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U. of Chicago profs at White House Working Families Summit

WASHINGTON–“It’s time to get out of the ‘Mad Men’ era,” White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told reporters in previewing the White House Summit on Working Families, taking place on Monday and throwing a spotlight on a variety of issues the Obama administration has been pushing–boosting the minimum wage, equal pay and making the workplace more flexible. The events are targeted towards women as the White House cajoles the private sector to do more. “It is in their competitive advantage,” Jarrett said.

University of Chicago Booth School of Business Dean Sunil Kumar is on a panel on talent attraction and retention and U. of Chicago public policy Prof. Ariel Kalil is on a panel about caregiving at the summit, taking place at the Omni Shoreham hotel here. The event was organized by the Department of Labor, the Democratic allied Center for American Progress and the White House, where Jarrett is also the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, with Tina Tchen, the council executive director and first lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff. They were both back home in Chicago last April for a forum on business in a run-up to this summitt.

The White House live stream is HERE.


The White House on Monday said President Barack Obama will issue an executive order for inject more flexibility in federal workplaces as well as urging Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would, according to the White House, “require employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers who have limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer). The legislation also would prohibit employers from forcing pregnant employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow them to work.”

Obama told CBS, in an interview taped Friday and broadcast on Monday the issue is personal for him. “Well, you know, the question is not just what I can do, but I think what we as a society need to do. And this is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. I was raised by a single mom. Probably, the most important financial bedrock of our family was my grandmother. And both of them were strong, hard-working women, but they experienced the glass ceiling. They dealt with childcare crises. I’m now married to a pretty strong woman in Michelle Obama. And before we got to this place, she was dealing sometimes with me campaigning or being away and her having to deal with two small children, while also working. And now I’ve got two daughters. So I want to make sure that they’re able to balance family life and the workplace much better than — or at least their choices will be better than some of the choices that exist before.”

While Democratic lawmakers are on panels, there are no Republicans. Republicans were invited to participate; none accepted, the White House said.