It’s been a tough year, both personally and for the country and for the world. And, to my amazement, it is already drawing to a close. Hanukkah just two weeks away? Is that possible? But before Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc., comes Thanksgiving. So once again this year, in honor of all the turkeys to come, I’m devoting this week’s post to reminding both my readers and myself of some of the progress over the past year for workers, families, and working families. Here are some developments I’m grateful for:
- I’m grateful that the whole question of paid parental leave continues to gain traction, with men starting to step up to demand their rights as fathers, a tiny but growing handful of companies making a very public point of expanding their paid leave options, and a few going to extremes that may or may not have a real effect on the lives of workers—but at least make a statement. And that all this private talk and action is running parallel to increased momentum in the public realm. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, three states and “nearly two dozen cities” now offer some kind of paid family leave; eighteen other states and who knows how many cities are considering such laws. At least one bill introducing federally mandated leave is now sitting somewhere in Congress.
- I’m grateful that the minimum wage has risen for some people in some places around the U.S., that the question of whether to raise it nationally is at least a hot topic of debate among candidates and voters, that a couple bills to make it happen have made it once again to the halls of Congress, and that a handful of companies are starting to take matters into their own hands (if in incremental ways). Next step: curbing the “real-time scheduling” that can wreak havoc on families.
- I’m grateful that more companies are working to be more welcoming and inclusive of LGBT employees and that marriage equality is now the law of the land.
- I’m grateful that the first, presumably annual, Vacation Commitment Day was declared—followed by a Vacation Commitment Summit—and that the masterminds behind these two events weren’t laughed off the map. (John de Graaf, President of Take Back Your Time, which spearheaded both, also sponsored “Take Back Your Time Day” this past October 24, and is currently advocating for Americans to honor “OptOutside Friday,” a consumption-free alternative to Black Friday. In case you have any thoughts that this is a frivolous campaign, please remember what I wrote about the many ways work may be killing us. Plus, here’s a serious look at how vacations make us more productive at work.
- I’m grateful that, as of last August, Target had jumped on the band wagon with some other big retailers and was busy “phasing out” its sexist division of toy displays. I’ll be interested to see if we hear anything more on the topic during the coming holiday season.
- I’m grateful that the governor of my home state, New York, has just signed into law eight bits of pro-women-and-families legislation including, among others, a law to promote pay equity, one to better protect victims of sexual harassment at work, one to prohibit employment discrimination based on family status (i.e., workplace discrimination against parents), and one to clarify rules about pregnancy discrimination.
- Finally, I’m grateful that, in addition to the growing popularity of standing desks (which faithful readers will know I swear by, even though, I admit, recurring foot problems have shoved me temporarily back into a chair), there is now a lying down desk—yes, I’m not kidding –and one day soon, there may be my dream come true, a nap desk!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!