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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

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


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


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