It would be much easier for Taylor Mendell and her partner to keep their Starksboro farm running if they had access to child care for their 10-month-old son Theo.
“My job on the farm is not really replaceable in a lot of ways because in addition to the field work, I'm the HR manager, bookkeeper, and do all of our marketing. Running a farm and caring for an infant at the same time is a juggling act to say the least,” Taylor said.
Taylor loves providing sustainable, local food for her community. She loves engaging with community members and teaching new farmers. She feels a deep sense of responsibility to her employees and to her customers and that has only intensified during COVID.
“We’re so busy trying to keep our business running during COVID. We’ve needed to constantly adapt to keep up with heightened food safety measures,” Taylor explained.
Taylor has tried looking into child care options for Theo but hasn’t found anything that would work for her family. “Child care centers are so inundated with requests, especially for infants. I often don’t even get calls back. It’s just crickets,” Taylor said.
Even if she could find a spot, Taylor said they may not be able to afford it. “We're pretty rural, so after adding driving time to childcare rates, it’s cheaper for me not to work. Unfortunately I feel that hurts the quality of our business,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she feels for child care providers, who like farm workers, often make low wages for hard work with heightened personal risks during COVID. Both of them are also providing essential services for their communities: teaching young children and growing food.
“The truth of the matter is that without child care options I can't be there for my partner, my customers, or my employees in the way that I'd like to be. We need child care so that our business can thrive, so that we can thrive, and so that our employees can thrive. I even think we need child care for our child to thrive!” Taylor said.
Our updates include the rise in Vermont's vaccination numbers: for our adult population, 82.8% of women and 78.2% of men have received at least one dose.
This week's report included a new look at job losses in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Governor Phil Scott has appointed Delaney Courcelle of Rutland to serve on the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the state’s non-partisan commission working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls.
Courcelle is a senior majoring in Business Administration at the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business. Excelling at coursework concentrations in entrepreneurship and finance, she is the recipient of this year's Major Junius Adair Award for Excellence in Finance. This is one of the awards celebrating the Grossman School’s top undergraduate and graduate students at their annual Honors Day Celebration.
She is the current Chairwoman of the Vermont Federation of College Republicans. In this role she oversees the Federation chapters at UVM, Middlebury College, and Norwich University, providing guidance in recruiting, fundraising, event planning, and public relations efforts. Additionally, as Chairwoman, Courcelle leads monthly executive board meetings, manages finances, and coordinates an annual convention.
As the current President of the UVM College Republicans, she has grown membership to over 60 students, and along with the duties of running a successful organization, has hosted campus-wide events with noted speakers.
Courcelle is also president of a new student organization on the UVM campus, a chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women. NeW is a national conservative women’s organization with a mission to educate, equip and empower women to be principled leaders for a free society. The organization holds biweekly club meetings, which include discussions and social events, and as president, Courcelle manages operations and is the liaison and representative for the chapter at NeW’s national leadership conferences.
Courcelle she is also an intern at Baystate Financial, conducting outreach for a financial wellness seminar series for Vermont-based companies.
Outside of school and politics, Courcelle is deeply involved with the local Catholic community and also spends a great deal of her time providing child care to area families. She currently resides in South Burlington.
The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is an independent non-partisan state commission working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls. Sixteen volunteer commissioners and representatives from organizations concerned with women's issues guide VCW's public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts.
Note: Photos of VCW Commissioners can be found here.
Today, June 8th, at a lunch hour digital event Change The Story VT, the partnership initiative of Vermont Works for Women, Vermont Commission on Women, and the Vermont Women's Fund, launched a toolkit filled with new, easy-to-use, free-to-you, DIY pay equity tools!
The Leaders for Equity and Equal Pay Toolkit is a free resource to empower small to mid-size employers (any organization with under 400 employees) with the tools to conduct in-house, DIY gender and racial pay equity reviews. The Toolkit includes the excel-based Equity Management Tool and the companion Pay Equity Playbook as well as an interactive Compensation Philosophy Worksheet, Pay Equity Plan Template, and Performance Rubric. Download the toolkit from our partnership initiative Change The Story VT.
The event and the kit is inspired to empower Vermont’s small to mid-size employers (with fewer than 400 employees) with the tools to conduct ongoing gender and racial pay equity reviews. Attendees were introduced to the innovative new Equity Management Tool and companion Playbook, gleaned knowledge from a national pay equity expert, and were inspired by Vermont employers who have implemented workplace pay equity practices.
Vermont employers, compensation experts and LEEP Toolkit developers were featured a roundtable discussion featuring:
• Mara Neufeld Rivera, SHRM-SCP, Vice President/Head of People & Culture at Chroma Technology Corporation
• Lisa Yaeger, Chief Equity, People & Culture Officer at Vermont Foodbank
• Duane Peterson, Co-President and Founder of SunCommon
• Krysta Sadowski, Equity & Talent Strategy Consultant
• Frank Sadowski, Sadowski Consulting Services
• Moderated by Kerin Durfee, Commissioner with Vermont Commission on Women and the new Director of Burlington’s Human Resources Department
Participants took away a deeper knowledge of gender and racial pay equity from special guest Evelyn Murphy, Ph.D. economist, founder and president of the nationwide, grassroots activist organization The WAGE Project, Inc., and author of Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men and What To Do About It. Dr. Murphy was the first woman to hold constitutional office in Massachusetts when she was elected Lt. Governor in the mid-80s, having served previously as the state’s Secretary of Environmental Affairs, and as Secretary of Economic Affairs. She currently serves as co-chair of the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, a public-private partnership dedicated to eliminating the gender/racial wage gap in the greater Boston area. Our thanks to all who participated.
This commentary is by Wendy Knight, a member of the Vermont Commission on Women, a board member of the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance, deputy commissioner of Liquor and Lottery, and former commissioner of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
In November 2020, I was appointed by Gov. Scott to serve a four-year term on the Vermont Commission on Women, an independent, nonpartisan state commission focused on the advancement of Vermont women and girls.
It was during the second wave of the global pandemic, and I was keenly aware of my privilege: a white woman working remotely from a rural home with immediate access to outdoor recreation.
I was also fortunate in being employed full-time, a necessity the pandemic eliminated for many Vermont women, seemingly overnight. During the third quarter of 2020, 57% of the 37,000+ job losses in Vermont were held by women. Industries like accommodation and food services — where jobs are largely held by women — was among the hardest hit.
As a former tourism and marketing commissioner for Vermont, I understood the crippling effect of the pandemic on the sector. I saw it close up as a consultant with On the Fly, a women-led collective providing marketing and business support to Vermont’s hospitality and food services businesses negatively impacted by Covid-19.
My first client was a single mom juggling to keep her restaurant afloat while navigating the care and remote education of two small children. An independent business owner, she was initially reticent to receive our free assistance. Yet, when we virtually unveiled a new streamlined website and takeout strategy, her eyes welled with tears of gratitude. Our business support facilitated what she wanted most: the ability to earn an income to support her family.
What threatens the economic security for too many women isn’t a once-in-a-century pandemic but the persistent gender wage gap. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women working full-time, year-round are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men under the same work structure. For women who are also Black or disabled, the wage disparity is even wider. Though the discrepancy between women’s and men’s median earnings in Vermont is slightly less than national (16% vs. 18%), the gender gap exists across the state in all education levels and ages.
Fortunately, Vermont businesses have a new resource to help them close the wage gap within their workforce. Change the Story VT — the partnership initiative of the Vermont Commission on Women, the Vermont Women’s Fund, and Vermont Works for Women — partnered with Sadowski Consulting Services and Vermont employers to develop a road map for small to medium-sized employers to address gender and racial pay equity reviews.
The Leaders for Equity and Equal Pay toolkit will be unveiled at a lunch hour event on Tuesday, June 8. Event participants will learn from state and nationally renowned experts and from Vermont employers, including Chroma Technology and SunCommon, that have worked through this process.
The pandemic exposed fissures and persistent challenges within our society: institutional racism, lack of child care, occupational segregation, and a troubling mindset of “otherness” that presented Vermont as less than a welcoming place to relocate. We saw that women and BIPOC individuals were disproportionally impacted.
However, the pandemic illuminated some bright spots: efficiencies and productivity of remote work, a better work-life balance for families, more people relocating to Vermont, the country’s best public health leadership, and the willingness of Vermonters to do the right thing.
While we emerge from the pandemic as the country’s best example of Covid leadership and management, we also have the opportunity to lead by example in gender parity and pay equity. Now is the moment to reimagine how we want to live and work and to be intentional about inclusivity and equity as we rebuild our economy.
Find more information and register for this free event June 8 at LeepLaunch.eventbrite.com.