VCW believes that women of all ages must have equal access to the benefits and privileges of economic security and prosperity.
VCW monitors legislation and public policies, provides research and information, and collaborates on measures that support the following outcomes:
- Women and men earn equal pay for equal work.
- Women earn a livable wage.
- Vermont workplaces are free of gender bias and harassment.
- Women entrepreneurs have support in starting or expanding businesses.
- Vermonters have support to balance work and family life.
- Vermonters will have adequate public assistance - social benefits.
Change The Story VT's Report: Women's Business Ownership and the Vermont Economy
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 October 19th. 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.
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 surprise personal appearance 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:
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
Vermont Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition Launches
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.
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 at the Vermont State House on Thursday, September 22, 2016, moderated by Anne Galloway of VTDigger.org. Candidates attending were: Bill Lee, Liberty Union Party; Sue Minter, Democratic Party; and Phil Scott, Republican Party. Link to forum press coverage here. Watch the full event video here, from Vermont In Person. Link to the Forum's Facebook Event Page for more information. VIew the slideshow we developed for the event with candidate questions here.
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.
Vermont Woman Article: Changing the Economic Story for VT Women
Photo Credit: Susan Ritz
Read Susan Ritz's piece Changing the Economic Story for Vermont Women in the April/May edition of Vermont Woman.
Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 12th
Throughout the U.S., women's organizations observe Equal Pay Day each April, symbolizing how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did in the previous year, due to the gender wage gap. Median annual income for women working full-time year-round in Vermont is $37,000. That's $7,000 less than the median annual salary earned by men. This translates to a 16% wage gap in Vermont.
VCW, BPW, League members observe as House passes Equal Pay Day resolution
Upon opening of the day’s legislative session, House concurrent resolution 338 designating April 12, 2016 as Equal Pay Day in Vermont was read. Lead sponsors were Representatives Burke, Gonzalez and Morris, and Senator Bray, and the reading was observed by advocates for equal pay dressed in red, symbolizing women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap. Read the resolution here.
(L to R) Cary Brown, Governor Shumlin, Tiffany Bluemle, Desiree Cerretani, Meg Smith
At 11:00 a.m. Governor Peter Shumlin signed the Equal Pay Day proclamation in his ceremonial office. Read the proclmation here. This event included the presentation of a new report examining occupational segregation, the uneven distribution of labor across and within employment sectors by gender, its impact on women’s wages, and the link to Vermont’s economic vitality. This new report, “Where Vermont Women Work…and Why It Matters” was developed by Change The Story VT, an initiative of three statewide organizations with longstanding focus on women’s economic well-being: the Vermont Commission on Women, the Vermont Women’s Fund and Vermont Works for Women. Equal Pay Day speakers at the proclamation event wereTiffany Bluemle of Change The Story VT, Cary Brown of the Vermont Commission on Women, Desiree Cerretani, a young mechanical engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems, and Meg Smith of the Vermont Women’s Fund.
In late April, the Vermont Commission on Women in collaboration with Norwich University’s Career and Internship Center presented American Association of University Women’s Start Smart salary negotiation workshop to students. The Start Smart Facilitator was Lindsey Lathrop-Ryan of Change The Story Vermont. Student participant seating is limited. Learn more about the Start Smart program here. This program was made possible by a grant from the New England Women's Policy Initiative through the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studeies at University of Massachusetts, Boston.
New Law: Paid Sick Days
VCW's Commissioners, Advisors and staff watched from the House galley as Governor Shumlin signs into law Paid Sick Days on Wednesday, March 9th 2016. VCW provided testimony (see below) and support as a member of Vermont's Paid Sick Days Coalition.
VCW In the Legislature (2016 session)
Since our inception in 1964, the Commission has been called upon to provide information to the legislative and executive branches of state government on issues affecting women. VCW testified on these bills in the 2016 session:
S.15/ H.187 - AN ACT RELATING TO ABSENCE FROM WORK FOR HEALTH CARE AND SAFETY (Paid Sick Days). Link to testimony in Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs here, and 2015 session testimony in the House here and Senate here.
H.808 - AN ACT RELATING TO ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PREGNANT EMPLOYEES. Link to VCW testimony in House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs here.
H.620 - AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH INSURANCE AND MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTIVES. Link to VCW testimony in House Committee on Health Care here.
H.773 - AN ACT RELATING TO CLASSIFICATION OF EMPLOYEES AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development link to bill here.
FY2017 GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED STATE BUDGET. Link to VCW testimony in House Appropriations Committee here.
Women, Poverty and Justice: Addressing Homelessness and Promoting Financial Security for Women in VT
This standing room only event took place Monday, March 7th and featured Dolly Fleming, Executive Director of Mercy Connections, moderating a panel of experts speaking on the unique challenges of homelessness to women in Vermont:
Jan Demers, Executive Director, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity
Kirby Dunn, Executive Director, HomeShare Vermont
Rita Markley, Executive Director, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS)
Karen Richards, Executive Director, Vermont Human Rights Commission
Jean Wolfe, Customer Service Associate, Dot's Market
Hosted by: Main Street Landing
Sponsored by: Vermont Commission on Women. In Partnership with: Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, Change The Story VT, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), Hunger Free Vermont, Main Street Alliance, Mercy Connections, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Works for Women, Vermont Human Rights Commission, and Voices for Vermont’s Children.
Link here for more info.
VCW staff enjoyed participating as a resource fair presenter at this exciting second annual event. The Symposium was presented by the College's Women's Empowerment Initiative, which aims to cultivate confidence and courage by fostering the achievements of women. It strives to empower current and future leaders, and to provide learning, networking, and recognition opportunities for students, staff and faculty. Keynote speaker was Moni Basu, CNN Senior Reporter, preceded by an inspiring panel discussion and breakout sessions with Vermont women leaders, Rachael Arnold, Kate Wiliams, Rep. Diana Gonzalez, Christine Hallquist, and Linda Tarr-Whelan. Learn more here.
PODCAST: Open Mike Show
Click here for the podcast of OPEN MIKE, WDEV AM/FM's public affairs program featuring VCW's Executive Director, Cary Brown and Change the Story VT Director Tiffany Bluemle explaining what this project means for Vermont women and girls!
WCAX-TV'S The:30 - Salary Negotiation
Click to view Women, Work and Unequal Wages in Vermont with VCW's Cary Brown addressing salary negotiation and Change the Story's Women, Work and Wages report (below) on WCAX/Ch. 3’s The :30. February 9th.
Change the Story Issues New Report: Women Work and Wages in Vermont
Change The Story VT (CTS), a multi-year initiative fueled by the Vermont Women’s Fund, the Vermont Commission on Women, and Vermont Works for Women, has released the first of a series of briefs called “Women, Work and Wages in Vermont”. Much of this data is not regularly collected or published. All of it is specific to Vermont, and all is critical - not just in what it reflects about women, but in its implications for Vermont’s economic future.
“The objective of Change The Story is to move the needle of women’s economic security - faster. This initial compilation of information focuses on demographic data and represents months of diving deep into state and national data, reports, and other ancillary resources to create an accurate snapshot of the state of women in Vermont when it comes to work and wages,” shared Tiffany Bluemle, Director of CTS.
Today Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women and Bluemle presented the brief’s findings to members of the Vermont State Legislature. Among the brief’s highlights:
- Women are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty or economic insecurity – in large part because of the disproportionate rates at which they have primary responsibility for the care of minor children.
- 43% of VT women who work full-time do not make enough to cover basic living expenses as defined by VT’s Joint Fiscal Office.
“This brief and the overall CTS initiative is a prime example of how organizations can come together to leverage their impact in the state, as well as build a data-driven case for this important work,” shared Brown.
Additional findings include:
- The poverty rate for families headed by single women is 37.5% - nine times the poverty rate of married couples.
- Women who work full-time are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs - across every age group, at every level of education.
- VT women are especially vulnerable in their senior years, when their median annual income from Social Security ($10,000) is half that of men ($20,000).
A copy of the report is available at www.changethestoryvt.org.
Vermont Women's Economic Security Summit
Presented by the Vermont Commission on Women & the Vermont Women’s Legislative Caucus
Special thanks to all 158 of you who attended this event at the Vermont State House in Montpelier
Thursday October 8, 2015, from 8:30-3:30
Latifa Lyles, (pictured above) Director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor was the keynote speaker for this event. Ms. Lyles is responsible for shaping the federal agency’s research agenda, and has directed focus on women in high-growth occupations, as older workers, and in non-traditional jobs. She oversaw last year’s White House Summit on Working Families, and prior to current position, serving as Deputy Director, she managed the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility, a nationwide event series. She provided insight and data on issues around women and work.
Latifa Lyles, Director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor and VCW's Executive Director, Cary Brown. (Photo Credit: Susan Rtiz)
Morning panel discussions titled “Getting Women to Work” and “Keeping Women at Work” featured Vermont experts and policy leaders. Participants fostered understanding of specific issues and had rich and real conversations in afternoon small group sessions. Offerings include citizen advocacy trainings, as well as issues like women in corrections and women’s health. Review the agenda here. Check out the presenter organizations and breakout session descriptions here.
The Summit's "Getting Women to Work" Panel – (L to R) Tiffany Bluemle - Director of Change the Story, Sue Ryan - Director of Programs at VT Child Care Industry and Careers Council, and Sheila Reed - former Associate Director, Voices for Vermont's Children. (Photo Credit: Susan Rtiz)
The Summit's "Keeping Women at Work" Panel – (L to R) moderated by Rep. Helen Head, with Sarah Phillips - Chief Administrator of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Beth Sachs - Founder of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Ashley Moore - Outreach Coordinator of Main Street Alliance of Vermont (Photo Credit: Susan Rtiz)
The Summit's Afternoon Breakout Session, "Impacts of Incarceration" Featuring (L to R) Suzi Wizowaty - Executive Directorof Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, Jill Evans - Director of the Essex Community Justice Center, Trine Bech - Executive Director of the Vermont Parent Representation Center, and Traci Sawyers - Early Childhood Health Expert and Grant Manager at Building Bright Futures. (Photo Credit: Susan Rtiz)
Read (and watch) news coverage of the Summit here.
VCW Awarded 173,794 Federal DOL Grant to Study Feasibility of Developing Statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave Program
The Vermont Commission on Women will receive a $173,794 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau to study the feasibility of developing a statewide paid family and medical leave program. Such a program would ensure all Vermont workers have access to paid time off to care for themselves, a new child, or a seriously ill family member, the Department of Labor announced today.
These funds are to be used for planning purposes, including research and analysis, examining program design and eligibility guidelines. In addition to Vermont, the grants—totaling $1.55 million—were awarded to five other states: California, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Washington; and to two municipalities: New York City and Montgomery County in Maryland. Read the US DOL Women’s Bureau press release for more information.
“I congratulate the Vermont Commission on Women on receiving this well-deserved grant,” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT., remarked. “As more states move forward on paid family and medical leave, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This grant will help ensure that Vermont, led by the Commission’s efforts, will formulate a strategy that meets the needs of our working families and businesses alike.”
“When you look at what other wealthy countries are doing, what you find is that the United States of America is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick time or paid vacation time,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “This federal grant to the Vermont Commission on Women is a good first step to help develop a statewide, paid family and medical leave policy that would allow working families to have paid time off to care for a newborn child or a sick family member.”
“Most Vermonters agree that if you’re sick you shouldn’t be faced with the decision to either go to work and put others at risk or miss work, sacrifice your paycheck, and potentially lose your job,” Governor Peter Shumlin stated. “That’s why this study is vital in allowing us to better recognize needs of families, as well as costs and burdens to businesses so that we may move forward in a balanced and thoughtful way to bring this important benefit to working Vermonters. I am so proud of the good work being done by the Vermont Commission on Women and congratulate them on their successful application for a Paid Leave Analysis grant by the Department of Labor.”
Responding to the grant announcement, Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women, said, “This money comes at an opportune time, as public conversation, political will and legislative momentum in support of paid leave have intensified in Vermont. People are recognizing the reality that in 2015, most families have both parents in the workforce, and supporting working families is not only the right thing to do, it supports business and the state economy. We want to applaud the Department of Labor for prioritizing the needs of all workers, and for investing in Vermont. The Commission has been working for 51 years to expand opportunities for women in the workforce and we look forward to exploring solutions that suit the needs of both employers and workers.”
"This is an exciting opportunity to explore how we can better support Vermont families.” remarked State Representative Jill Krowinski, Co-Chair of the Women's Caucus, “I thank the Vermont Commission on Women for their leadership on this grant. We know that access to paid family and medical leave can improve economic security for women. On October 8th, the Commission and the Vermont Women's Legislative Caucus will be hosting a Women's Economic Security Summit at the State House and are thrilled to host Latifa Lyles, the Director of the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor, as our guest speaker."
The Vermont Commission on Women’s grant work will consist of analysis of potential administrative structures, including both public and private insurance models. Grant work will also examine costs of a program: both employee-funded and combination employer/employee funded models; implementation costs; usage, cost and coverage for both male and female workers; and a cost-benefit analysis. The study also will collect and analyze data regarding current practices of employers and employees; public opinion; the practical impact on employers; the need for access by both men and women; and the impact on children and families.
Forums Exploring Paid Family & Medical Leave
Vermont Commission on Women and Main Street Alliance of Vermont hosted a series of free community forums across the state this fall focusing on long-term paid family and medical leave. These forums examined the possibility of developing and implementing a state-run Temporary Disability and Caregiver Insurance (TDCI) Program in our state as a funding mechanism for leave. Participants explored the need for a TDCI program; how similar programs have been implemented in other states; and what a successful TDCI program could look like for Vermont. The forums consisted of a brief presentation followed by a discussion with business owners and community members. The Vermont Community Foundation provided financial support to facilitate the coordination of these forums around the state. The Vermont Community Foundation’s Innovations and Collaborations grant program supports projects that help nonprofits collaborate across issues and sectors to develop common solutions to community needs. Events took place in Brattleboro, Manchester, St. Albans, Burlington and Rutland. In addition to the Vermont Commission on Women and Main Street Alliance Vermont, an Oversight Committee will review findings and provide guidance. Oversight Committee participants represent a variety of constituencies and expertise related to the topic, and include a UVM labor economist and specializing in the political economy of low-wage labor market, as well as representatives from: the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce & Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation; the Vermont Attorney General’s Office; Vermont Department of Health’s Division of Maternal and Child Health, AARP; Governor Shumlin's office; the Vermont Department of Labor; and Change the Story Vermont, a multi-year strategy to align philanthropy, policy, and programs to significantly advance women’s economic security in Vermont. Read the press release. Find news covereage here.
Celebrating Women's Equality Day 2015
August 26, 2015, marks the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - an important milestone in women's equality. The significance of this victory cannot be understated, as the movement for women's suffrage was a nonviolent and long-lasting civil rights effort. Despite harassment and sometimes violent attacks, the suffragists remained committed to nonviolence and to their right to vote.
Today, women have the right to vote, yet they still face many issues that stand between themselves and their right to good health and to care for their children. Policymakers, business owners and advocates gathered at a press conference in Burlington to mark this anniversary, and celebrate both progress for women in our state and milestones yet to be won. VCW Executive Director, Cary Brown (pictured below) opened the event and served as emcee, explaining the significance of Women’s Equality Day and providing context for how paid sick days plays a role in women’s economic security.
Link here for press coverage from the event, featuring speakers: Governor Shumlin, House Speaker Smith, Senator Baruth, host of the event, Eric Warnstedt, Chef Owner, Hen of the Wood, and Stephanie Hainley, Chief Operating Officer, White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors.
Verrmont Law School Students Participate in Cheryl Hanna Legal Rights of Women Internship
Prof. Cheryl Hanna addresses media outside Burlington's federal building, re: landmark Equal Pay case
We’ve welcomed two Vermont Law School students as interns to assist with updating our handbook, “The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont,” during a summer internship program in the late Professor Cheryl Hanna’s memory. As part of the internship, VLS students Maeve Callaghan ’16 and Arden Florian ’16 will write, research state and federal statutes, and work with experts in the field to update the handbook with recently passed laws. Hanna, who passed away in July 2014, worked with VLS students to update this publication in 2011. We’ve named the internship after her in tribute. Read more here. Take a look at the Legal Rights of Women in Vermont handbook here.
Equal Pay Day
On Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 the Vermont Commission on Women, Vermont Federation of Business and Professional Women, League of Women Voters of Vermont, and the Women’s Caucus of the Vermont Legislature hosted Equal Pay Day at the State House.
Our morning started with refreshments in the State House cafeteria sponsored by Vermont Federation of Business and Professional Women with the League of Women Voters of Vermont and contributions from several of our Commissioners.
VCW and members of our Advisory Council Organizations gathered in the card room with their displays, handing out equal pay buttons and informing policy makers of the work they do for Vermont women and girls.
The legislative session began with devotional speaker Linda Tarr-Whelan focusing remarks on women’s economic security and the gender wage gap. Read the devotional here. A resident of Burlington, she is a Distinguished Senior Fellow and Director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Demos, a national progressive think tank. She is the author of the prize-winning book Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping up to Leadership and Changing the World. She served as Ambassador to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in the Clinton Administration and as Deputy Assistant to President Jimmy Carter for Women’s Concerns in the White House.
Representative Mollie S. Burke was lead sponsor of H.C.R.121, the House concurrent resolution designating April 14th, 2015, as Equal Pay Day in Vermont. Representative Alison Clarkson, a fellow member of the Women’s Legislative Caucus recognized advocates present – a veritable sea of red, as wearing red on this day symbolized women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap.
Senator Sanders sent this letter of support for Equal Pay Day in Vermont.
We then joined Governor Shumlin at a proclamation signing ceremony and press conference in his ceremonial office. Read the Governor’s Equal Pay Day proclamation here.
Vermont Equal Pay Compact Launches
As part of his weekly press conference, the Governor then introduced the Vermont Equal Pay Compact, a new initiative launched by the Vermont Commission on Women. The Compact is a voluntary pledge that Vermont employers will undertake to indicate their commitment to closing the gender wage gap in the workplace. By signing on (using a form on our website) employers agree to take tangible, concrete steps to both Understand The Wage Gap and Employ Successful Strategies To Close The Wage Gap. Read the Governor’s press release here. City of Winooski is the 21st Employer to Sign the Vermont Equal Pay Compact
"A commitment to equal pay policies makes us more competitive, allowing us to recruit and retain qualified people to government work.
This is a process that requires a long term commitment to both creating and maintaining a just compensation system. We are pleased to join in the Compact
and work toward our goal of recognizing and rewarding all of our employees." -- City of Winooski Mayor, Seth Leonard
Cary Brown, VCW’s Executive Director addressed the media and advocates present, “Today we are launching the Vermont Equal Pay Compact, which gives employers a way to showcase the good work they are doing to advance women in the workplace, and also gives them tools to do even more. Employers who sign the Compact are committing to taking concrete tangible steps to help close the wage gap through measures such as broadening their recruiting practices to make sure they’re getting true talent pool in applicants, examining their promotion practices to make sure they’re giving everyone true opportunities or starting workplace development programs like mentoring or negotiation training. The measures that employers take are up to them, but we have a wealth of resources to help them whether they are looking for small or large steps to take.”
We were proud and excited to announce that the first Compact participant was VCW’s own employer: the State of Vermont’s Department of Human Resources! Employers who spoke passionately about equal pay and initiatives that could help women gain economic security and benefit businesses in Vermont included: Melinda Moulton of Main Street Landing on the Burlington Waterfront; Erika Schramm of Vermont Energy Investment Corporation; Randy George of the Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex.
“Main Street Landing is a woman owned and woman run business. We have always believed and supported the fairness of equal pay for equal work for both women and men. But - we can do more. Using the Vermont Equal Pay compact as a tool, we plan to educate and speak out to other businesses about the importance of employing strategies to reduce the wage gap in their workplace.”
-Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing
At the same time events were happening in the State House, VCW’s legislative, UVM students Emmi Hodess and Rebecca White, educated hundreds of students about the wage gap on campus. They distributed buttons, this equal pay handout with information and resources for students entering the workforce to learn more about salary negotiation and the gender wage gap, and engaged in a social media campaign. Using white boards, students filled in the blank about what they would do with the money over a lifetime lost because of the wage gap. They held up the board and posed for a picture. Emmi and Rebecca encouraged them to post to social media and encourage a conversation. They gathered over 50 pictures and gave away 200 buttons. Cheers and applause for these smart and dedicated advocates! Sharing some pictures from the campaign - our interns appear in both rows on the right:
Call to Action: A Policy Framework for Women’s Economic Security
This document was a product of the New England Women's Policy Conference in Boston (MORE ON THAT BELOW), spearheaded by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston. A “Call to Action” provides a unifying framework for policy change across the region in five key areas and catalyzes further action. Proposed by the conveners of the fall 2014 conference, including the Vermont Commission on Women, the Call to Action was revised and strengthened by facilitated feedback sessions with conference attendees. Read this document here. (PDF, 1839 KB)
The recent New England Women’s Policy Conference, held in Boston November 7th was a power-packed day of learning, networking and celebrating state and regional action in four issue areas promoting women’s economic security: wages and income security; health and family leave policies; childcare; and elder care.
VCW's Cary Brown (pictured on stage above) addressed the 400 event participants in two panel discussions: Innovative Approaches and Best Practices: Learning from the States and A Call To Action Round Table. In addition, Cary moderated the break out session, New England State Paid Leave Policies: How to Organize Successful Campaigns and Coalitions. Other featured speakers included the Mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh, economist, author and commentator Julianne Malveaux, and the Director of the Women’s Bureau at the US Department of Labor, Latifa Lyles.
Conference co-conveners were women’s organizations in our region: Vermont Commission on Women, Connecticut’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, and hosts were: John F. Kennedy Library and Museum and University of Massachusetts Boston @ Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. Honorary Co-Chairs of the conference were: the Honorable Susan Collins (R-Maine) and the Honorable Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut).
Read materials and watch for a video capturing highlights of the day here.
Office of Economic Opportunity: Shining a Light on Poverty Webinar Series
Women and Poverty in Vermont: Intersections of Inequity and Lessons
This webinar, which took place October 30th, was 10th in a series titled Shining a Light on Poverty. Description: In Vermont, as in the rest of the world, women are disproportionately impacted by poverty. They are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to raise children in poverty, and more likely to struggle in poverty in old age. Gender inequity and income disparity intersect along lines that include health, housing, domestic violence, education, and others. Vermont has multiple approaches to empowering women to move out of poverty. In this webinar, we will hear about the layered challenges faced by women in poverty as well as some of the concrete work being done to support them. Guest Speakers: Cary Brown, VCW's Executive Director; Auburn Watersong, Economic Justice Specialist at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Rachel Jolly, Director of Women’s Programs at VT Works for Women; and Pam Greene, the Director of Justice and Mentoring Programs at Mercy Connections.
Click here to watch the YouTube video
Click here to see the powerpoint
Click here to view the webinar
Greater Burlington Women's Forum Brown Bag Lunch: Getting to Yes: Negotiation Skills to Advance Your Job, Career, and Life
This program on January 14th presented VCW’s Cary Brown and Mary M. Lee, Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Champlain College addressing obstacles women typically face when negotiating and how to improve negotiation skills. Learn more here.
The Women's Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor recently issued this fact sheet on Pay Secrecy featuring Vermont’s 2005 law, protecting the rights of all Vermont workers to disclose wages. That law gave all Vermont workers the right to disclose their own wages and protects them from discharge, discipline or discrimination when doing so. The law enables workers to discover if they are being paid equitably, and is a tool to close the gender wage gap in Vermont.
Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty
Both VCW Executive Director Cary Brown and VCW Commissioner Melinda Moulton serve on the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty. The Council is comprised of citizens who have received state benefits, as well as representatives from organizations who provide direct services or work to prevent and address poverty in Vermont. Read the Council's report and recommendations to address poverty in Vermont for 2015 here. Read the Council's 2014 recommendations here. Learn more about the Council and its work here. Read the Governor’s press release about the Council's work here. Link to the Council's website here and blog here.
Working Families: Summits in D.C. and Vermont
On June 23, President Obama convened a White House Summit on Working Families, focusing on strengthening the nation’s workplaces to better support working families, boost businesses’ bottom lines, and ensure America’s global economic competitiveness in the coming decades.
Vermont’s lead up event to this Summit was held on the waterfront in Burlington on June 12th and featured a keynote address from Governor Madeleine Kunin. Watch the Vermont Summit on Working Families (recorded by Channel 17/Town Meeting TV) or read more about the Vermont Summit on Working Families here.
VCW Commissioners Felicia Kornbluh (standing), Melinda Moulton and Marcia Merrill (seated)
discuss public policy benefiting working Vermont families at the Vermont Summit
Materials from the Summit
Women, Poverty and Justice
On Monday April 14th VCW joined with other sponsors to present Women, Poverty and Justice, a symposium and panel discussion aimed at legislators, policymakers and advocates to address hunger and housing and to promote financial security for women. More info “Women, Poverty & Justice” an event to focus attention on poverty and its disproportionate impacts on women, here and Fox 44 news clip here.
Earned Sick Days
VCW in partnership with the University of Vermont's Gender Sexuality and Women's Studies Program (GSWS) gathered a diverse group of professionals for a panel discussion concerning earned sick days for Vermont workers at UVM on April 22nd. A broad conversation took place about Vermont’s current labor practices around paid time off policies, the dynamics of Vermont’s employers and labor force, and the issue of paid sick and safe days from a policy perspective. Learn more. (PDF file, 43 KB)
The Vermont Commission on Women is a member of the Paid Sick Days Coalition. More information on the campaign for Earned Sick Days in Vermont can be found here. Follow the Coalition on Facebook and Twitter @VTPaidTime for more updates.
Paid Family Leave Study Committee
VCW’s Executive Director Cary Brown served on the Paid Family Leave Study Committee created by Act 31 (Equal Pay law - more on Act 31 below) last year. Read the Committee’s report here.
The Vermont Guide to Parental and Family Leave
This 20-page booklet provides information for employees and employers about parental, family, and short-term leave. Information includes descriptions of federal and Vermont state laws, detailed definitions for each type of leave, and answers to commonly-asked questions. UPDATE: In June of 2012, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that annual and sick leave accruals are not employee benefits. Therefore, your employer is not required to accrue vacation and sick leave hours for the unpaid hours that you take off for either short-term or long-term family or parental leave. However your employer may continue to allow you to accrue vacation and sick time during either short or long term leave.
Vermont Guide to Parental and Family Leave (PDF file, 5 MB)
Governor’s Workforce Equity and Diversity Council
VCW is a member of the Governor’s Workforce Equity and Diversity Council. The mission of the the council is to support a workplace culture in state government that promotes equitable treatment for all, and one that embraces the true value workplace diversity offers.
Vermont Workplaces Support Nursing Moms
Employers and employees: find out more about the needs and rights of moms returning to work. Nursing Moms (PDF file, 1202 KB) VCW partnered with Vermont's Breastfeeding Network and the Department of Health to offer free help to all Vermont businesses welcoming back their new working moms. Vermont workplaces need lower health care costs, lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism rates, and higher employee productivity and morale. How to get them? Lactation support!
Greater Burlington Women's Forum Brown Bag Lunch: Getting to Yes: Negotiation Skills to Advance Your Job, Career, and Life
This program on January 14th presented VCW’s Cary Brown and Mary M. Lee, Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Champlain College addressing obstacles women typically face when negotiating and how to improve negotiation skills. Learn more here.
PODCAST LINK:Taking the Lead: Women & Families in the Workplace in Vermont from WDEV Radio Vermont's The Vermont Conversation with host David Goodman, (10/28/15)
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of women with children under age 18 are in the U.S. workforce, and working mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households. Is Vermont a leader or laggard when it comes to providing opportunities for women and families in the workplace? We talk with people who have taken the lead in making workplaces women and family friendly. With:
Cary Brown, Executive Director, Vermont Commission on Women
Bram Kleppner, CEO, Danforth Pewter
Russ Elek, Communication and Membership Manager, VBSR
Sarah Lord, Seventh Generation
Sascha Mayer, CEO and Co-founder, Mamava,
Gwen Pokalo, Director of the Women’s Small Business Program at Mercy Connections
New Law: An Act Relating to Equal Pay
On Tuesday May 14th 2013 Governor Shumlin signed into law a bill strengthening protections for Vermont workers around a number of issues, most notably for equal pay. The law includes provisions for equal pay; protections for employees who ask coworkers what they are paid; certification of compliance of government contractors with Vermont’s equal pay laws; protections for new mothers who must express breast milk for their babies at work; protections for employees to request flexible work arrangements; and establishment of a study committee looking at the mechanics of a paid family leave law in Vermont. Cary Brown, VCW's Executive Director and member of the diverse coalition of groups that worked together on this legislation observed, “This law provides a wealth of tools for addressing inequities in pay and working conditions, and is a huge benefit to working families in Vermont. It strengthens and clarifies existing laws ensuring equal pay for equal work, increases the accountability of state contractors, and creates new protections for workers who discuss wages. This law makes Vermont the first state in the country to guarantee employees’ right to request flexible working arrangements, supporting both men’s and women’s participation in work and family responsibilities.” State agencies, including the Attorney General’s office, the Human Rights Commission and the Vermont Commission on Women, will be working together on a public information campaign targeted at workers and employers to let them know about the new law’s provisions. Read VCW's press release (PDF file, 55 KB). Read the fact sheet about Act 31, An Act Relating to Equal Pay (PDF file, 139 KB) Listen to VCW's Executive Director, Cary Brown speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition Act 31 and flexible working arrangements.
Worklace Laws in Vermont
Important Workplace Laws Vermont Workers Should Know (PDF, 167 KB)
Important Workplace Laws Vermont Employers Should Know (PDF, 196 KB)
Our latest publications, these flyers are part of a public information campaign to educate both employers and workers in Vermont about their rights and responsibilities under the newest equal pay law, which came into effect January 2014. Vermont workers now have the right to request flexible working arrangements without fear of retaliation. Those intermediate or long-term changes might include working from home, changes in the number of days or hours worked, changes in work arrival or departure times or job-sharing. Employers must discuss and consider such requests at least twice per calendar year. Other information incorporated includes how to handle suspected pay discrimination, wage disclosure laws, pregnant worker’s rights, lactation accommodations, anti-retaliation protection, and information concerning family and medical leave.
Greater Burlington Women's Forum Networking Lunch: Flexible Working Arrangements
On January 20th Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women joined with Cheryl Hanna, Professor of Law at Vermont Law School; and Lindsay Deslauriers, Public Policy Associate at Voices for Vermont's Children for a panel discussion about changes to workplace policy which took effect that same month and what it meant for families and flexibility
VCW In the News - On Equal Pay
In NY Times: The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility
On Vermont Public Radio: New Law Addresses Equal Pay For Women
In Times Argus: Vermont takes lead in closing wage gap
On CBS: Cary Brown on WCAX’s The :30 on Monday 6/17: http://www.wcax.com/story/22614653/vt-commission-on-women-explains-equal-pay-battles
Bill Dolye on Vermont Issues via Orca Media: http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01221&video=158416
On Mark Johnson Show: May 17th show on equal pay is now in podcast at: http://blog.markjohnsonshow.net/2013/06/10/51713-comedy-festequal-pay-law.aspx
Vermont Woman features VCW's legislative wrap up piece (in this month’s edition): http://vermontwoman.com/articles/2013/0613/equalpaylaw/eyesofceres.html
In Rutland Herald: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20130614/THISJUSTIN/130619949
Equal Pay Day 2013
Equal Pay Day is the symbolic day when women's earnings catch up to men's from the previous year. It takes an extra three months thanks to the 23-percent wage gap in the U.S. Vermont does a bit better, but our wage gap is still about 16-percent. VCW and Business and Professional Women joined legislators and a huge group of Girls on the Run girls at the signing of the 2013 Equal Pay Day proclamation. Legislators received Equal Pay Buttons attached to a coupon for 16% off all goods and services for working Vermont women. The other side of the coupon reads: "April 9, 2013 symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. In Vermont, women earn 84 cents for every man’s dollar. Equal pay can make a difference in whether families can afford healthcare, child care, higher education, and a secure retirement." What can you do about the wage gap? Read our Equal Pay Brochure (PDF file, 65 KB)
Vermont Business and Professional Women join with the Vermont Commission on Women (pictured with Governor above) to call attention to the wage gap in Vermont every year on Equal Pay Day. Read the Governor’s Equal Pay Day proclamation
Cary Brown, VCW Executive Director speaks about the wage gap in Vermont with Governor Shumlin and BPW members
-15%: Wage Gap in Vermont on Equal Pay Day, 2014
Editorial by Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women
The American Association of University Women recently released their 2014 report detailing the wage gap between men and women in the country. The good news is that Vermont’s wage gap is tied for second lowest – Vermont women make 85% of the money that Vermont men make, second only to Washington D.C., where women make 90% of what men make.
The bad news is that the last time this report came out, women in Vermont were making 87% of what men made. The wage gap is growing.
On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Governor Shumlin will sign a proclamation recognizing Equal Pay Day. This is the symbolic day in 2014 when women’s earnings finally catch up to men’s from 2013. Nationally, women make just 77 cents for every dollar that men make, so we can feel proud that in Vermont we’re doing a bit better than in most of the country.
But why do we still have a wage gap at all? Why does it persist, and even grow, in spite of the fact that we’ve had a federal law on the books outlawing pay discrimination for over fifty years?
Some will still insist that it’s women’s choices that lead to a wage gap. Women choose to go into occupations that pay less (number one job for women in the 1950s? Secretary. Number one job for women in the 2010s? Secretary!). Women also choose to take time off from working in order to tend to family responsibilities, so they get left behind in the hours they work and in the raises and promotions they qualify for.
But why is it that the jobs that are dominated by men pay more than the jobs that are dominated by women? And why is it that women are bearing a greater burden of family responsibility than men are? Even when men do take time away from work to care for their families, they are much less likely to say that it hurt their career than women are.
But consider the fact that a number of studies have found that even when discounting the impact of these choices, there is still a persistent wage gap. Among recent college graduates, in their first jobs, when we adjust for factors such as occupation choice, hours worked, and GPA, women are still earning just 93% of what men do.
Clearly, there is more going on than women’s individual choices.
Last year, in the first case brought to court under Vermont’s equal pay law, a woman sued because she was replaced with a man who was paid much more in his starting pay than she was after many years of experience. Even after accounting for any legitimate disparities, Judge William Sessions rejected the employer’s argument that the higher pay was justified, writing, “Any gap in the pay of men and women, whether forty or ten percent, is an implicit statement to our children that we value the work of our daughters less than that of our sons.”
Fifty years ago, Governor Philip Hoff created the Vermont Commission on Women, in recognition of the need to advance rights and opportunities for women in Vermont. Women earned just 59 cents for a man’s dollar back in 1964, so we know we’re going in the right direction. I look forward to the day – hopefully not in another fifty years – when we’ll celebrate Equal Pay Day on December 31
Equal Pay Act Court Case Decision
Background: On March 19th 2013 a hearing took place in US District Court in the first case interpreting the Vermont Equal Pay Act of 2002. The Vermont Commission on Women was joined by numerous national and state organizations and public policy leaders in educating the court on the enduring problem of gender based wage discrimination and urging it to interpret Vermont's law to provide broad remedy to victims of such discrimination. Vermont Law School students lead by professor Cheryl Hanna crafted this amicus brief (PDF file, 316 KB) which explains why Vermont’s Equal Pay Act is important, why and how wage discrimination continues to take place, and how this legal remedyOn March 19th a hearing took place in US District Court in the first case interpreting the Vermont Equal Pay Act of 2002. The Vermont Commission on Women was joined by numerous national and state organizations and public policy leaders in educating the court on the enduring problem of gender based wage discrimination and urging it to interpret Vermont's law to provide broad remedy to victims of such discrimination. Vermont Law School students lead by professor Cheryl Hanna crafted this amicus brief (PDF file, 316 KB) which explains why Vermont’s Equal Pay Act is important, why and how wage discrimination continues to take place, and how this legal remedy should function. Press Release: (MONTPELIER, June 13, 2013) – Federal District Court Judge William Sessions has issued a decision in Dreves v. Hudson News late yesterday, the first case implicating Vermont's Equal Pay law… (PDF file, 32 KB) Read the Court's Decision (PDF file, 87 KB)
Starting or Expanding a Vermont Business?
Ask us for our business resource listing. For more resources, take a look at the Business and Entrepreneurship section of our Resource Directory.
Negotiating Workplace Flexibility
VCW Listing of Trainers for Salary, Benefits, and Flexible Workplace Issues: Order This Document
Women's Economic Opportunity Conference
Senator Leahy's annual free and fabulous conference for Vermont women takes place every fall and is currently in its 18th year. The Women's Economic Opportunity Conference enjoys a long tradition of bringing women together from all corners of Vermont to explore career opportunities, sharpen business skills and expand professional networks. The conference draws hundreds of women for a full day of workshops tailored to meet a range of talents and skill levels. In the interest of making the conference accessible to all, there is no charge for registration or for pre-arranged child care. VCW works in partnership with many sponsorship organizations to coordinate this wonderful event. More info here.
Working in coalition with powerful partners Vermont Women’s Fund and Vermont Works for Women, we launched Change the Story Vermont, a multi-year initiative engaging business, government and education to improve women’s economic well-being and ensure Vermont’s economic future. On the web and Facebook too.
Since 1977, The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont has been a “go to” source of information for Vermont women, their families, and the professionals that serve them. Written in plain language, the handbook, although written for women, covers issues affecting all Vermonters, such as marriage and divorce, adoption, wills and probate, women’s health, employment and education, housing and public accommodations, violence, public assistance and government benefits, insurance as well as others. New features include information on human trafficking, health insurance, same sex marriage, and immigration. The new edition allows users to link directly to the Vermont Commission on Women’s comprehensive resource directory and to federal and state statute websites. The result is reader-friendly content with easy-access reference links.
Child Support in Vermont: A Handbook for Parents. Vermont’s Office of Child Support recently produced this informative handbook covering most aspects of child and medical support in Vermont. It includes chapters on establishing parentage, establishing support, modifying support, paying support, enforcing support orders, and getting support while receiving public assistance.
Enough Said: Young Women and the Economy
VCW’s Advisory Council member Vermont Works for Women’s (VWW) "Enough Said” report revealed that many young women across our state consider themselves ill-equipped and under-prepared for the challenges of school, work, career, economic independence, and adulthood - absolutes that await them in the not-to-distant future. "Enough Said - Young Women Talk about School, Work and Becoming Adults: Why We Should Listen and What We Can Do" incorporates national research and references best practices. It is the result of in-depth interviews, surveys, and listening to more than 210 young women and girls, ages 15-25, from 28 communities, Brattleboro to St. Johnsbury, the majority from families of limited financial means. VCW is a member of VWW’s Taskforce on Young Women and the Economy and looks forward to making positive change for Vermont’s girls.
Bennington Area Listening Forum for Girls Issues
VCW presented a listening forum focused on issues affecting teen girls in Bennington County in partnership with Bennington County Maternal Child Health Coalition in late 2012. Participants included young women, parents and community members working in the fields of medicine, social services, education, law enforcement and public policy. VCW uses the information gathered at Listening Forums to inform our work on behalf of women and families in Vermont and to share with policy makers and various state and community organizations to strengthen and inform programming and services. Read notes from the Bennington listening forum. (PDF file, 78 KB)
Did you know Vermont men with just a high school degree make about the same as Vermont women with a Bachelor’s degree? Learn more facts in our status report. (PDF file, 735 KB)
Women Can Do!
VCW’s Advisory Council member Vermont Works for Women presents Women Can Do!, an annual conference for high school girls from across the state which features hands-on workshops and action stations highlighting careers in the skilled trades, technology and STEM fields. VCW has assisted in coordination of this wonderful event for many years.
INTERESTED IN OUR WORK?
Follow us on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook.
Learn about (and plan) conferences, meetings and workshops for women and girls by using our event calendar tool:
Easy to use, easy to add events to, and super mobile-friendly, this new calendar feature is an extension of VCW’s efforts to facilitate collaboration between Vermont organizations doing work with women and girls, and to increase public awareness and participation of these activities.
Looking for help? Try our Resource Directory with over 200 pages of organizations/agencies to assist you.