WMC: Bad for Women, Bad for Business?

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Last week it was reported that a Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) staffer condescendingly referred to the Epic Systems founder and well-respected progressive business leader as ‘€œthat computer lady.’€ As a result the One Wisconsin Institute launched an education effort this week questioning WMC’€™s attitude toward women and their history of opposing legislation that would have been helpful to both women and their families.

The online campaign includes a WMC Watch News Alert available at WMCWatch.org and a letter to the editor writing tool. Individuals can write a letter to the editor of their local papers expressing their outrage at both the dismissive WMC comments and their legislative positions that have been bad for Wisconsin women.

Some of the legislation that WMC opposed in just this past state legislative session included Assembly Bill 395. This bill would have allowed parents to request leave for their children’€™s school conferences and activities that couldn’€™t be scheduled during non-working hours. They also opposed Assembly Bill 310 which addressed discrimination in employment and directed the state to study the wage disparities that exist between men and women and between minority and nonminority groups. Further, they even opposed Assembly Bill 160 which would have simply required employers to ‘€œreasonably accommodate’€ an employee who is pregnant or who is breastfeeding her child. Although these common sense pieces of legislation were killed in the Republican controlled Assembly, the State Senate passed their equivalent of the breastfeeding and wage disparities bills.

Not only has WMC shown themselves to be condescendingly dismissive of very successful women in business, but they have opposed common sense legislation that are important to women. In this context, it is troubling that the make-up of their 48 member board only includes two women. These things are disturbing on many different levels and they are all bad for business. What an odd set of choices that the current WMC leadership have made. It must have some businesses questioning their affiliation with what has become an extremely partisan organization that has lost its way and become bad for business.

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