Today, 95 years after women were finally given equal access to vote, we continue to disenfranchise women in the workplace, undermining their ability to succeed and handicapping the economy. There is no more common sense issue than the fight for women’s economic empowerment.
I am proud to announce that I will be hosting my first Women’s Issues Conference on October 10 at George Mason University in Arlington. Working in collaboration with the university, this free Saturday morning program will offer hands-on programs designed to help women find, apply for and get good jobs. We will also offer free headshots for all attendees and workshops dedicated to the critical components of a modern job search like writing a resume tailored to online career networks. I hope you will be able to join us for this important guide to breaking the ceiling.
After more than 40 years in business, I have learned that this is a simple bottom line issue. Fairly-treated employees equal a thriving business. To make sure the American economy can thrive, we must ensure working women have the equal and full rights they are already guaranteed. It is the easiest and simplest way to strengthen our families, our middle class and our economy.
So how do we do it? We can start by addressing the very real gender pay gap. Women make up almost half of the American workforce. And even though, according to U.S. Census data, women are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40 percent of American households, full-time working women still earn an average of 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. That is unacceptable. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Passing this bill will make American companies more competitive in a global marketplace, continue our middle class recovery and offer a critical solution to income inequality for families.
Another simple but important step forward will be ensuring women have access to paid family and medical leave.
Women should never be forced to choose between starting a family, their health and their financial security. The U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world that does not offer paid family leave, and women, families and our businesses pay the price. Congress must adopt legislation giving those working women and families the support they need and encourage states and cities to adopt similar legislation.
And our business community must address the lack of women on leadership teams at American companies despite clear evidence this leaves us at an economic disadvantage.
According to a study from the Northern Virginia-based Women In Technology – women hold only 11.2 percent at the 110 Virginia-based public companies. It is even more appalling that more than 30 percent of the 208 publicly traded companies in D.C. and Virginia have zero women on their corporate boards.
Research tells us that companies with more women in senior management and leadership roles outperform companies that fail to utilize women leaders. It tells us gender enlightened companies also scored higher when being evaluated on organization, leadership, accountability and innovation.
Ninety five years later it is clear that we cannot succeed simply by ensuring women’s equal access to the ballot box.
This week we honor the sacrifices of generations of women who worked to ensure gender diversity at the ballot box. I look forward to working with you to continue their fight to ensure all women have the tools to succeed at the workplace. It is right for them, our families, and the American economy.
Rep. Beyer can be reached through his website at www.beyer.house.gov, on Twitter @RepDonBeyer or his office at (202) 225-4376.