This story has been updated.
On the last day of the Republican National Convention in July, Ivanka Trump strode across the stage in a blush-toned dress from her namesake label. Then she shattered party norms, pledging that her father would revolutionize support for working mothers.
âPolicies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties,â she declared. âThey should be the norm.â
The eldest Trump daughter, 34, has built her personal brand around this cause, penning a book called âWomen Who Workâ and leading the family-friendly policy charge on Donald Trumpâs presidential campaign. But the company that designsÂ her clothing line, including the $157 sheath she wore during herÂ convention speech, does not offer workers a single day of paid maternity leave.
As Trump delivered her prime-time speech, a fashion designerÂ for the G-III Apparel Group watched from her homeÂ in New York City and rolled her eyes.Â 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 husbandâs income after giving birth to her son.
âItâs hard enough emotionally to come back to work right after having a baby,â said the designer,Â who works for another brand at G-III. âBut to know youâre returning to a company that doesnât value your choice to be a mother makes it harder.â
Through aÂ spokeswoman, Trump declined to comment for this story. A representative for her own company, the Ivanka Trump brand â a 12-employee business pitched as âthe ultimate destination for Women Who Workâ â noted that her company offers eight weeks of paid leave to new mothers. The company also offers flexible work hours for parents.
Trump signed a licensing agreementÂ with G-III in 2012, granting the company rights to design and distributeÂ her clothing line, including dresses, suits and jeans. (Marc Fisher Footwear produces her shoe line.)
At the time, she released a statement saying, âG-III has distinguished itself as a trusted partner for some of the worldâs finest and most visible brands. 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.â
In July, Sammy Aaron, vice chairman of G-III, told ForbesÂ that Trump is âvery involved on a weekly basisâ inÂ the design process. Yet, the companyâs policy breaks from Trumpâs public stance on how businessesÂ should support working moms.
G-III did not respond to The Washington Postâs repeated requests for comment. However, five past and current employees separately told The Post the company has no paid parental leave.Â One provided a document that she identified asÂ Â G-IIIâs employee benefits. âFamily MEDICAL Leave,â the documentÂ states, becomes available âafter 1 year of employment. Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (in accordance with Federal and State laws).â
“I think parental leave is enormously important â and itâs a personal decision,” Trump told Business Insider in March. “Part of building a company whose goal is to empower women in all aspects of life is that Iâve given my team some leeway to determine what parental leave looks like for each of them individually.”
TrumpÂ announced the partnershipÂ with G-III after cutting ties with the financially struggling HMX Group, which launched her collection in stores in 2012.Â The mid-priced apparel sells at Macyâs, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor and other department stores.
Ivanka Trump clothing generated roughly $100 million in revenueÂ last fiscal year, G-III reports show. The companyÂ â which also partners with Calvin Klein, Jessica Simpson and Tommy Hilfiger, among more than 15 other brands â recorded $2.3 billion in net salesÂ this fiscal year. The Ivanka Trump contract is up for renewal in 2018.
When two businesses ink a brand licensing agreement, employee benefits arenât normally partÂ of the discussion. Trump, however, has dedicated her advocacyÂ to what has since become herÂ signature hashtag: #WomenWhoWork.
âItâs a celebration of women working at all aspects of their lives,â she elaborates on her website. âWomen who transition between their various roles in professional and personal capacities: building careers, raising children, nurturing relationships and pursuing passions.â
She paints herself as someone deeply involved in all of her professional undertakings â while raising three children.
âMe and my peers, weâre working really hard at being moms and sisters and professionals,â Trump told Vogue last year. âThere was a previous generation of women who rose through the ranks in an environment when work and life were highly compartmentalized. And I think now, because of technology, weâre always on. Where there used to be work life and home life, now itâs one life. And I think a lot of companies donât recognize that.â
Her message starkly contrasts with past words of her father, who has blamedÂ his wivesâ careers for troubles in his previous marriages.Â In 1994, Donald Trump told ABC News, âI think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.â
There is no reference to a paid family leave policy on his campaign website.Â When asked for his position during a Fox News Business interview in October, Trump said, âItâs something thatâs being discussed, I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it.â
The Trump OrganizationÂ didÂ not respond to questions about howÂ much parental leave it offersÂ employees.
Ivanka Trump, who is executive vice president of development and acquisitions at her fatherâs company, told the New York Times that she took off eight days following the 2011 birth of her first child, Arabella.
âThe nature of the projects I was working on required me to have a hyper-abbreviated maternity leave,â she told the newspaper. âYes, there are times when I look back and wish that had not been the case. But itâs life, and itâs a marathon, not a sprint.â
In the United States, employers arenât required to keep paying workers who pause duties after giving birth. Still,Â G-IIIâs lack of benefits separates it from firms of comparable size. About 58 percent of American companies with 1,000 or more employees fund maternity leave at full or partial compensation, according to a 2014 Â Labor Department study. G-III has more than 7,600 employees, according to company documents.
Companies that provide the benefit say it helps attract and retain talent. After Google expanded its paid maternity leave in 2007, for example, the rate at which new mothers quit fell by roughly 50 percent.
SandraÂ Sucher, a Harvard Business School professor with a focus on ethics, noted that todayâs retail world is increasingly transparent. Anyone with an Internet connection can investigate corporate policies (âMaternity leave is unpaid,â oneÂ Glassdoor.com user wrote on G-IIIâs page last month). And business practices perceived as immoral or unfair can impact the bottom line. Nike sales, for instance, dropped in the â90s after an activist revealed Indonesian workers who made the products earned less than a dollar per hour.
Last month, British newspaper The Independent revealed most of the Ivanka Trump brandâs clothing was manufactured in Vietnam and China. Â Donald Trump, whose apparel also is largely made overseas, has made decrying outsourced jobs central to his campaign.
âBusiness executives who are serious about their values actually know their partners,â Sucher said. âThey know how they manage themselves and their business. They say, âThis is what I believe in and stand for and, because of that, this is how you can expect to be treated.’â
Brand consultants said the fact thatÂ Trump’s business partnership contradicts her platform, even indirectly, could hurt her reputation. Voters could have more trouble buying what sheâs ideologically selling.
âWho she chooses as a manufacturing partner is telling,” said Karen Leland, president of the Sterling Marketing Group in San Francisco and author of âThe Brand Mapping Strategy.â âHer business practices arenât consistent with her advocacy.â
Trump speaks often about harnessing the power of her family name. âThe nice thing about the things Iâm involved in is that theyâre all complementary,â she told the New York Times in 2013. âWeâre a family company. Weâre a family brand. For me, at the ribbon-cutting of a hotel that Iâve been working on in Beijing for five years, wearing Ivanka Trump â thatâs an image you canât fake create.â
In her 2010 book âThe Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life,â she asserted, âCreate a strong and consistent identity â your name and reputation are your best assets.â
Last year, Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising at Nordstrom, an Ivanka Trump retailer, told Vogue that Trump doesnât just stick her name on a product and walk away. âShe said, âIâm serious about this; Iâm not just a name, licensing a product without any involvement.â â
Aides say she also advises her father on issues such as childcare, reciting input from policy wonks beyond the political realm. On the campaign trail, she advocates for #WomenWhoWork.
âWomen are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out,â she said at the convention of her father’s employment practices. âAs president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce.â
The next day, her Twitter account posted: âShop Ivanka’s look from her #RNC speech.â
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