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May 17, 2019 - Guest: Marjorie Margolies

Topics: People Empowerment, Teachers Taking Action, Gender Equality in the Boardroom

Show Details

On this episode of Solutions News, we feature a fantastic interview with Women's Campaign International founder and women's rights activist Marjorie Margolies. In addition, we examine the recent collective actions taken by teachers in communities across the United States and how this is leading to long needed change, explore the benefit for profits and society when companies add women to the boardroom and the c-suite, and spotlight local activist Abe Powell, who shows what a difference one person with the right attitude and positive energy can make. We also have some great "didyaknows"!


People Empowering People: Teachers Protest & Strikes have an effect.

As blue collar jobs and manufacturing in general have declined in the US, so has the effectiveness of labor in uniting together to protect workers in the face of management and owners.  Of course systemic de-regulation in industry and commerce and anti-labor “right to work” laws that have been adopted in many states and at the national level over the past several decades have also helped undercut forcefulness of collective action.  Not that this is entirely a bad thing - for organized labor as a large machine can get just as ugly as organized corporate power brokers in grasping and hanging onto power.  


But there’s an interesting trend we’ve been noticing over the past couple of years, a revolt that’s coming from teachers across the country, which is in some ways informed by past organized labor initiatives, but in many ways is also just pure protest and it’s actually starting to have an effect, changing the landscape for our schools.  These protests represent the power of many people working together for a common cause.  We are seeing protests and striking in South and North Carolina.  In Las Vegas, in Oregon. 


Recently, there have been strikes in Oakland and Los Angeles, California and Denver, Colorado.  There have also been statewide protests in Oregon, Nevada, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Colorado.  In many ways, 2019 is becoming the year for successful teacher strikes.  


Overwhelmingly, these strikes are led by women partially because, “Teaching is seen as women’s work.”  Across the nation, 77% of all public school teachers are women and that number can rise as high as 80% in some states.  

These teachers are not just mobilizing around wages.  They protest a lack of supplies and resources that prevent them from offering a quality education to their students.  In the state of Oregon for example, there are only 158 school librarians - less than one per district.  The ratio of students to nurses is 1:5,481 and there are less than half the number of counselors recommended nationally.  Rather selflessly, the real focal point of the protests is that without better wages and resources, it is the children who end up suffering the most, even more than the teachers themselves.


Women taking action by raising their voices against the system are creating enough of a commotion to force the rest of society to listen and change.


  

Transparency and Balance in Business

Having women represented on the top levels of businesses can change both corporate culture and profit.   As of the beginning of 2018, women made up just 37 percent of management positions and 19 percent of top executive positions.  Women not only less likely to get a top-level corporate job, but they are also less likely to receive a promotion or to even ask for one, though they are often more qualified than their male counterparts.


However, this lack of female representation is actually squandering potential business profit.  


In a study of 21,980 firms across 91 countries, the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that a profitable firm where approximately 30% of the leaders were women could expect a 1% greater net margin than a firm with no female leaders.  Among the companies studied, the average net profit margin was 6.4%. 


A net increase of 1% is equal to a 15% boost in profitability.  This result is more apparent when comparing a corporate board with no women to one with women.  Catalyst found that Fortune 500 companies with women on the board had significantly higher returns on equity ROE (53 percent), better sales (42 percent), and a two-thirds greater Return On Investment (ROI) than companies with all-male boards.

Teachers striking at New Haven Unified’s schools in Union City and South Hayward
Teachers striking at New Haven Unified’s schools in Union City and South Hayward

Marjorie Margolies

Ms. Margolies is a global trailblazer in women's rights who articulates the powerful effect women have when they are fully included in every deliberative process.


In 1992, Marjorie was the first woman ever elected to Congress from Pennsylvania in her own right. Marjorie served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Government Operations.


In 1995, Marjorie served as the Director of the United States Delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. At this pivotal conference for women’s rights, 189 countries signed a Platform for Action that pledged to further the rights of women around the world. 


Inspired by peer leaders in U.S. Congress and at the Beijing conference and committed to the work that had to be done, in 1998 Marjorie founded Women’s Campaign International. Since then, WCI’s programs have been helping women find their voices by giving them tangible skills in political leadership, conflict mitigation, economic empowerment and civic engagement.


In 2016, President Obama appointed Marjorie to serve on the Presidential Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.


In addition to her work with WCI, Ms. Margolies was a journalist with NBC and its owned and operated stations. She was a contributing correspondent to the Today Show, Sunday Today, A Closer Look, CNBC and Real Life with Jane Pauley. Marjorie’s reporting won numerous awards including five Emmys. She also taught at the University of Pennsylvania for twenty years. She has worked as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a Senior Fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center and received a Presidential Appointment to the VEF Foundation.


She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, a CBS News Foundation Fellow at Columbia University and is the author of four books.


Marjorie is the mother of 11 children with 20 grandchildren and one on the way.

Marjorie Margolies, our guest on May 17, 2019
Marjorie Margolies, our guest on May 17, 2019