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OPINION: Vermont Does Right By Women


by Angela Smith, Happiness Resources Manager at SunCommon

Vermont is a great place to live and work. The state receives numerous accolades each year. WalletHub recently released a study which names Vermont the best state for working moms. The study included an analysis of 12 key metrics, including accessibility and affordability of reliable child care, workplace parental leave policies, the ratio of females to males in executive positions, and gender pay gap data.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of women with children under the age of 18 are in the workforce, and working mothers are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40 percent of households. Yet, women still face a 21 percent pay gap, a higher unemployment rate, and outdated workplace policies that make juggling home and family a struggle (http://www.dol.gov/wb/Infographic_on_working_mothers.pdf).

Vermont is poised as a leader in helping to correct these imbalances. According to WalletHub’s study, our state has the lowest gender pay gap, and ranks fourth for having the highest female-to-male executive ratio. Additionally, Vermont has an array of family-friendly workplace policies to support working mothers (and all parents). As of January 2014, Vermont employees have the right to request flexible work arrangements, and their employers are required to consider the requests, leading to meaningful discussions about workplace flexibility without fear of reprisal. In 2013, the Vermont Legislature strengthened the provisions of the state’s Equal Pay Act, helping to pave the way to equal pay for equal work. And the lives of working moms are made a bit easier because of Vermont’s short term family leave, lactation support and fair treatment for pregnant workers policies.

SunCommon, a solar energy company based in Waterbury, encourages fellow businesses to explore these workplace policies and make use of our valuable resources like Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and our fellow benefit corporations statewide. It’s not only the right thing to do, but we can use our businesses as a vehicle for positive change.