Efforts on the state level to introduce paid family leave are critical to overcoming gender equity problems in the workforce, according to advocates.
Only six percent of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. are led by female CEOs, and only 20 percent of corporate board seats are held by women.
The American Association of University Women issued a report recently saying sexist attitudes, lack of mentorship, and poor family leave policies all hold women back from achieving their potential in the workplace.
The Association’s Anne Hedgepeth told WNPR’s Where We Live that state policies mandating paid family leave can help level the playing field.
“Having a state program means that all workplaces are able to participate in offering that support to their workers,” she said. “It shouldn’t just be a lottery by your ZIP code or your boss about whether or not your have the supports that make it possible for you to remain engaged in your workplace.”
Connecticut legislators recently failed to pass a bill that would have made the state the fifth in the nation to mandate paid family leave.
Meanwhile, some companies are making efforts internally to increase gender equity in their workforce. Farmington-based United Technologies has set itself a goal to have women occupy 50 percent of its executive positions by the year 2030.
Currently just under 29 percent of its approximately 1,000 executives are female.
Beth Amato, the corporation’s chief human resources officer, said the effort was prompted by a female board member.
“We have to make not just the work exciting, but the culture of the workplace,” she said. “So we’ve put a big focus now on really addressing the culture aspect, of why people stay and how we can help them develop and grow their careers.”
She said the company is putting in place more flexible work arrangements, and is updating its parental leave policies as part of the effort.