WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh today brought together a group of highly engaged private sector business leaders on June 23, 2022, to share ideas and discuss the implications for equity and job quality of workplace flexibilities in the wake of massive changes caused by the pandemic.
“Flexibility for working people is a cornerstone of opportunity, of equity and of inclusion – the pandemic certainly exposed this fact,” said Secretary Walsh in his opening remarks. “And at the same time, the pandemic also led to innovations in workplace flexibility. We saw workers and employers come together to figure out how to keep businesses open during a time of incredible hardship and uncertainty, and now they are working to figure out the ‘new normal.’”
Counselor to the Secretary Tanya Goldman kicked off the event and introduced Secretary Walsh. Following his remarks, Accenture’s North America Chief Human Resources Officer Kate Clifford, ADP’s Chief Economist Nela Richardson, The Raben Group’s Principal Whitney Tome and Well-Paid Maids Founder Aaron Seyedian then joined him for the panel.
Participants explored some of the deeper questions about this new business environment – going beyond remote work’s feasibility or desirability – to share their views about flexibility and leave policies that support workers when illness strikes or when faced with disabilities; workers at greater risk of COVID-19 infection; and those who balance caregiving responsibilities. The group also discussed ways employers can avoid distancing remote workers from workplace culture, hindering opportunities for networking and advancement and impeding fairness and equity.
The panelists emphasized the need to support workers holistically. Issues from mental health to paid leave are critical to employee productivity and retention – and to maintaining a strong business and a strong economy. As the department continues to develop its dialogues and partnerships on the Future of Work, these topics will remain a crucial subject of collaboration between the private sector and government.