Women’s History Month is commemorated each March, and an integral and ongoing part of that history in the United States centers around the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The first version was introduced in 1923 – almost a century ago – followed by a renewal in the effort to ratify (and the counter movement against) in the 1970s. The battle continues today – in January 2020 Virginia became the 38th state to ratify, enough to bring it to the federal government for a national ratification as the 28th Amendment. The ERA has stalled at the federal level, but in January 2021, resolutions were introduced in both the House and Senate to remove the time limit for federal ratification.
But perhaps most telling is the fact that almost a century after its initial introduction, the ERA is still needed to finally give women full equality under the U.S. Constitution and provide a permanent and powerful tool to advance gender equality.
Corporations are stepping up to the plate to lend a hand. A number of leading U.S. companies signed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Ferriero, to show their support.
ACCP member companies that signed the amicus brief include:
New York Life
What is so remarkable about this wave of support is that it represents one of the few times in history where corporations have explicitly called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
And the pandemic, having hit women particularly hard, has further illustrated that the ERA is critical to recovery. Many working women are having to bear the burden of childcare and schooling for their children. In addition, women make up 77% of the workers in American hospitals, and roughly 74% of those working in K-12 schools – two important areas of the frontline fight against COVID. In addition, of the 140,000 jobs lost in December 2020, all were held by women.
What can companies do?
- Sign on to the amicus brief, to show support for ratifying the 28th Amendment.
- Allow flexibility in scheduling for women, especially working mothers – consider part-time schedules or unpaid leave.
- Be conscious of not penalizing your employees and staff for caregiving.
- Consider adopting hybrid schedules, allowing employees to work both at home and the office.