No apologies for compensation


To the Editor:

A recent opinion editorial by longtime wind and solar opponent Annette Smith attempts to connect my salary—using incorrect data—to the need for greater sound monitoring of wind projects. Seriously. Sadly, Smith tries to shame me personally in an effort to increase support for her cause.

As a woman chief executive, I will not apologize for what I earn.

At Green Mountain Power, we employ over 550 Vermonters and serve about 75 percent of the state with cost-effective, highly reliable, and low-carbon energy. We are transforming how Vermonters will power their homes with leading technology and new products, while driving costs lower year after year. There has never been a more exciting time in the energy industry.

Being part of Vermont's energy revolution is my dream job, but it has been a long and challenging career climb. Here in Vermont, there are very few big employers and even fewer women CEOs. In an industry long dominated by men, there have been no easy paths to the top job. My story is the story of every woman in business: work harder, work smarter, and never let the old boys' club grind you down.

My base compensation during the year of GMP's merger with CVPS was less than my male predecessors at both companies, both managing smaller organizations. And in neighboring New Hampshire, a much smaller utility than GMP, measured by both employees and size of service territory, has a male CEO who received more than double my 2014 salary.

According to the White House, women working fulltime jobs in America earn about 79 percent of what their male counterpart working fulltime earned. Put another way, women would have to work approximately 60 extra workdays—or three months—to earn the same income as a man.

This is not acceptable. No matter your title, women at all levels should receive compensation equal to their male colleagues doing the same job. We need equity and fair treatment in the workplace and it should start now.

As a woman leader, I've attended countless conferences and meetings to talk about gender equality and equal pay, and have learned the issues are incredibly complex. How do we help women overcome barriers to professional development, such as self-esteem and support for working mothers? How do we root out our inherent sexism?

We start by being more aware. When we see a colleague struggling to step up and realize their full potential, reach out. Offer to mentor, formally or informally, to encourage professional growth, and speak out against bias against women in the workplace the minute you see it. Do not accept decisions from managers that are premised in bias of any kind. And for women in particular, you must be forceful—or "aggressive" as we are often labeled—in your negotiations and never settle for less than what you are worth.

If Annette Smith would like to have a conversation with me about fair compensation for women, I'm happy to engage, but let's not pretend it has anything to do with sound monitoring for energy projects. Smith's attempt to shame me for the professional success I've achieved is a step backward in the fight for equality in the workplace. Women everywhere deserve better.

Mary Powell

President and CEO, Green Mountain Power

South Royalton


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