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19th Amendment: Change Comes from Persistent and Sustained Advocacy

Posted By Sidney Switzer, WIPP Digital Strategy Specialist, Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sidney Switzer
Today our nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. In celebrating this anniversary, WIPP looks back to the advocacy that was instrumental to women’s suffrage. The 19th amendment was preceded by not by years, but by decades of advocacy efforts. 

In the 1870s, suffragists began showing up to polls only to file lawsuits when they were turned away. One now famous suffragist, Susan B. Anthony, was arrested and convicted in 1873 for attempting to vote in the 1872 election.Though these instances brought attention to the cause, the United States Supreme Court still ruled that suffrage was not a universal right amongst citizens in 1875. Congress also didn’t pass the bill for women’s suffrage. 

In total, the bill was proposed and rejected every year in Congress for 41 years from 1878 to 1920.

Adopting a different strategy, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) targeted suffrage from a state level. This strategy proved to be efficacious. By the time the 19th Amendment was federally recognized, over half of the United States already had granted some form of women’s voting rights. 

In 1913, suffragists organized one of the first major demonstrations and protest parades down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. This was the first public women’s suffrage demonstration to happen in the Nation’s Capitol. It was also a visible moment when women suffragists adopted and allowed segregation to subvert the achievements of women of color, including activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett

But the movement continued. In 1915, Mabel Vernon and Sara Bard Field gathered 500,000 signatures on their petition to Congress for women’s suffrage.

Finally, in 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified and officially certified that American women have the national right to vote. Only eight days after the 19th amendment was ratified, 10 million women joined the electorate. 

The lesson learned from the 150-year struggle for women’s suffrage is the absolute necessity for advocacy in creating social and political change. No one suffragist, organization, bill, or demonstration caused the 19th amendment to be ratified. It was the persistent dedication and continued advocacy that slowly but surely granted women this constitutional right.    

In commemorating this anniversary, WIPP is reminded of our almost 20 years of advocacy for women business owners. We have seen change, but we are far from parity. With sustained advocacy, one can only wonder where we might be in 2120.

Tags:  Advocacy  election  history 

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Section 889 and the U.S. Government Supply Chain

Posted By Laura Berry, Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Elizabeth Sullivan

Amidst the continuing pandemic and negotiations on another round of COVID-19 relief in Congress, one thing remains the same for all federal contractors: Section 889 implementation.

Section 889 is a name that does not mean much to the average person, but carries a lot of weight for federal contractors. This is a section in the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that seeks to eradicate Chinese telecom from the entire U.S. government supply chain. Why write about it now? The part that impacts federal contractors of all sizes (Part B) goes into effect this month. 
 
Earlier this year, the Department of Defense (DoD) held a public meeting to hear from industry. Of the salient points made, one resounding theme was that definitions will mean everything for implementation. However, industry hasn’t been able to share any definitional clarity because of the rule release delay. The FAR Council published their interim rule in July – Part B goes into effect before the comment period is over, which means contractors will have to comply with the rule starting on August 13, 2020. Public comments can be submitted until September 14. 
 
Here are the five key components for small/midsize contractors to pay attention to.
 
You’ll have a new box to check in SAM.

Contractors will need to annually check a box in SAM verifying that they do not use any covered telecommunications equipment or services. A contractor can choose to say yes, they do use some of these banned equipment/services, which would require an offer-by-offer representation for contracts and task/delivery orders under IDIQs. It is important to know this ban applies to any equipment, system, or service that uses the covered equipment or services as a substantial or essential component of any system, or as critical technology as part of any of a contractor’s systems. Think this rule does not apply to you? Think again – acquisitions of commercial items (including COTS) and contracts at or below the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) must also adhere to this prohibition. 

 
Definitions are key.

Definitions are critical to the implementation of this rule, which defines words such as “backhaul” and “roaming,” but leaves contractors with uncertainty over what constitutes a covered technology. FAR 4.2101 covers some of these definitions, however there was no further clarity in the rule regarding who is considered “any subsidiary or affiliate of such entities” of the five listed companies (Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision, and Dahua). It seems problematic that a small business contractor is expected to research all of the subsidiaries and affiliates of these companies to make sure they are not utilizing any prohibited components. Note to government: why not just provide a list? 

 

Another definitional bone I have to pick is the meaning of “reasonable inquiry.” The rule says that a company is compliant if a “reasonable inquiry” by the company does not show any use of the prohibited equipment or services. So, what exactly does that mean? According to the rule, a reasonable inquiry is something that is designed to uncover any use of these covered telecommunications equipment or services and does not need to be an internal or third-party audit. While I am not a lawyer, I can imagine that every procurement attorney would advise contractors to have some type of legitimate audit of systems in case compliance risks arise.

 
The waiver process is laborious.

Although a waiver sounds reasonable and gives contractors added time to comply (until August 13, 2022), it doesn’t seem designed for small or midsize contractors. In order to get a one-time waiver, the head of an agency has to grant it. Before this happens, a senior agency official for supply chain risk management has to discuss the waiver with the Federal Acquisition Security Council (FASC). And consult with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to make sure conditions are met. And provide notice to the ODNI and FASC 15 days before granting the waiver. And notify appropriate Congressional committees within 30 days. The FAR Council does acknowledge that this process could take a few weeks and advises to enter at your own risk because “agencies may reasonably choose not to initiate one and to move forward and make award to an offeror that does not require a waiver.” A quick data point: there are 387,967 companies registered in SAM, 74% of which are small. That would mean if every small company decided to submit an offer for a federal award and sought a waiver, that would be 287,096 waivers. 

 
Six contractor actions are necessary for compliance.

A chunk of the rule outlines contractor compliance recommendations. After reading and re-reading these six actions in the rule, I’m left with the same feeling: small contractors need something more detailed than just general guidelines. Generalities like “read and understand the rule and necessary actions for compliance” and “corporate enterprise tracking” sound great, but what exactly does that entail? During more normal times – let alone a pandemic – building out a compliance program can be complicated, not to mention costly. It is important contractors have the detailed information to get it right.

 
Finally, I see dollar signs.

The rule completely underestimates the time it will take contractors to implement and remain compliant with this rule. A whole section is dedicated to this analysis – and quite a few estimates left me scratching my head (you can find these in Section III, Part D). Companies aware of the rule have been spending months trying to prepare and continue to evaluate the components in their government offerings. An important part of complying with the rule to highlight is that a company cannot use any of these prohibited systems/equipment, even if they are not used in its federal contracts. That means no split networks or having one system for U.S. federal business and a difference one for commercial or contracts with other countries. I see more dollar signs.

 
The FAR Council is seeking public comment on the rule – and federal contractors should respond. In Section IV of the rule you can find a list of questions the Council wants industry to answer, and it is worth taking a look at them. One that is also found in the beginning of the rule is whether an expansion of the prohibition should be made to include all company subsidiaries and affiliates. Feedback is also requested on subjects like challenges, costs, and insight into existing systems.
 
One thing all contractors, regardless of size, have in common: they want to be compliant so they can compete. Given the uphill battle small and midsize contractors face when it comes to compliance with Section 889 and many other contracting requirements, advocacy on this issue is critical. WIPP continues to elevate this critical information to policymakers, asking them to consider the needs of women-owned businesses to comply with this new requirement. 

Tags:  Advocacy  federal contracting  leadership  regulatory  WIPP Works In Washington 

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Top Five Reasons to Support Advocacy Now More Than Ever

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, July 8, 2020
AnnSullivan

If you have been attending WIPP’s Intersectionality Series webinars on COVID-19, it should be pretty obvious that WIPP is on top of Congressional and federal agency actions related to the pandemic that continues to plague us personally and professionally. Not as evident, perhaps, is the role of advocacy beyond reporting the latest news. We give you five reasons why your support for WIPP is important.

 

  1. There’s More to Come. The government isn’t finished providing assistance to businesses.  The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) remain key to retaining employees and providing capital but expect another stimulus bill later this summer.
  2. If You’re Not at The Table, You’re on the Menu. In other words, there are consequences to sitting on the sidelines. If you aren’t represented in decision-making, you are vulnerable to adverse consequences—you are at risk. WIPP is at the table.
  3. Interpreting Federal Actions Requires Context. A perfect example of this are the actions the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury issued on PPP. Much was made of an audit of loans over $2 million — Treasury guidance (see question #31) issued in response to high-profile public companies who got the PPP loans. Unfortunately, small companies got scared of a government audit and returned money they needed and should have kept. This could have been avoided, had they understood the intent of the rule/Congress.
  4. Access to Decision-Makers Requires Consistent Attention. Advocacy requires constant communication with a consistent message. It is not all that different than a business relationship—you need to remind people who you are and what you offer. Cold calling during a crisis is unlikely to be effective. WIPP’s Advocacy Team keeps women business owners front and center so Congress turns to WIPP for its point of view during a crisis. Big difference.
  5. A Combined Voice is Far More Effective Than One Voice. The mission of WIPP is to provide a voice for women business owners. Its message resonates with policymakers because we represent women from all over the country, from different political views and every size of business. Your individual message to Congress is important. But as Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.”

 


Tags:  Advocacy  federal contracting 

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Advocacy Update: WOSB Final Rule Highlights

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has published its final rule for the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification. 
AnnSullivan
The impetus for this rule is the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which directed the SBA to create its own WOSB/EDWOSB certification. At the same time, the Congress authorized the sole source authority for the WOSB/EDWOSB program. WIPP has worked with SBA throughout this process, submitting comments with input from our members. We are thrilled to see that issues we raised were included in the final rule, such as

  •  excluding retirement accounts from net worth;
  •  harmonizing the economic disadvantage qualification across socio-economic contracting programs; and
  • continuing to allow third-party certifiers. 

The benefits of this implementation include simplifying the process for contracting officers to use the program and can rely on SBA certification with confidence. This update will require no additional document review, will replace the WOSB Repository, and will reduce amount of time to complete a certification. 

 

Definition of WOSB: At least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are United States citizens. 

Website: certify.SBA.gov 

Effective dates: Rule goes into effect on July 15, 2020. SBA will begin processing certifications on October 15, 2020. 

Highlights:

  1. Retirement accounts will now be excluded from calculations of an economically disadvantaged individual's net worth, irrespective of the individual's age.
  2. Makes 8(a) qualifications for economic disadvantage the same as EDWOSB program. Qualifications include: (a) net worth cannot exceed $750,000; (b) adjusted gross income averaged over the three preceding years cannot exceed $350,000; (c) An individual will generally not be considered economically disadvantaged if the fair market value of all her assets (including her primary residence and the value of the applicant/participant firm) exceeds $6 million and (d) retirement funds are now excluded from net worth calculation.
  3. Only SBA certified WOSBs can use the WOSB set-aside/sole program, but agencies can count  contracts to women outside the program that are only self-certified toward their WOSB goal.
  4. Third-party certifications are accepted as are those certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs CVE, and 8(a) certifications. 8(a) certified are automatically considered to qualify as EDWOSBs. DBE certifications are not accepted.
  5. A business performing on a long-term WOSB or EDWOSB contract (i.e., one in excess of five years) must represent that it is a certified WOSB or EDWOSB in order for the award to continue to count towards an agency's WOSB goal. For new WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside contracts, a business must be able to demonstrate that it has applied for certification before the date it submitted a bid, and that it has not previously sought and been denied certification. For new WOSB or EDWOSB sole-source contracts, a business must already be certified at the time it seeks to obtain the sole-source contract.
  6. Applications will be processed within 90 days. If denied, an applicant can reapply for certification after 90 days.
  7. Requires annual certification affidavit and recertification every three years.
  8. SBA will give priority to a firm who has been awarded a contract under the program but the application is still pending before the SBA. Determination will be within 15 days.

Tags:  Advocacy  regulatory  SBA  WOSB 

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President's Message - Robust Grant Programs Needed In Next Wave of Relief

Posted By Candace Waterman, WIPP President & CEO, Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2020

This week I am celebrating my second anniversary leading WIPP, and this year also marks 15 years working to elevate women-owned businesses at the regional and national levels. During this celebratory time, we are also in the midst of a crisis that has already left an indelible impression not only because of how much it changed our lives, but also for how quickly this community has come together like never before. I have never been more proud to stand together with our partner organizations, corporate partners, and especially our stalwart members who continue to define the calm in the storm. 
Candace Waterman
I do not need to tell you that this pandemic has taken an enormous toll on women-owned businesses. Our recent impact survey showed more than 71% of the respondents reported a decrease in business. Approximately 73% of our survey participants had applied for federal funding, the majority listing either the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. On a more positive note, 89% of respondents have been able to continue operations during this pandemic as of April 15.

Another survey-based study, "Women-Owned Businesses & PPP Survey Results," found that “women-owned businesses asked for and received less money than national averages” in the first round of PPP funding. In addition, “women relied heavily on large national banks and, when they did, their likelihood of obtaining a PPP loan plummeted.” We are watching the progress of second-round funding through the PPP and EIDL and will keep you updated.  

In the coming weeks, more relief is expected. Given the urgency of capital, we are asking Congress to consider revamping the programs to separate them into loans and grants rather than a combination of the two. While small businesses will need loans with generous terms in the recovery stage of this pandemic, they need grants now. 

Joining your voice with WIPP is necessary to make an impact on Capitol Hill. Contact your Representative and Senators today and share our letter urging small business grants rather than forgivable loans. If you have questions, please contact the WIPP ACE HelpDesk at membership@wipp.org

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  leadership  President's Message 

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WIPP Works In Washington: What's Next?

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2020
COVID-19 relief took the form of four bills passed by Congress in the last two months. All of this is centered around relief for workers and employers hit by COVID-19, including small business loan and forgiveness programs, aid to hospitals and money for test deployment, employer required sick leave, and direct payments to Americans. 
AnnSullivan
A staggering $2 trillion was spent in these four bills and the Federal Reserve Bank spent an estimated additional $4 trillion on relief. We learned the demand from small businesses for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL) far exceeded available funding. Everyone is curious about the direction of future aid for obvious reasons. What’s going to be in the next bill or is there going to be a next bill? 

My best guess is that the next Congressional bill will be a hybrid of relief and recovery. Much is left to do on the relief side and refinement of the programs put in place by previous legislation. When programs are drafted in a hurry, unexpected issues arise that need to be addressed. Evidence is the number of guidance documents issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Treasury, and the IRS surrounding small business loan programs. For federal contractors, implementation of Section 3610 relief has generated extensive documentation. The next bill will most certainly contain changes to existing programs.

Is Congress going to deliver additional relief by providing additional funding for the PPP or EIDL programs? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that Congress may slow down future relief, saying "until we can begin to open up the economy, we can’t spend enough money to solve the problem." Relief to state and localities has yet to materialize but is widely considered to be a major part of any future bill.

As governors start loosening restrictions on stay-at-home orders and industry starts to slowly reopen, the focus is slowly shifting toward economic recovery. Congressional leaders are looking at successful programs deployed during the Great Recession (2007-2009) that could be helpful during this pandemic. Another much talked about idea is a stimulus, such as a massive infrastructure program. This would not only cover shovel ready construction projects, but also broadband, telecommunications and technology infrastructure. 

Also bubbling up are tax deductions and credits for businesses who will need relief for many months to come. Businesses are asking for special liability restrictions due to COVID-19 in order to feel comfortable bringing employees back to work and opening their doors to consumers. The Senate has signaled this as a priority, but their House counterparts are not so sure. 

Lastly, the federal marketplace offers a tremendous opportunity for small business recovery, but the rules need to change to allow more dollars to flow to these businesses.

The “What’s Next” list is overwhelming because the need is so great. Our advocacy team is dedicated to ensuring women business owners have a voice in all of these deliberations. That’s the mission of WIPP – we intend on keeping it that way.

Tags:  Advocacy  COVID-19  legislation 

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FAQ: What COVID-19 Relief Means to Women-Owned Businesses

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Updated: Friday, April 3, 2020

 

Please check WIPP.org/coronavirus for the latest business resources. The WIPP Advocacy Team has been breaking down this legislation on our weekly Monday webinars and we have written this FAQ to help the WIPP network. We will expand this FAQ as more questions and clarifications become necessary. Email questions to the ACE HelpDesk at membership@wipp.org.

 

Congress has passed three bills providing COVID-19 relief to individuals and businesses. 

  • The first, Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations (H.R. 6074), became law on March 6. 
  • The second, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First) (H.R. 6201), became law on March 18.
  • The third bill, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (H.R. 748), became law on March 27. 
  • Future legislation will wait until Congress returns Monday, April 20. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the next coronavirus stimulus should include at least $760 billion over five years for infrastructure, including water projects, broadband and transportation—plus $10 billion for community health centers and more for housing and education. 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

I need funding. What loan programs are available for me right now?

As a result of the legislation, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has four options for funding relief in the wake of COVID-19.

 

My workforce has been affected. What are the new sick leave and family leave (FMLA) requirements for employers? 

Specifically listed in the Families First legislation, employers under 500 employees are required to offer two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who are sick from the coronavirus, taking care of someone who is sick with the virus or are providing childcare due to cancelled school/daycare – without fear of losing their jobs.

The bill applies to all employers and expands the definition of who is eligible for FMLA by adding employees who are unable to work because they are providing childcare due to closed schools/daycare centers. Requirements for employers include paying employees two-thirds pay for a little more than 10 weeks. This change is effective through December 31, 2020. Employers can get a 100% quarterly payroll tax credit to cover this expense.

Visit the Department of Labor’s FAQ for specific questions regarding the Families First legislation. 


What is the guidance for federal contractors? 

A March 20 memo to the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) caused massive issues for contractors. In order to stay in business, contractors have had no other choice other than to send their employees to work – sick or not, affecting 2.5 million workers and putting an even larger population at risk. 

Section 3610 of the CARES Act H.R. 748) solves this by telling agencies to pay their contractors who cannot come to work until this pandemic is over. Keep good records and talk to your contracting officer about this new law.



How will this affect my taxes? 

The IRS explains all of the changes and is continuously updating their site: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

 

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  COVID-19  policy 

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Advocacy Update: Third COVID-19 Relief Bill

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Senate passed the third bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill H.R. 748: Coronavirus aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act last night. The House is expected to vote on the legislation tomorrow. WIPP Members should pay attention to an important federal contracting provision and stay tuned for advocacy action steps. 


Legislation breakdowns from Committees:

Additional resources from the Advocacy Team:

Tags:  Advocacy  COVID-19  federal contracting  legislation 

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Action Alert: COVID-19 RELIEF for Small Businesses Act of 2020

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, March 20, 2020

WIPP knows our members are experiencing major difficulties during this challenging time, and we are joining other contracting organizations in creating a unified voice and provide concrete recommendations to assist women business owners during this crisis. Our Advocacy Team has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 RELIEF for Small Business Act of 2020.

 

WIPPActionAlert

Read the WIPP Letter to the Senate Small Business Committee and take action to support core components of the package. 

 

We Need Your Action

  • Sign on to our letter.
  • Share this Action Alert with your WOSB community. 
  • Encourage responses by 5 PM ET on Friday, March 20. 






Tags:  Action Alert  Advocacy  COVID-19 

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Access to Childcare: A Dual Issue for Small Businesses

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Friday, March 13, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

No one disputes the need for access to quality and affordable childcare. Like small business issues, this has been a rallying cry for both sides of the political aisle. However, something has been missing in this discussion – recognizing that childcare providers are also small business owners. 

Elizabeth Sullivan The House Small Business Committee recently held a hearing on this issue, Taking Care of Business: How Childcare is Important for Regional Economies. This hearing was personal because I worked in several daycares in Chicago, including teaching at a Head Start center, and I saw the needs and problems firsthand.

One of the things discussed were public-private partnerships. Witness Dan Levi of the Black Hawk Childcare Coalition in Iowa highlighted how these have positively impacted his community. The Coalition provides support to communities with detailed business plans, architectural review of possible projects, funding opportunity consultation, community engagement tactics, and facilitation of public-private partnerships. Grants from organizations such as the Iowa Women’s Foundation help childcare centers in his community with financial stability and resources that are free and distributed through the Child Care Resource & Referral offices around the state.

Also discussed was the regulatory burden on childcare centers. I can’t emphasize enough how this impacts childcare operations. While there are necessary regulations to ensure health and safety, complying with these regulations is a substantial time commitment. Not to mention it sometimes turns into the sole focus of the daycare operations – pushing classroom issues aside.

There is an increased role for the SBA – helping these childcare small business owners with the business side of the house. For example, the Chicago Women’s Business Center has many resources for childcare centers. However, many childcare centers, including the ones I worked in, have no idea these resources exist. 

During my time at the Head Start center in Chicago, Illinois, the state was in a funding standoff, and there was no subsidized money coming from the state to help families pay for the cost of childcare. Childcare center owners had a decision to make – charge families the full amount or try to float the cost. In this case, the center served 100% low-income children. The owner, like many others, were forced to ask families to pay the entire amount – or their children would be turned away. As you can imagine, this caused a huge strain on the families served by the center. 

SBA could contribute its business instruction and lending programs to these childcare center owners. Access to better business resources would equip these owners with strategies to deal with cash flow issues and funding lapses. 

A perspective I felt was missing from the hearing was the duality of childcare centers also being small businesses. One of the ways Congress has attempted to tackle this issue is through language in the FY19 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. Included was the ability for states to use funds to Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds to strengthen the business practices of childcare providers to expand the supply and improve the quality of child care services. Areas of support for childcare providers may include, but are not limited to, such practices related to fiscal management, budgeting, record-keeping, as well as hiring, developing, and retaining qualified staff.

Childcare issues are not simply a family issue—it is also an employer issue. Employers lose $4 billion annually due to absenteeism. Many of those days are due to lack of adequate childcare. This Committee hearing was a good start in raising awareness that childcare centers are also small businesses. It’s time to find more resources for these business owners – the issue of quality childcare is not going away.



The WIPP Advocacy Team provides thought leadership on WIPP Policy Priorities

This column focuses on the following priority:

 

Rethink workplace development

Key to the success of women-owned businesses is human capital – a dynamic workforce that meets the needs of an ever-changing business environment. Government and business need to work together to ready a workforce that can meet those challenges.

 

Tags:  Advocacy  childcare  development  workplace 

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WIPP Community Connections - October 2020

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