forum, the organizers required that in advance, “all participants—whether U.N. member states or grass-roots activist organizations—would be required to submit clear, measurable proposals that fell under any of the six main policy areas:

  • Eliminating gender-based violence
  • Advancing women’s economic empowerment
  • Enhancing access to sexual and reproductive health care
  • Increasing gender parity in private and political spheres
  • Investing in gender-focused climate change solutions
  • Narrowing the gender digital divide”

Because countries have different starting places, each country was encouraged to develop measurable proposals to commit to. If the proposals were not measurable, the organizers sent them back to be improved before the event.

President Emmanuel Macron of France pointed out that COVID-19 turned out to be “’an anti-feminist virus’ that pushed more women around the world into poverty, nudged more girls out of school and locked women in with their abusers.” Because of the pandemic and these negative impacts for women and girls, a sense of urgency prevailed that resulted not only in creative and ambitious gender-focused policy proposals and program plans but also pledges of $40 billion to fund these policies and programs. These pledges include $2.1 billion from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, cementing the longtime commitment of Melinda French Gates to gender equality. Also included is $420 million from the Ford Foundation.

We have a long way to go to reach gender equality globally. As noted by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, “Women are just one-quarter of those who are managers, they are one-quarter of parliamentarians around the world, they are one-quarter of those who negotiate climate change, less than one-quarter of those who negotiate peace agreements. One-quarter isn’t equality. Equality is one-half.”

Some surprise commitments came forward during the proceedings. Kenya produced an innovative plan to counter gender-based violence that other African nations adopted as a template for their plans. The United States came in with a strong set of commitments at the last minute. The United States had not signed up to participate under President Trump, and the Biden administration only finalized the US commitments a few days before the forum convened.

Hillary Clinton was in Paris. How exciting that must have been for her. I wish I could have been there too.


Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Women-Led Fortune 500 Companies and Social Justice Promises: Update

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among other Black Americans killed by police or white citizens in 2020 and captured on video, triggered an outpouring of public support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the summer of 2020. The obvious injustice of the killing of unarmed Black people like Floyd, Taylor, and Arbery, witnessed over and over again on the daily newscasts from the video recordings of their deaths, tipped the scales of outrage in the American public. Mariel Padilla, writing for the 19th, reports, “Corporate America responded on an unprecedented scale.” One-third of Fortune 1000 companies made public statements about the need for racial equity, which is itself unusual for corporate America. Hundreds of companies made financial pledges to support the BLM movement that totaled close to $200 billion, according to McKinsey, to combat systemic inequity and racism in our society. Padilla and the 19th asked, “Where did the money go?” and did women-led companies perform any differently in the actual payout of financial commitments to the BLM movement? This is what they found.

The 19th conducted research in 2021 on the forty-one women-led Fortune 500 companies in the United States. They found research showing that half of women-led companies made a profit during the pandemic despite the economic fallout, which is supported by earlier research showing that women-led companies perform better financially. Nonetheless, Padilla notes that no research had been done on whether women-led companies behave differently regarding their social impact performance. The 19th found that thirty of the forty-one women-led companies released statements supporting racial equity after the Floyd murder and identified nearly $2 billion in pledges from these women-led companies. One dozen of these companies responded to research requests from the 19th about the actual payouts of their $22.5 million pledges. Here are some highlights:

  • Citigroup, now headed by Jane Fraser, made the largest pledge of $1 billion to “help close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility” over the course of three years. No figures are available as to how much has been spent to date.
  • UPS, led by Carol Tomé, pledged $4.2 million and one million employee volunteer hours of service. Padilla reports that UPS overshot its $4.2 million commitment, giving more than $6.3 million to Black initiatives and communities in 2020.
  • Clorox pledged $2.5 million in 2020 and delivered.
  • Edward Jones met its $1.2 million pledge.
  • Northrop Grumman met its $1 million pledge and matched $728,000 in employee contributions.
  • PG&E made donations totaling $1 million.
  • Thrivent made $2.8 million of its $3 million commitment so far.
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals disbursed $3.4 million of its $4 million pledge as of June 2021.
  • Rite Aid has distributed $1.2 million of its $2 million pledge as of June, with the rest to be distributed by the end of 2021.

The data is too incomplete to be able to say that women-led companies are walking their talk on paying out their pledges to the BLM movement at a rate higher than companies led by men, but a new Fortune initiative that ranks companies based on fourteen diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) metrics found that five women-led companies were ranked in the top twenty for DEI performance. This is a significantly higher proportion (25 percent) of women-led companies, which represents only 8 percent of the Fortune 500. This bodes well for women-led companies, according to new research showing that companies dedicated to social goals have a better financial performance.

Padilla shares three actions that companies can take to move beyond just making performative statements (statements that acknowledge inequity but take no substantive actions to address the cause of the inequity):

  1. Assess the situation, the climate, their employees and stakeholders and their culture.
  2. Increase the knowledge and understanding of their employees on the issues.
  3. Take action by setting goals and implementing them.

It is important for us as consumers, investors, and stakeholders to hold companies accountable for living up to the promises they make about addressing social issues. Otherwise, they may be all talk and no action.


Photo courtesy of Palácio do Planalto (CC BY 2.0)