On Thursday, April 16, Elite Daily accepted an invitation to attend a White House event hosted by President Barack Obama on behalf of "Champions of Change," American people who support working families and encourage change in their communities and companies.
This year, the White House nominated individuals from all walks of life and industries, like Millennials, who are advocating for change in policies such as paid sick leave, equal pay, healthcare, labor issues and more.
The CEOs of Microsoft and Patagonia, as well as small business owners and union leaders, are just some of the individuals who make up this year's Champions of Change.
In addition to spearheading specific workforce issues, the Champions are a reminder to Millennials that if we hope to see change in the world, we must start with our own actions and efforts.
Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett clearly explained the power each of us has to evoke change during her opening remarks:
“You don't need to be a mayor to make a difference…our Champions represent that.”
Jarrett and her team have visited multiple cities across the nation, specifically Chicago and Philadelphia, which have embraced change when it comes to workforce issues.
Many of the Champions of Change have close ties to, or have been personally affected by, the causes they are advocating on behalf of.
Take, for example, David Deary, a physician assistant in Providence, RI and one of this year's Champions, who is fighting for his state's Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) law.
According to the White House, Deary had a son who was born with lissencephaly, a rare malformation of the brain. Thanks to the development and implementation of the TCI law, Deary and his wife were able to focus on their son during a difficult time without having to worry about choosing between work and family.
The TCI law allowed the Deary's to pay their undivided time and attention to their son before he sadly passed away.
The choice to focus on family without fear of professional repercussion was highlighted during Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez' speech:
“Unconscious choices between job security and family shouldn't be choices [American] families should have to make. “
In an ever-evolving professional environment, job searchers are looking for company benefits that go beyond a hefty paycheck — especially Millennials. Companies must continue to evolve and go beyond the norm to stay above the competition and attract the highly sought-after talent.
"Because our workplaces have changed, we have to change with them!"- @BarackObama #WorkingFamilyChamps pic.twitter.com/ykAAK0HkIv — Elite Daily (@EliteDaily) April 16, 2015
Even with the culture of Silicon Valley startups that offer a vast number of "perks" (i.e. dry cleaning, child care and ping-pong tables), the White House is urging American companies to lead the way by implementing policies that provide parents with benefits they need more so than want, like paid leave and equal pay.
If companies fail to rise to the occasion, we may begin to see a loss of American talent to foreign countries that offer said benefits and more.
"We shouldn't have to choose between rewarding work and raising a family." - @BarackObama #WorkingFamilyChamps @WhiteHouse — Elite Daily (@EliteDaily) April 16, 2015
As Millennials, we must be at the forefront of driving this change. At work, we must approach our managers and supervisors with questions about the coverage our policies offer. We must ensure our female colleagues are getting equal pay for equal work.
These practices are a long-term investment in the future of our families and America's competitiveness in the global economy.
President Obama highlighted the importance of tackling these issues, starting with closing the earnings gap, saying, "Ensuring equal pay is a no-brainer…”
"Ensuring equal pay for women is a no-brainer...As a dad, this is personal for me." —Obama #WorkingFamilyChamps pic.twitter.com/bmAGL5jPUv — The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 16, 2015
Equal pay is just one part of the level of advancement at which our nation has yet to arrive. Currently, according to Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, 43 million Americans do not have one single paid sick day.
This results in wage earners having to chose between taking care of their families and securing their jobs. This is a choice Americans simply should not have make in today's workforce.
As a result, President Obama is asking Congress to pass legislation to address this vital issue.
"We are still the only advanced country on Earth without paid leave." —President Obama #WorkingFamilyChamps pic.twitter.com/Qc1VuQUjgx — The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 16, 2015
The causes for which the Champions of Change are advocating have a direct impact on emerging Millennial professionals, who will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.
No matter where your political ideology falls, one thing is certain: The Champions for Change cannot and will not be ignored.
To learn more about the Champions for Change, please visit here.
Citations: The White House