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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Roundtables on women in the workplace get underway

Frances Ríos, CEO of Women Who Lead

By The Star Staff

With the purpose of providing the leadership of companies with greater tools to address problems that concern working women, the founder and CEO of Women Who Lead, Frances Ríos, Labor and Human Resources Secretary Gabriel Maldonado González and federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Director William Sánchez began a series of roundtables this week.

The meetings, to be held in February and March, will focus on training on issues of harassment, pay equity, inclusion, growth opportunities and finances for women, Ríos said.

“The Survey of Working Women that we conducted in November revealed the challenges that women in Puerto Rico face in their workplaces and what prevents them from developing,” island businesswoman said. “We heard their voices. It is time to act to achieve real changes.”

Ríos said that for the training effort, an initial group of 12 companies that have demonstrated a solid commitment to a better work environment for women was selected to discuss the results of the survey in depth, share tools and draw up work plans. The first meeting, held at American International Group (AIG Puerto Rico), was attended by its president and CEO, Agnes Suárez; the president of the Certified Public Accountants Association, Aixa González Reyes; the president-elect of the island Chamber of Commerce, Ramón A. Pérez Blanco; the director of administration of the Society for Human Resources Management, Ana M. Iglesias Díaz; and the senior manager of human resources at Metropistas, Aida R. Gómez, among others. The next roundtables will be at BASF; Lopito, Ileana & Howie; Boston Scientific; ManpowerGroup Puerto Rico; Sartorius, Baxter; RSM Puerto Rico; Estrella LLC; MotorAmbar; and Serrallés. There will also be other dialogues with the public sector component.

“The training process is open to other companies that want to join the effort,” Ríos said. “We want to raise awareness and start moving the wheel with the people who make decisions and can produce changes.”

The Labor secretary said that “for this administration it is extremely important to continue encouraging and promoting public policy initiatives that result in better working conditions for the thousands of women who represent 52 percent of our population, but who are not equally represented in our workforce.”

“That’s why the Department of Labor is joining Women Who Lead to continue adding allies in this cause and highlight the importance of promoting initiatives aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion in the private sector and government, while complying with the various state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination and other unwanted practices in the workplace,” Maldonado González said. “After the findings seen in the First Study of Working Women, we are committed to listening to the feelings of all sectors and designing strategies to achieve great advances that will open the way for future generations.”

Sánchez, the EEOC director, noted that “the statistics of the federal Department of Labor show that at present there is a wage gap between men and women. Of every dollar, a woman earns 75 to 79 cents, a difference of 21 cents less than a man.”

“In the 21st century we need that gap to be closed,” he said. “The commitment must come from companies, which recognize that women have much to contribute to the organization and compensate them adequately. The EEOC’s responsibility is to ensure that women and men have similar wages under similar conditions. The agency is committed to educating employers and employees to establish an equal work environment.”

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