Posted by Women's Campaign Fund Team on
May 2020 Newsletter
As we post this newsletter, much talk concerns what we can expect in “the new normal.” What happens when we emerge from the current pandemic and wander into a new world of its making?
Little of the national conversation focuses on our opportunity – and ability—to create that world, solving problems new and old from a depth of care and common ground we couldn’t have imagined just weeks ago.
This month, we offer you ways to inspire people with a vision of the future that is related to the present – and so much more than they could have imagined.
Let’s get this conversation started…
In the News
Harvard Business Review Says Women Are Exactly What Leadership Demands Right Now
A recent Harvard Business Review article says 21st Century leadership requires qualities specifically associated with women leaders. It calls on men and women to examine their preconceived notions about what we expect of those in power and what skill sets are actually required to use it well.
The authors point out that, if we want to “create a pool of better role models who could pave the way for both competent men and women to advance,” we need to shift our expectations. Rather than “encouraging women to act like male leaders,” they note, “…we should be asking men in power to adopt some of the more effective leadership behaviors more commonly found in women.”
Among the prized behaviors HBR associates with women leaders? Approaches like:
- Don’t command: empathize (establish an emotional connection).
- Motivate through transformation (use “meaning and purpose” not “carrots and sticks”)
- Don’t lean in (to qualities like assertiveness, boldness, or confidence) when you’ve got nothing to lean in about.
- Know your limitations (because “the only reason to be utterly devoid of self-doubt and insecurities is delusion”).
Already the New Normal: Women Fighting COVID-19 on Cities’ Front Lines
Local offices make up 96% of the 519,682 elected offices in the U.S. Too often, they are overlooked in favor of the one tenth of one percent of elected offices represented by Congress and the White House.
COVID-19 shines a spotlight on the value of local knowledge and local leadership in such fundamental tasks as managing the spread of disease in a global pandemic. Not exactly the duty some local elected officials signed up for. Yet, for many, that’s only half the challenge. Inspiring fellow citizens to follow their “better angels” and become guardians of each other’s well-being is a big part of the deal. Essential tools? Guts, brains, heart, humor – and craft.
Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) posted this piece looking at how the female mayors of Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago are handling the challenges.
Seattle Mayor, Jenny Durkan, is recognized as a national leader in managing a local response, readily sharing her experience to help other mayors prepare for the virus. In the days after she issued a civil emergency, she approved a groundbreaking program to provide free childcare for essential workers and set up a moratorium on evictions. “People are scared, confused, and getting mixed messages from the national and local level,” Durkan said. “I think people will trust their local leaders. You have to be transparent about the seriousness of the situation and how difficult it is – and is going to get – but you also have to do it in a way that does not create panic.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot led Chicago’s call to action as the city became a U.S. hotspot for COVID-19. She quickly gained trust, using humor and the force of her personality to “drive home” the safety messages her constituents needed to hear. In fact, she personally drove the city streets, “yelling at crowds of people to go home.” Her unconventional tactics produced memes, like this one, which she happily shared on her own social media.
As the story notes, “Women mayors in all U.S. cities – big or small – are key players in combating COVID-19 in ways that most directly affect our everyday lives.” With rates of infections still rising in rural towns and urban centers, the role of mayors cannot be underestimated in the ranks of leaders showing us the way home.
What can you do close to home?
Check Out this Month’s “Talk About It” Topic
Pandemic and Policy
We know from the history of global emergencies and the reality of the current pandemic: women and children fare worse in the long run when disaster strikes. That means the moment for getting more women into elected office has arrived – and has never felt more urgent or more promising.
Imagine a new normal in which women legislators tackle the policy implications of what we’re experiencing...
- 76% of the healthcare workers we hold up as heroes are women. They’re 85% of all nurses, RN or otherwise. 30% of physicians and surgeons. Since they carry more than their share of child rearing and household duties, imagine women legislators enacting childcare benefits for such essential duty. Picture women in Congress raising OSHA and other standards for on-the-job protections and planning, ensuring the availability of medical-grade masks and protective clothing – that fit the anatomy of the vast majority of people who wear them!
- Imagine women leaders leveraging 2019 federal data to call for paycheck protections of the most basic kind: fair wages for the second most common tier of healthcare occupations – non-RN nurses, psychiatric nurses, and home healthcare aides. Again, 85% of these lifesavers are women. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, they now make an average of $27,000/year – and that hasn’t changed in 20 years.
- Imagine the impact on women and families of policy to help level the playing field as we emerge from an economic shutdown and rebuild the labor force. The Washington Post reports, “The pandemic has wiped out the job gains women made over the past decade, just months after women reached the majority of the paid U.S. workforce for only the second time in American history.” If shutdowns continue to roll through our economy as expected, what can we do to support parents so that the income gap between women and men doesn’t determine who stays home when schools close their doors from time to time?
- What about labor law and policy today to provide essential protections for essential workers, from the warehouse and delivery workforce, to women in uniform, at cash registers, in hard hats, and food processing gear?
- What else?
“Energize the Power of Your Vote.”
We shout out to Cynthia Richie Terrell and Represent Women for a reminder about Civically Re-Engaged Women – aka CREW – (isn’t their name alone inspiring?) which hosts a virtual conference this July called “Sheroes & Champions: Energizing the Power of Your Vote.”
The stellar speaker roster includes Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, Chair; Michele Jones Galvin, Co-Chair and (great, great) great grandniece of Harriet Tubman; and Kenneth B. Morris Jr., (great, great) great grandson of Frederick Douglass (Co-Chair).
Not only is this your opportunity to learn from the descendants of iconic figures in American history, but also to hear from a host of other leaders in elected government, academia, media, and the non-profit world. The event culminates CREW’s multi-year observance of the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. acknowledging the right of women to participate in elected representation, aka the right to vote. Visit www.crewomen.com to learn more and register.
While we’re on the subject, will you cast your vote…
In person? By mail? Absentee? Plan ahead and use WCF’s voter tool to find every option available to register or vote in your location.
Not everyone is able, likely, or wise to duck out to the polls for the primaries ahead! Where might you be on your primary day – and in November?
Finally, meet the women who can help guide you to #5050x2028…Your Board of Directors!
This month, we feature…
One of our newest Board members, Grace Flores-Hughes lives in rural Virginia while keeping close ties to the world next door in Washington, DC. For decades, she has championed children and their courageous parents. She works with unaccompanied minors, protecting them from human trafficking and other dangers. She also guides immigration policy to safeguard families.
Serving in both Republican and Democratic Administrations, including appointments by 3 Republican Presidents, she helped resettle Cuban/Haitian refugees and tackled racial and ethnic conflict at the Department of Justice. She also mediated thorny issues at the National Labor Relations Board, among other roles.
Flores-Hughes leads from the lessons of growing up female and Hispanic in tough Texas towns. In fact, she’s authored two books shaped by her experience, one of which is due for publication this year.
At WCF, she puts her network and experience behind bringing corporate leaders to WCF’s innovative 5050 Council – and new voices to the table for #5050x2028.
Until next month…
May you and your loved ones be well, safe, and always learning.
Question of the Month:
What can you do right now… to help make #5050x2028 a normal expectation, with the tools we’re all using to work, learn, connect, and play?