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TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Sandra Cunningham promoting women and minority development in the workforce cleared the Senate Labor Committee today.

The bill would create the Office for Women’s Advancement to facilitate the full and equal participation of women in the workplace in New Jersey. The office will engage in research, collaboration, and programming in order to foster and promote the advancement of gender equity in employment practices, career development, and the workplace. The purpose is to enhance the quality of life for women and girls throughout the state.

“The establishment of this office will enable us to highlight and combat gender inequities within the state,” said Senator Cruz-Perez. “We are acknowledging the need for a formal organization to help with further policies to promote and advance women including the continued push for pay equity and other gender inequality issues.”

“It is unfortunate that in 2017 we have to continue to have the discussion about women facing challenges in the workplace, from pay discrimination to sexual harassment, which are still playing a prominent role in society,” said Senator Cunningham. “In helping to study and analyze the issues that women face in the workplace, this legislation will help bring the change needed for a workforce that is diverse and respected as our society continues to move forward.”

The office would perform certain functions such as gathering, analyzing, and publishing data on the status of women in areas pertaining to the workplace such as a woman’s access to educational, training and employment opportunities, as well as the gender pay gap and work-family balance. There are currently a variety of research programs at New Jersey universities to engage in gender analysis of work. The purpose of a State office will be to enable a broader lens to be used to highlight gender inequities within the state.

Another bill, S-3123 concerns outreach training for minorities and women in the construction industry. The bill would merge two existing laws. The first required that 0.5 percent of funds from the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” be used to provide on-the-job or off-the-job outreach and training programs for minority group members and women in construction trade occupations or other occupations, including engineering and management occupations, utilized in the performance of public works contracts.

The second statute requires that all public contracts, both state and local, be posted on the databases maintained by the Division of Development for Small Businesses, and Women and Minority Businesses, and that all payments and awards issued to subcontractors, payments and awards to minority and women-owned businesses be reported on at least a quarterly basis. The law also directs the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to engage in other management practices to increase contracting opportunities for women and minority businesses.

“The importance of on-the-job-training in the construction industry is essential for not only safety, but to also broaden a person’s opportunities for further employment. With this bill we can ensure that women and minorities are receiving the proper training they need to excel in an industry that is essential to our country’s growth,” said Senator Cruz-Perez.

“We need to make sure our work force is as diverse as possible and that women and minorities have an opportunity to thrive in a trade,” said Senator Cunningham. “Everyone deserves a chance to be well trained in their career and these are programs that will help make that a reality, so they can not only do well in the industry they choose, but also become more versatile and valuable for future opportunities.”

S-2870 cleared the committee 3-0-2 and will next head to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration. S-3123 cleared the committee 3-1-1 and will next head to the full Senate.