Earlier this month, Governor Patrick launched the Women in the Workplace Initiative to help women advance in the workplace across the economic spectrum in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
As Cabinet Secretary responsible for labor and workforce development in the Commonwealth, I have been asked by Governor Patrick to chair a taskforce and report back to him within six months with a series of recommendations on:
- What the Commonwealth and the Executive Branch can do, as an employer, to advance women in the workplace. While the state has a strong track record of placing women in leadership positions, there is undoubtedly room for improvement. We will make recommendations on additional policy steps the state could take on matters such as equal pay, flex time and family-conducive schedules, maternity leave, lactation facilities, family responsibilities discrimination, and child care.
- How the Commonwealth can encourage the private sector to adopt policies that promote advancement and economic mobility.
- Our recommendations could include Executive Orders, legislative solutions, changing state employee policies or furthering the public dialogue on issues facing working women through other means.
We are very excited that Bentley University has taken a lead in building a stronger workplace for women. Through its Center for Women in Business, Bentley University has committed to creating the Massachusetts Women’s Leadership Fellowship and developing guidelines for positions to be filled by fellows. These fellows would serve in management positions in state government and the quasi agencies for a year, and would participate in leadership development and networking programs throughout their tenure. These women will leave the fellowship well-prepared for careers in public or private sector management, setting them up to fill executive office and board of director positions later in their careers. The application process will be open by late April 2014, and fellows are expected to be selected by late June.
The success of women in the workplace requires both government and private sector commitment. The Commonwealth must continue to create and implement creative new strategies to provide more opportunities for women fighting to lead in corporate American and working women living in or near poverty and middle class women in between who are trying to juggle the needs of their family with the demands of their job.
Private industry must do its part by taking a seat at the table as we develop innovative solutions to promote economic mobility and success of women in the workplace. We are urging private firms to take the first step by utilizing Bentley’s fellowship model in their own organizations with the hope that they will join us in a shared goal of expanding the pipeline of talented and experienced women leaders.
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