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February 3, 2014The US President said many things in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. But it was his impassioned plea for workplace equality that really stood out to me, as Catalyst’s President & CEO:

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship—and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode. This year, let’s all come together—Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street—to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.

Since our founding in 1962, Catalyst has called for equal pay, paid family leave, and paid sick leave. “Perks” of this kind, which are really necessities, were hard to imagine back in the Mad Men era—and they’re more urgent than ever in 2014. Catalyst shares President Obama’s sentiments—and so do fair-minded women and men around the world, regardless of political affiliation. 

Words are powerful, but actions are better. It’s time to make it possible to work and fulfill our most basic obligations to ourselves and others. Humanity should be seen as a key element of success, not an impediment to it. This is true regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or nationality—and society depends on it.