Women Employed
8 min readSep 29, 2023


Note: Looking for our She Says feature of Izzy Dobbel? You can find it here! https://womenemployed.medium.com/she-says-with-isabel-izzy-dobbel-5f00efd739b4

Where In the World is Women Employed?

September has provided us with opportunities locally and nationally to lift up the issues — and the voices — of working women, and especially the low-paid, Black, and/or Latina/x women who face greater barriers to economic equity. Whether talking wage justice with national leaders in feminist philanthropy, celebrating two decades of progress with national partners, discussing the needs of Black women with the Biden Administration, speaking up on the Mag Mile for women who’ve experienced sexual harassment, or helping people understand Illinois’ new salary transparency law, WE are ensuring that ALL women are heard.

2023 Raices Public Policy Conference for Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation (ILLCF)

The 2023 Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation’s (ILLCF) Raices Public Policy Conference took place on Thursday, September 28, 2023. Our Director of Advocacy and Policy, Sarah Labadie and Senior Coalition Manager, Starr De Los Santos attended this in-person event at Malcolm X College.

Senator Celina Villanueva and Representative N. Hernandez delivered the welcoming remarks and introduction. In one breakout session, State Representative Lisa Hernandez moderated the “The Growing Importance of Latinos in Chicagoland Suburbs” Panel Discussion, along with a Health Equity Workshop and Immigration and Language Access Workshop. In another breakout session Dr. Teresa Cordova was the keynote speaker for “Celebrating Latino Identity in Illinois: What Makes Us Stand Out” and afterward Dr. Cristina Pacione-Zayas moderated the “ILLC and ILLCF: Raices and Public Policy” Panel Discussion.

The event brought together policymakers, community leaders, and advocates to discuss critical public policy issues affecting the Latina/o/x community. The goal was to create a space where ideas can be shared, connections can be made, and change can be initiated. Thank you ILLCF! Women Employed did not want to miss this opportunity to be part of the conversation and help shape the future of our community.

Women’s Funding Network’s Feminist Funded 2023

Our President and CEO Cherita Ellens spoke on September 14th on a panel at Feminist Funded ’23: RISING! The panel’s topic was Wage Justice Investments on the Frontlines of BIWOC Power Building. The roundtable conversation was led by Noreen Farrell of Equal Pay Today, and in addition to Cherita, featured Melvina Ford of Equal Rights Advocates, Xochitl Oseguera of MomsRising/MamasConPader, and Kavita Ramdas, a globally recognized advocate for gender equity, justice, and investments.

Presented by the Women’s Funding Network (WFN), Feminist Funded ’23 is the largest gathering of global leaders in feminist philanthropy, working to co-create a more just, equitable, and safer world for all. With five days worth of activities to choose from, WFN’s biennial global conference was the place for inspiration, connection, and acceleration of ideas and collaborations for the public good.

Family Values @ Work (FV@W) Annual Meeting and Game Changers Awards Week

Last week a few members of the WE team spent time in Houston for the Family Values @ Work Annual Meeting and Game Changers Awards. FV@W is a network of 27 states all working together to center care for working toward economic, racial and gender justice. The week was focused on celebrating wins throughout the network including the passing of Paid Leave for All in Illinois, strategizing for 2024 and beyond, and providing space to recharge and fill our cups with rest, support and joy. Additionally, we culminated by celebrating FV@W 20th anniversary and the work of some amazing people and trailblazers at the Game Changers Awards Ceremony.

Congratulations Family Values @ Work on 20 years!

White House Roundtable on Black Women’s Economic Security

WE’s President & CEO Cherita Ellens joined a group of gender and racial justice experts at the White House on September 15th for a meeting with the Biden Administration to address the critical issue of closing the wage and wealth gap for Black women. Advocates at the meeting included the National Council of Negro Women, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Black Women’s Roundtable, Equal Rights Advocates, Equal Pay Today, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women’s Law Center, YWCA USA, Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, and Women Employed.

Read more about the issues and solutions discussed in the meeting Readouts from our partners, and from the White House.

National Association of Realtors Accountability Project Press Conference

On Monday September 18th, Women Employed’s EVP of Policy, Programs, and Research, Sharmili Majmudar, joined State Representative Kelly Cassidy and Jason Haber, the founder of the NAR Accountability Project, outside of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) executive meeting for a press conference calling for immediate and sweeping changes in the wake of disturbing revelations of widespread sexual harassment and a toxic work environment at NAR.

“The overwhelming majority of NAR members are women — the flexibility of the work is a huge benefit to people who are often juggling multiple responsibilities, like caregiving. The industry should be stepping up to ensure that their agents are safe and respected — flexibility alone does not make a good job, and no one should be forced to sacrifice their dignity and security for a paycheck. Pretending a problem does not exist will not make it go away, and will in fact allow it to spread. The bravery of the agents who have shared their stories should be met by decisive action, not minimization and denial that just repeats the harm they’ve experienced,” said Majmudar.

Read more of the bombshell The New York Times report on sexual harassment at NAR here.

*Note: NAR President Kenny Parcell has resigned since The Times’s investigation.

Update: Since the press conference calling for immediate and sweeping changes in the wake of disturbing revelations of widespread sexual harassment and a toxic work environment, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has announced that they’re making changes in response to the outcry.

Women Employed is glad to see that the NAR is taking steps to address the issues that have been raised and listening to its members and staff. We will be watching closely to see them fulfill their promises and adopt all of the changes demanded by the NAR Accountability Project and staff.

Read more of NAR’s response here.

Pay Transparency as an Important Step Towards Pay Equity

Our EVP of Policies, Programs and Research, Sharmili Majmudar participated in a conversation on September 26th about policies and practices to increase pay transparency in Illinois. Panelists discussed Illinois’ recently-passed Salary Transparency law, which will require employers with 15 or more employees to include pay ranges and benefits on job postings. We heard from community providers and policy experts about the benefits and unique challenges of implementing pay transparency in the health and human service sector. The panel was facilitated by Adela Carlin, Director of Grassroots Partnerships for IL Partners for Human Service. Other panelists included Sherrie Crabb, CEO at Arrowleaf, Graciela Guzmán, Community Organizer and Candidate for IL 20th District Senator, and Mansi Patel, Director of Development, Equity and Human Resources at Family Service Association of Greater Elgin.

Crain’s Best Places to Work in Chicago Luncheon

On September 13th, Women Employed joined Crain’s Chicago Business and other employers across Chicago for the Crain’s Best Places to Work in Chicago Luncheon. We are proud to be honored by Crain’s as #22 out of their Top 100 Best Places to Work in Chicago in 2023! We are extremely thrilled to have been recognized for our deep commitment to equity, which starts here in our own workplace. As a small non-profit organization, WE provides top-tier benefits, prioritizes fairness and inclusivity, and is responsive to staff needs. To ensure we are aligned with what we advocate for, WE offer family-friendly and employee-centered benefits such as generous sick time, paid leave, vacation, and health insurance, plus hybrid work and flexible scheduling options, allowing staff to manage responsibilities inside and outside of work. The leadership team holds itself accountable for organizational culture, staff development, and for nurturing and supporting the overall well-being of staff.

“We couldn’t authentically pursue equity for women in the workforce without ensuring equity, inclusivity, support, and flexibility in our own workplace,” said Cherita Ellens, President and CEO of Women Employed. “We believe our staff members deserve the best working environment to achieve success for themselves and our mission. We are thrilled to be recognized alongside so many other notable organizations that are doing right by their workers.”

Fighting for a Full and Fair Wage for Chicago’s Tipped Workers

Women Employed joined our partners and fellow advocates from One Fair Wage, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Fight For 15 Chicago, Arise Chicago, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas at the Chicago City Council Workforce Development meeting on September 20th in support of an ordinance to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers. It’s a long overdue step towards economic justice for workers in tipped industries, who are predominantly women and people of color.

Chicago has the opportunity to be a model for other cities and states, so we are thrilled that this ordinance passed out of committee with a 9–3 vote, and that it has the support of the Chicago Mayor’s Office! Thanks to Alderpersons Fuentes and Ramirez-Rosa, and Chair Rodriguez for their work on this ordinance.

But it’s not a done deal, and we need YOU to raise your voice to make sure this becomes the law! The full City Council vote is on Wednesday, October 4th, so take action TODAY.



Women Employed

WE relentlessly pursue equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to education, & advocating for fair, inclusive workplaces.