Innovation Ohio Education Fund, Women’s Watch Initiative
On August 26, the nation recognized National Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the date women earned the right to vote and also celebrating continued efforts to achieve full gender equality for women and families. That’s why we were so happy to have the opportunity to mark the day in Dayton, announcing the enactment of the City’s first ever paid parental leave policy.
Dayton paved the way on this issue in our state, becoming the first major city in Ohio to establish a Paid Parental Leave policy, and we applaud Mayor Whaley and the city of Dayton for leading by example on this critically important issue for working women. Then, just a week later, we were thrilled to be invited to join Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati as he announced the introduction of a proposal for Paid Parental Leave for City of Cincinnati employees.
Momentum has grown across the country for paid parental leave as local leaders have taken the lead to progress this family-friendly policy. Dayton and Cincinnati align themselves with dozens of thriving private sector companies who have also recently announced paid leave policies. This year alone, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs all announced the implementation of some form of paid parental leave. In August alone, Netflix, Adobe and Microsoft all added their names to this list. These highly successful companies have realized that providing paid leave for their employees after the birth or adoption of a baby improves employee retention, job satisfaction and productivity, and helps employers compete for top talent.
In addition to being a good policy for both employers and employees, paid parental leave also has numerous benefits to individuals and communities. With access to paid parental leave, low-wage workers are less likely to leave the workforce and to require public assistance. Paid leave not only reduces gender and economic disparities, but it strengthens regional economies. Access to leave with pay has also been shown to improve critical health outcomes like immunization and infant mortality.
Thanks to support from the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, earlier this year Innovation Ohio published a report that examined these and other proven benefits of paid parental leave for women, families, the economy, and local communities. That report opened the door to conversations with leaders like Mayors Whaley and Cranley, arming them with facts and data they need to support a move to improve benefits for working women and their families.
Innovation Ohio’s Women’s Watch project began in 2012 as a way to equip Ohioans with information about public policy decisions in Columbus that could impact their lives. In 2015, after becoming a Women’s Fund partner, we have expanded our focus from legislative analysis to producing original research and bringing together a network of women-centric organizations that are organizing and collaborating to make positive policy change in the region.
We are encouraged to see Ohio cities taking the lead in this key shift in public policy. Thanks to our partnership with the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, Innovation Ohio will continue to produce research and analysis to bring paid parental leave– and other policy changes that will support economic self-sufficiency – to the women of Central Ohio.
Written by Terra Goodnight, Innovation Ohio Policy Director
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