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Here's What You Missed: The White House Summit on Working Families

Summary: 
The White House, in partnership with the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress, hosted a Summit on Working Families with the aim of having a national conversation and set a concrete agenda to bring American workplaces into the 21st century.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Summit on Working Families, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C., June 23, 2014

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Summit on Working Families, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C., June 23, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, the White House, in partnership with the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress, hosted a Summit on Working Families with the aim of having a national conversation and set a concrete agenda to bring American workplaces into the 21st century.

That conversation brought together businesses, economists, labor leaders, legislators, advocates, and working citizens to talk through the very real issues facing the full spectrum of working families — from low-wage workers to executives.

And you didn't have to be in Washington to join in. Americans across the country tuned in and raised their voices online.

As Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett noted yesterday: "This is a movement, not a moment." So if you missed the event yesterday, you can still add your voice. Take a look at our recap of yesterday's Summit, and if you've got a story tell — get involved.


Americans around the country added their voices to the conversation.

Thousands of working families — at their desks, in their living rooms, on their phones — spoke out on social media about why this issue is so important. #FamiliesSucceed trended nationally on Twitter, with tens of thousands of tweets. Take a look at our recap of what people had to say on social media.


They also shared their stories at WH.gov/Working-Families.

Everyone has a story to tell about how updated workplace policies — from workplace flexibility to affordable childcare to paid leave — would help their working family succeed. Here are just a couple stories we heard from Americans across the country:

"I have four school-aged children. Due to the high cost of living in Los Angeles my wife and I are now forced to work out side the house to make ends meet. Since I have been on the job longer, when the children are sick and have to stay home I have to stay home with them. I have been forced to take sick leave, personal holidays and vacation in order to care for our children when they are sick. As a director, I have to face hard looks of my supervision when I tell them that I have to go to a school to pick us a sick child or attend school meeting for award functions. Now school is out for the summer, our costs are even higher. No longer can my wife stay home with the children. … this not the 1960s anymore, and we need help."  

Omar, Dad and Youth Development Program Director
Gardena, CA

"My husband and I work full-time and have two children. We moved to Washington -- away from our families -- before we knew each other or had children, so we do not have their support as back up for our children. While our jobs allow for some flexibility, it is important that all parents  -- moms and dads -- benefit from flexibility for the sake of the children without the fear of losing their position, standing, or not be considered for promotions. Plus, with technology at our fingertips, we are never really away from work and take on more hours beyond the regular work day."

Sarah, Mom and Non-Profit Worker
Washington, D.C.

"I am a working grandmother who often needs to modify my work schedule to help my grown children with their children's school drop-offs and pick ups, vacation days, sick days, etc. The lack of flexibility in their workplaces makes it extremely difficult for them before and after school, sick child days, school vacations, etc. One of my daughters had to quit a job at a bank that she loved and had hoped to have a long future with because they refused to modify her work day by allowing her to come into work 10 minutes later then what they wanted (child couldn't be dropped off at school until 8:20 & work demanded she be there by 8:15) and to take her lunch each day at 2:45 to pick her child up from school and bring her to childcare. I can't begin to tell you how many days my daughter cried over wanting to be the best mom possible and the best employee possible, often feeling, at the end of the day, like a failure at both. There is no need for this."

Patti, Mom, Grandmother, and Health Information Manager
Laconia, N.H.

Got a story of your own to tell? Share it here.


The President spoke — and announced the concrete steps he's taking to help more families get ahead.

Watch the President's full remarks here:

You can also watch remarks by the Vice President and Dr. Biden here, and the First Lady's onstage interview with Robin Roberts here.

Then, read more about the action coming out of the Summit yesterday -- and take a look at the President's op-ed on the Huffington Post.


Our online audience had digital breakout sessions of their own.

In between plenary sessions at the Summit — which featured such speakers as the Vice President, Dr. Biden, President Obama, and the First Lady — summit attendees visited breakout sessions that covered a range of topics, from young women leadership to caregiving. Our online audience had breakout sessions of their own, hosted by HuffPost Live.

The first, featuring Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a host of other guests from around the country, discussed family matters: The real issues working parents face when the home and the office conflict. Take a look at the segment here:

The second breakout, which discussed women leadership in the workplace, featured Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Deloitte Chief Inclusion Officer Deborah DeHaas, and other women leaders across the country. Watch here:


And they asked their questions on Facebook, as well.

Live from the Summit, participants  from White House economist Betsey Stevenson to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi  sat down at an onsite Facebook Q&A station to answer questions from their followers about the issues being discussed. 

If you missed the Q&A, you can take a look at the questions and answers here: