Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (PWFA) – A New Baseline DEI Standard

July 27, 2023 |
2 minute read
|

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are priorities throughout the asset management industry and the broader nonprofit landscape. Worker support policies like paid leave are often available in business and financial operations jobs, which help attract and retain all workers, but there are still gendered gaps in promotions, leadership, and on boards.

The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (PWFA), recently implemented at the federal level, will add another layer of support for women and any worker who can conceive, helping institutions retain talent and mitigate the motherhood penalty at work.

The goals of PWFA are to provide basic accommodations for workers, and to mitigate the costs of lack of accommodations. For example, without adequate support, mothers leave the workforce, or transition to part-time roles, more frequently than fathers. Gaps in employment often dampen long-term income potential throughout one’s career and into retirement, and job switching can reduce one’s likelihood of rising the corporate ladder into leadership. For these reasons and more, motherhood and disproportionate care responsibilities at home cause a “penalty” for wages and promotions, contributes to the gender pay gap, and diminishes potential for equity at all levels. Relatedly, with worker supportive policies, employers can avoid the high costs of turnover related to recruitment, training, and loss of potential leaders.

In finance specifically, research shows a “broken rung” for women, and especially women of color, to climb each step of the corporate ladder. Not for lack of interest – women comprise more than one half (52 percent) of entry level positions, but only 27-28 percent of senior VP or C-suite executives. Additionally, only one quarter of corporate board seats are held by women, despite women comprising nearly half of the workforce.

Despite broad evidence that diversity on teams, within organizations, investment committees and boards is of benefit to productivity, innovation, and returns, without policies in place not all employers are doing all they can to attract and retain all workers. Not only is this a DEI issue, but doing all we can to promote equity and inclusivity is an economic and organizational best practice.

“Employers implementing laws like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and other policies that support working families, must be intentional about the way those policies are implemented,” said Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Culture shifts within organizations take time and the needs of workers must be centered from adoption to implementation and beyond to make rights a reality for pregnant and parenting workers.”

Thirty states and localities had accommodations laws in place but now, due to the PWFA, all public and private sector employers with more than 15 employees must provide accommodations that are deemed reasonable1 for one’s conditions, related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Providing accommodations such as the law now requires, should contribute to all institutions’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts to address the myriad gender gaps throughout the higher ed, nonprofit, and asset management workforce.

Learn about Commonfund’s commitment to DEI.

 

  1. The House Committee on Education and Labor Report on the PWFA provides several examples of possible reasonable accommodations including the ability to sit or drink water; receive closer parking; have flexible hours; receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest; take leave or time off to recover from childbirth; and be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-pregnant-workers-fairness-act#q4
Amanda Novello

Author

Amanda Novello

Senior Policy and Research Analyst

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Disclaimer

Certain information contained herein has been obtained from or is based on third-party sources and, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified. Such information is as of the date indicated, if indicated, may not be complete, is subject to change and has not necessarily been updated. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is or will be given by The Common Fund for Nonprofit Organizations, any of its affiliates or any of its or their affiliates, trustees, directors, officers, employees or advisers (collectively referred to herein as “Commonfund”) or any other person as to the accuracy or completeness of the information in any third-party materials. Accordingly, Commonfund shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of relying on any statement in, or omission from, such third-party materials, and any such liability is expressly disclaimed.

All rights to the trademarks, copyrights, logos and other intellectual property listed herein belong to their respective owners and the use of such logos hereof does not imply an affiliation with, or endorsement by, the owners of such trademarks, copyrights, logos and other intellectual property.

To the extent views presented forecast market activity, they may be based on many factors in addition to those explicitly stated herein. Forecasts of experts inevitably differ. Views attributed to third-parties are presented to demonstrate the existence of points of view, not as a basis for recommendations or as investment advice. Market and investment views of third-parties presented herein do not necessarily reflect the views of Commonfund, any manager retained by Commonfund to manage any investments for Commonfund (each, a “Manager”) or any fund managed by any Commonfund entity (each, a “Fund”). Accordingly, the views presented herein may not be relied upon as an indication of trading intent on behalf of Commonfund, any Manager or any Fund.

Statements concerning Commonfund’s views of possible future outcomes in any investment asset class or market, or of possible future economic developments, are not intended, and should not be construed, as forecasts or predictions of the future investment performance of any Fund. Such statements are also not intended as recommendations by any Commonfund entity or any Commonfund employee to the recipient of the presentation. It is Commonfund’s policy that investment recommendations to its clients must be based on the investment objectives and risk tolerances of each individual client. All market outlook and similar statements are based upon information reasonably available as of the date of this presentation (unless an earlier date is stated with regard to particular information), and reasonably believed to be accurate by Commonfund. Commonfund disclaims any responsibility to provide the recipient of this presentation with updated or corrected information or statements. Past performance is not indicative of future results. For more information please refer to Important Disclosures.