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October 28, 2016

Nearly 400 women from across New England attended this biennial gathering to discuss policy solutions that address inequality and help to close the wealth gap.

Participants learned about state and regional strategies to advance policies that can increase economic security for all women and their families, with a particular focus on low-wage workers and other vulnerable groups, as per the conference theme: “Expanding Opportunity and Building Equality for Women and Girls of Color.” 

Participants were treated to a keynote by historian, professor and former Chair of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights, Dr. Mary Frances Berry.  Featured speakers included Alison Quirk, the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources and Citizenship Officer of State Street Corp., and a suprise personal appearence by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

Afternoon breakout sessions focused on research, policy and legislative approaches to five different issue areas identified by the Call to Action document created at the last conference:
Pay Equity
Workforce Development
Paid Family and Medical Leave
the Early Care and Education Workforce
the Elder Care Workforce

Recovery for All?  A Snapshot of Women’s Economic Status in New England:  Released at the Conference, this report compares and contrasts earnings data and explores policy solutions in VT and neighboring states.

The New England Women’s Policy Conference was hosted by: the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, in conjunction with Planning Committee members:
Vermont Commission on Women
Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors
Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women
Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women
New Hampshire Women’s Foundation
Rhode Island Commission on the Status of Women
Women’s Fund of Rhode Island
Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts

October 21, 2016

Report # 3 from Change the Story - women's Business Ownership

Change The Story VT (CTS) revealed findings on the status of women-­owned businesses in Vermont in a keynote address to Women Business Owners Network fall conference participants in mid-October at the State House. CTS Director Tiffany Bluemle, with Pat Heffernan and Laura Lind‐Blum of Research Partners, and Vermont Commission on Women’s Cary Brown unveiled Women's Business Ownership and the Vermont Economy. This report details both exciting opportunities and great success that owning a business holds for women, as well as barriers and challenges faced, with focus on latent potential.  Like CTS’s other reports, this one closes with questions, rather than recommendations in order to generate statewide conversations and deepen understanding.  Link here to read the report.  Women's Business Ownership and the Vermont Economy findings include:

Women-owned businesses are vital to Vermont’s economy.

  • Women own 23,417 businesses in Vermont, which employ 36,326 people, and generate annual revenues of approximately $2.2 billion.

Although growing at a faster rate than businesses owned by men, women-owned firms in Vermont are fewer in number, smaller in size, and lower in annual revenues.

  • Between 2007-2011, the number of female-owned businesses grew 15%; during the same period male-owned businesses grew by only 6%.
  • Women-owned businesses generate 9% of gross revenues and employ 12% of workers in privately-held Vermont firms.
  • Women business owners are significantly underrepresented in 9 of the 10 highest grossing sectors. This limits financial opportunities for individual women and their potential contributions to Vermont’s economy.

Women-owned businesses have the potential to play a much bigger role in Vermont’s economic development.

  • If the percent of women-owned businesses that are employers matched that of male-owned businesses, and those firms had the same average receipts, it would add $3.8 billion to Vermont’s economy.
  • If Vermont women chose business ownership at the same rate as men, it would result in more than 10,500 new businesses.
  • If just 1 in 4 of the existing 20,786 women-owned businesses without employees hired just one worker, it would result in an additional 5,200 new jobs.

Maximizing the potential of women-owned businesses – and indeed all of VT businesses – requires new and better data. 

  • While existing business-related data sources can provide reliable top-line statistics, they are less useful in revealing nuanced information about the motivations, challenges or opportunities experienced by Vermont business owners. Focusing on the finer points of what makes a business successful is critical to Vermont’s economic future.

Women-owned businesses are vital to Vermont’s economy.

  • Women own 23,417 businesses in Vermont, which employ 36,326 people, and generate annual revenues of approximately $2.2 billion.

Although growing at a faster rate than businesses owned by men, women-owned firms in Vermont are fewer in number, smaller in size, and lower in annual revenues.

  • Between 2007-2011, the number of female-owned businesses grew 15%; during the same period male-owned businesses grew by only 6%.
  • Women-owned businesses generate 9% of gross revenues and employ 12% of workers in privately-held Vermont firms.
  • Women business owners are significantly underrepresented in 9 of the 10 highest grossing sectors. This limits financial opportunities for individual women and their potential contributions to Vermont’s economy.

Women-owned businesses have the potential to play a much bigger role in Vermont’s economic development.

  • If the percent of women-owned businesses that are employers matched that of male-owned businesses, and those firms had the same average receipts, it would add $3.8 billion to Vermont’s economy.
  • If Vermont women chose business ownership at the same rate as men, it would result in more than 10,500 new businesses.
  • If just 1 in 4 of the existing 20,786 women-owned businesses without employees hired just one worker, it would result in an additional 5,200 new jobs.

Maximizing the potential of women-owned businesses – and indeed all of VT businesses – requires new and better data. 

  • While existing business-related data sources can provide reliable top-line statistics, they are less useful in revealing nuanced information about the motivations, challenges or opportunities experienced by Vermont business owners. Focusing on the finer points of what makes a business successful is critical to Vermont’s economic future.
October 20, 2016

The Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition launched their campaign to establish a statewide family and medical leave insurance program October 19th at the Family Center of Washington County in Montpelier. This program would allow Vermonters to have access to paid, job-protected leave.  This leave would cover time to bond with or care for a newborn, recover from a serious long-term illness or injury, or care for a family member with a serious long-term illness or injury.  Speakers at the launch included:
Cary Brown, Vermont Commission on Women
Former Governor Madeleine Kunin
Sascha Mayer, Owner of Mamava
Claire Kendall, Co-Executive Director of the Family Center
Tara Hodgkins, Mother and Caregiver

Read more about the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition here.

View a photo slideshow of the Coalition's launch on the Facebook page of the Family Center of Washington County, or read press covereage of the launch here.

June 12, 2016

VERMONT GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE FORUM ON WOMEN’S ISSUES

Vermont Commission on Women, the League of Women Voters of Vermont, and Vermont Federation of Business and Professional Women  hosted a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Women's Issues Forum moderated by Anne Galloway of VTDigger.org. Candidates attending were: Bill Lee, Liberty Union Party; Sue Minter, Democratic Party; and Phil Scott, Republican Party. Forum held at the Vermont State House, Montpelier, VT on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Link to forum press coverage here.  Watch the full event video here, from Vermont In Person.  VIew the slideshow we developed for the event with candidate questions here.

Forum on Women's Issues

June 6, 2016

Always fabulous and always free, this day of inspiration for women of all ages and stages took place on Saturday, June 4th at Vermont Tech in Randolph. Keynote speaker this year was United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  Read her remarks here.  Sen. Leahy's remarks featured our Change The Story initiative (see video below) - read them here.  VCW's Cary Brown co-presented the workshop: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace with Julio Thompson of the Vermont Attorney General's Civil Rights Division, and Karen L. Richards of the Vermont Human Rights Commission, pictured below.

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