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Republican Policy Committee Looks at How Businesses Empower Women to Overcome Barriers to Success

Mar 29, 2017
Press Release
Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce holds third hearing

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, March 29, 2017) —The House Republican Policy Committee (RPC) Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce held its third hearing to learn how the private sector is currently empowering women to overcome barriers to success.

Rep. Martha McSally (AZ-02), chair of the Women’s Working Group, led Tuesday’s hearing titled “How the Private Sector is Helping Women Get Ahead.”

“As part of this working group’s mission to dig into the root causes of the barriers that women face, we want to study what businesses have already done to ensure that their female employees can achieve their full potential. Wherever women succeed, businesses will succeed,” McSally said in her opening statement. “The private sector is the innovation engine of our economy and more private sector businesses and organizations than ever are recognizing that training, promoting, and retaining women is essential to their continued competitiveness—and their bottom line. That’s why our focus today is businesses on the cutting-edge of empowering women and producing opportunity for them to succeed.”

“As the husband of a working professional and father of two young girls, I am concerned about the challenges women face in the workforce and eager to discuss innovative, private sector solutions that are helping women break down barriers to success,” said Republican Policy Committee Chair Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06).

Members heard testimony from policy experts, business leaders and CEOs on the effective practices they have implemented for their women employees, such as increasing workplace flexibility, providing caregiving options, and addressing residual bias. 

Gap Inc. became the first Fortune 500 Company to announce that they pay female and male employees equally for equal work in 2014. Debbie Maples, VP of Global Loss Prevention & Corporate Security at Gap, stated, “Gap Inc.’s mission is to advance women in the workplace. We recognize that employees need flexibility to balance work and life responsibilities. Based on our experience with these efforts, the benefits of implementing flexible work programs are undeniable: production turnover dropped by 50%, employee engagement scores improved by 13%, and several hundred thousand dollars in savings were realized by reduced employee turnover costs. At Gap Inc., we know that our business succeeds when everyone has the chance to stand as equals and thrive.”

Brian Barkdull, CEO of American Southwest Credit Union, which serves the Sierra Vista area in Rep. McSally’s district, stated, “We have always had about an 85-90% female workforce.  What I have learned over the years is that life happens: day care issues, sick kids, doctor appointments, sports events, band, dance practice, classroom presentations, maternity-related events, or community participation. What is our culture? We accommodate. We have high quality service standards and demanding strategic initiatives, so we continually strive to find the right balance for our workforce.”

Kymberlee Dwinell, Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northrop Grumman Corporation, which employees 300 in Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca, Arizona shared, “Developing, maintaining and growing a diverse workforce is critical to our success and a priority for our company. Companies with three or more women in senior management functions scored higher in key factors of leadership, accountability and innovation than companies with no women at the top across nine standard criteria of organizational excellence. It’s clear that private sector support of women in the workforce, especially in leadership roles, is important for a successful business. Companies like Northrop Grumman understand the value of providing additional support to women in the company, as well as young girls across the world. Diversity is truly a strategic asset.”

Dr. Donna Ginther, Professor of Economics at the University of Kansas, stated “Women have made tremendous progress in the workforce, but that progress has stagnated, in part because of the lack of policies to support women and mothers who work. The United States lags behind other developed economies in the policies we have to support women in the workforce. One of the keys to growing women’s wages and improving the economic outcomes is creating an environment that enables women to participate in the labor market while they have children.”

The Republican Policy Committee launched the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce in July 2016. A video highlighting previous Women in the Workforce hearings can be found here.

PHOTOS from Tuesday’s hearing are available here.

115th Congress