Council for a Strong America Gathers California Policymakers and Business Leaders to Discuss Women in the Workforce
New report highlights the importance of cross-sector partnerships to address the child care crisis and return women to work
ReadyNation California gathered policymakers and business leaders to discuss the child care crisis, the “she-cession”, and how business and policymakers can partner to address the child care crisis and return women to work. Panelists included: Kevin Carnes, President of Lakeshore Learning Materials, Sue Gaon, Vice President of Lakeshore Learning Materials, Giselle Hale, Mayor of Redwood City and Chief Operating Officer at Political Data, Inc, Arielle Julie, Senior Recruiter at Pinterest, with California Assemblymembers Sharon Quirk-Silva and Buffy Wicks. The research report was presented by Sandra Bishop, Chief Research Officer at Council for a Strong America, and the event was moderated by Shelly Masur, California State Director at Council for a Strong America.
Sandra Bishop opened the event with a summary of the research report, Female Labor Force Participation Is Key to California’s Economic Recovery, which shows that, from a representative survey of more than 400 senior business leaders in California, about 84 percent of employers are likely to expand child care supports offered to their employees post-COVID, but many cited barriers to doing so. About 80% of respondents said that federal or state government incentives, including tax credits, would increase the likelihood that their company would expand the child care supports offered to employees. The report underlies that, while employers are willing to expand family-friendly policies, businesses alone cannot solve the child care crisis. Employer incentives must be coupled with robust public investments, including subsidies to families with low incomes and direct assistance to child care providers. For our state’s economy to stabilize and thrive, ensuring working family’s access to affordable, quality child care must be of paramount concern.
Kevin Carnes and Sue Gaon of Lakeshore Learning Materials spoke from the perspective of business leaders whose company has committed to childcare for its employees. For over 28 years Lakeshore Learning has operated Kids & Co., a licensed, award-winning outdoor certified center that has served over 2,400 children. Of the child care center Kevin said, “it’s an integral part of our company - it’s probably one of the things I’m the most proud of and it’s a huge employee benefit.” When asked about the impact of on-site child care on her career, Sue stated, “I can say with no hesitation that the ability to have my kids close to me when they were young was invaluable - one of the reasons I’ve been with Lakeshore so long is that commitment to family.”
Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva brought to the forefront the childcare crisis from the perspective of single moms, women of color, low-wage earners, and women who can’t work remotely and don’t have job flexibility - “not all children have an opportunity for high-quality childcare.” Looking forward to 2022 Quirk-Silva affirmed, “We will continue to work - we know we can do better as a state, we know we need to do better.”
Giselle Hale brought her experience as a working mom who had to leave the workforce due to childcare constraints. “I share my story as both a mom and a policymaker to reaffirm the very core belief that I have which is that childcare is infrastructure. If we want women in the workplace contributing to our economy and to their households then we need to think about childcare in the same way that we think about paving roads - It is the essential ingredient to bringing women into our workplace and keeping them there.”
Arielle Julie, a senior recruiter at Pinterest shared what she hears and she is able to offer potential new talent. “When I’m interviewing people and answering their questions about potentially joining our company, the culture around working families and working mothers is at the forefront of their career decisions, men and women…when thinking about the ‘great resignation’ we see that people are not just quitting working. They’re going to companies that embrace new policies that support working mothers.”
Finally, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks offered personal testimony as a policymaker and mother of young children, “The issue of childcare touches all aspects of society - It’s important that we have people from diverse experience in offices - moms with young kids, communities of color, diversity around the policymaking process to tackle these critical issues.”
View the full event video below: