- Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve’s first female chair, recently spoke out on the need for workplace policies that encourage women’s participation in the workforce, reports The Wall Street Journal. U.S. Labor Dept. statistics show that the labor participation rate for women aged 20 and older, the working or job-seeking segment of the population, is 58.5% compared to 71.7% for men.
- In a speech on gender inequality at Brown University, Yellen praised workplace policies such as paid family leave and tax-relief for child and elder care. She said such policies increase women’s numbers in the workforce and raise productivity, which boosts the economy. Yellen cited a study that said increasing women's participation rate in the workforce could raise the national GDP by 5%.
- Yellen warned that challenges such as the pay gap between men and women and the struggle to balance work and family responsibilities remain obstacles for working women. Yellen was appointed fed chair under the Obama administration.
Recognizing the needs of working families and their own in attracting talent, Microsoft, Netflex, Chobani, Deloitte, Amex, Zillow and EY (formerly Ernst & Young) are among the 38% of U.S. companies now offering some measure of paid family leave.
Meanwhile, the District of Columbia, California, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Washington followed suit in passing varying forms of paid leave legislation, as have municipalities including Philadelphia, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio.
Republicans and business advocates generally oppose paid leave mandates on employers, regardless of what forms those breaks take. They’re even pushing back against such policies in some states and municipalities. However, bipartisan support over the issue of assisting working mothers is not out of the question.
Another factor that could influence the debate either way is President Donald Trump himself. Trump has indicated his support of working women in the past, and might be encouraged by his daughter, Ivanka Trump, not to oppose paid family leave benefits during his time in office.