N.B. company promises wages for employees who run in 2018 election
Innovatia hopes to promote gender parity with promise of two months' pay for employees nominated as candidates
A Saint John company is hoping to encourage more of its female employees to get involved in politics by promising to continue to pay their salaries if they run in the next provincial election.
Innovatia CEOs Dave Grebenc and Roxanne Fairweather said they'll offer employees two months of full wages and benefits if they're nominated by any party as a candidate during the 2018 campaign.
The idea is to get more women involved in politics, though Grebenc said the offer is open to all of Innovatia's employees.
If they don't win, they'll get their job back, he said.
"I think it's to a broader point of equality," he said. "And we are just trying to do our part to drive it."
Move toward gender parity
Grebenc said he learned the benefits of equality early on, growing up in a family with three boys and girls.
He said Fairweather co-chairs the "Women for 50%" group, a grassroots movement that wants to bring gender parity to the floor of the New Brunswick Legislature by demystifying the political process and mentoring potential female candidates ahead of the 2018 provincial election.
Grebenc added that it doesn't matter what party an employee runs for.
"We fully expect that our employees are going to have different perspectives," he said. "But that's all part of the political process and we are here to support that."
We fully expect that our employees are going to have different perspectives. But that's all part of the political process and we are here to support that.- Dave Grebenc, Innovatia co-CEO
Innovatia launched the program this week and Grebenc said nobody has signed up so far. But they had an employee running in a previous election, he said.
The company now wants other businesses to follow their lead, and also see more political parties push for a greater representation of women in politics, he said.
"I think this is a first step," he said. "As we engage with people that maybe take advantage of this, there is maybe more they can do."
No financial loss
Grebenc added that he doesn't expect the program will cost the company a lot more, as they also pay for employee's sick and maternity leaves.
Neither he or Fairweather want to run for politics, though. They'd rather continue to contribute to the province's success through their business, he said.
"I believe fully that what I do in my spare time, same thing with Roxanne, and just the whole process of creating employment is critical for what we can do for our province," he said.
"But I think we as society need to drive this issue."
With files from Harry Forestell