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Vermont General Assembly Passes Legislation That Will Lead to Improved Gender Pay Equality

For Immediate Release

May 9, 2024

Vermont General Assembly Passes Legislation That Will Lead to Improved Gender Pay Equality

Efforts show collaboration can lead to positive outcomes

Montpelier, VT - Today, Representative Ashley Bartley (R, Franklin-1, Fairfax and Georgia) and Representative Rey Garofano (D, Chittenden-23, Essex) celebrated the passage of H.704, an act relating to disclosure of compensation in job advertisements. This bill proposes to require employers to disclose compensation in advertisements of job openings.

This strike all amendment takes what is already Human Resources best practice and requires Vermont employers to disclose compensation or a compensation range, in job advertisements to prospective employees.

“As the only Human Resource professional in the general assembly, I was proud to throw all my efforts into H.704 after it was sent to my committee; the House Committee on General & Housing. This was the first bill I presented on the floor and it wasn’t my bill. I want to thank Rep. Garofano for proposing the legislation.” said Representative Ashley Bartley.

She continued, “I also want to thank the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, the Chambers and the Vermont Commission on Women for taking the time to review, collaborate and make the bill better.”

Representative Garofano added “The benefits of Pay Transparency Laws are not just theoretical but tangible. H.704 is a powerful tool for promoting pay equity and reducing the gender and racial pay gap. Its implementation will also increase employee satisfaction and help reduce turnover, a cost Vermont businesses cannot afford. I am thrilled that Vermont will join the many states that have already passed and implemented pay transparency laws.” 

About H.704

On a national scale, women in the United States earn 84% of what men make. However, in Vermont we’re doing slightly better, women earn 93% of a man’s earnings, thanks in part to robust equal pay legislation enacted by this body.

Previous legislation on pay equity has enabled employees to openly discuss their pay with one another, making it easier to identify pay disparities; and has also prohibited the practice of requiring salary history from job applicants. I’d like to remind the body that even minor disparities in early career earnings will perpetuate over time. When salaries are based on previous earnings, women and people of color face systemic pay inequities, despite current employers having no intentional bias. 

This bill targets two significant factors contributing to wage disparities: inequities in the negotiation process and lack of transparency in compensation. Pay negotiations often disadvantage women and people of color, who may be perceived as greedy or aggressive for negotiating assertively, unlike men who are viewed more positively in such situations. Research indicates that women may even ask for less during negotiations to avoid negative perceptions.

When employers enter negotiations without a predetermined salary range, candidates tend to rely on their past pay as a reference point. It's common for applicants to request a salary 10-20% higher than their previous earnings. However, given that women and people of color typically earn less than white men in the same occupations, they would need to demand a much larger increase to reach equity. Consequently, women and people of color often state lower salary requirements during negotiations.

Providing applicants with clear information about negotiation contexts significantly reduces gender disparities in negotiations. With this information, gender-based differences in negotiation diminish, leading to fairer outcomes.

Today, the House of Representatives suspended our rules to concur with the Senate’s proposal of amendment of the bill and it has been sent to the Governor for his signature.


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