On International Women’s Day, Women’s Wage Gap Should Alarm Business Leaders in Connecticut

Connecticut Business Lobbyists Are Out of Step With Regional Business Leaders and Owners

Hartford – Today, on International Women’s Day, millions of women around the country will take the day off from work and refrain from shopping at large corporate businesses in a one day demonstration and show of economic solidarity as part a national #DayWithoutAWoman. As Connecticut’s business leaders converge on the Legislative Office Building today to hear from the Governor and learn about how the Connecticut Industry and Business Association (CBIA) is communicating their needs to lawmakers, it’s a good time to remind the business community about the challenges women in Connecticut face in achieving economic equality — especially as advocacy efforts by the CBIA keep Connecticut lagging behind businesses in neighboring states and routinely undermine economic security for working women.

“Families have become more dependent on women’s salaries, as job growth is concentrated in the service sector and cuts to the social safety net make families more and more insecure. Facing a $1.5B deficit and with 4,200 more jobs on the line, a woman’s ability to participate in our economy is critical, but the CBIA has fought hard to oppose legislation which would provide better economic opportunities for women and contribute towards a healthier economy,” said Lindsay Farrell, Director of Connecticut Working Families Organization.

CBIA Opposes Pay Equity for Women

In Connecticut, women on average earn 83 cents on the dollar compared to men, putting their families at a severe economic disadvantage. When women make less money, tax revenues—many of which fund vital community services that are being cut in Connecticut—are lower than they should be.

Recently, the Boston Chamber of Commerce and Associated Business Industries of Massachusetts endorsed a bipartisan bill to establish pay equity guidelines in Massachusetts. As businesses around the country close their doors for the day in a show of solidarity with women, Connecticut’s business lobby continues to oppose pay equity bills that would help narrow the wage gap and our deficit. And Connecticut risks falling behind.

CBIA Opposes Paid Family and Medical Leave

A recent poll commissioned by the US Council of State Chambers of Commerce found that 72%  of C-level executives and business owners support increasing parental leave. Yet, in Connecticut, special interest groups like the CBIA have opposed paid leave year after year.

In Connecticut, there is a growing coalition of business owners, health care professionals, workers, faith organizations, and childcare experts who have called for a statewide paid family leave program, including over 100 women in leadership who called on our representatives to pass such a policy. Just last week, business leaders from Hartford’s thriving downtown district called for the state to pass paid family and medical leave.

Even though a paid family and medical leave program would be entirely funded through a 0.54% employee contribution and bear no financial impact on employers, the CBIA has lobbied hard against a bill.

As neighboring states of Rhode Island, New Jersey, and now New York implement this program, Connecticut, again, risks falling behind. As a state struggling to retain residents, every effort should be made to ensure we retain young, talented women who are critical to our workforce and the growth of our economy.

CBIA Opposes Breastfeeding at Work!

The CBIA has opposed common sense legislation requiring employers to respect the need for women to take reasonable, unpaid breaks each day to express breastmilk for an infant. Although research suggests that policies allowing employees to care for themselves makes workers more productive, the state’s big business lobby stated, “by requiring employers to give employees time each day away from their duties, regardless of whether they are critical or not, this bill undermines the employers’ ability to compete.”

Despite the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963, pay parity is still a long way off. In Connecticut, without paid leave, pay equity, and other protections, women have more incentive to seek employment and start families in neighboring states.

It is critical that lawmakers ensure protections are in place that enable women to identify and challenge discriminatory pay and employment practices, such as requiring applicants to divulge past salary history, which perpetuates unequal pay for women. Family friendly workplace support programs like paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and access to affordable child care provide the state with better economic predictability, narrow the wage gap for women, and help generate badly needed tax revenue to help narrow the state’s budget deficit.