The U.S. is the only developed country in the world that does not have a national paid leave policy, and around 40 million Americans do not get paid sick days.
Those are just a few of the issues that are hindering gender equality in the workplace, according to Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Obama.
“Women are graduating from college at higher rates, and graduate schools at even higher rates, than men. So the pipeline [of qualified employees] is there,” Jarrett told Cheddar in an interview at SXSW in Austin, Tex.
“We just have to make sure that the pipeline continues into the workplace and up to the highest level within organizations. There is a glass ceiling there.”
Since leaving the White House, Jarrett is now focused on tackling these issues, and she’s drawing from her own experiences to do it.
“Part of it is my life experience as a single mom trying to balance my responsibilities in a pretty high-powered career with the most important thing to me, which is to be a good mother,” Jarrett revealed.
“That experience really informed a lot of the work that I did at the White House...and the work that I’m doing going forward.” The Democrat supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, but despite her loss Jarrett is optimistic that things can still change. She believes in encouraging culture changes at the top of companies and actions at the state level.
“There’s so much that we can do that doesn’t involve the federal government,” said Jarrett. “States and private employers around the country, cities, are now passing...important laws.”
“We need to recognize that our voices are going to offer a different perspective and that’s important. You make better decisions when you’re talking to people who see the world from a different lens.”
For the full interview, click here.