Vicki Shabo | The 2019 MAKERS Conference
Vicki Shabo, VP, National Partnership for Women & Families, talks about the landscape of paid family leave in the U.S. — and what needs to change at the 2019 #MAKERSConference at Monarch Beach Resort.
- Please welcome Vicki Shabo. [MUSIC PLAYING] SONG LYRICS: Higher than I ever been. I will fly. I will fly. VICKI SHABO: Hey there. Isn't that such a powerful clip? So this is from a movie called "Zero Weeks." It's available online, and the whole thing just makes you want to cry and also take action. So I'm here to tell you why this is the right time to take action. Let me tell you why I'm hopeful, even in this time where things feel so hard and so divided. I'm going to start with a story. So this past fall, I was inspired to go out to North Dakota-- (IN ACCENT) --North Dakota, Fargo-- (NORMAL VOICE) --to take some time to go knock on doors for a senator that I enormously respected. And while I was there, I found common ground with people that I really just didn't expect. So a man pulled me into his house-- literally pulled me into his house-- and wanted to tell me how everything in Washington was wrong, how politics was terrible, and he thought that he disagreed with me on every public policy. Same with this woman, who told me about her own-- her disabled daughter, her own health condition, her low wages. She felt like everything was wrong, and, like, she would disagree with me on everything, especially on women's rights. And as we talked some more, we found that we actually had common ground around paid family leave as a policy support for families, and to really express the family values that we all agree this country should hold dear. So I'm feeling hopeful and I'm feeling optimistic, and I want to tell you a couple of other reasons why, and it's not just that 84% of voters support national paid family leave, and that support is strong among both Democrats and Republicans. It's also that policymakers are finally, finally taking action. So in states, in the past two years, we've won three state paid family and medical leave laws, we've won equal pay laws, and policymakers, governors, and legislative leaders-- not just backbenchers-- are increasingly taking action on this issue. Second, in this last divisive campaign, there were glimmers of hope. 50% of candidates for Congress and Governor in competitive races had paid family leave, equal pay, or sexual harassment as part of their platforms. On paid leave alone, and this one gives me huge pride, we went from 4% of candidates that talked about this issue back in 2014, just four years ago, up to 29% this year. And those who talked about the issue, who had it as part of their platforms, they were more likely to win. That brings me to my third piece of optimistic hope. The new women in Congress. How many of you have been following them? [APPLAUSE] I know, right? It is amazing to see people that look like us up there, and actually this past week, I was at an event with Lauren Underwood, who's a new member of Congress from Illinois. Yep, she's amazing. And she said on the campaign trail she used to joke about her girlfriends, and now her girlfriends are in Congress-- so cool. So you know, they're like us, and what gives me-- what makes me feel just so good, these are people who have dealt with pay disparities. They're people who have been given the side eye because they've been called too bossy or aggressive. They're people who have felt the heartache of needing to hand a newborn over to somebody else too soon because they needed to get back to work. They get it. And you put those new folks, the new energy people who are young and vibrant, and look like us with some of the longtime leaders. Who for decades, for years, have prioritized paid leave and equal pay. They're in positions of huge power. You only need to look at the State of the Union the other night to see that. And candidates for president have this issue as part of their platforms as one of their key priorities. So I am super hopeful about the future. It is time for us to win. We are on the edge of winning national paid family and medical leave, I really believe that. I think we're on the edge of trying to putting policies in place to make it harder for employers to discriminate against women on the basis of sex related to pay, and other issues with pregnancy. But it's going to take all of us. It is time for us to jump in. So this year, I think the House of Representatives has a great chance of passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to help close the wage gap. I think this year, the House of Representatives can pass a comprehensive, affordable tested plan for national paid family and medical leave. Now the Senate, the president-- I'm not sure they're going to get us all the way to where we need to be to pass these things into law. But our actions and our investments right now, all of us, all of us playing our role, can help hasten the pace of change to make damn sure that by 2021, we are seeing new laws in this country. So it is time for us to band together. I want you to get ready to jump into this because all of us, all of you, your voices, your influence, your networks, it is essential that you use those to seize this moment. And who knows, if we are really loud and really persistent, maybe we'll even make change sooner, because these issues are on the agenda of politicians from both parties now. These are mainstream issues. So who's ready for action? [APPLAUSE] Yeah? OK. Awesome. All right, so I'm going to ask you to do three things right now. First, I want you to think about the ways that you, you personally, can use your voice in your workplace or your community to make change. Who can you talk to? Who can you influence? Who can you mobilize? Now I want you to have some accountability here. So I want you to turn to your neighbor and I want you to tell them the first thing that you are going to do when you get home to fight for better policies for women and families. Kerry Washington did this at our annual gala this year, and it stuck with me. So I wanted to make some other people do it. Turn to your neighbor and tell them the one thing you're going to do. [CHATTER] I love it. Awesome. Woo. [LAUGHS] All right. [LAUGHS] You guys are amazing. All right, here's the last thing I want you to do. I want you to-- you guys are still talking, that's good. All right. Are you ready for number three? Number three, you're going to take action right now. Pull out your phones, go to supportpaidleave.org/makers-- supportpaidleave.org/makers, and tweet at your member of Congress, telling them to prioritize national paid leave. You just have to enter your zip code at that web page, and it'll go straight to your member of Congress. I want you to tell them, with your message, that you and 100 million people who do not have paid family leave now want it now. You want Congress to hold hearings and pass a bill this year. Congress works for you, and you mean business. So thank you for doing that. If you want to talk more about how you can get involved, go ahead and flag me down over the next couple of days or tweet me @VShabo or friend me on LinkedIn, and we'll talk. Thank you so much. We're going to win this together. Thank you. [APPLAUSE, MUSIC PLAYING] SONG LYRICS: Higher than I ever been. I will fly. I will fly.