Women in Labor: Generating Value

Pam Sornson, JD

Pam Sornson, JD

April 4, 2023

Besides the obvious physical distinctions, the differences between men’s and women’s brains explain how and why their talents and skills differ so greatly from one group to the other. Women, for example, process information much faster than men, using much less of their mental capacity to achieve the comparable cognitive performance of men. Their brains have a heightened interconnectivity that simultaneously facilitates mental processing across several lobes. Men’s brains, on the other hand, are more specialized, using individual modules of brain anatomy to focus on one function at a time. Neither brain structure is preferable to the other; they each have their strengths and weaknesses as processing machines. But the differences between them do indicate that harnessing the capacities of both will bring better and higher values to the community. Continued reliance on the one – typically that of the male – to conduct all social business ignores the value and contribution capacity of the other.

These four women are examples of the benefits gained by a society when it elevates and engages the dynamic force of the female brain. Women’s individual styles, thought processes, and initiatives bring unmatched and unique contributions to their separate organizations in ways that the male brain can’t match, not as an alternative resource but as an equally competent and comparable one.

 

Julie Su – Nominee: U.S. Secretary of Labor

Ms . Su is the former California Secretary of Labor and President Biden’s current nominee to head the United States Labor Department. She has been serving as the deputy secretary for the U.S. DOL. In that role, she has worked with the President and his cabinet to amend federal rules and regulations to advance more equitable inclusion and worker well-being policies and practices. She was picked for the position based on her focus on human rights and finding justice for marginalized populations.  Her leadership in a 1995 legal case that changed California’s laws regarding sweatshops and the exploitation of immigrant workers is just one example.

As California’s top labor leader, Su was dedicated to prosecuting businesses that cheated workers out of their fair wages, including companies that inappropriately classified their employees as ‘independent contractors’ to avoid compliance with California’s labor standards. As deputy director for the U.S. DOL and as the potential top leader in that organization, Su will oversee 26 agency programs that provide services, guidance, and support to workers, employers, and industries across the country. The DOL focuses on work- and labor-related concerns that impact millions of Americans and provides governance and enforcement services for federal work-related laws, including the American Rescue Plan, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

 

Dr. Sonya Christian – Chancellor, California Community Colleges

In February 2023, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors unanimously selected Dr. Christian to lead the country’s most diverse system of public higher education. As the 6th Chancellor of the Kern Community College District, Dr. Christian was instrumental in spearheading funding for the Guided Pathways model of community college program organization. As a consequence of her leadership in this initiative, the State provided a $150M investment to launch the project to further pursue its “Vision for Success” metrics.

Her leadership as the Chancellor of California’s Community College system (CCC) allows her to expand her creative educational philosophies across 116 college campuses state-wide. The CCCs host more than 1.8 million students each year, 69% of whom are from diverse ethnic backgrounds. More than half (51%) of the graduates of California State Universities (CSU) and almost one in three (29%) of University of California (UC) graduates began their education at a community college. The 116 individual institutions together offer over 377,000 course sections, providing students from across the state the opportunity to pursue virtually any occupation or career. Dr. Christian’s influence on this network and the millions of people will be significant.

 

Kelly LoBianco, Director, LA County Department of Economic Opportunity

With over 15 years of public sector experience at the federal, state, and local levels, Ms. LoBianco has held numerous executive roles, including Executive Director of Training and Sector Initiatives for New York City’s Workforce Development Division. She consistently uplifts community voices to achieve measurable, equitable, and sustainable outcomes and brings considerable skills as a change agent for social services policy and programs in workforce and economic development strategies.

The LA County Department of Economic Opportunity (LADEO) is the county’s workforce development hub. It offers county residents opportunities to pursue new career pathways, access occupational upgrades, and launch new businesses and organizations. The LADEO is now tasked to deploy more than $156 million in economic and workforce development resources provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, better known by President Biden’s phrase, the “Build Back Better” plan. The agency will administer approximately $99 million in federal grant money to facilitate grants to hundreds of LA County small businesses, nonprofit organizations, talent pipelines, and more.

 

Carolyn Hull, General Manager, Economic & Workforce Development Department – City of Los Angeles

Ms. Hull started as leader of this group – the EWDD – in February 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began, and she and her team distributed more than $63 million in coronavirus response spending. The money supported hundreds of economic relief programs, including the City of LA’s Small Business Emergency Grant Program, the LA Regional COVID-19 Fund, and the LA COVID-19 Child Care Provider Grant Program.

The agency itself steers workforce development initiatives to create the job training and career opportunities that result in thriving businesses. Its $21 million budget funds six dedicated programs, including:

Nine BusinessSource Centers that provide access to capital, tax incentive information, and employee training, among other services.

Economic development strategies that leverage public assets in support of private business growth.

Seventeen WorkSource Centers that provide employment-related assistance to regional residents.

Sixteen YouthSource Centers that offer educational and career preparation services for “disconnected youth” between 16 and 24 years.

The “Hire LA’s Youth” summer employment program that provides six weeks of paid work opportunities for local people aged 14 to 24 years.

Seven Day Labor Centers that offer fixed locations around the city where people can gain job skills, and businesses can find short-term workers.

 

These four women now manage hundreds of millions of LA County’s public funding resources, all of which are directed at building the region’s economy on behalf of all its residents. Individually, their exceptional capacities and unique female perspectives will undoubtedly advance the work and success of their agency. Together, their combined leadership force has the potential to generate more economic success than the County has ever experienced by using cognitive capabilities – uniquely female – that its prior male leaders simply did not possess.

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