While the radical right continues to rail against Planned Parenthood as its latest target in what’s been called its relentless “war on women,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer, Jr., elected last year to represent the 8th Congressional District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, has taken a high profile in a fresh effort to elevate the vital role of women in politics and the economy.
At a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Monday, Beyer was joined by Bloomberg LP chairman Peter Grauer, and a large contingent of successful women leaders, to announce the formation of a “Men for Women” caucus in the House of Representatives “to promote economic growth through women’s empowerment.”
He cited the following indicators of the importance of women to the economy:
“Forty percent of American households with a child under the age of 18 depend on a woman’s salary as the sole or primary source of income. Women are estimated to make more than 70 percent of all retail purchasing decisions, and women investors are the fastest growing sector making investments on Wall Street.”
Beyer said at the Monday press conference, “As workers, consumers and investors, women drive the economy, but Congress is still 80 percent male. This caucus will support initiatives to unleash the power of women to further drive growth. For the sake of our economic success, we will be working to overcome obstacles which hold our economy back.”
He said the caucus of male members of the U.S. House will introduce and promote policies to further full economic parity and participation of women. “The Men for Women House Caucus exists to empower women in the economy,” he added. “It will sponsor legislation, convene stakeholders and communicate the economic imperative of moving to greater parity.”
Nearly a century after women earned the right to vote, he said, “America still has a gender pay gap, a glass ceiling and other obstacles to equal economic inclusion. These deficits in economic equality represent an opportunity for economic growth. When women succeed our economy succeeds,” he said.
A member of the Joint Economic Committee, Beyer pointed to just-released findings by the McKinsey and Company that efforts to advance women’s economic equality could improve global gross domestic product (GDP) by 12 trillion dollars. In the U.S. since the 1970s, the study found that female labor participation has accounted for fully a quarter of the total GDP growth.
Following this announcement, Beyer invited participation by the general public in his first “Women’s Economic Conference” on the theme of “Women Driving the Economy” on Saturday, Oct. 10, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Arlington campus of George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Drive, in Arlington.
In that conference, the keynote speaker will be Maria Contreras-Sweet, an administrator of the Small Business Administration. She will be followed by a plenary panel moderated by Megan Beyer, the wife of Rep. Beyer, with Judith Warner from the Center for American Progress and author of the New York Times’ Best Seller, “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in an Age of Anxiety,” local small business owner El Brown and Rebecca Strambaugh, a leadership trainer for women in the workforce.
Leadership training sessions will then touch on a number of topics ranging from resume writing to using social and career networks, financial planning, perfecting interview skills and salary negotiation tactics.
Open to the public, interested persons should contact Rep. Beyer’s district office at (703) 658-5403.
Rep. Beyer has adopted as his identifying theme, “Creating a new American economy, fighting climate change, ensuring women’s economic empowerment.”
At the press conference Monday, Beyer was joined by Bloomberg’s Grauer, who is a founding chairman of the U.S. 30 Percent Club, a group of business leaders committed to better gender balance at all levels of their organizations through voluntary actions.
The club launched in 2014 with an aspirational goal of achieving 30 percent women on major corporate boards by the end of 2020. It now includes 49 U.S. chairmen and CEO members “committed to using a range of levers to achieve meaningful, sustainable change.”
Member chairmen and CEOs include Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway, Mike Fucci or Deloitte, Larry Fink of BlackRock, Clarke Murphy of Russell Reynolds Associates and Ursula Burns of Xerox.
In this context, recently Beyer introduced the Gender Diversity Investment Act, proposed legislation that would allow federal workers to allocate a portion of their 401K accounts to index funds comprised of companies which have substantial numbers of women in leadership positions.