Mayor James Announces Milestones in the Women’s Empowerment Initiative

October 9, 2014 - KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

Today, Mayor Sly James announced several milestones for the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, which was launched last October. This initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, is a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, Women’s Foundation, and UMKC’s Women’s Center. The overall goals are to ensure the City of Kansas City, Missouri is an inclusive, diverse organization and supports women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.  A blueprint of data-driven, research-based action items was unveiled in March.

Milestones announced today include:

  • Completion of the first phase of a taskforce exploring the idea of providing childcare services to working parents. The group studied the issue of employer-provided daycare over a three month period and heard from representatives of local companies who provide access to childcare services for their employees. The group issued several initial recommendations:

1. A Request for Information (RFI) in order to further study the feasibility of establishing a childcare center.

2. Discussing in greater detail creating a more family-friendly culture within the City.

3. Pursuing improvements in the parental leave policy.

4. Supporting the summer programming currently offered for children and youth by the City’s community centers.

  • Adoption of a formal breastfeeding policy for new mothers returning to work at the City that specifies each department must provide appropriate facilities and time for working mothers to express breastmilk for their children.  

  • Creation of the New Year, New You, New City skills enhancement module, which is available to all city employees and kicking off in January. The module includes three components: a mentorship pilot program, enhanced professional development opportunities, and a network exchange group that will host six “lunch and learn” programs during 2015.

  • Convened a task force to help formulate a draft policy on alternative work schedules for city employees.

  • Coordination of panel events, hosted by UMKC’s Women’s Center, started last semester and are designed to introduce a new generation of leaders to careers in the public sector. Panelists include high-ranking female city government leaders.

  • Examination of equipment and uniform standards.

  • Creation of the Appointments Project, a public-private partnership spearheaded by the Women’s Foundation aims to increase the number of women serving on municipal boards and commissions. This program launched in April. The Appointments Project includes groundbreaking research conducted by Dr. Barbara Kerr, of the University of Kansas, which surveyed 250 Kansas City women and revealed that the most common reason women gave for not being more civically engaged is that they were not asked.  To that end, the Women’s Foundation is working as a talent bank, advisor, and advocate for women seeking appointed positions in local government. So far, close to 40 applications have been collected and two women have already been appointed to local entities by Mayor James through this partnership.  For more information on the Appointments Project, click here: http://www.wfgkc.org/our-work/appointments-project/.

  • Increased outreach and support to women-owned businesses through the Central Exchange.

  • Enhancements made to the online application tool for Women Business Enterprise Certificate.

“When we began this journey, we wanted to make an impact on improving opportunities for women,” said Mayor Sly James.  “I am extremely pleased that there are so many milestones to report less than a year after we unveiled our blueprint for women’s empowerment and it shows the commitment of the Women’s Foundation, Central Exchange and UMKC Women’s Center that so many components of the blueprint are already completed or in progress.  There is a reason that seven other cities are working to import this initiative into their local governments and that’s because the Women’s Empowerment initiative is getting results.  I’m so proud that this initiative started right here in Kansas City and I’m looking forward to seeing the lasting impact it leaves and the opportunities it creates.”

More information on the initiative is available at www.kcmayor.org/we.

Contact: Joni Wickham: 816-513-6582 or cell: 816-572-2152