Thanks for following our milestones campaign, where we shared 40 years of Women Employed’s history in 40 weeks! This week brings us to 2013. This year, we’ve reflected on our 4 decades of impact, and we look forward to 40 more years of bettering the lives of working women. So here’s WE’s Advocacy Council at our birthday party toasting to our future. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages in the upcoming weeks to see our (and your) wishes for working women!
In 2012, WE partnered with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, One Million Degrees, and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning to create Complete the Degree—a free program that helps Chicago adults get back on the path to college completion. To date, the program has helped more than 700 adults.
In 2011, Women Employed partnered with City Colleges of Chicago for their Reinvention, an initiative intended to build a competitive workforce by helping students earn credentials and degrees leading to good jobs or further education. We continue to work with them to ensure more adult and non-traditional students succeed in college.
WE Associate Director Jenny Wittner was invited to attend a White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, hosted by the President and First Lady. The forum brought together a select group of leaders to discuss strategies for making America’s workplaces more flexible and family-friendly. WE brought the needs of low-wage working women to the table.
In 2009, Women Employed worked with national partners to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women facing discrimination to make their case in court. It was the first bill President Obama signed when he took office.
2008 marked Women Employed’s 35th anniversary. That year Arianna Huffington, famed political commentator and founder of the Huffington Post, spoke at The Working Lunch, WE’s annual luncheon, outlining why it’s so important for women to be involved in the political process.
Women Employed led a push to raise awareness about the need for paid sick days. We collected stories from women who don’t have paid sick days. We helped write a bill that would guarantee sick days for Illinois workers. And we launched a grassroots postcard campaign to educate legislators about the need for the paid sick days.
In 2006, WE worked with our higher education allies, our Action Network members, and low-income students who shared their stories with policymakers, to win a $38 million increase in funding for vital Illinois student assistance programs, making college more accessible to more than 200,000 low-income students.
In 2005, Women Employed released two groundbreaking publications. Making the Pieces Fit documented the mismatch between worker skills and employer needs, and showed that low-wage workers need better access to education so they can meet employer needs. Bridges to Careers for Low-Skilled Adults served as a how-to guide for colleges and community organizations to develop bridge programs that provide adults with basic academic skills while they are learning job skills, in order to prepare them for college-level courses.
In 2004, WE launched Career Coach, an innovative online program available in English and Spanish that provides comprehensive career development assistance. Over the years, the program has helped tens of thousands of users learn about career options, and has been named one of the top ten career exploration tools by the Department of Labor.
WE launched an advertising and information campaign called Upgrade Your Future, which helped educate more than 50,000 women about high-wage, high-growth careers in information technology.
Mary Frances Berry spoke at The Working Lunch. At the time, Berry was serving as the first (and still the only) female chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as appointed by President Clinton. She had also written The Politics of Parenthood: Child Care, Women’s Rights, and the Myth of the Good Mother. She is currently a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.
The steep cost of child care keeps too many low-income moms from pursuing a degree. In 2001, WE won a major victory for student mothers, embarking on an advocacy campaign that won $27 million in subsidies for low-income working parents enrolled in education and training programs.
In 2000, WE scored a major fair pay victory. We released Raising Women’s Pay, a report proposing systemic changes to improve women's wages. One priority was implementation of initiatives requiring employers doing business with the federal government to provide salary data as part of their equal opportunity reporting practices, making it easier to uncover potentially discriminatory practices. The U.S. Department of Labor adopted that practice later that year.