Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joined 100 local businesses Monday in his pledge to close the gender wage gap in the City of Boston, according to a Sunday press release.
The release stated that the commitment is part of a pledge called the 100% Talent Compact, created by the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. The council, co-chaired by Evelyn Murphy and Cathy Minehan, seeks to combat the gender wage gap, according to its website.
Megan Costello, executive director of the Office of Women’s Advancement, said Walsh believes employers and residents should be a part of the solution as much as the city will be.
“The mayor had decided to take a multi-pronged approach to closing the wage gap with the understanding that employers, individuals and legislation is necessary to solve this problem,” Costello said. “We need everybody who has a unique perspective to be at this table.”
Costello also discussed Massachusetts legislation to close the gender wage gap.
“The equal pay legislation that is before the Massachusetts House right now is similar to what California passed,” Costello said. “It really talks about the need for pay transparency and giving salary ranges for when job postings happen so that people know what they should be asking for or what the company is offering.”
Murphy, a member of The Boston Club and co-chair of the council, said they hope to prove how employers making a commitment can affect the gender wage gap as a whole.
“We want to show that if you pay attention and if you deal with the unconscious bias and the cultural biases in your company to eliminate the wage gap, you will have a measurable difference in Boston,” Murphy said.
Suzanna Walters, director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, said she appreciates the city beginning to tackle the issue, but believes the problem is more complicated than the city is letting on.
“Yes, this is a good first start,” Walters said. “But sexism and bias run deep in our society, and it will take more than this to close the gender wage gap. For example, pay disparities are often a secondary result of a profession or field being feminized or masculinized. In other words, professions get gendered and that gendering produces and reproduces the pay disparity.”
Costello also acknowledged that some businesses need more help closing the gender wage gap.
“We’re also going to work with them on an individual basis to understand what interventions they need to apply depending on where their wage gaps exist, because the wage gap exists for a variety of reasons,” Costello said. “It’s not just a one-size-fits-all solution. You really need to understand where the gaps are, both in the sense of dollars and cents, but also in the sense of where there are fewer women than there should be in leadership positions.”
Murphy clarified that the goal of the initiatives is to see gradual improvements.
“We believe that that measurable difference can happen in, say, the next five years,” Murphy said. “So that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Several Boston residents said they believe the city was long overdue on the issue.
Christopher Gelormini, 35, of Jamaica Plain, said he couldn’t believe women aren’t already paid being paid equal wages.
“I think it’s kind of crazy that it’s still even an issue,” he said. “If a woman can do the same job as a man, the pay should be the same. I know, obviously, over history, women were in much lesser roles, but I think at this stage in the game, it would be odd not to have equal pay.”
Carlos Velazquez, 31, of Roslindale, was particularly interested in all workers being allowed to discuss their salaries.
“Of course, I agree with workers inside their jobs having a right to talk about what they’re earning every single month,” he said. “And of course, women and men have the same rights and need to get the same value. If they are in the same position, of course, it doesn’t matter if it’s guys or ladies. They need to earn the same salary for the same position.”
Karen Slattery, 64, of the South End, said she believes more information should be released about what the city is doing to close the gender wage gap.
“It depends on the business,” she said. “I can’t be specific because I need to know what industry we’re talking about … Most of it was fair when I worked in civil service. Wages do need to go up for everyone, but it’s unclear how this could happen.”