Today’s working families look a lot different from those of the past. For example, an increasing number of workers are finding it necessary to take care of both their children and their aging parents. Also, women are the primary or sole breadwinners in around 40 percent of today’s households, up from just 11 percent 50 years ago.

Typical workplace culture and policies have not adjusted to these modern realities, including the fact that in most households with children, both parents work outside the home. Instead, working families, and particularly working women, have struggled to conform to outdated standards and models or worse.

On April 11 at a Denver Regional Forum on Working Families, we heard perspectives from Denver-area workers, businesses, elected officials, academics and advocates on family-friendly workplace policies, including family and medical leave and paid leave. We also heard the moving personal stories of two Colorado women whose lives – and livelihoods – would have been in serious jeopardy if they not had access to family and medical leave.

View a slideshow of tweets and photos from the event:

Afterward, a number of employers who provide paid leave and sick days to their employees offered their insights surrounding the benefit to both the employee and the company. It was encouraging to hear about businesses and policymakers recognizing the importance of family leave and paid leave to the economic security of today’s families. However, family and paid leave are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Denver event was the first a series of regional forums on working families. This exciting event marked the start of a conversation about adapting workplaces to the needs and realities of today’s workforce. The regional forums are being held to inform a White House Summit on Working Families on June 23 in Washington, D.C.

Hosted jointly by the Center for American Progress, the Department of Labor, and the White House Council on Women and Girls, the June 23 summit will convene businesses, economists, labor leaders, legislators, advocates, the media and the public for a discussion on issues facing the entire spectrum of working families – from workers to corporate executives, from young parents to baby boomers caring for their own aging parents.

In her keynote address at the Denver forum, Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta highlighted a number of other issues that President Obama is committed to addressing through the Forums and the Summit. This includes measures that he has been urging Congress to act on, including “increasing the federal minimum wage, equal pay, paid family and sick leave, increasing nontraditional and STEM jobs for women, child care and early education.”

President Obama has already taken steps towards addressing the disparities in pay and opportunity, and leveling the playing field. From the establishment of the Equal Pay Task Force, to the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage, to two recent executive actions, the president has clearly demonstrated his commitment to helping women and families succeed.

I encourage you to visit the summit website, learn more about the issues and sign up for updates. You can also learn about how to attend one of our regional forums, nominate someone to attend the Washington, D.C., summit or host an event of your own, and tell us your personal story.

With your participation, we can help bring today’s families and workplaces progress into the 21st century together. 

Latifa Lyles is the director of the department’s Women’s Bureau.


It Starts With You

by Janet Froetscher April 19, 2014

Editor’s note: The following article by Janet Froetscher, chief executive officer of the Special Olympics, has been cross-posted from the blog. Read the original here. Paul Marretti, 37, is a talented employee of a Fortune 100 company who recently was recognized as his region’s Employee of the Year. He brings a wide range of abilities [...]

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Transforming Apprenticeships for the 21st Century

by Eric Seleznow April 17, 2014

On Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited Pennsylvania to announce new actions to enhance job-driven training across America. A key focus of the president’s remarks was how apprenticeships are one of the clearest paths to good, high-paying jobs. As he mentioned, 9 out of 10 apprentices get hired for full-time jobs after [...]

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Investing in Skills to Build a Secure Middle Class

by Secretary Tom Perez April 17, 2014

In today’s economy, access to training for in-demand jobs can help American workers punch their tickets to the middle class, and it can help American businesses continue to grow.  However, as our economy continues to expand, too many businesses can’t find the skilled workers they need, and too many people don’t know how to access [...]

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Meeting the Demands of an Expanding Health Care Workforce

by Kathy Martinez April 15, 2014

If you’ve ever seen the “Because” public service announcement from the Office of Disability Employment Policy, you’ve seen Kayla Woolridge swim. While filming the PSA, Kayla, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, got to chatting with my staff about her career goals. Although still a few years out from college, Kayla has been thinking [...]

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Celebrating Women with Disabilities: An Interview with Kathleen Martinez

by Employer Assistance and Resource Network April 12, 2014

Editor’s note: Although Women’s History Month is behind us, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network continues to celebrate the history of women with disabilities and their incredible contributions to the worlds of sport, art, culture and work. Recently, EARN staff interviewed Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez on this topic. The following [...]

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When Experience Pays: Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

by Laura Fortman April 11, 2014

Every spring, as college students nationwide prepare for finals and pull all-nighters to wrap up their spring semesters, many simultaneously ramp up their search for the perfect internship. The Wage and Hour Division understands that these “foot-in-the-door” opportunities can provide invaluable experience and have a great impact on future career paths. But when can internships [...]

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Share on Instagram: What Does Raising the Minimum Wage Mean to You?

by Laura Miller April 11, 2014

People often forget that behind each data point around raising the minimum wage, there are real people − each with their own unique story to share. Sometimes we get so caught up in policy discussions that we forget about people struggling to make ends meet and those who have to make hard decisions, such as [...]

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Giving Apprentices More Tools to Succeed

by Eric Seleznow April 10, 2014

After serving in the Army National Guard for six years as a radar repair specialist, Kevin Burton knew she wanted to continue developing her skills and pursue a career as an electrician. So she enrolled in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26 electrical apprenticeship program, one of the top training programs in the [...]

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Take Control of Your Financial Life

by Phyllis Borzi April 9, 2014

Empower yourself. Strengthen your financial capability. Get the information you need to make financial decisions and take charge of your financial future. April is National Financial Capability Month. It is a time, as President Obama has said, to help all Americans develop the financial capability to take control of their financial lives, gain financial security and [...]

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