Ivanka Trump, who has positioned herself as a champion for the rights of working mothers, has her label’s clothes made by workers who receive no paid maternity leave.
“Gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy in this country. Motherhood is,” Trump said at the Republican National Convention in July. “As a mother myself, of three young children, I know how hard it is to work while raising a family. And I also know that I’m far more fortunate than most. American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties. They should be the norm.”
Trump was evidently not passionate enough about the issue when she linked up with G-III Apparel Group, however. G-III, which has had the rights to design and distribute Trump’s clothing since 2012, does not offer its employees any paid maternity leave. It offers only the minimum time off required by law: twelve weeks of unpaid leave.
The Ivanka Trump brand, which is Trump’s company, offers eight weeks of paid leave to new mothers, as well as flexible work hours, a company representative reported.
Trump may not have known about G-III’s less than generous maternity leave policy when she signed the licensing agreement with the company. However, given her seemingly firm — and very public — position on the issue recently, and her close relationship with the company (G-III Chairman Sammy Aaron called Trump “very involved on a weekly basis” on the design process for her clothing), it would seem appropriate for her to inquire about the company’s policy.
In an interview with Bazaar this month, when asked what issues she feels strongly about, Trump said “obviously, I’m a huge advocate for women and women’s issues, like child care.”
“The cost of child care is incredibly onerous,” she said. “In half the country, the cost of child care exceeds the cost of housing. It’s the largest expense for households. It’s not sustainable or appropriate.”
Meanwhile, her statement at the time of the partnership praised G-III as envisioning the same business goals as she.
“G-III has distinguished itself as a trusted partner for some of the world’s finest and most visible brands,” Trump said. “We are confident that they share our vision for the future of our brand and business and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
Her website further promotes her alleged commitment to the next generation of women under what has become her signature hashtag, #WomenWhoWork:
“The modern working woman looks fundamentally different from women in previous generations. For the first time in history, we’re able to embrace the fact that our lives are multidimensional. We’re doing work we love, work that inspires us, and we’re also pursuing our passions and making them priorities.”
However, while Trump spoke passionately about her commitment to working mothers at the RNC, one G-III employee listened with disdain, the Washington Post reported:
“The employee of nearly four years, a registered Republican who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job, said she became pregnant last year and was dismayed to learn the company allows just 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the legal minimum for employers with more than 50 workers. So, she burned her vacation days, drained her savings and then relied on her husband’s income after giving birth to her son.
‘It’s hard enough emotionally to come back to work right after having a baby,’ said the designer, who works for another brand at G-III. ‘But to know you’re returning to a company that doesn’t value your choice to be a mother makes it harder.'”
Five other G-III employees separately confirmed to the Post that the company does not offer any paid parental leave. One provided documentation revealing that employees are entitled to family medical leave one year after employment.
A spokeswoman for Trump said, “[Trump] can only be responsible for her own business and try to set an example for others and she can’t control the policies of another company. Ivanka does care deeply about these issues and that is why she is continuing to use her platform to try to advocate for better policies for American women and families.”
Trump’s own business allows for some paid parental leave, some argue, and she cannot be held responsible for G-III’s decisions regarding its employees. Motto reported, “While Trump licensed her name with G-III, which comes with an implicit association, it does not automatically make her or any of the other brands responsible for decisions made within G-III.”
However, while Trump does not have the authority to change G-III’s policies, she makes the decision of what companies to license her designs to, and it seems plausible that she would choose to work with companies that reflect her biggest values. Her contract with G-III is reportedly up for renewal in 2018.
Despite her father Donald Trump’s staunch opposition to manufacturing products outside of the United States, at least the majority of Trump’s clothing (as well as her father’s) is imported, an economist found in March. Incidentally, the dress Trump wore while delivering her RNC speech was imported. And Trump’s shoe line, licensed by Marc Fisher, currently faces a lawsuit from Italian brand Aquazzura for allegedly copying their designs.