VOTE! (The Midterms)

The past two years has been overwhelming, chaotic, and created a clear divide in our country. If we can look at any silver linings of current events, it’s that the issues that still exist in our country are being brought to the public’s attention. So now, it’s our time to act on it.

The 2014 midterm election had the lowest turn out in over 72 years. The last time voter turnout was this low was during WWII in 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots. In 2014, only 36.4% of eligible voters showed up at the polls.* And what happened as a result? We ended up with two people on the ballot that a large majority of the country did not want to support. The chaos of the 2016 election was largely due to the fact that nobody was getting involved until it was too late to do anything besides choose your lesser of two evils. However, the turnout for the midterms can large affect the outcome of the general election that will happen in 2020.

As a result of the current administration, more and more activists are getting involved in advocacy to raise awareness on issues such as women’s rights, gun reform, immigration, and more. And with recent events, the LGBT community is standing strong to keep rights as well. Change is happening, and we can see it and feel it everywhere, but it won’t make a difference unless we show up to vote.

If you are feeling overwhelmed because you don’t feel informed, there are so many easy ways to quickly gain the insight you need. By visiting Vote411.org, you can type in your address and get information about who and what is going to be on your ballot. You will get a breakdown of each candidate and what they support, as well as provided with the location of your polling place. Polls are open from 7AM to 8PM today, so there’s still plenty of time to get out there!

You’ve heard it on the news. You’ve heard it on social media. You’ve heard it from your local representatives. You’ve heard it from your friends, family, coworkers, teachers, and everyone else. VOTE. Not just in 2020, vote TODAY. Make sure you have a say. Make sure your voice is heard. Make sure you exercise your right that so many others do not have.vote2So again, I ask – did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.

National Trend 1789-Present

*Only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in [the 2014] midterm elections,
down from 40.9% who voted in 2010. The last time voter turnout was 
that low was 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots,
according to the United States Elections Project - TIME

VOTE! (The Primary)

Politics can honestly be extremely overwhelming these days. But, there has been a lot of talk around issues that I care a lot about, so I’ve been doing what I can to follow the next election. I can’t say that I am happy about the social climate that we are living in, so I want to do what I can to make a change. I ‘Marched for our Lives’ in D.C. on March 24th for gun control, I’ve signed petitions to support DACA and related issues, and today, I VOTED.

I think that our country’s bipartisan system is outdated, and whole electoral vs. popular vote thing is super wack. When I was first 18, it made me feel like my vote didn’t actually count at all. I felt small and I didn’t think I could be heard. After I got a little older, there were too many issues that made me passionate and I wanted to be involved. And, I learned that my voice can be heard as long as it’s loud enough.

It truly doesn’t take much to do some quick research into candidates. I subscribe to emails from rockthevote.org and ballotpedia.org to get updates on things like candidates in my party, voting events, and more. Both sites are unbiased, and just reading a couple emails here and there helped me find candidates that support the same issues that I care about. If you are lucky, your city or county might help you out also – so open your mail! I received a handout via snail mail from my district that had a list of running candidates, and a check mark or an X next to different voting issues to indicate which they supported or opposed.

Information is everywhere, so go find it! Then – go vote!

The same sites that I get my information from provide a resource to help me find my polling place. Most voting locations are open 7AM – 8PM, so there is still time to go in the evening even if you can’t make it during the day. Knowing when and where to vote in the Primaries will make things even easier for you to vote in the Midterms in November – and every election day thereafter.

VOTE

Part of my motivation to vote in the primaries comes from being a millennial. Millennials are the largest population of voters, but we have one of the lowest turnouts – especially in the primaries. Current social issues and recent events have made our generation more passionate about the social climate, but nothing will change unless we act on it.

So, did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.

Pay Equity Laws

Pay Equity has been a trending business topic as we move to close pay gaps and promote equality. As a feminist who works in Human Resources, I am a huge fan of this movement. Massachusetts has already passed amendments to make changes, and the amended law will go into affect this July 2018! My hope is that other states quickly follow suit.

These changes can be broken down into three key areas: Salary History Bans, Pay Equity Standards, and Compensation Transparency.

Salary History Bans: The new Pay Equity Laws prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history before making a job offer. Some employers will calculate their offers based on what a candidate previously got paid, rather than what the position is worth. This can become problematic and is often unfair to employees. With this ban, the position will be worth a static range, and employers will have to move forward with an offer without knowing their previous salary. Employees are free to disclose any information at their own discretion, but employers may not ask until after an initial compensation offer has been made.

Pay Equity Standards: The gender pay gap is something that I have always heard of and been aware of, but this is the first time that I’ve really seen anything being done about it. There are new reporting laws surrounding pay equity that ensure that businesses are doing their social responsibility to address this issue. Companies must engage tools and resources to understand what pay gaps exist in their organization, and they are obligated to take action. Some pay gaps are valid and explainable, and things like tenure, experience, or education will be taken into consideration. Outside of those explainable circumstances, business will legally have to prove that there is an effort being done to close these gaps.

Compensation Transparency: This protects employees to have the freedom to disclose and discuss compensation information with coworkers. It’s crazy to me that employers can discipline employees for discussing their pay with each other – how is this legal?? In my previous position, my company was bringing in new hires at a higher rate than their tenured associates in HR. When I pressed my boss about this, her response was, “technically, you aren’t even supposed to know about that.” Well, that will now be illegal. Employees will now be protected, and if any unfairness is exposed, the company will have to address it. By creating transparency, this ensures consistency across the organization.

In my opinion, if a company sees these changes and has anxiety, that should question the integrity of that organization. These laws are being put into affect to protect employees, and organizations who are already conscious of their employee experience should feel at ease.

Employees should feel protected.

Thanks for reading!

pay-gaps-illustration-800x574_c

Info verified from Mass.gov

Dickey Amendment

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know how I feel about gun control.

Without going too deep into the topic as a whole, the lack of research done on gun violence is alarming.

It’s a fact that the U.S. has a much higher rate of gun deaths than the rest of the developed world*. However, there is almost no federal research available on gun violence in America. Many are blaming this on the Dickey Amendment, which was put in place over a decade ago.

The Dickey Amendment prevented the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) from using a spending bill to “advocate or promote gun control.” As a result, the CDC has avoided researching gun violence, aside from some basic data collection.

The National Rifle Association, of course, had pushed for the amendment. This is not surprising: public-health researchers had published studies suggesting that having a gun in the house increased risk of homicide and suicide*, among other things. The NRA argued that this information was politically motivated, even though these were simply published facts – not advocacy.

The Dickey Amendment is part of the reason that there are massive gaps in what we know about gun violence.*

Last month, Congress gave CDC the “okay” to research gun violence, however, almost no movement has been made. It is likely that the CDC will not begin this research until the amendment is repealed.

GunControl-702a2

CLICK HERE to sign the petition to end the Dickey Amendment. 

Thanks for reading.

Story and inspiration from BuzzFeed News.

The NRA had pushed for the amendment after  
published studies suggested increased risk,
according to The Atlantic.

The Dreamers

DACA-Polictial-Cartoon

Are we really the home of the free?

America has been called a “Nation of Immigrants”. We were founded on the principle that people come here in search of a better life. However, our current leadership has decided that it is now time for America to throw out its values and become exclusive.

I understand that immigrants need to be registered and go through the legal process. I understand that everyone living here needs to pay taxes and follow the law. I understand that immigration needs to be regulated.

That being said, the current policies are evoking a fear across the nation that has striped America of its core values.

We are supposed to be a nation of dreamers. 

“Dreamers” is now the title given to individuals who came into America, illegally, as children. President Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has prevented over 800,000 immigrants from being deported. As a result, the Dreamers were able to get an education, start a career, and live the American dream they’d always hoped for.*

I believe in DACA. I believe that immigrant parents come to America dacapurely to give their children a chance at a better life that they may not have had. I believe DACA protects children who do not even know their “home country”, but instead have always known America as their home.

Now, their future is in doubt. Trump has said during his campaigns that he would not threaten the Dreamers, but he has gone back on this word. The crackdown on immigration has not only ripped families apart, but is also installing fear across America.

DACA+article

It’s just disheartening. I don’t feel proud to be a part of a country that feels so superior to the rest of the world. I don’t feel good about families being torn apart and exclusivity being promoted.

Our founding fathers broke away from their home country to build a new nation and provide a better live for those who followed them. This idea seems basic, and yet it feels like something that is lost.

It feels like America has become a high-class Country Club, and not everyone gets a membership.

Yes, it’s wonderful to live in a country where I am free to write all this and express my opinions as I please. However, it’s also hard to be patriotic when I see so much that I want to change. I pray that one day, America will return to its “melting pot” values, and immigrants will not have to dream in fear.

I stand behind the Dreamers.

Thanks for reading.

*Time Magazine:
We Are Americans - Just Not Legally;
We Are Americans, Revisited - The Dreamers Five Years Later;
Ripped Apart - The Cost of America's Immigration Crackdown

Millennials

Millennials get a bad rep, and I’m ready to call bullshit.

Let’s start by defining the term “Millennial”. We are Generation Y, born between 1981 and 1997*, and today are between 21 and 38 years of age. Also known as “The 9/11 Generation”, we do not know a world without computers, academic pressure, and the constant fear of school shootings. We were raised by Baby Boomers and Generation X. Our parents were nurturing, omnipresent, and have told us over and over again that we are special. We feel like a generation, and we have great expectations for ourselves.*

So, why are millennials given a negative connotation? Why are we isolated and criticized? Why do I constantly feel the need to defend my generation?

Millennials are severely misunderstood. We are criticized for the environment we grew up in and we are blamed to the point where our own members don’t want to be associated with our name. We are classified as “the worst”. We are stupid, unmanageable, unconventional, and of course, entitled narcissists. Apparently, we suck.

Fact: The Baby Boomers are the first “Me Generation”* and all the generations after have simply followed suit. Millennials are also the “Green Generation” because we care more about the environment. We are invested in our health and the wellness of others. We have lower crime rates. We volunteer. We donate. We care about social issues. Millennials have been called “alpha-influencers”. We have been taught that we can and we will make a difference. “Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation and this year we will be the largest voting block.” This was tweeted by Rock the Vote in February of this year.

Yes, we like technology. The digital era is what we are used to. Older generations see this as laziness, because we have found shortcuts and alternatives to the long processes that they have become comfortable with. We see this as innovation and creativity. When someone asks, “Why?”, we ask, “Why not?”. Millennials are resourceful and inventive.

Fact: The Baby Boomers were the first generation who grew up with a television in their homes. This drastically reshaped the media and how news was delivered. Generation X grew up during the computer revolution, and Millennials had the smart phone. All of these advances of technology resulted in a change in how people can connect to the outside world. The world evolves, and so do we.

We grew up in a time of rapid change. We were taught at a very young age that the world is unsafe. Millennials were roughly between the ages of 4 and 20 on September 11th, 2001, and many of us do not know a world without terrorism. We were students who witnessed Virginia Tech, Columbine, and Sandy Hook on the news and had to walk our own school hallways the very next day. We are exposed and aware.

And maybe we aren’t as different as you think.

Fact: Millennials have been nicknamed “Echo Boomers” because of the likeness to their parent demographic. Baby Boomers were taught to cut coupons from their parents who witnessed the Great Depression, and Millennials care less about name brands and more about being thrifty. Both Baby Boomers and Millennials are known as being team-oriented. Baby Boomers embraced the ‘American Dream’ and Millennials have the highest number of entrepreneurs. Baby Boomers were the “rock and roll” generation and introduced Millennials to “save-the-world” type revolutions that are still happening today. There were more Baby Boomer mothers in the workplace than previous generations, leading Millennials to promote feminism, equal pay, and the women’s movement. Baby Boomers started the “free love” movement and Millennials promote tolerance, openness, and acceptance.*

There is so much that we can learn from each other.

We need to remember that older generations are the ones that created the new generations. We are all products of what we have have been exposed to and what we have learned. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to navigate our way though an ever-changing world.

So, let’s set the record straight.

Millennials are adventurous and ambitious. We are educated, motivated, and independent. We are diverse. We are confident and collaborative. We are conscious, aware, and open-minded. We are idealistic, innovative, and passionate.*

We are the future. And we are no better nor worse than anyone else.

Thanks for reading.

blog-generational_giving-image1

*Millennials: Born 1981-1997 (Sometimes listed as 1980-2000; 
the range of birth years for millennials may be updated as 
further demography studies about this generation are conducted, 
according to Pew Research). - CNN, 2017

*Defining Millennials and other generations,
- The 6 Living Generations In America, 
marketingteacher.com

*The Boomers are the first “Me Generation” and every 
generation after is also the “Me Generation",
according to medium.com

*Millennials are "alpha-infulencers", 
according to forbes.com

*Rock the Vote tweet,
https://twitter.com/RockTheVote/
status/959564406085554181

*Baby Boomer comparisons,
inspired by Pew Research Center

*16 Positive Qualities of Millennials, 
according to The Oddyssey Online

Women in the Workplace

shutterstock_183577280% of the people I have reported to in the workplace have been women. This includes every position I have had, from my high school jobs to my college internships to my career. Most of my bosses have been women.

I come from a hardworking family with two parents who worked full-time. My mom took her maternity leave to have my sister and I, and then got right back to her job, working as one of the 11% of civil engineers that are women.* And yet, she still managed to have a life AND be involved with the PTA. The women there would give her patronizing remarks when she was unable to make meetings in the middle of the day because of having a career.  “Oh… you have to work?” Really? Not to judge these women, but my mom is a project engineer managing teams across a multinational company with a masters degree from Penn State who also is able to balance being an active mom, so who are they to speak?

All that being said, it’s no surprise that I take pride in the fact that I have mainly reported to women. I have had the opportunity to work for some amazing, powerful women, (and one awful one) and I am very thankful.

My first job, however, I worked for a man. In high school, I worked at a pizza place called Bella Roma, which was/still is owned by a man named Ray. To put it frankly, he was a sexist pig. Only girls were allowed to work behind the counter and wait tables, and only boys were hired to be delivery drivers. He made inappropriate remarks about women who came into his shop. You could see it and hear it in the way he treated and talked to people. Luckily for me, he was only in the restaurant during one of my shifts each week so I didn’t have to deal with anything first hand, but the stories were passed around. He was a douche.

I worked there for a year and then I started my long line of working for women. My hometown job included working for my friends’ mom, and my college campus job had me reporting to one of the female graduate students. It wasn’t until I started my internships that I noticed the amount of women in the workforce around me.

Maybe it’s my industry. I was a Communications major with minors in PR and Professional Writing, and my experience has been in HR, PR and Marketing. I had four internships while I was in college, all of which I reported directly to women. Three of these internships were within small businesses, and, this next part is noteworthy, ALL THREE OF THOSE BUSINESSES WERE OWNED BY WOMEN. These women were boss ladies, bad bitches, and I wanted to be like them. They were rough around the edges, intimidating, hardworking, and determined with something to prove. I was given mentors at these internships as well, also women. I was inspired by the attitude they had and the image of themselves they they projected into the world. Say what you want, but women get shit done, and done well. Today, almost 40% of all businesses are owned and operated by women.*

My first job out of college, I worked for an awful woman named Heather, who was the HR Director for a small manufacturing firm. When I first started, I heard rumors that she wasn’t well liked, but she was so nice to me in the beginning that I figured they were just saying those things because she was a dominant female. As I got to know her more, I realized that she didn’t make a whole lot of sense most of the time. She wasn’t great at managing people. She was no where to be found for 90% of the time, and the other 10% she would micromanage so much that it was hard to do our jobs. One time, she told me that instead of teaching me the new way she wanted things done, she had been giving me a look periodically to see if I could figure out this own my own. Sorry I didn’t pick up on  your telepathic signals, Heather. I could continue on about the strange things she used to do, but my point here is that I didn’t see her as a good boss. She was off-putting and manic and hypocritical and backwards. She didn’t know how to handle people, but then again, neither did most of this organization. I worked there for less than a year before I was begging another company to take me.

After that, I did a complete 180 and started working for a wonderful individual named Cheryl. You can put Cheryl on the top of the boss lady list. Professionally, she helped build a branch from scratch and was running the HR department for her home office and several other offices in the region. Meanwhile, she was dealing with a mother battling cancer, a husband having multiple surgeries on his airwaves, and a daughter in and out of the ER with asthma issues. As if all that wasn’t enough, she also fought against the daily prejudice of having an interracial family (a beautiful one) and fought against stereotypes of women in leadership. I was continuously inspired by her strength and prosperity, and the fact that she was a baller breadwinner for her family. Over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of income in U.S. households.* Cheryl also was a phenomenal manager. She cared about us on both a personal and a professional level, cared about our growth, and cared about us overall being happy. The year she was my boss, she won HR Manager of the year across a national company, and soon after I left the company, she was promoted to Regional Manager. To put it simply, she dominates.

When I interviewed to leave that company, it was with a man named Glenn. Upon accepting the offer, I learned that Glenn is who I would be reporting to. Truly, my immediate thought was, Wow, this is the first time I’ll be reporting to a man since Ray. I wondered if the differences would be noticeable or noteworthy between working for a man versus a woman. I was unsure of how my experience had shaped me or catered to me in my career. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but certainly curious.

However, it was obvious from my interview experience that working for Glenn was going to be a much better situation than the man I worked for when I was 17. True to my expectations, Glenn has been a great leader who is extremely knowledgeable and a great teacher. He’s also managing a team of over 40 individuals while juggling a daughter at home with health issues. I’ve clearly been fortunate to work for several admirable leaders. Lucky for Glenn, we are now adding leadership to our department, and his team of 40+ will be broken up into four teams with four separate leaders. As we make this switch, I will no longer be on Glenn’s team, but will now be reporting to a woman named Michelle.

What I’ve learned about great leaders and managers, is that they are also great people. They are professional and experienced, yet level-headed and caring. They are advisors, mentors and confidants. They multi-task, they prioritize, and they execute. They are the kind of people that you want to surround yourself with. And in my case, they have mostly been women. This should be celebrated! But we have a long way to go.

Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women*, and yet only 15% of executive officers are female.* Not to mention the prevailing wage-gap issue – despite the spotlight that has been put on it, women still make about 78 cents to the man’s dollar.* I won’t even get into the workplace harassment issues that the media has highlighted, but let’s just recognize the amount of mountains that women have to climb.

So I say, keep climbing! Inspire and empower the women around you. Celebrate their successes, and learn from them to create your own. Collaborate. Nominate. Share knowledge and information. Acknowledge accomplishments and milestones. Break boundaries and tear down stereotypes.

I want to thank the women who have inspired me. From my mom, to my previous bosses, to my mentors, to my friends – you all dominate everyday. As leading women in your industries, you are constantly knocking down walls and paving a greater way for the women who come after us. I hope to pass along the gifts that I have been given from you to other strong women with powerful potential.

Who run the world.*

Thanks for reading.

 

*11% of civil engineers are women, according to bls.gov.

 *30% of all businesses are owned and operated by women, 
over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of 
income in U.S. households, and the pay gap across all 
occupations is 77.5%,  according to resourcefulmanager.com

*Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women and 
15% of executive officers are female, according to americanprogess.com

*Who run the world? Girls. According to Beyoncé.