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January 3 2020

Policy Priorities for Women in 2020

by Beverly Hallberg

On this first She Thinks episode of 2020, we do something a little different. Instead of focusing on one policy issue, Hadley Heath Manning joins the podcast to give an overview of Independent Women's Forum’s policy priorities for the New Year. We talk about how IWF determines what issues deserve their focus and the plan of attack for each.

Hadley Heath Manning is director of policy at Independent Women's Forum and Independent Women’s Voice. She frequently comments on health care, entitlements, and economic policy and manages the organizations’ policy projects and publications. Hadley is also a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Hadley appears frequently in radio and TV outlets across the country and is a regular guest on Fox Business Network. Her work has been featured in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, POLITICO, Roll Call, Real Clear Policy, National Review Online, and Huffington Post.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Beverly H.:        
And welcome to She Thinks, a podcast where you're allowed to think yourself. I'm your host Beverly Hallberg and let me start off by wishing you a very, very happy new year. On this episode, the first episode of 2020, we're going to do something just a little different. Instead of talking about one policy issue, Hadley Heath Manning joins us to give an overview of IWF's policy priorities for the new year. We'll talk about the important issues facing women, the plan of attack for each, and how IWF determines what to focus on in the first place. Before we start our conversation a little bit about Hadley, Hadley Heath Manning is the director of policy at Independent Women's Forum and Independent Women's Voice. She frequently comments on healthcare, entitlements, and economic policy and manages the organization's policy projects and publications. She is also a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute in Steamboat Springs, California and you're probably familiar with her because she appears frequently in radio and TV outlets across the country and as a regular guest on the Fox business network.

Hadley, thank you so much for joining us for this first episode of 2020.

Hadley M.:        
Hurrah! Happy new year. Thanks for having me.

Beverly H.:        
Absolutely. So let's just kind of get into your role at IWF. You deal with policy. What are the issues facing women in 2020 that you think, these are the main priority issues, this is what we need to delve into?

Hadley M.:        
Man. My role at IWF, let me just tell you, Beverly and listeners for background, I'm still with my same employer that I started with when I graduated college, so I know that's rare for a millennial like me, but-

Beverly H.:        
Can we ask how many years that's been?

Hadley M.:        
Yes.

Beverly H.:        
Thanks.

Hadley M.:       
2020 commemorate my 10 years of working with IWF.

Beverly H.:        
Congrats.

Hadley M.:        
Thank you. And it's funny-

Beverly H.:        
It's a decade for you.

Hadley M.:        
Yes. I started as a research assistant, so I just want to encourage anybody who's just finished college or just finished your education if you're starting in your first job, stick with it because if there's opportunities for advancement, that's kind of what happened to me.

I think like in every field and every job, there're some things that, every once in a while somebody doesn't want to do something. I think my first Fox News appearance was actually like on Memorial day because nobody wants to work on a holiday. So like my first year of going on TV on behalf of IWF was like I only did holidays and Saturdays because nobody wants those. But if you're willing to say yes to new things and add to your skills and work your way up, then... Now I'm a director of policy, so it's been a really fun 10 years and I mean I was having fun as a research assistant too, but I think it's more fun to be part of the leadership of the organization and to really be part of an organization that I feel like is making a big difference. I don't think there's any organization quite like IWF in our country. So I really enjoy it. And you ask about what some of the issues are that I think we should be paying attention to in 2020 and what I think IWF will be focused on.

As our director of policy, I try to keep a heads up looking at what's coming down the pipeline both in Congress and through regulatory agencies and also what's the buzz in our political culture, what are people talking about. I'm sure in 2020 as we approach the election, there'll be a lot of debates and we'll hear from just within the democratic debates and also as we get closer to the general election, debates between president Trump and the Democrat nominee, whatever they're talking about, we want to be part of that conversation because we think it's important to reach Americans with our message, which is of course we advocate for policies that enhance people's freedom and opportunities and aren't just well-intended, but actually have the real results.

So we're looking at what's going on both legislatively and in the cultural political conversation and trying to weigh in on those things. And in 2020 I think there'll be a lot of conversation about our economy, about fairness in our economy, about the workplace, about fairness between men and women. I think the equal rights amendment will be, once again, something that we're having conversations about. I think healthcare. Healthcare was certainly the number one issue in the midterm elections in 2018. I think it's probably going to be the number one issue that people cite in the 2020 election. So those are some sort of big ticket items, but there's really very few issues that we don't weigh in on an IWF. So we have our hands full.

Beverly H.:        
And just to echo what you said about staying at your first job for as long as you have. I stayed at my first job for seven and a half years. So I guess we're both the old ducks where we stayed at our first jobs for a long time and my mentality was always, as long as I was still learning and able to move up, it was a good thing for me to do.

Hadley M.:        
Right. And I should add that, for a lot of people, this is just isn't practical because you get married, you move, you have life changes, you have to respond to whatever's going on in your life. But IWF is the type of employer who has just extreme workplace flexibility. I live in Denver, Colorado. I joke that's my other DC because I go back to Washington DC pretty frequently, but I work remotely because my husband's job several years ago took us out West. And if I didn't have the type of employer who allowed me to telecommute 1500 miles every day, then I wouldn't be in my same first job, but they've allowed me to do that and I've got two young children. So I love working from home and setting my own hours. Everybody at IWF does that. So it's a really unique model; although it's a model that I think is becoming less unique. It's becoming more and more common for employers to offer more flexibility to capitalize on the talent that's out there.

And we certainly try to do that at IWF. We try to hire just some of the best and brightest women, both on our staff and fellows like you, Beverly. And I think part of the reason we're able to do that is because we offer them what some employers want and that is the ability to really be autonomous and set their own office hours and basically you get the job done and that's all we care about.

Beverly H.:        
And of course we're going to get into some of the specifics of those policy issues, but I want to ask you just a couple of questions more about IWF. You and I, even before we logged on today or when we logged on and before we started recording, we were joking that neither one of us has makeup on, we both work at our homes, I'm based in DC, IWF has women all across the country that are working, but IWF used to have a brick and mortar building where people would go to one location. What was that process like for transitioning from traditional office setting to this new model that we're seeing? You were saying, this is not as unique as it used to be. This is more of the model that we see businesses going to. How hard of a switch was that?

Hadley M.:        
For me, it wasn't that hard. I was still pretty young and it almost felt like when I started working from home, it almost felt like I was going back to my collegiate mentality of getting my coursework done. But I'm thankful that I got to start out in IWF's office because I do think one of the challenges of a virtual office is when you bring on new workers, particularly younger workers who haven't had workplace experience, the training and getting them on board with our model can be a challenge. But the transition was... I'm not going to say it was easy. It was kind of difficult because we had to... you can get rid of a brick and mortar office and all that does is it gets rid of the common place. What has been more of a challenge, I think is when we don't have all the same working hours, and I don't know how many people know this, but IWF's president, Kerry Lucas actually lives in Europe and has lived in Europe for most of the years I've been at IWF.

So my direct superior at IWF lives across the pond, not just across the pond, but now that I'm in the mountain time zone, we live very far away from one another. So we like to joke that-

Beverly H.:        
Eight hours difference...

Hadley M.:        
Yes, I think it's eight hours and it's just the worst possible. She's trying to balance. She also incidentally has five children and so she's balancing their schedules with... Everybody has to sleep for so many hours at night and I do that too sometimes, but we joke that IWF is open 24 hours a day because one of us is always going to be online. We even have folks in the Eastern time zone who just because they function better this way, they choose to do their working hours later in the day, so they might not start working until noon or later in the morning hours and they might work until very late at night.

We just let people do what is best for them. Obviously there're some things that we can't change if somebody asks us to come on a TV show. We can't change the time of the TV show. We have to accommodate those things. We'll work with the media. But in so far as it's just desk work or work that we can do on our own, we pretty much let people work when is best for their schedule and their family schedule and we find that that makes for happier workers and more productive workers and it's lower overhead.

Beverly H.:        
It sure is.

Hadley M.:        
Pay rent on a building. Saves us a lot of money.

Beverly H.:        
Well, so getting into one of the issues you deal with, which is workplace issues, I know that's a focus that you're going to have in 2020. I think what's interesting about it is that IWF models some of the issues that you talk about and how government doesn't need to solve all these issues that individual businesses and employers can work with employees to make choices that make sense for them. So tell us about just the lens that you view workplace issues with some of the ones that are on the table and whether or not working for IWF and the model that they have also helps and forms the policy directions that you suggest.

Hadley M.:        
Yes, I mean, it sounds like a first world thing to be working remote and telecommuting and sitting at your desk doing a white collar job. But really the changes in our economy have affected everyone. Look at... I hate to use this word, but it is the picture of change. It's the uberization of our economy. Even people without college degrees are having more control over their work than ever before in part due to technological advances that allow for things like an app where you call up somebody who can share a ride with you, but also in part due to the strength of our economy and we have seen a pretty strong economy, particularly strong labor market in the last couple of years.

And so this is, I believe, a good time for us to be contemplating what rules exactly should govern the workplace. And in the past, I think when people had those more traditional 9:00 to 5:00 jobs where people would stay in them, I'm one to talk, but for many years at a time when people might work for the same company for their entire working life and the same location, then we had one set of rules. But now that we're in sort of a new workplace model where our working world is much more dynamic for workers of all types than it ever has been before, well, it's time to re-examine whether all those rules are up to date and whether they fit our modern economy. One set of rules that we are challenging in a lot of cases is the rules that require people to have occupational licenses. That's going to be a big focus of ours in the next quarter or two with our new project called Chasing Work. Patrice Onwuka on our staff is heading this project.

And of course, we want there to be regulations in place that protect health and safety, both of workers and customers. But in a lot of cases, occupational licensing doesn't have anything to do with health and safety, but it's been a system that's been abused by people who want to protect their income, protect their industry from competition, from people who might enter and compete with them. So we're challenging occupational licensing, but we also see where there's a real focus now, particularly as women comprise the majority of the college-educated workforce. There's a real focus on work-life balance and issues like paid family and medical leave, issues like the gender wage gap. Those are certainly areas where we will weigh in and try to protect the ability of individual women and men in the workplace to negotiate for whatever their customized, individualized workplace flexibility looks like. And the enemy of flexibility are rules that over standardize the workplace. So that's sort of our position on those issues and we know those are hot topics, but in 2020, I'm sure there will be a big discussion about, how do we make the workplace family friendly and flexible for all workers, not just moms, but other people value flexibility as well, while also protecting the rights of workers and allowing them to have a true choice and have meaningful choice and what their jobs look like.

Beverly H.:        
And something that I think IWF does so well is that, well, you do research policy and there is the policy focus and the white paper aspect to it, let's say that it's also about finding places strategically that you can win. So you mentioned for example, occupational licensing that's typically rolling back regulation on a state level, but you also talked about other issues such as paid leave, which is more on the federal side. There's a lot of issues to focus on. How do you, with the team and the size of the team you have say, strategically let's find places where we can win? And also working with Independent Women's Voice, which does more of the advocating for these, how does that all play out strategically?

Hadley M.:        
Well, that's a challenge. Beverly, I have to say IWF has just been growing like gangbusters. I mean, during my 10 years at IWF, we've really changed from a small organization to a larger organization. We have more staff. And so like any organization that has these growing pains, we're trying to keep our entrepreneurial mindset, but also have more processes in place for determining where our best value is in terms of the work that we do and what debates are winnable, what debates are strategic for us, where we believe that our voice as IWF can be uniquely helpful.

For example, I mentioned the gender wage gap and paid family leave. These are issues where certainly as an organization that is run by women, we have a particular life experience and a particular set of views on these issues as women where we feel like our contribution is going to be incredibly important and we don't want to seed these discussions to the host of women's organizations that do tend to be left-leaning in our political atmosphere. And so we kind of look and we see, what issues are hot right now? What are Americans talking about? What are they considering? And interesting you mentioned paid family leave as a federal issue because incidentally, in Colorado we're considering becoming the ninth state to have a paid family medical leave program on the state level. So there's both the state and the federal level. Most of the time IWF because of our central home base in Washington DC, we do tend to focus more on what's going on on the federal level because we do see how the national debate trickles down and tends to influence what's going on in the States.

But we also understand that there's this reverse phenomenon where if a certain number of States passed legislation, well, that's going to start to influence and tip the scale on the national legislative debate. So I think even though we say all issues are women's issues and I'm really turned off at the idea that there are particular issues that are "women's issues", we know that we get an audience with women that some other organizations and other messengers might not get because we are also women. And so we look at issues like the equal rights amendment, paid family leave, and the gender wage gap as very critical issues for us. Even issues like healthcare, when we go to weigh in, we pay particular attention to how women's health is effected by our healthcare debates. We pay attention to how programs like Medicaid operate because the vast majority of people on Medicaid are female, same for Medicare, but we have a very sharp sensitivity to the fact that our role is one of a kind. I don't think there's another women's organization that can touch on these issues with the same message and the same focus as IWF. But that's sort of how we look at it.

We say, where is our voice going to be most critical? And IWF is an educational organization, so we focus on understanding the issues, writing about the issues, communicating about the issues, variety of media forms and Independent Women's Voices a 501(c)(4) organization. It's our sister organization. We're affiliated, but separate organizations. IWV can take the next step and take some political action on some of the positions that IWF takes based on our research and analysis. So that's sort of in a nutshell what we do, but I think it's a critical role because again, I think we have a real important niche.

Beverly H.:        
And I know that you do have the ear of so many people who are looking for the voice of women that isn't traditionally heard, so I think IWF not only has done a great job with communicating its message, but as you were saying, growing as an organization so that there are more women out there because I know you're extremely busy. Women at IWF are very busy. So I've loved to see the growth because you have more hands on deck to do the good work that you're doing. And kind of just wanted to round out the conversation by ending with this question, which is something that you did bring up earlier and that was talking about an election year. Do you view the upcoming election as a perfect time to educate people? So for example, healthcare is being discussed. Medicare for all, or revising Obamacare, which is Joe Biden's plan. There's a lot being discussed about socialism as a whole. So it's a year where ideas are being presented because there is an election. Do you see then 2020 as being a huge opportunity for IWF to educate and to be part of that conversation, especially when it is showing maybe if we implemented that as a policy, here's how disastrous it would be?

Hadley M.:        
I'm going to share my answer and my answer might surprise you because I'm going to say no. I don't think the election year is the ideal time for some of these debates. Unfortunately, we have a lot of political polarization in our culture and in our partisan debates. I've gotten to the point now where somebody who works in public policy, I like to say that public policy is the beautiful cousin and politics is the ugly cousin. They kind of go hand in hand.

Beverly H.:        
It's true.

Hadley M.:        
Politics and public policy. They're inseparable. When I go to the cocktail party, people ask me what I do, and typically our social circle and urban deep blue Denver is more left leaning. I tell people I work in public policy, but it's really hard to extricate the policy debates from our political debates. And to me that's unfortunate because I think in the off years, there's a little bit more space and a little more opportunity to focus solely on the ideas, whereas in election years, particularly with a national election, with a presidential election, people often get tied up in the tribalism of the moment and in the personality politics of the candidates. And so I've gotten to the point now where I really don't like election years as much. I do think a positive spin on polarization might be that election years do provide us with an opportunity for real contrast, for different visions for our country. And that may be a good thing because it kind of forces people to see the difference. We're not all aiming for the... It's not as if we just disagree on the means to the same end. In fact, Americans see different ends as more beneficial for the country.

But I think at the end of the day, I prefer the off election year so that we can focus just on the policy debates and on the ideas and try to separate them from the parties and the candidates. And to me that's a more productive discussion and it's honestly, I think, a better time to try to persuade people to see things the way that we see them at IWF and convince them that our views on the issues are the right ones. That is really not about the people who are running, but it's about the ideas that they represent. And if that's really how our elections work, then I would say yes, I love election years, but I'm afraid that elections are quite complicated. And the matrices that we use as voters to determine how we vote are a little bit more complicated than where people's party, platforms and positions on the issues are. I wish that people just voted on the issues. That's how I vote, but there's a lot more to it than that. And I understand people say, I have to look at the individuals who are running and that's fine too, but it's not just about the issues.

Beverly H.:        
So final question for you then, and this is more of a broad question and I realize I didn't forewarn you on this. So if I'm catching you off guard, my apologies. But considering it is an election year, and you just mentioned some of the hurdles that one faces in policy during a political year, what would you say success looks like for IWF in 2020?

Hadley M.:        
I think success in 2020 for us looks the same as it does in every other year. And that is, we're on a mission to advocate for public policies that's advanced freedom, prosperity, opportunity. And in order to do that, we have to convince a certain number of people, we have to persuade a number of people to agree with our positions on the issues. And so really our job is to make the case and we do that using fact and reason and we try to do it with a winnable, approachable tone. And if we can do that in 2020, I believe more people will side with us and will agree with the points that we have to make. And many more people may say at the end of the day that they won't change their mind. I understand changing your mind's a big thing to do, but at least people will have some better understanding of our point of view and some respect for it. And I think if we can do this in a civil way, both sides of the aisle, then we'll be having a more productive conversation, then we'll have better public policies, then we'll have more peace as a culture and as a government.

So that's really our goal and that's what success looks like. It looks like persuading people with a winnable tone, a positive message with fact, with reason, that the way we enhance freedom and prosperity and opportunity is through public policies that restrict the role of government in our lives. So the individuals and communities can do what they do best. And that is building, caring for one another, creating a world where everybody has the opportunity to not just survive, but to thrive and to really live a life of meaning and dignity. And if we can do that, that's success.

Beverly H.:        
Well, I want to say just personally, I think you do that well individually on a day-to-day basis in your job. I think you talk about issues so well and it definitely shows that you're not playing politics, but you're actually talking about people and what makes their lives better. You're one of the reason why IWF is a great organization to be a part of. So personally, just want to thank you for your work and I'm glad you stayed at IWF for a decade now. So thank you so much and-

Hadley M.:        
Thank you Beverly.

Beverly H.:        
Happy New Year.

Hadley M.:        
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Beverly H.:        
And thank you so much for listening. I also want to let you know of a great podcast you should subscribe to in addition to She Thinks, it's called Problematic Women, and it's hosted by Kelsey Bolar and Lauren Evans, where they both sort through the news to bring stories and interviews that are of particular interest to conservative leaning or problematic women. That is women whose views and opinions are often excluded or mocked by those on the so-called feminists left. Every Thursday, hear them talk about everything from pop culture to policy and politics by searching for Problematic Women wherever you get your podcasts. And last, if you enjoy this episode of She Thinks, do leave us a rating or a review on iTunes, it does help and we'd love it if you share the episode. Let your friends know where they can find more She Thinks episodes. From all of us here at Independent Women's Forum, thanks for listening.

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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