Latest from OWL

Women’s Equality Day: We Challenge You

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has served as a real wake-up call about truly devastating illnesses.

And it’s also a wake-up call of how we as a nation tackle problems like ALS, or Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s- because this is where the government plays a vital, irreplaceable role.

And our irreplaceable role as citizens is to choose the people who determine the federal response.

Today, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day- the day the 19th amendment was approved in 1920.

What better way to celebrate this momentous day than by reaffirming our commitment to exercising the hard-fought right to vote in November?

Also- it’s way more comfortable than this...

Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/26 at 03:19 PM

Investing in Companies that Invest in Women

There’s a new kid on the block in the area of socially responsible investing.  The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX) is the only mutual fund in the U.S. dedicated to investing in companies that have a significant proportion of women in senior leadership roles.

The fund is led by Sallie Krawcheck, a former Bank of America and Citigroup executive who is now an entrepreneur. 

sallie krawcheck“Companies with more women in senior management have higher returns on capital, lower volatility, greater client focus, increased innovation and greater long-term orientation…I can think of no better way to invest in women than to invest in those companies around the world that have distinguished themselves by both their business performance and their leadership in advancing women,” said Krawcheck.

Click here to read the full post.

Posted by Deborah Akel on 08/17 at 12:19 PM

OWL Quoted in Baltimore Sun Article on Funding Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs

When The Baltimore Sun reporter Danae King set out to write a story on the difficulties faced by women entrepreneurs in funding their businesses, she reached out to OWL.  Danae interviewed OWL’s Communications Director Pat Lewis, who is quoted in the August 16 article responding to the recent Harvard University study that showed “profound and consistent” gender bias among investors, who prefer pitches by male entrepreneurs over identical pitches by female entrepreneurs: 

“It’s the way [entrepreneurs] are portrayed,” said Pat Lewis, a spokeswoman for OWL, a national organization that advocates for women over age 40.

An underlying bias against women as entrepreneurs might exist, as entrepreneurs are often portrayed as white males, she said.

The lack of funding for women also could be related to the lack of female investors as studies show people are “more likely to give money to someone who looks like [them],” Lewis said.

Click here to read the entire article in The Baltimore Sun.

Posted by Deborah Akel on 08/16 at 12:18 PM

You’re fed up— but will you keep taking it?

A recent NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll clearly shows Americans are fed up:

·  6 in 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the economy, and 71% blame our elected officials in Washington

·  Over 70% think the country is headed in the wrong direction

·  Nearly 80% are dissatisfied with our political system

·  Only 14% approve of the job Congress is doing

These sobering statistics aren’t new.  This is the 7th-straight NBC/WSJ poll (since 2011) in which Congress’s approval rating has been below 15%.

But instead of rallying to the booths on Election Day to express their frustration, an increasing number of Americans are opting out of their hard-earned right to vote.

Click here to read the full post.

Posted by Deborah Akel on 08/15 at 08:02 PM

Happy 79th Anniversary, Social Security!

When I started with OWL as an intern through the National Academy of Social Insurance, I had my questions about Social Security. I did not believe, like over 80% of my generation, that Social Security wouldn’t be there for me when I retired. Although, the pervasive scare-tactic messaging had skewed my idea of the program enough to make me wonder: When the time comes, will I be able to retire and live comfortably? How exactly will Social Security figure into that? During these turbulent times, these are some of the questions Americans ask each day, leaving many worried about their retirement security.

I learned that, in an era rife with uncertainty, one program has proven, for 79 years, its ability to weather the storms: Social Security. 

Since its passage in 1935, Social Security has provided insurance through the likes of poor housing markets, declining pensions, rising health care costs, and recession after recession.

In fact, Social Security is essential to the economic security of older Americans, particularly women. Two in three seniors get over half of their income from Social Security, and one in three get almost all of their income from Social Security. Social Security benefits keep a significant portion of women out of poverty- 37.5% in 2012. In 2012, 26.5% of women relied on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.

Click here to read more.

Posted by Brittany Reid on 08/14 at 02:20 PM

OWL Executive Director One of New Founders of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s (WA2) Network

TheWomenAgainstAlzheimer’s Network (WA2)  “harnesses the power and creative energy of women - the disease’s disproportionate victims, as patients and caregivers – to create a new approach to finding a cure and to build a movement that commits our nation to a bold and aggressive plan for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Their goals include:

*Challenging policymakers and the research community to move away from business as usual to collaborate, to innovate, and to forge ahead in new and previously unforeseen ways to reach for a cure.

*Marshalling an army of women advocates in Washington and state capitals, and throughout industry and the research community.

*Educating lawmakers and the general public about the prevalence of the disease, its particularly cruel burden on women, and the resulting costs to our society.

The statistics are sobering:

*3.2 million women have Alzheimer’s; women are diagnosed twice as often as men

*60-70 percent of the 15.5 million primary caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients are women

*Women leaving the workforce to care for a diagnosed family member lose, on average, more than $300,000 in earnings, pensions and Social Security benefits

Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/05 at 02:48 PM

OWL Takes Part in First Roundtable Discussion on 2015 White House Conference on Aging

OWL was pleased to be part of this event, hosted by Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. The conference will be a timely one—2015 is the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security.

“The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is an opportunity to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade,” Ms. Munoz writes. “As we listen to aging leaders and older Americans, some of the common themes we hear include the following:

·      Retirement security is a vitally important issue. Financial security in retirement provides essential peace of mind for older Americans, but requires attention during our working lives to ensure that we are well prepared for retirement.
·      Long-term services and supports remain a priority. Older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to remain independent in the community as they age. They need supports to do so, including a caregiving network and well-supported workforce.
·      Healthy aging will be all the more important as baby boomers age. As medical advances progress, the opportunities for older Americans to maintain their health and vitality should progress as well.
·      Seniors, particularly the oldest older Americans, can be vulnerable to financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect. The Elder Justice Act was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, and we need to realize its vision of protecting seniors from scam artists and others seeking to take advantage of them.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/04 at 03:22 PM

Medicare Trustees Report Brings Good News

Americans got good news in the 2014 Medicare Trustees Report released in late July.

Medicare’s financial status improved modestly, and the date the trust fund is projected to become insolvent is 2030, four years later than was projected in 2013.

Among several factors that contributed to the modest improvement: the Affordable Care Act helped to increase revenues as well as efficiency in Medicare, and healthcare costs for Medicare beneficiaries have grown at a slower pace in recent years. The Congressional Budget office estimated that Medicare spending for each beneficiary would be $1,000 lower in 2014 than was estimated in 2010 and $2,400 lower in 2019.  If nothing is done and the Medicare trust funds are exhausted in 2030, incoming payroll taxes and revenues could still pay 85% of benefits decreasing to 75% of benefits starting in 2045.

Currently, there are 52.3 million Medicare beneficiaries, of whom 43.5 million are 65 and older. Medicare is also a critical source of retirement security for 22.4 million women ages 65 and over, who tend to have lower incomes and more chronic conditions than older men.  More than half (56%) of all older Medicare beneficiaries are women; two out of three beneficiaries ages 85 and older are women.

The improvement in Medicare’s finances will provide more time for policy makers to come up with a plan to ensure its long-term solvency and allow for incremental changes rather than emergency measures.

Posted by Amy Shannon on 07/29 at 01:01 PM

OWL Talks Business with Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran

If you’ve ever seen ABC’s Shark Tank, a reality show where Barbara Corcoran sits on a panel of successful venture capitalists hearing pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs, you’ll know exactly why this feisty businesswoman gives a whole new meaning to the term “loan shark.”

In fact, at this week’s Senate hearing on Women Entrepreneurship, hosted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, The Shark wasn’t the only one talking about loans. Everyone involved was emphasizing the challenge women face in accessing finance, from Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to media mogul and entrepreneur Nely Galán to leaders from Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). When it comes to women reeling in venture capital funding, witness after witness proved that it is “enormously difficult to compete with men”. 

Given the egregious findings of the report Senator Cantwell released yesterday on behalf of the Committee, “enormously” is an understatement. The report stated that women receive only 4.4% of business loans, and that the U.S. government has never met its goal of allocating a mere 5% of federal contracts to women-led businesses.

Click here to read the full blog post.

Posted by Brittany Reid on 07/25 at 11:47 AM

Know the Facts: Misconceptions About SSDI

There’s been a lot of news lately about the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, including accusations that it’s being abused, that claims are skyrocketing, and that it’s about to go bankrupt.

It’s important to know the facts, and the recent post from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is an excellent summary of the critical role SSDI plays in millions of people’s lives, and what the real funding issues are.

First, SSDI payments go to people in need. The article points out that the typical beneficiary is in his or her late 50s and suffers from a severe mental, musculoskeletal, or other debilitating impairment.

Many are also poor. CBPP notes that poverty rates for disability insurance recipients are twice as high – even when taking those benefits into account. 

Overall, about one-fifth of all disabled-worker families are poor; without DI, nearly half would be.

And yes, the rolls have been growing – but the reasons are from well-known demographic factors: more people, more older people, more women in the workforce – and ironically enough, the rise in the Social Security full retirement age from 65 to 66. The recession also bumped up applications, since unemployment drives those up. But approval rates actually fall when unemployment is high. 

Click here to read the full blog post.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 07/24 at 03:16 PM

Commemorating the 50th Birthday of the Civil Rights Act

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” —Maya Angelou

50 years ago today, Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, and created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce the Act. Today, the EEOC enforces a number of federal statutes protecting workers from discrimination.

As we recognize the progress we’ve made as a nation in achieving equality for all, we also realize more needs to be done.  Despite federal anti-discrimination laws, age-based discrimination complaints have increased by 50% over the past several years, and women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar men earn.  OWL will continue its work on behalf of women 40+ in the areas of equality, economic security, and quality of life. 

Click here to read the full blog post.

Posted by Deborah Akel on 07/02 at 04:17 PM

OWL Quoted in Fox Business News

OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar is quoted in a June 27 article on female entrepreneurs written by Fox Business reporter Christina Scotti.  The article, “Female Entrepreneurship Growing Faster Than Ever,” highlights the impressive growth rate (68% since 1997) of women-owned businesses, which now number 9.1 million.  It also mentions a Harvard study which found that men—especially attractive ones—have a much easier time than women in securing funds from venture capitalists.  Bobbie responded to these findings by calling for change:  “It’s ridiculous to think males have more persuasiveness, and we need to get rid of this unfounded bias by advocating for the millions of smart and successful women entrepreneurs out there.”

Posted by Deborah Akel on 06/30 at 11:49 AM

Women: A Civil Rights Afterthought Then, Taking Charge in Business Now

By Janna Starr
Secretary, OWL National, and President, The Arc Oregon

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other things, makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire, fire, or discriminate against anyone because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, we might take a moment to remember that women were an afterthought in the Act. The word “sex” was not added to Title VII until late in the process when a Democrat from Virginia introduced it in a one-word amendment. Rumor had it that the Representative, who generally opposed integration legislation, did so in order to increase opposition to the bill by labor unions, which had opposed including women in employment legislation.

The rest, as we know, is history. Thanks to the strong efforts of women’s advocacy organizations and civil rights leaders in Congress, the Civil Rights Act – with the ban on sex discrimination included - was signed into law.

Women have clearly made great strides in the world of employment since then. And lately, they have been breaking ground in another business arena: entrepreneurship. 

Click here to read the full blog post.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 06/30 at 11:16 AM

OWL Attends White House Summit on Working Families

On Monday, June 23rd, OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar attended the White House Summit on Working Families.

OWL is proud to work with Tina Tchen and the White House Council on Women and Girls to bring the workplace up to speed for women. Advance workplace equality by sharing your working family story and telling the White House how women 40+ would be helped by 21st-century workplace policies by visiting I’m Ready for Workplace Policies wall.

Click here to read more about the summit.

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 06/23 at 02:26 PM

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Social Security Office Closures and Service Cuts

OWL Program Manager Brittany Reid attended the Senate Special Committee on Aging’s hearing to investigate the effect of Social Security Administration (SSA)’s recent office closures and service cuts.  As a result of a bipartisan investigation, Chairman Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ranking Member Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) sought to examine why, despite the increase in case load due to the aging of the baby boomer population, more offices than ever, 64 since 2010, were being closed nationwide.

Here at OWL we are on the same page as the Senators: face-to-face contact is essential to ensuring the economic security of our aging population.

Click here to read more about the hearing.

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 06/18 at 05:12 PM

Vital Voices Honors Global Leaders

OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar and Program Manager Brittany Reid attended Vital Voices’ 13th Annual Global Leadership Awards Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The inspiring evening opened with Vital Voices President and CEO Alyse Nelson remarking on the importance of women in leadership, saying that women are working on issues that “are not just women’s issues, but THE issues impacting our shared futures.”

Click here to read more about the event.

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 06/18 at 04:30 PM

Gracia M. Hillman Joins OWL Board of Directors

OWL welcomes Gracia M. Hillman to its Board of Directors. Gracia currently provides management consulting services as President and Principal Consultant of G. M. Hillman & Associates, Inc. (formerly The Hillman Group, Inc.) She also serves as a Senior Fellow at Demos, a public policy organization working for an America where all have an equal say in democracy and an equal chance in economic prosperity. She contributes to Demos’ work to expand the freedom to vote for all of America’s citizens. Her previous writings include “Toward A More Perfect Union: The Congressional Black Caucus & Voting Rights” and “E-Voting and Democracy in America.”

Gracia’s previous work includes the following positions:

    Presidential Appointments:
       Chair, Vice Chair and Commissioner, U.S. Election Assistance Commission
       Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State
    Nonprofit Executive Management:
       President and CEO, WorldSpace Foundation
       Executive Director, League of Women Voters of the U.S.
       Interim Executive Director, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
       Executive Director, National Coalition on Black Voter Participation
       Executive Advisor, Council on Foundations

Click here to read Gracia’s full bio.

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 06/16 at 02:21 PM

Growth Rate of Women-Owned Businesses “Remarkable”

OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar attended a Center for American Progress event focusing on improving entrepreneurship opportunities, including for women- and minority-owned small businesses. The event featured keynote speaker SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, who outlined her vision for ensuring small business owners have the resources and capital they need to succeed.

Click here to read the full blog post.

Posted by Deborah Akel on 06/15 at 08:41 PM

Statement on RAISE Act of 2014

OWL applauds Senators Mark Begich and Patty Murray for taking the lead on this important and timely legislation. Working to ensure the economic security of the more than 70 million women over 40 is one of OWL’s core missions, and the RAISE Act is a positive step toward that goal.

Posted by Deborah Akel on 06/11 at 04:01 PM

OWL Board Member Shares Success Story on Fox Business

In a story titled, “How the Underdog Won,” Fox Business profiles how OWL board member Carol Gardner built a $50 million business after the age of 50:

“At 52 years old, I was getting a divorce and I was in serious debt,” explains the former ad executive. “My divorce attorney said at the time, ‘Either get a therapist or get a dog,’ and I had always wanted an English bulldog, so I went looking and found Zelda. She was four months old and was the mirror image of me: she looked sad and wanted to be loved, and I needed the same.”

To read more about how Carol and Zelda built a greeting card empire, click here.

Posted by Mark on 05/24 at 11:50 AM
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