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1 E Wacker Drive, Suite 3110, Chicago, IL 60601.
Capitalizing On Opportunities to Create Transformative Change
A Letter from Our CEO

As Women Employed enters a new fiscal year, the country is beginning to emerge from the pandemic and many of us are returning to our lives as they were pre-pandemic. We are reconnecting with family and friends that we haven’t seen or hugged in over a year, workplaces and schools are returning in-person, restaurants and outdoor festivals are reopening, and travel and family vacations are resuming. Yet, many working people, families, and communities continue to struggle. Despite increases since the beginning of the year, there were still 6.8 million fewer jobs on private and government payrolls in June 2021 than there were in February 2020. We remain in a recession—a “shecession.” We can’t rush so quickly to get back to business as usual that we miss the opportunity for transformative change, and to emerge different, better, and more equitable and just. It is in this critical moment that we must focus on moving solutions that ensure an equitable recovery for all, especially those most devastated by the pandemic.

At Women Employed we are focused on moving forward conversations, strategies, and solutions that provide immediate relief today, a sustainable equitable recovery, and that build women’s economic power tomorrow. Additionally, we are committed to building our own workplace into a model of what is possible, and to acknowledging the collective trauma we all experienced over this last year and taking measures necessary to make sure we are well.

The pace of our transformative recovery (economic, emotional, mental, and physical) will depend on our collective and coordinated efforts, on our ability to center those most marginalized, and on our steadfastness to build back better. In this issue, we introduce some of the key tenets of our strategic plan, which will guide how we engage and work over the next couple of years. We are energized by the possibilities, and we look forward to working with you in the months and years to come to make our vision a reality.

Stay safe and be well,
Cherita Ellens
President and CEO
Women Employed Launches New Strategic Plan

Over the last year, we created a bold new strategic plan. Thank you to all that helped at different times to provide input and critical insight, and guide direction. At this critical moment, Women Employed’s new strategic plan centers Illinois’ most economically marginalized women—women who are in low or unpaid work, and women who identify as Black and/or Latina/x.
Our strategies are aimed at growing the economic power of women and closing the wealth gap at the intersection of race and gender. Our plan will:
Stay tuned for more as we roll out the pieces of this plan and work to ensure that women—especially Black, Latina/x, and low-paid women—can emerge from this pandemic stronger than before.
Join Us in Conversation with April Ryan on Black Women's Equal Pay Day

August 3rd marks Black Women's Equal Pay Day, in recognition of the fact that Black women make just 63 cents for every dollar white men are paid. On that day, Women Employed's CEO, Cherita Ellens, will engage with White House Correspondent, Political Analyst, and Author April Ryan for an important and timely conversation about what it will take to dismantle systemic barriers, grow the economic power of Black women during the recovery and beyond, and close the wealth gap at the intersection of race and gender.
Join us from 12 - 1 p.m. CT on Tuesday, August 3rd for this virtual fireside chat.
Your Morning Coffee, For a Cause
Did you know you can support our work to build women’s economic power with your daily dose of caffeine? Order a bag of coffee—or even better, a monthly subscription—from Good Cause Coffees (now selling ground coffee and new flavors, including decaf!) and $5 from each bag sold will support our work to remove barriers to economic equity. Just make sure you choose Women Employed at check out!
Celebrating Victories!
A Win For Women and Families
Last month, two ordinances advancing worker rights passed at Chicago City Council’s June 25th meeting: the Chi Biz Strong Worker Protections ordinance, and the Chicago Hotel Worker Right to Return to Work ordinance. Women Employed joined our partners to advocate for both!

The Chi Biz Strong Worker Protections ordinance raises wages and strengthens protections for domestic workers, gives the city clear enforcement authority against wage theft, expands use of paid sick days to include when places of care are closed and future public health emergencies, and more!

The Chicago Hotel Worker Right to Return to Work ordinance will ensure that the women, people of color, and immigrants who have lost their jobs in hotels during this pandemic will have the opportunity to return to work when business comes back.

Both Chi Biz Strong Worker Protections and the Chicago Hotel Worker Right to Return ordinances are critical to help women emerge strong from the 'shecession.' Women make up a disproportionate percentage of both domestic workers and hotel workers, are vulnerable to wage theft, and are more likely to be caregivers.

Thank you to our partners Arise Chicago, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Raise the Floor Alliance, and the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition for joining us to advocate for the Chi Biz Strong Worker Protections ordinance. And thank you to Unite Here Local 1 and the Chicago Federation of Labor for their hard work fighting for hotel workers and the Chicago Hotel Workers Right to Return ordinance.
$15 Minimum Wage in Chicago as of July 1st
In 2019, as members of the Raise Chicago coalition, we advocated alongside our partners to accelerate Chicago's minimum wage increase to $15/hour by 2021, and with your help, we won! Our city's $15 minimum wage went into effect July 1, 2021.

This was a long road and while we still have progress to make we are continuing to celebrate this victory for all working people in minimum wage jobs!

Join us in our continued fight to eliminate the subminimum wage to ensure ALL workers are paid one full and fair wage. Sign up to show your support and get the most up-to-date alerts for meetings, rallies, and events.

We cannot advance racial justice, gender equity, and workplace safety without eliminating the subminimum wage—and you can help make it happen!
Closing the Gap: An Equity Agenda for Black College Students in Illinois

Thank you to everyone who tuned in to a conversation with Cherita Ellens, Women Employed's President and CEO, and Chicago State University President, Zaldwaynaka (Z) Scott, Esq. about the recently-released “Equity Working Group for Black Student Access and Success in Illinois Higher Education” Action Plan.

Attendees learned about the group of multi-sector stakeholders, including Women Employed, who came together to knock down barriers and address policies deeply rooted in racism. The Equity Working Group (EWG) identified critical actions needed to close equity gaps and enable Black students, families, and communities to thrive and survive in Illinois. Looking ahead, the work of the EWG will continue through Chicago State University’s newly launched Center for Education Equity housed within its Illinois Innovation Network hub, the Institute for Solutions of Urban Populations. Stay tuned for more updates!

If you missed this important conversation, you can watch and share the recording.
Women Employed’s President and CEO, Cherita Ellens, Joins the Family Values @ Work Board of Directors

We are excited to announce that our President and CEO, Cherita Ellens, has been elected to the Family Values @ Work Board of Directors! Family Values @ Work has been an important and long-time national partner in our work to advance paid leave. We’re excited for this new opportunity to collaborate!
What We're Reading
(Featuring WE's President and CEO, Cherita Ellens!)

The Washington Post
(Featuring WE's President and CEO, Cherita Ellens, and her daughter, Nia)

Hire Frequency
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