Friends of the Women’s Bureau,
I hope this message finds everyone enjoying the holidays with their friends and family. Along with some well-deserved rest and time with loved ones, the end of the year affords us the chance to reflect on some of the highlights of 2014, as well as take a look ahead to next year.
In 2014 we put forth a number of efforts to improve workplace practices and supports, promote greater access and preparation for better jobs, and to promote fair compensation and equal pay for working women. While I am proud of the progress we have made, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Thank you for joining us in helping to level the playing field and ensure opportunities for women in the workplace.
Perhaps our biggest accomplishment of the year was leading the Department of Labor’s efforts with the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Center for American Progress. We collaborated with these partners to host a series of regional forums across the country that led up to the White House Summit on Working Families in late June. The summit and regional forums were great momentum builders for promoting policies that improve the lives of America’s working women and families. We look forward to building on this momentum next year.
As we know workplaces and families look a lot different today than they did in the past. An increasing number of households with children feature both parents working outside the home. Unfortunately, many of today’s workplace policies have not adjusted to these new realities. In 2014 the Women’s Bureau took action to help working families strike a balance in the time spent between their loved ones and their careers. This message has resonated, with my In Support of Paid Leave piece ranking as the Department of Labor’s second most read blog post of the year.
Further strengthening this initiative to help working families was the awarding of Paid Leave Analysis Grants. We awarded $500,000 to three states along with the District of Columbia to explore the feasibility of developing or implementing paid family leave programs at the state level. As Secretary Perez said at the time, “We need to do more to give people the tools to be responsible employees and good caregivers, so they don’t have to choose between the families they love and the jobs and economic security they need.” I echo these sentiments, and look forward to what information we might glean from these studies.
Also over the summer, we enhanced our website http://www.dol.gov/wb/overview_14.htmincluding the addition of a central, comprehensive repository on U.S Department of Labor resources. This tool is a one-stop shop that covers women who are either seeking work, have questions about their current job, or those looking to change careers. Also embedded within the site are relevant data and statistics along with a detailed section of “Know Your Rights” information. We hope our new site helps bring awareness to the tools that women in the workforce have at their disposal.
Lastly we continued the fight for equal pay. Women are still making just 78 cents for every dollar a man does, but we are chipping away at this disparity. One of the best ways we can achieve this is to fight pay secrecy. Last month we released a new fact sheet detailing the protections that are available to women at both the state and federal level. We hope this information combined with new executive orders from the President will help the case against pay secrecy, and in turn help close the wage gap.
2014 was a successful year for the Women’s Bureau and I am proud of the progress we’ve made together. My hope is that the momentum we’ve gained will carry us into 2015 for yet another strong year. Our success in improving opportunities for women depends on collaboration and partnerships with people like you. Thank you for your continued support!
Happy New Year,
Latifa Lyles, Director