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Barack and Michelle Obama

7 reasons Obama is pushing for family-friendly work policies

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American President Barack Obama delivered an address at the White House Summit on Working Families yesterday, encouraging more family-friendly workplace practices and calling for more companies to better support working families.

“I take this personally because I’m the husband of a brilliant woman who struggled to balance work and raise our girls,” he said at the inaugural event.

“I promise you: You have a President who will take action to support working families.”

While Obama’s speech addressed the American workforce, here are seven quotes we believe can be applied to any labour pool:

1.“What bound all of us together was a recognition that work gives us a sense of place and dignity, as well as income.  And it is critically important, but family is also the bedrock of our lives and we don’t want a society in which folks are having to make a choice between those two things.”

2. “Family leave, childcare, workplace flexibility, a decent wage – these are not frills, they are basic needs.  They shouldn’t be bonuses.  They should be part of our bottom line as a society.  That’s what we’re striving for.”

3. “All too often, these issues are thought of as women’s issues, which I guess means you can kind of scoot them aside a little bit.  At a time when women are nearly half of our workforce, among our most skilled workers, are the primary breadwinners in more families than ever before, anything that makes life harder for women makes life harder for families and makes life harder for children. ”

4. “A whole lot of fathers would love to be home for their new baby’s first weeks in the world.”

5. “21st-century families deserve 21st-century workplaces. And our economy demands them, because it’s going to help us compete.  It’s going to help us lead.  And that means paid family leave, especially paid parental leave.”

6. “The key to staying competitive in the global economy is your workforce, is your talent. Right now, too many folks are on the sidelines who have the desire and the capacity to work, but they’re held back by one obstacle or another.

“So it’s our job to remove those obstacles – help working parents, improve job training, improve early childhood education, invest in better infrastructure so people are getting to work safely.”

7.  “And most of all, I take it personally, because I am the father of two unbelievable young ladies. And I want them to be able to have families.  And I want them to be able to have careers.  And I want them to go as far as their dreams will take them.  And I want a society that supports that.”

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