BUSINESS

Looks Like Ivanka Trump Doesn't Pay Her Interns

This is rich.

20/08/2016 4:23 AM AEST | Updated 20/08/2016 9:27 AM AEST
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Mike Segar / Reuters

Ivanka Trump, who markets herself as a champion of working women and learned about business by walking her father’s construction sites, apparently does not pay interns at her namesake fashion and jewelry company in New York City, according to a blog post on IvankaTrump.com that also appeared on her official Twitter page on Thursday.

Yes, that actually says #nomoneynoproblems, and comes from the Twitter account of the daughter of self-proclaimed billionaire and Republican nominee for president Donald Trump.

In the post, unpaid intern Quincy Bulin offers tips and includes advice from three of her unpaid colleagues ― all women, two named Mackenzie.  

The advice includes finding a part-time job that actually pays, saving money during the school year, setting a budget and socializing cheaply.

Of course, Bulin leaves out the real key to surviving an unpaid internship: having well-off parents. Kids with families that can support them while they take on jobs for nothing are more likely to take on jobs for nothing. 

Unpaid internships at for-profit companies are not legal in New York City, where Ivanka’s workers are based ― unless the positions are for college credit. And even then, there are a host of restrictions around how the job is structured. Regulations regarding unpaid interns at nonprofit organizations are slightly less strict.

Ivanka Trump is certainly not the only employer to use unpaid interns. In an email, Chief Brand Officer Abigail Klem told The Huffington Post, “We strive to create a fulfilling learning opportunity tailored to the unique interests and career goals of each intern. It is our goal that at the end of the program, our interns leave with experiences that will help guide them into choosing a fulfilling career path.”

The company didn’t respond to requests for comment on whether those interns also leave with school credit or some other kind of reimbursement. And Trump herself likely didn’t even send out the tweet yesterday. She’s vacationing in Croatia while her father’s campaign goes into full meltdown mode. 

The notion that she would employ women without paying them is newsworthy for a couple of reasons, though. 

Ivanka and her brothers sold themselves as in-touch with working-class people at the Republican National Convention last month, talking up their experience on their father’s construction sites when they were growing up. 

Unpaid internships just aren’t the province of working-class people. An unpaid internship is “a handout that, best intentions aside, accelerates a cycle of privilege and reward,” Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, pointed out in a piece for The New York Times recently. Companies should get rid of unpaid internships, Walker argues, because they reinforce a lack of diversity. Unpaid interns land jobs eventually at these companies, and you wind up with a pretty homogenous workforce, which leads to all kinds of problems.  

Not paying these women for their work also looks off, coming from Ivanka, who is a self-proclaimed supporter of women’s equality in the workplace. Indeed, her website bills itself as the “ultimate destination for women who work.”

Unpaid internships lead to lower-paying jobs, according to research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. For these unpaid interns, that first lower-paying job would start a cycle of under-earning of the sort that reinforces pay gaps between men and women.

Speaking of supporting women: Ivanka reportedly gives 8 weeks paid parental leave to her employees. That’s not terrible, considering the United States has no paid leave policy. Yet, it falls short of what most proponents of paid leave and maternal health researchers consider optimal. She recently came under fire because her label works with companies that do not offer any paid leave.

In all, not a great look for a fashion company.

This article has been updated to include additional information about regulations surrounding unpaid internships, and with a comment from the company.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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