Domestic workers do the work that make all other work possible. They are the nannies that take care of children, and the house keepers that keep homes clean while their owners are working. They are often working for less than $13 and hour and without benefits like health insurance or social security payments. 95% of these workers are women according to the National Domestic Workers Alliance site.

Ai-jen Poo is trying to change that. She is the director for The National Domestic Workers Alliance, an organization that works for the respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers. “The future really needs the leadership of women…”, Poo says in the video explaining the organization and their work. “Domestic workers…[are] caring for our children, our aging loved ones, our homes…the most precious elements of our lives”.

The MacArthur Foundation agreed, and awarded Poo a Genius grant for her work with The National Domestic Workers Alliance in 2014. The grant will allow for the Alliance to continue to shed light on the plight of domestic workers, whose work is often hidden from public view. Much of this kind of work was done by family members in the past, and never afforded the protections of labor laws. That means that domestic workers are not only working for little pay, but with no sick time or vacation. No protection against discrimination or harassment. No retirement plan or health insurance plan.

Poo has stated that the biggest change that she is hoping to make is respect and recognition for the value of this work. “We as a country need more care than we ever have before”, says Poo. “Yet, this work is so undervalued in society. It is almost taken for granted or invisible”.


Video via Mashable, 18 September 2015

Photo: Filipino Domestic Worker via ILO in Asia and the Pacific[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

In preparation for Legaltech West, a conference on legal technologyfour general counselors from companies in Silicon Valley such as SurveyMonkey and Adobe System were asked to speak on a panel entitled “A Day in the Life: The Role of the Silicon Valley General Counsel”. The moderator for the panel, Dean Gonsowski, global head of information governance at Recommind, thinks that the title is bit misleading. For these lawyers, there’s no such thing as a typical day. Working in an ever-changing environment like Silicon Valley means that these general counselors not only have to be comfortable dealing with traditional tasks, they also have to be able to handle unique and challenging problems every day. However, Gonsowski describes these challenges as just “blips in the radar”.

So what allows these general counselors to continue to do their jobs in an environment driven by constantly-evolving technology? While being knowledgeable about tech is definitely required, preparing for technological problems such as data breaches is considered ordinary in Silicon Valley. Rather, general counselors have to be able to effectively handle unprecedented problems. For example, the general counselor from SurveyMonkey speaking on the panel was able to direct a smooth transition after the CEO was unfortunately lost in an accident, despite not having adequately prepared for such an occurrence. Gonsowski cites her experience working in a fast-paced environment as the reason her and her team were able to handle the situation. These general counselors’ work amidst constant variability and disruption prepares them to handle problems a company much older may not experience at all.

Gonsowki thinks that hearing about these general counselors’ day-to-day lives may inspire people to try to follow in their footsteps. But, based on the fact that virtually any kind of problem can be handed to them, legal counsel in Silicon Valley don’t usually have a set job description or even a normal operating procedure. Therefore, according to Gonsowski, “this level of chaos is not going to be for everybody”.

Article via Legaltech NewsJuly 7, 2015

Photo: oracle via Dave [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]