#TBT: White House Summit on Working Families, a Year Later
"Our economy demands it."
Those are the words President Obama used a year ago at the White House Summit on Working Families, spoken to illustrate the fact that support for parents in the workforce has broad economic implications.
"It's going to help us compete," said President Obama. "It's going to help us lead."
Working Families by the NumbersIt's a message that continues to resonate, especially when you look at the numbers:
- 80 million families in this country (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Almost half have children under age 18
- 40% of families have a female as the sole or primary breadwinner (Pew)
Supportive Workplace: Policy and ProgressIt's been a little over a year since Bright Horizons CEO Dave Lissy joined the President, business leaders, and policy makers in Washington with a singular goal; to lay the foundation for 21st century workplaces that enable working mothers and fathers to grow their families without cost to their careers.
And the conversation is still critical. Last year, weary working mothers and fathers told Bright Horizons Modern Family Index they were feeling hampered by work/family conflicts, fearing responsibility for children would get them fired, and using precious vacation time to take care of families instead of recharge.
This year, as we move through the middle of the decade, Millennials told us they were also feeling the sting and ready to pledge allegiance to the bosses who support them.
Defying their reputation as perpetual job hoppers, in fact, Millennials told us they'd not only prefer to stay with one job long term, they'd actually gravitate to companies willing to help them find that optimal intersection between work and life.
The High Stakes for BusinessesAnd the stakes for businesses continue to grow:
- Unscheduled absenteeism continues to cost employers thousands per employee annually
- An improved economy is inspiring an increasing the quit rate and confidence to pursue jobs offering the help employees need
- Millennials, officially outpacing Boomers as the largest demographic in the workplace, are moving into more substantial professional roles
Millennials and Positive Business CulturesBut one fact about Millennials and work/life balance is true: they're determined to achieve it. So the economic rewards of a Millennial-fueled workforce will ultimately go to the businesses that recognize and respond to their desires.
It's heartening that leaders are stepping up, with Employee Well-Being Month providing employers an opportunity to make their pledges (as Bright Horizons did) and legislators, including the President, investigating policy on a state and national level.
Months after the Summit, in his State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his stance on support for working families with some definitive words that were music to our ears.
"In today's economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality child care more than ever.
"It's not a nice to have," he told the joint session of Congress, "it's a must have."