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Corporate America wakes up to the business case for good caregiving

May 20, 2021, 1:05 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Megan Rapinoe talks equal pay, the U.S. could face a shortage of nurses, and dozens of corporations join an initiative to solve the caregiving crisis. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– Caregiving coalition. Roughly 200 businesses, including McDonald’s, JPMorgan, and Uber yesterday announced they have forged a new coalition, organized by Time’s Up, to ensure women are not left behind by the caregiving crisis.

The new Care Economy Business Council will convene business leaders so they can share ideas on improving workplace caregiving policies and collectively urge the U.S. government to better support working caregivers, particularly women.

There’s urgency behind this cause. Women’s workforce participation rate has sunk to its lowest level since 1986 in the pandemic, with school and day care closures forcing women leave their jobs or cut back on hours. Some 165,000 women withdrew from the workforce in April alone.

Even before COVID hit, gaps in the U.S. caregiving infrastructure were hurting companies’ bottom lines—whether they realized it or not. Harvard research from 2019 found that 80% of employees with caregiving responsibilities admitted that caregiving affected their productivity. Thirty-two percent said they’d left a job voluntarily because of caregiving duties; such churn was especially prevalent among younger workers and those with senior titles.

But after witnessing the burden in stark, pandemic-era terms, employers are finally recognizing that caregiving is not solely a family or federal government matter; it’s their business, too.

“Caregivers…face a crisis that has been brewing for decades, particularly among working women who cannot fully achieve workplace equity without a major shift in how businesses support them,” Brian Lamb, global head of diversity and inclusion at JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement.

As Emma reports, the new group is open to all businesses, whether they offer generous caregiving benefits to salaried staff or give little support to hourly workers, though Time’s Up hopes that a company’s commitment to the cause will extend to its own workforce. The group is urging companies to support caregivers at work; to rally investment in solutions to the ongoing caregiving crisis; to advocate for better public policy; and to upend cultural norms about who is responsible for care.

Whether the new coalition gets results remains to be seen, but at the very least its creation cements caregiving as an economic engine and a business imperative.

Before the pandemic, some corporations dismissed federal caregiving policies as “overregulation,” Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen told Emma. But now they’re seeking a role in shaping its solution. “Businesses don’t want the public sector to do it alone,” Tchen says.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Abortion ban. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a ban that prohibits abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, making it one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Most women are not yet aware they're pregnant at six weeks, which is often only two weeks after a woman's missed period. Texas Tribune

- Tarmac conversation. Earlier this week, Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke to President Biden on a Detroit tarmac when he visited Michigan. The congresswoman, who is the first and only member of Congress of Palestinian descent, told the President that Palestinians must be protected and criticized Israel's role in the violence as well as the U.S. response. NPR

- Game on. Laura Miele is known by some as the most powerful woman in gaming. The chief studios officer of Electronic Arts, or EA, is listening to players and gaming influencers, along the way reshaping how EA uses analytics to create and market its games. Bloomberg

- A dangerous shortage. In 2022, the United States is expected to face a shortage of nurses to the tune of 1.1 million people. In the female-dominated profession, the COVID crisis contributed to the largest retirement numbers ever recorded last year. The solution isn't training more nurses, write Rebecca Love, president of the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders, and Daniel Pianko, but treating the ones already in the profession better. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Blackstone Mortgage Trust is set to name Katie Keenan CEO. Accenture promoted Karen Pavlin to North America inclusion and diversity lead. TMRW Life Sciences hired Amber Guild, previously president of the New York Times' T Brand, as CMO. Digital health startup Cedar promoted head of marketing Bethany Hale to CMO. Brandless cofounder Tina Sharkey joins the board of ecommerce brand platform Heyday. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Media and Journalism was set to offer a tenure-track position to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jonesbut the school's board of trustees denied the appointment, instead offering a shorter contract, after pushback from conservatives over Hannah-Jones's 1619 Project. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- LFG. On the cover of Harper's Bazaar, Megan Rapinoe previews LFG, the forthcoming HBO Max documentary on the U.S. Women's National Team's fight for equal pay. "When Pinoe speaks, everyone listens," her teammates say. Harper's Bazaar

- Invest early. In an op-ed for Fortune, Lindsey Taylor Wood, founder and CEO of venture firm The Helm, argues that increasing access to investing for women is crucial to achieving gender equality. In addition to fighting for reproductive rights and political representation, "we must also fight for our economic rights," she writes. Fortune

- An ace spokesmodel. Tennis star Naomi Osaka has become a go-to spokesmodel, from a denim campaign with Levi's to her own skincare line to a deal with salad chain Sweetgreen. This story examines what makes her such an appealing brand ambassador: New York Times

ON MY RADAR

Jim Klobuchar dies at 93; Minnesota newspaperman and Amy’s father New York Times

Jean Smart is hitting her stride The Cut

Katie Ledecky's lonely and grueling pandemic training regimen Wall Street Journal

PARTING WORDS

"I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression, and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and still am discovering."

-Pop singer Demi Lovato, announcing they're nonbinary

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