March 8, 2013 by Ilene H. Lang
“It’s 2013, the face of the nation is changing and to be competitive, to win in business today, you need to change with the demographics of the nation.”
The quote above reflects Catalyst’s position on why advancing women in business is the smart thing to do for companies seeking an edge. But I didn’t say it.
This is from Bernadette Harrigan, an assistant vice president in the law department of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, explaining why her company filed a supporting brief with the Supreme Court of the United States, urging it to overturn a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company was not alone. The brief drew 278 signers from more than 200 companies, including Catalyst members like Citigroup, Microsoft, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs, and Alcoa, winner of the 2013 Catalyst Award. Signers said the federal law “forces us to treat one class of our lawfully married employees differently than another, when our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees.”
Bravo! When major companies publicly get behind important social issues, change follows. That’s why today, on International Women’s Day, I want to share with you a wish for the future.
I would love to see this corporate unity and momentum drive support for the Equal Rights Amendment. In the United States, the principle of equal rights for both sexes is not explicitly written into our Constitution. Backing the ERA, which affirms that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” is a logical next step for companies that live their values.
International Women’s Day celebrates women’s hard-fought gains and spotlights the challenges ahead. What better way to safeguard these gains—and ensure future success on the path to gender parity—than to get behind a vital piece of legislation that affirms equality for all? The ERA has been repeatedly introduced in Congress since 1923—and has yet to pass.
May this year be the year for corporate support, and final passage, of the too-long-delayed Equal Rights Amendment!