President Barack Obama on Monday urged employers to give workers more flexibility to raise a family, saying such policies were integral for him and First Lady Michelle Obama to raise two daughters while advancing in their careers.
“I take this personally because I’m the husband of a brilliant woman who struggled to balance work and raising our girls when I was away, and I remember the stresses that were on Michelle,” Obama said at the first-ever White House summit on Working Families.
The president called on more employers to embrace paid family leave and pushed for Congress to pass legislation to protect pregnant workers’ rights, saying such measures will make the American workforce more productive and competitive.
“Work gives us a sense of place and dignity as well as income and it is critically important,” Obama said. “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.”
The president told the story of how the first lady, who will also address the conference, brought their infant daughter Sasha into a job interview to show her potential employer how important it is that she have a schedule that allowed her to raise her children. However, the president acknowledged that many American women are unable to make such requests without having their commitment to the job questioned.
“When women succeed, America succeeds. So there is no such thing as a ‘woman’s issue,’” Obama said.