#Breadwinners: Women Changing
the Face of Top Household Earners
“August 26th” marks Women’s Equality Day; a date selected to commemorate the certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, granting women the right to vote. It also marks the launch of the first ever #Breadwinners campaign.
#Breadwinners was conceived by Alisa Leonard, founder of Hello Q, to highlight women who are redefining success; women who are the primary household earners and who are changing the landscape and conversation around what it means to bring home the bacon.
"The highest wave floats all the boats - as female breadwinners we need to be that wave. I believe our greatest achievements can be to lift up other women, and in turn everyone." says Leonard
Make no mistake. This is powerful. Female enfranchisement is no longer a demand, it is a reality and the female breadwinner is on the rise…
In 2013, the US Census released data showing that 40% of household breadwinners were women--specifically mothers. According to a 2015 McKinsey report The Power of Parity, closing the gender pay gap and increasing opportunities for women would add $2.1-4.3 TRILLION to the US economy.
“My entire adult life I have sought total financial independence. And though traditionally the term “breadwinner” has had a predominantly male connotation, I know many couples in which two people contribute as equals to the livelihood of their families. In 2016, I don’t think a breadwinner needs to stand alone in a home anymore.” says Jennifer Stith, VP of Bumble.
Jaclyn Johnson, founder of Create & Cultivate, who has earned her success through dedication and tireless work adds, “If it were easy, everyone would do it. Just know to keep moving. Keep pushing forward and don’t be scared to ask for help.”
A wise woman once told us, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” Now you can do both. Our founder w featured, along with 34 other game-changing, influential women; professional women of all ages, races and backgrounds; those that run Fortune 500 companies and those at the helm of startups.
We are proud to collaborate with Hello Q on this initiative.
About Create & Cultivate
Create & Cultivate is a movement for women looking to create & cultivate the career of their dreams. It is a 365 day conversation around entrepreneurship and being a woman in the modern digital world, gathering the next generation of curious creatives, entrepreneurs and bosses to spark conversation around the topics they are passionate about from influencer marketing and brand building to raising money.
At Create & Cultivate you are destined to meet other talented, like-minded creatives, all while learning tips and tricks from some of the best in the business. Attendees get access to a highly curated, impactful one-day program of workshops, mentor sessions, and panels, as well as delicious cocktails, food, pop-up shops, photo booths, gift bags, and more.
Attendees come to feel inspired, enhance their business, drink killer cocktails and cultivate new friendships in an amazing and beautiful environment! Create & Cultivate has taken place in Brooklyn, Montauk, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Portland, and continues several times a year, nationwide.
Building a Culture of Inclusion
Last month, Erika Velazquez Alpern, CEO & Founder of Tactile, conducted a research project to uncover the needs and challenges women face in the workplace. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, achieving gender pay parity would add $4.3 trillion to the U.S. economy by 2025. Much of that progress must come from advancing gender equality in the workplace. With this in mind, Tactile sought direct insight from working women as to which factors were most important to them.
She and her team focused on women spanning several industries from tech and media to finance and government. They ranged in age and experience from recent college grads to women on the verge of retirement. Almost immediately, she noticed strong trends in the data. When asked how companies could empower women, almost every woman’s response fit into one of three main themes; pay parity, flexible schedules for working mothers and the need for more inclusive work culture.
PAY PARITY through TRANSPARENCY
When women were asked to rate specific challenges faced in the workplace, 96.9% rated equal pay for equal work as “extremely important.” Many feel that the only way to close the pay gap is through transparency with suggestions like in-house compensation auditing.
“In too many jobs throughout my career I have found out that my junior male colleagues make more than I do. Even when I feel that I am paid competitively or I am given a generous raise, I always seem to find a male colleague making more for a more junior job.” said Velazquez Alpern. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), in 2015 white women were paid 79% of what white men were paid, whilst African-American women earned 64% and Hispanic and Latina women 53%.
As companies and governmental bodies take the first few crucial steps to address the inefficiencies in gender pay disparity, a few lighthouses are beginning to emerge on the horizon. Late last year, SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff revealed that he spent nearly $3 million to bring the salaries of female employees up to the level of their male counterparts. “We can say we pay women the same that we pay men because we looked at every single salary,” said Benioff.
Public policy is slowly catching up. Within the same month, President Obama and the state of California both signed pay equity laws requiring the disclosure of compensation information by businesses with at least 100 employees.
Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, believes these laws will eventually uproot much of the biases in pay disparity “This is a great step for companies to evaluate themselves,” she said. “Once pay gaps are revealed in black-and-white data, there is an additional incentive for employers to address it.”
SUPPORT for WORKING MOTHERS
The lack of paid family leave in the United States has been catapulted into the national discourse, becoming a major discussion topic on both sides of the aisle. The U.S. is one of only two countries in the industrialized world that offers no federal paid maternity leave. The National Partnership for Women and Families found that 76% of potential 2016 voters would favor the creation of a federal fund for paid family and medical leave.
With increased attention comes better solutions but there is still lots of work to be done. The public discussion surrounding what it means to support working mothers must first evolve past outdated labor policy norms. The Family and Medical Leave Act was signed in 1993 and stipulated up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child, caring for a sick relative or for a personal illness. However, since it is unpaid, many people cannot afford to take it. “Universal paid leave would be game-changing.” says Velazquez Alpern.
The two-parent, nuclear family has become less prevalent and alternative family forms have become more common. In the last 30 years, the number of mother-only households has increased 57%. Unsurprisingly, more than half of the women surveyed by Tactile discussed supporting working moms as the answer to companies creating better workplace cultures for women.
The mounting cost of childcare is also gaining topical prevalence during this election cycle. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree that the federal government should do more to help families with this expense. While Trump’s proposed solution is generous yet expensive, Clinton’s strategy has been criticized for over-promising.
Meanwhile, practical solutions are already in place at a few thriving establishments. Patagonia provides paid maternity and paternity leave, access to on-site child care for employees and financial support to those who need it; all of which is essentially balanced out by tax benefits along with increased employee retention and engagement which recoups an average of 91% of calculable costs annually.
INCLUSIVE WORK CULTURE
Studies have shown that an inclusive workplace culture that values different perspectives actually fosters creativity, fuels innovation, solidifies employee engagement and helps to attract the very best talent. Many of the most successful companies create a safe, healthy, diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects the global communities they serve and in doing so, reap huge rewards. McKinsey’s “Diversity Matters” report confirms that companies with demonstrated gender, ethnic and racial diversity are at least 15% more likely to experience above-average financial returns. They also know that “companies within the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to do the same.” But once you hire an amazing team of people, how do you make sure everyone’s voice is heard?
When Tactile asked exactly how companies could create a better workplace, many women discussed the desire for more leadership opportunities and inclusion without limitation. “Empower women and lift them up in the organization.” said one. Across all professions, women want to be invited to leadership meetings and gatherings. They need to be respected as valued colleagues and given opportunities to advance in their careers.
Erika and her team are well aware that this is just the beginning. Her plan is to continue her research and to infuse even more data into the strategy for building a more inclusive working culture for everyone.
Tactile is a company created to change the ratio. Tactile comprises of two agencies – Tactile @ Work helps companies of all sizes create a more inclusive workplace culture for female leaders and scores companies on how inclusive their company is. Tactile Studio is a branding & marketing agency for female-led and female-focused startups.
An Integrated Life: My Keys to Success
Two years ago I felt a crazy jolt that I couldn’t ignore. I had a strong impulse that I needed to become an entrepreneur and do things my way. I felt so ready for something I had never considered, but somehow I knew I would figure it out.
I had no idea what I was walking into.
A bit of context on my life the past 6 years: I became a mother. I divorced from an 11-year relationship. I moved from my beloved NYC to Miami where I would be closer to family. I left my job as a Social Media Director at a local agency and started my own business.
Of all these life changes, entrepreneurship has challenged me in the most unexpected ways.
I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to spend more time with my son and have greater agency over my work. It turns out there was a whole world of new responsibilities – managing a business, networking, business development, marketing – that I would have to also integrate into my life. At the same time, something kind of magical happened when I had to step it up and become a breadwinner for my son and myself – I felt I had no choice but to fully become the woman I knew I could be.
When you’re an entrepreneur, suddenly there’s no one left to blame for not doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. You can’t blame your job, or your boss. Life was suddenly so “in my own terms” that it was exhilarating and absolutely terrifying. I wanted to live up to this newfound possibility.
It took more than a few months to settle into it all – and the most powerful thing I did was get really clear about the things that mattered to me: my son, sisterhood, joy, connection, beauty and social justice.
And so I decided I would simply start to live up to my values and see where that took me:
Here’s the other reality of the “integration”: I feel tired a lot. I take naps on my desk at work. If it wasn’t for my cleaning lady coming in once a week I don’t know what my apartment would look like. Breakfast means Cheerios more times than I can count. I still feel a little guilty when I have evening work events and I’m not hanging with my son.
There’s nothing perfect about this life I’ve chosen. I’m simply doing the best I can, trying to live a life that’s true to the people and the things that matter to me. I’m asking for help and trying to be a good friend, family member and mom along the way. All the things will not get 100% of me all the time and that is so OK.
At the end of the day my spirit is calmer than it used to be. I’ve learned that this entrepreneurship business tests every part of you – your spirit, your self-confidence, your mindset, your sense of hope. But I see myself being a better person and a better mom because of the things I am accomplishing and daring to do. And as for feeling fully integrated? I’m happy to define those expectations for myself, giving myself a break and just staying true to what matters most.