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CustomFit Workplace blog

The CustomFit Workplace blog is part of the Open, Flexible Work blog. It is a place where workers, managers, educators and Human Resources professionals can share their insights and questions. The views expressed in this blogs aren't necessarily representative of the initiative or of policy positions. Interested in blogging? drop us a line

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End of Mad Men Pay

I am proud to support President Barack Obama's executive orders to promote and protect equal pay for women. The first executive order would protect federal employees who share salary information with one another. The second executive order will instruct the Secretary of Labor to create regulations requiring federal contractors to disclose salary information. This will ensure women start receiving the same legal protections against pay discrimination currently provided to protect against pay discrimination based on race and ethnicity. I have been fighting to get these protections passed for years and I am excited to see them finally enacted.

As a long time advocate for women's rights, I am encouraged by the progress we have made in the past few decades. Currently, women make up 58 percent of college graduates, 28.7 percent of business owners, and 18.5 percent of congressional representatives. I am very proud to say that Bronx County, parts of which are in my district, has the highest percentage of women-owned businesses in the nation. There is no doubt that we are have made amazing progress as a society, but there is so much more to be done.

Gross Domestic Product – What if you got paid to raise your children?

The idea to write a play about motherhood came to me when I was writing my last play, Flipside and nursing my second child. Actually, it had been gestating since the day I was nursing my first child and complaining to my HartBeat Co-Artistic Director Greg Tate that the intersecting struggles of child care, career and being broke were making motherhood feel impossible.

To this my wise friend said, “Well that’s what’s behind the movement for counting childrearing as part of the Gross Domestic Product. Think about how much easier this would all be if raising children was valued for what it is – producing human capital, which is two thirds of any nation’s capital.” Hmmm… that was something to think about.

But I didn’t really think about it again until that second kid came along and I was consumed with the feeling that life could spin out of control at the drop of a pacifier. What would it look like if motherhood was valued monetarily in the US? How different would my life be? How different would all of our lives be?

Scrambling for Stability: The Challenges of Job Schedule Volatility and Child Care

For Karen, a part-time package delivery person and mom to a one-year-old, making child care arrangements is a weekly exercise in scrambling. That’s because Karen receives notice of her schedule only one week in advance, and her shifts fluctuate. The volatility of her schedule makes everything harder. Karen struggles to find friends and family to care for her baby on short notice. And when she can’t work the magic necessary to arrange child care on the fly, she is disciplined at work for being late or missing a day. Karen’s story, recounted in a 2011 report from the Institute for Workplace Innovation and Workplace Flexibility 2010, highlights how job scheduling and child care challenges can prevent workers from advancing in their jobs and ensuring their children are well-cared for.

What you want to know about the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law

What you want to know about the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law

Earlier this month, ACLU Nationwide sent a letter to a Colorado employer, documenting multiple violations of the federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law.

While calling on DISH Network to provide adequate space and privacy for its nursing employees, ACLU sent a clear message to all employers in the country: it is the employer’s sole responsibility to accommodate nursing mothers.

Effective on March 23, 2010, “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law requires employers to provide break time and a place for hourly paid workers to express breast milk at work. If you are a nursing mother who works, there are several things you might want to know about this federal law.

Who is covered by the law?
The law applies to nonexempt employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Are the breaks paid?
The law does not require pumping breaks to be paid. However, if your employer already offers paid breaks and you use those breaks to pump your milk, your time should be paid.

No One Tells Mamma to “Just Go Home!”

By Galen Sherwin, ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Imagine you have just returned from maternity leave, still nursing your baby, and you find that your workplace has no place available for you to pump breast milk.  After trying for several hours to find a place, you ask for help from your department head, who says “You know, I think it’s best that you just go home to be with your babies.”  She hands you a pen and paper, advises you to resign, and even dictates what you should write down as your letter of resignation.

This is exactly what Angela Ames, a Loss Mitigation Representative at Nationwide Insurance, alleges happened to her when she returned to work eight-weeks after having her second child.

What Would Gloria Do? #WWGD

The first MAKERS CONFERENCE was held in February, including a celebration of the life and work of Gloria Steinem. In honor of her eightieth birthday, it featured a video with touching and funny statements from Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Katie Couric, and others about Steinem’s life’s work that, as Marlo Thomas summarized, “connected the dots between all women and created a sisterhood.” At the end, the screen displayed a simple hashtag, #WWGD, which stands for “What would Gloria do?”

What would Gloria do to resolve the unfinished business of the women’s movement she helped create? On the conference’s opening night she offered advice, in an interview with Jennifer Aniston. MAKERS began with an idea to create a documentary telling the story of Steinem’s life. But Steinem insisted the story of the women’s movement could not be told through the life of one woman; thus, the MAKERS project began, with a goal to collect women’s stories documenting the past 50 years of change.

Brigid Schulte is Overwhelmed – and So Are You! Part One

Author Brigid Schulte has a job, a house, a husband, several children, and a whole lot of stress.  She’s also just written a book, available online and at your favorite bookstore, called Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, about how we’ve taken on way more than we can handle, what it’s doing to our lives and our families, and  how we can learn to live differently.  She graciously made time for my questions, both here and in my next post on this blog.

Do fathers and mothers experience overwhelm differently?

Let’s blog about women and retirement security

Women and Retirement Security Blog Roundup

Despite decades of social and economic gains, older American women are still twice as likely as elderly men to be living near or below the federal poverty line. Two-thirds of American women older than 65 have no retirement income other than Social Security and the average monthly Social Security benefit for women is around $1,000. 

Many factors contribute to this disparity, but unequal pay, retirement plan access, family obligations, and financial literacy are the main causes.

Addressing America’s looming retirement security crisis is a social and economic imperative for women and all working Americans.

This Women’s History Month, SEIU’s Retirement Security for All campaign is joining with other organizations to explore how we can make the American Dream of delivering retirement security to more working women a reality. You’re invited to talk about what this means for your organization, members or community through text, photos, video, reports, policy and personal stories.

Food, Fashion and a Little History

Good work, moms!: No one seems to know exactly what to thank for the 43% drop in obesity among 2- to 5-year-olds. Michelle Obama? Food stamp changes that make fruits and veggies more affordable for low-income families?
I know who to thank: You…moms. Many factors probably contribute to this huge improvement, but the fact that kids are getting fewer sugar-packed drinks also points to you.

#DoubleBooked: 12 Tips for CLIPS (Career Loving Involved Parents)

This piece, written by Rachel and her husband, Mark Davies, originally appeared at The Huffington Post on February 11, 2014. It also appeared as part of the Religious Action Center’s blog seriesDouble Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century” on Februrary 14, 2014.  Double Booked deals with the many issues that affect working families, and features everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts and subscribe for updates, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked.

Rabbi Andrea Berlin for #DoubleBooked: Internal Conflict

This blog originally appeared on February 24, 2014 as part of the Religious Action Center’s blog series “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century.” Double Booked deals with the many issues that affect working families, and features everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts and subscribe for updates, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked. 

By Rabbi Andrea Berlin

As our nation prepares for a conversation about working families, I am struck by my own good fortune.  So many families with hard working adults struggle to manage safe and healthy childcare, financial solvency, adequate health coverage, meaningful work, respect at their job sites, and quality time with each other.  How fortunate my own family is!

Thanks to NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Pregnant Woman is Back at Work

Floralba, a pregnant retail worker in the Bronx, was sent home on unpaid leave because she needed to temporarily avoid heavy lifting in order to prevent having another miscarriage. Last week, A Better Balance used the new law we championed, the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to get Floralba back at work, with backpay, and to convince her employer to update it’s policies in compliance with the law! This week, she has been pricing and hanging clothes instead of hauling heavy piles of clothes as she was required to do in the past. Thanks to this powerful new law, Floralba did not have to choose between her paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. 

Isaac Luria for #DoubleBooked: Double Booked: Building Human-friendly Workplaces that Value the Human Spirit

This blog originally appeared on February 25, 2014 as part of the Religious Action Center’s blog series “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century.” Double Booked deals with the many issues that affect working families, and features everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts and subscribe for updates, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked. 

I was invited recently to a conference organized by the Obama Administration on combating child trafficking – an issue that as a dad, I care a ton about.

Isaac’s son Caleb sees where his Dad works, promptly gets on Dad’s chair and starts making calls. Summer 2013.

Leaning on Each Other to Lead: Parents have the skills and talents to create meaningful change together

Last November I uploaded my ebook, Lean On and Lead, Mothering and Work in the 21st Century Economy, to the iBooks Store.  In addition to the next-gen interactivity within the book, Apple allows authors to update publications, with readers automatically receiving free updates.  So I designed a new cover (with the help of my artistic teenage son), cleaned up commas and clunky phrases, spruced up graphics, re-worked widgets, and added content.  My 1.1 update went “live” yesterday.

#DoubleBooked: Reflections On My Working Father

I can still smell the steak that my dad grilled one night during my teenage years. He was a little bit obsessed with making this one lemon rice dish, but overall it was the perfect complement to any main dish- not so flavorful as to compete, but more exciting than plain rice. Nothing tasted better than his perfect tuna fish sandwich on fresh sourdough bread-even for dinner. His gazpacho was, and still is, to die for.

My dad, now a septuagenarian, has worked as the Director of Clinical Education and as a law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent Law School for as long as I can remember.

On top of his busy, albeit more-flexible-than-some job, he took on an enormous number of home responsibilities when my twin brother and I were growing up. This included cooking many dinners, planning dinners for the babysitter to make when he or my mom weren’t home in time to cook, meeting the repair people during the day and talking through many a paper and math problem at night. Despite this juggling act, I cannot think of one time when my dad- or my mom- had to miss our regular weeknight family dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Mothers of the Moment

We’re poised at a sweet spot between the release of The Shriver Report in January, and the arrival of March as Women’s History Month. Momentum is growing for paid leave and paid sick days, candidates for the 2014 mid-term elections are shaping their campaigns, and think tanks in DC are churning out data on women at a furious pace.

Nancy Pelosi and Kirsten Gillibrand have been pushing their Women’s Economic Opportunity Agenda with legislation to promote pay equity, paid leave, paid sick days, accessible and affordable child care, and an end to discrimination against pregnant workers. Under the banner “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,” the legislation will have hard time in Congress, but it serves as both a model and rallying point for advocates around the country. It’s gaining traction, and the Valentine’s Day campaign got lots of attention from other members of Congress and women like you. Take a look at all the photo love here. Follow #WhatWomenNeed on Twitter and you’ll see the synergy.

Child Care, Farming, and Working Parents in Hawaii

Two months ago, I wrote a post called The Short Game: Taking the “Work” out of “Working Together” about a community event that included a congresswoman and about a dozen mothers and daughters.  I described how the act of women gathering together, to support each other and enjoy themselves while also doing important work, might be just as vital as more sustained efforts to solve the systemic problems facing women and families.  In fact, I recently had a conversation with an old friend who I hadn’t been in touch with for awhile.  We had a great time talking, and I remembered how much we like and respect each other.  After discussing parenthood, politics, fair pay, and finding money for different programs in the community, she said:


Where is the love for #BlkBfing? Join the 2/12 chat!

The #BlkBfing chat is back on 2/12 at 7 PM ET with a powerful conversation on the hidden importance of support for successful breastfeeding from family support and nursing in stores to workplace pumping and family leave.  The chat is hosted by MomsRisingEbony.commater mea and Women’s eNews.

Our guests and co-sponsors include:

Rhonda Ross, daughter of Diana Ross, shares her journey to conceive

mater mea exclusive interview with Rhonda Ross

My husband and I have been together for a long time, almost 20 years. For the first 10 of those, maybe longer, we tried unsuccessfully to conceive. I was in my 20s and everybody said, “Ah, you’re in your 20s, you’re fine! Just try harder!”



Mater Mea: inside conversations on motherhood and working

Two years ago American media seemed to be gripped by one important question: “Can women have it all?”

As a young professional woman with aspirations of having an enviable career and a family of my own, I was incredibly invested in knowing the answer to that question. I had eagerly read former State Department director Anne-Marie Slaughter’s much-debated Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s roll-up-your-sleeves screed “Lean In,” expecting some insight into how to set myself up for a future that didn’t sacrifice career for becoming a mother and vice versa. And while I did find bits of wisdom in each career woman’s musings, there was one major thing I didn’t see in their stories: me.

You see, the recent media coverage of working motherhood has largely been lily white: From the stock images TV networks use for their coverage to the talking heads dissecting these think pieces, it was rare to see a woman of color discuss the unique career and lifestyle gymnastics it took for her to “have it all” in mainstream news outlets and websites.

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