(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to create the Office for Women's Advancement to facilitate the full and equal participation of women in the workplace was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Labor Committee.
"The office's goal is to foster and promote the advancement of gender equity in employment practices, career development and the workplace, enhancing the quality of life for women and girls throughout the state," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "It will do this through research, collaboration and programming that will prove beneficial not just to women, but to businesses and economic development throughout New Jersey. It's the smart approach to creating jobs and building a strong middle-class."
"This is a must in today's economic climate," said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). "We need to think creatively and find new ways to encourage the full and equal participation of women in the workplace. That's absolutely necessary if we're going to reinvigorate our economy and make sure we continue to create good-paying jobs that help strengthen families and communities."
"This bill is common sense," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "We need to be innovative if we're to keep pace with the changing economy and competition from other states and around the world. The status quo isn't acceptable, and if we find ways to foster the full and equal participation of women in the workplace, everyone will benefit."
The office would perform the following functions:
- Gather, analyze, and disseminate data on the status of women in areas pertaining to the workplace, including, but not limited to: access to educational, training and employment opportunities; employer hiring practices; workplace culture; work-family balance; the gender pay gap; and the gender composition of the workforce by industry;
- Collaborate with state agencies and affiliated groups, including, but not limited to, the New Jersey Advisory Commission on the Status of Women and the Council on Gender Parity in Labor and Education to address issues that disproportionately affect women in the workplace;
- Review current and proposed legislation and regulations pertaining to gender equity in employment practices, career development, and the workplace, and make recommendations regarding possible legislation and regulations; and
- Educate and provide information to the public on the issues and current developments regarding women in the workplace by publishing reports and holding events such as conferences and symposia.
This bill also establishes the Women's Advancement Fund in the Department of the Treasury to receive all funding for the Office for Women's Advancement from the state and other sources. The bill authorizes the office to apply for and collect funds from the federal government and other sources in certain cases, and directs that an annual appropriation be made to the fund in an amount necessary to effectuate the purposes of the bill.