UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley, CWPPP Director Ann Bookman Among Panelists
State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, the Massachusetts Office of Economic Empowerment, and the Advisory Committee on Wage Equality hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at UMass Boston designed to get input from thought leaders and the business community on best practices to close the wage gap.
UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley, who is on the advisory committee, served as a panelist alongside Ann Bookman, director of UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy (CWPPP); Cathy Minehan, dean of Simmons College’s School of Management; Jim Rooney, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; Evelyn Murphy, former lieutenant governor and founder of the WAGE Project, Inc.; and Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center.
“The data is clear,” Goldberg said in her opening remarks. “This isn't a social movement, per se. This is the way in which to create economic stability and build long-term economic growth.”
Using data from the 2013 American Community Survey, this year the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy looked at the income of women in lower paying positions and found that Hispanic women who serve as housekeepers and cleaners make 54 cents on the dollar compared to what male janitors make.
“We need to analyze how our economy is organized. Almost two-thirds of workers who make the minimum wage are women,” Bookman said. “We like to think discrimination in the workplace doesn't exist anymore, but it does. When men and women of equal qualifications apply for the same job, men are hired more often than women. One study found women who are mothers were seen as less committed to their jobs, whereas fathers were recommended for higher salaries.”
Motley said that from a business perspective, paying employees equally just makes sense, as doing so produces a more motivated and productive workforce.
“Women who choose to stay with a company longer because they’re being paid fairly become better trained, and will contribute more in return, which benefits their company,” Motley said.
“We also know female workers who work low-wage jobs are oftentimes the breadwinners for their families. If those women cannot make ends meet—despite the fact that they are holding down the same jobs as men—their children and their families suffer," he said. "And when those families need assistance because the head of the household is not bringing home the paycheck she deserves, we all pay, including the employers who are short-changing their employees.”
Murphy and Rooney suggested businesses do payroll audits. Goldberg says that’s what she is doing in the treasurer’s office, which employs 800 people.
“I can’t tell you how critical it is in government to keep talent. We need to do very good things that provide excellent career tracks for talent, both for men and women who can support their families moving forward,” Goldberg said.
This was the fourth of five Advisory Committee on Wage Equality roundtables. The committee, which Goldberg created in March, will use the feedback obtained during these roundtables to develop a wage equality toolkit for businesses and organizations that want to enact equal pay. The feedback will also be the centerpiece of a statewide conference in April 2016 designed to strategize and develop best practices. The committee is also tasked with launching a state-run equal pay website.
The Massachusetts Office of Economic Empowerment is a department within the Massachusetts State Treasury tasked with supporting, advocating, and facilitating policies that empower all Massachusetts residents. In addition to closing the wage gap, its priorities are increasing access to financial education, improving college affordability, and investing in students studying STEM.
About UMass Boston
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