Business Peer Exchange

Research demonstrates that employers have a significant stake in actively promoting equity and diversity by boosting an organization’s bottom line, contributing to better decision-making, and opening the door to a broader talent pool.

The Business Peer Exchange (BPE) is a group of dedicated businesses in Vermont working together to ensure women thrive in their workplaces.

The BPE started in Chittenden County in Fall 2016 and is currently engaging its year 3 cohort.

From the start, we’ve understood the critical role that employers can play in moving the needle for women: by recruiting and hiring them; by promoting them; by paying them equitably; by consistently considering whether organizational practices, policies, and the culture support the needs of diverse workers.

Meeting monthly for a year, representatives from 15-20 organizations together discuss the ways in which gender plays out at their worksites, explore best practices in cultivating and supporting equity, and develop immediate and long-term strategies to advance their own equity goals.

We are actively recruiting a brand new Central VT cohort scheduled to begin in Fall 2018.
If you’re interested, contact Alex MacLean at alex@leoninepublicaffairs.com and Liz Sortino at liz.sortino@gmail.com.
Want to bring BPE to your area?

Change The Story is interested in identifying and supporting organizations around Vermont to start up their own cohorts. Contact Jessica Nordhaus at jnordhaus@changethestoryvt.org.

About Business Peer Exchange:

The BPE is for professionals who want to learn more about gender equity, understand how their organization can benefit from a diverse talent pool, and exchange ideas with peers.

As a result, our BPE members have:

• added diversity to corporate strategic planning goals

• increased awareness of gender throughout their companies (a sign of progress: a male production manager asking specifically for female applicants to be recommended)

• taken more time to speak to women in leadership about their experiences

• seen an increase in diversity of applicants due to new recruitment practices

• provided ‘unconscious bias’ training for all staff and ‘bias in interviewing’ training for HR staff

 “We have loved being part of Change the Story’s Business Peer Exchange and it has really helped us move forward equity conversations and policies organizationally. We have a newly formed Equity Committee that is planning multiple staff trainings around sexual harassment, implicit bias and racism for 2018. We’re also working on the language in our job descriptions and hiring processes, doing a wage and benefit assessment for all employees, working on engaging our board in these discussions, and lots more. We have a staff lunch planned for the Change The Story Conversation Cards toolkit and I’m excited to try it out! We had a goal of getting all of our managers to at least one BPE and I think we’re pretty close to achieving that goal.

   – Chelsea Frisbee. 2/15/18

What’s the commitment?
  • be willing to share your experience, knowledge and any tools you’ve used in your company in recruiting, training, and advancing women in your workplace
  • be open to experimenting with new practices and share your experiences with us
  • be an ambassador for gender equality
What do we talk about?

Topics have included:

  • Senior leadership – the how and why: CEOs making gender equity a top priority
  • Making the gender equity conversation accessible to men
  • Building your affirmative recruitment strategy
  • Gendered language and job descriptions
  • Designing your gender equality plan
  • Gender wage gap and compensation
  • The role of unconcious bias within your organization
  • Retention and promotion – recognizing and keeping talent
  • Connecting with women at all stages of their careers – internships and returnships
What’s included in participation?

Business Peer Exchange commitment and benefits:

  • Monthly 2-hour cohort meetings—for you and a colleague or two;
  • 2 larger networking events for you, your Senior Leadership team and colleagues;
  • 90 minutes of on-site consulting (tailored to meet your organization’s needs) – offered in Chittenden County only

Download the BPE Description PDF

About Chittenden County BPE:

This year we have the following organization’s participating:

  • Vermont Energy Investment Corp.
  • Logic Supply
  • SunCommon
  • City of Burlington
  • PC Construction
  • Tetra Tech
  • Dealer.com
  • Seventh Generation
  • Rhino Foods
  • Permanent Fund for VT’s Children
  • Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer, PC
  • Vermont Gas Systems
  • Vermont National Guard
  • Champlain College
  • Paul Frank + Collins
  • Burlington Electric Dept.
Have you ever taken any of Harvard’s Implicit Bias tests? We recommend Gender-Career, Gender-Leadership, and Gender-Science. [Take them here!]
Interested in learning more? Contact us!

Jessica Nordhaus at jnordhaus@changethestoryvt.org

Lindsey Lathrop-Ryan at llathrop@changethestoryvt.org

Business Participants in Chittenden County Cohort (Current and Past)