Making Good Jobs Our North Star: Reflections on the First-Ever Good Jobs Summit

By Liz Diebold, Livia Lam, and Jenny Weissbourd

September 28, 2022

Hear from some of the speakers at the first-ever Good Jobs Summit

On June 21st, we sat in the Great Hall of the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington D.C., witnessing history. Leaders from across the federal government joined key representatives from state and local government, philanthropy, labor, workforce development, and business to share their common vision to advance a good jobs economy. 

In a 2020 Gallup poll, workers defined good jobs as those that offer stable and predictable pay, job security, and having a sense of dignity and purpose in work, among other characteristics. Yet only 44% of these workers reported having a “good job.” In her opening remarks at the Good Jobs Summit, Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su named job quality as a critical strategy for the many companies seeking to attract and retain talent amidst today’s hiring crunch, “Workers want to work but are opting for jobs that give them a voice at work, health and safety protections, stability, and benefits. So one way to attract more workers is to improve… job quality.” Throughout the day, speakers at the Good Jobs Summit called on public and private sector leaders to address the shortage of quality job opportunities and take action to make every job a good job. 

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Families and Workers Fund – in partnership with the Skoll Foundation, Ford Foundation, Irvine Foundation, and Quality Jobs Fund – co-hosted the Good Jobs Summit to seize this historic window of opportunity to rebuild a more equitable economy. As the largest-ever federal government conference specifically on job quality, it drew nearly 4,000 in-person and online participants and brought together leaders from business, government, and the nonprofit sector to envision and plan a path forward to advance good jobs in the United States. The Summit provided a platform for unprecedented commitments from federal and local leaders and unleashed a wave of momentum to carry forward the critical work of creating and supporting jobs that sustain and uplift working people and their families. To learn more about these commitments and the work ahead from the leaders who joined us in DC, watch our new video.

“This administration is unified around the concept of a good job,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said, announcing a whole-of-government approach to advancing good jobs across federal agencies. “I have seen it in my own life and throughout my career: good jobs change lives and lift up whole families. We have the opportunity right now to lift up more people than ever before. [The Good Jobs Summit] represents the partnerships we need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and address the generational challenges we face from climate change to global competition, to public health, to racial justice and gender equity.”

Looking back at the Good Jobs Summit, we’re struck by three highlights:

    • The Departments of Labor and Commerce jointly announced their historic, shared “Good Jobs Principles” which provide the first-ever roadmap for a whole-of-government approach to advancing quality jobs for employers, workers, and the public sector. This partnership, spurred by the Good Jobs Summit, recognizes that investing in good jobs is a clear win for America’s workers and its businesses.
    • The Department of Labor, along with the Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, and Department of Commerce, unveiled new collaborations to ensure that as these agencies deploy hundreds of billions of infrastructure dollars over the next decade, their investments create and support millions of family-sustaining jobs with equitable pathways into them.
    • Leaders from the Department of Labor, the Families and Workers Fund, and JUST Capital shared bold, new recommendations from the Job Quality Measurement Initiative. This effort aims to develop concrete, actionable recommendations to reimagine the way we measure the U.S. economy and workforce so that measurement better reflects the lived realities, needs, and aspirations of the people who power our economy. 

We know that moments like this don’t happen often. The Good Jobs Summit showed that we’ve reached an inflection point, and that philanthropy can play a vital role in bringing together stakeholders across sectors to ensure that this moment becomes a movement. We have a once-in-a-generation opening to rebuild an equitable, good jobs economy, and we are humbled by the diversity of philanthropic partners coming to the table. If you’re not already committed to the good jobs north star, we welcome you to join us.

Liz Diebold is the Managing Director of Portfolio & Investments at Skoll Foundation

Livia Lam is the Program Officer for Future of Work(ers) at the Ford Foundation

Jenny Weissbourd is the Senior Program Manager for Policy and Partnerships at the Families & Workers Fund