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The 2020 candidates’ positions—and records—on economic issues that affect women

January 28, 2020, 9:28 AM UTC
Presidential debate
The candidates on stage at the Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019.
Bloomberg—Getty Images

This week, Fortune published a joint project with Time’s Up Now featuring interviews with the 2020 presidential candidates about some of the economic issues that directly affect women and working families: paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership. 

Thirteen of the remaining 15 candidates, including President Trump, participated in the project. Two—Republican primary challengers Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, and Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman—chose not to participate.

Time’s Up Now, a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to promoting safe working conditions for women, faces limitations on asking primary candidates personalized questions. In this companion article without participation from Time’s Up, Fortune has provided more context and information on candidates’ records and positions on these issues. 

Michael Bennet  

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has served in the Senate since he was first appointed to the seat in 2009. Bennet was previously chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper—another former 2020 presidential candidate—and superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

A centerpiece of his proposals related to women’s economic issues is the American Family Act, which he introduced in the Senate in March of 2019; the legislation would increase the child tax credit for young children and make the tax credit fully refundable, an effort the Bennet campaign acknowledges is largely targeted at helping middle-class families

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a long legislative record to point to on these issues, from his decades in the Senate to his eight years in the Obama Administration. In 1990, Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act, and worked to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993, which guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave to workers.

Biden’s stewardship of the Senate committee that heard Anita Hill’s testimony during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings has at times been an issue in the race for the Democratic nomination. Biden has “expressed regret” over his role in the proceedings to Hill, while Hill has declined to characterize their conversations as an apology. 

During his presidential campaign, some women have raised concerns about touching and behavior by Biden that they considered inappropriate. Biden has previously said he would try to be “more respectful of people’s personal space.” The Biden campaign declined to provide a comment to Fortune.

Biden says that as President, he would work to pass the FAMILY Act, the BE HEARD Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act. His campaign has put out a plan to end violence against women.

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg earned his fortune—which is now funding his presidential campaign—as the founder of financial services firm Bloomberg L.P.; in responses to Fortune/Time’s Up’s questions, his campaign pointed out that his company offers 26 weeks of paid family leave to all employees.

Bloomberg went on to serve as mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013. His tenure as mayor was distinguished by a focus on public health issues, a trend that has continued with the Bloomberg presidential campaign, which released a plan to fight the maternal mortality crisis. The campaign also released a plan to support women as small business owners and touts Bloomberg (the company)’s Gender Equality Index

Bloomberg and his company have been named as defendants in multiple lawsuits alleging gender discrimination. Bloomberg’s campaign said in response to Fortune via email: “We have zero tolerance for sexual harassment or discrimination of any kind. We have always created an environment where women can and do succeed. We provide equal pay, good benefits, and opportunities for advancement.”

Recently, Bloomberg has said that he will not release women from nondisclosure agreements signed in relation to those lawsuits and settlements. 

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Pete Buttigieg 

Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat, served as the mayor of South Bend, Ind., from January 2012 to January 2020. During his time in office, Buttigieg implemented six weeks of paid family leave for city employees and appointed the city’s first diversity and inclusion officer.

As part of his presidential campaign, Buttigieg released a Women’s Agenda, which includes plans to close the gender pay and wealth gaps, reduce racial and income-based disparities in women’s health outcomes, and prevent domestic violence, sexual harassment, and online harassment. He has also pledged to choose women for 50% of his cabinet and judicial appointments as President.

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

John Delaney  

Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) represented Maryland in Congress for six years. In his prior career in business, Delaney served as CEO of two publicly traded companies, Health Care Financial Partners (later acquired by Heller Financial) and commercial lender CapitalSource. 

As part of his presidential campaign, Delaney issued a plan for women’s rights, pledging to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, eight weeks of paid family leave, reproductive rights, and the Equal Rights Amendment

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Tulsi Gabbard

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012; she announced in 2019 that she would not seek re-election to the House and would instead focus on her presidential campaign.

An Army veteran, Gabbard has been a leading voice on addressing and preventing sexual assault in the military. She also supports the FAMILY Act, the POWER Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Read her answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Amy Klobuchar 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a former lawyer and county attorney, was elected to the Senate in 2006. 

She introduced the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, which seeks to improve access to childcare by investing in facilities and training, and supports legislation including the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Child Care for Working Families Act, the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, and the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act. Klobuchar’s plan for her first 100 days in office includes expanding VA benefits for women veterans and their children, providing incentives to federal contractors to offer paid family leave, and putting rules in place to prevent pay discrimination.

Read her answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick, a Democrat, served as Governor of Massachusetts between 2007 and 2015. His 2020 platform includes support for paid family and medical leave, subsidized childcare and universal prekindergarten through either a tax credit or direct contribution, and expanded family tax credits.

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Bernie Sanders 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has served in Congress since 1991 and in the Senate since 2007. Throughout the 1980s, Sanders was the mayor of Burlington, Vt. 

Sanders supports six months of paid family leave, universal childcare, the BE HEARD Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act. His campaign highlights how his economic agenda, which is focused on working and low-income people, would benefit the women who hold two-thirds of minimum wage jobs in the U.S. 

Former members of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign staff have accused the campaign of pay discrimination based on gender and of being tolerant of sexual harassment. In an email statement to Fortune, the Sanders campaign responds: “During his 2016 campaign, there were women who were harassed and mistreated. Bernie is deeply sorry and recognized that the safeguards and standards were inadequate. As a result of meeting with 2016 alumni who were willing to come forward, meet with him, and share their stories, Bernie put forward a comprehensive blueprint committed to safety, inclusion and equity for his 2020 campaign.”

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Tom Steyer 

Tom Steyer earned his fortune—which is now funding his presidential bid—as the founder of Farallon Capital and at private equity firm Hellman & Friedman.

As a presidential candidate, he supports six months of paid family leave, legislation on equal pay, and subsidized childcare.

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Donald Trump 

President Donald Trump was known for his career in business and real estate and as a reality television personality before he was elected president in 2016. While the other candidates for President have only proposals for what they would do in the White House and, for some, Congressional voting records, Trump, as President, has a three-year record in executive office to examine. 

The White House, answering a Fortune/Time’s Up question about funding affordable childcare, emphasized an effort spearheaded by Ivanka Trump to double the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 as part of the administration’s 2017 tax reform. That effort has benefited largely middle-class and wealthier families, with many lower-income families earning too little to qualify for the full credit. The White House did not respond to request for comment about this discrepancy.

In response to a question about the gender pay gap, the White House cited the low unemployment level among women and did not directly address the gap. The Trump administration attempted to reverse an Obama-era rule that required businesses to report salary data to the EEOC. While a judge blocked that effort, Trump’s appointed EEOC commissioner then decided to halt the data collection effort, claiming that the data collected did not outweigh the burden on employers. 

Neither the White House nor Trump’s re-election campaign answered questions about sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, or legislation on the diversity of corporate boards. The Trump administration overturned a rule that prevented federal contractors from forcing employees into arbitration when they’re sexually harassed or assaulted at work. 

More than 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault. Two separate women are suing the President over claims that he defamed them when he said their claims that he sexually assaulted them were fabricated. This 2016 campaign is the subject of a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of assault and harassment, and the campaign has in the past declined to comment on the pregnancy discrimination suit. Neither the White House nor the campaign responded to requests for comment from Fortune on these claims.

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, and the gender pay gap here. Neither the White House nor the campaign answered questions about pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, or diversity in corporate leadership.

Elizabeth Warren 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was elected to the Senate in 2012 after a long career as an academic and expert in bankruptcy. In 2007, she proposed the idea that would eventually become the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

She launched her presidential campaign with a plan to fund universal childcare, and has since released plans to address the maternal mortality crisis, protect reproductive rights, provide paid family and medical leave, and to boost wages for women of color

In October of 2018, a conservative website questioned the veracity of Warren’s description of losing out on a teaching job in the 1970s because she was pregnant, a story she tells frequently on the campaign trail. Warren has stood by her story and pointed out that pregnancy discrimination was not often noted in official records. 

Read her answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here

Andrew Yang  

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang entered the Democratic presidential primary after a career in business and tech. His platform is centered around a proposal for universal basic income, or a $1,000 a month “freedom dividend” to American adults, which he points out would pay women for often unpaid care work. He also supports six months of paid family leave, subsidized childcare, increased support for single parents, and legislation on diversity of corporate boards along with other efforts to increase women’s representation in leadership positions

Two former employees have claimed that Yang discriminated against them based on gender when he was CEO of a tutoring company, as reported in this BuzzFeed story. The Yang campaign’s national press secretary said in a statement emailed to Fortune: “Like many CEOs, Andrew Yang has had the unfortunate task of letting staff go who did not meet the organization’s standards. The information provided by the letter-writer does not reflect the reality of the situation.” 

Yang’s wife, Evelyn Yang, spoke to CNN this month about being sexually assaulted by a gynecologist who later lost his medical license. 

Read his answers about paid family leave, affordable childcare, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and diversity in corporate leadership here