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Watch the Recording: Equity in Focus Webinar Series

On February 24th, the Worker Institute and the Women's Bureau of the US Department of Labor held the first webinar in the Equity in Focus: Job Creation for a Just Society Webinar Series. The first webinar explored equity in job creation in the construction industry and brought together researchers, policymakers, practitioners, union leaders, and advocates to discuss what is needed for a just economic recovery.

Watch the recording:

Opening and closing remarks were provided by Alexander Colvin, Dean, ILR School, Cornell University and Wendy Chun-Hoon, Director, Women's Bureau, Department of Labor. Anne Marie Brady, Senior Extension Associate, Director of Research for Worker Rights and Equity, The Worker Institute, served as moderator. Andrea Flynn, Senior Director, Insight Center, discussed current research on equity in job creation in the construction industry with Raahi Reddy, Director of Metro's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program.

"When women are in a union they have better access to higher wages and better benefits," said Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director, Oregon Tradeswomen, who presented on how they have successfully positioned equity at the center of job creation initiatives in the building trades in Oregon. Labor Leader, Leah Rambo, rounded out the discussion with insights from the building trades. "It is important to highlight best practices. Our industry is very competitive. If you highlight an employer that is doing this well, it dispels the myths that it can't be done," said Rambo.

NYS Department of Labor Commissioner, Roberta Reardon, and U.S. Department of Labor Policy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary, Katelyn Walker Mooney discussed the critical role state and federal leaders can play in driving equity in job creation in the construction industry forward. "Lots of communities can't come into these workforce spaces unless they have access to childcare and eldercare," said Reardon, who also shared a video showcasing individual workers' stories. 

The Equity in Focus webinar series is an opportunity to share current research and praxis that address the need for a just economic recovery that reverses long-existent inequalities in job creation and access. The current crisis of inequality, made worse by the intersecting crisis of the pandemic and its impact on women and people of color, accelerates the need to envision job creation through the perspective of an equity lens.

Unprecedented levels of public investment to spur economic recovery after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic create a historic opportunity to dismantle structural barriers and achieve equity and inclusion in economic development through high-quality jobs access for women and people of color. The question this webinar series explores is how best to achieve equity goals. Drawing on existing models of practice from around the United States, this series will show how local and state actors have successfully implemented equity and job creation.

The goal of this series is to showcase current research on equity and its application to spur the upscaling of effective policy innovation at the state and local level at a time of record levels of economic investment by the federal government.  The Equity in Focus webinar series will capture innovation in job creation and a final report sponsored by the Lois Gray Innovation Fund will be released in Fall 2022.

The Worker Institute at Cornell engages in research and education on contemporary labor issues, to generate innovative thinking and solutions to problems related to work, economy and society. The Women's Bureau develops policies and standards and conducts inquiries to safeguard the interests of working women; to advocate for their equality and economic security for themselves and their families; and to promote quality work environments.