BY KATHY KAHN
It’s not often New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul gets to the mid-Hudson, but she arrived Tuesday to visit the county and have a roundtable discussion with the Rockland Business Association’s Women’s Leadership Council.
Twenty of Rockland’s most influential women joined Hochul at Rockland Community College for a luncheon designed to help Hochul get better acquainted with her mid-Hudson constituency. Hochul spends the bulk of her time in upstate New York, so her visit gave her an opportunity to get to know New York’s smallest county.
Hochul and the group discussed the ongoing fight for pay equality and to see more women in positions of authority. Women make up 51 percent of the state’s population, but only 26 percent hold 25 percent of state jobs. “It’s embarrassing to say that the U.S. ranks 72nd when it comes to women in executive positions,” said Hochul.
2016 is a big political year for women since Hillary Clinton has secured the Democratic nomination for U.S. president, but Hochul and RBA members agree females bring a different point of view to the table, and there needs to be more of them in leadership roles, particularly in politics.
Bonnie Werk, vice president and manager of Pearl River’s TD Bank, said the company’s Power of Women program matches employees with mentors to move them into executive positions. “I’d like to see that initiative in more companies,” said the banker.
The group agreed that flex time, affordable child care and pay equality were at the top of the list of needs for women to move ahead in the work world. For women who are also caregivers and need to take family leave, receiving a salary for the time they are away from their jobs is now covered under the new provisions of the Family Leave Act, said Hochul. “The program is just ramping up, but it will be a big help for those who have been forced to take time off without pay.” (The program will be paid for through employee contributions).