More Boston businesses join drive to end gender wage gap
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is scheduled to announce Monday that he has doubled the number of businesses that have agreed to share payroll data as part of a unique initiative to tackle the gender wage gap in Boston.
The announcement will mark the culmination of two years of work to develop a secure, anonymous data-collection system that companies would be comfortable using.
About 110 Boston employers have signed on to the city’s 100% Talent Compact and agreed to supply information on wages, broken down by sex, race, job category, and length of employment.
The data, which are being gathered by the city’s Women’s Workforce Council, will be used to provide an accurate measurement of the wage gap and, later, to steer solutions.
In Boston, white women make 83 cents for every dollar that men make, according to the city. The gap is worse for women of color. Nationwide, women make 78 cents per dollar a man makes.
The companies in the Boston initiative, from academia, biotech, technology, consulting, and finance, also agreed to share ideas at what will become an annual conference. The first one will take place this fall.
The wage gap has taken the spotlight nationally, as a major issue in the presidential race.
Boston’s initiative, the first of its kind in the country, was started in 2013 by then-mayor Thomas M. Menino with 38 companies. Under Walsh, the number increased to 50 last year and exceeded 100 after a recruitment blitz over the past two months, said Megan Costello, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement.
“The idea is that this impacts culture,” Costello said. “The more businesses are talking about this, the more individual women are talking about this, the stronger we’re going to be.”
Using encryption developed by a Boston University computer science professor, Azer Bestavros, companies will be able to anonymously enter data from into a cloud-type system.
Evelyn Murphy, cochair of the Women’s Workforce Council, said the metrics will provide a window into the wage gap that will then be provided to employers in hopes they will implement solutions.
“This will enable the city and its workforce to see that and sustain a situation where the wage gap is eliminated or reduced dramatically,” said Murphy, who served as the state’s first female lieutenant governor. “This is something that in the next five years is going to have a measurable impact on the gender wage gap that no other city in the nation will have.”
Walsh’s initiative includes partnerships with community organizations, offering workshops to train women on how to advocate for themselves and negotiate salaries. The goal is to train 85,000 over five years, Costello said.
“This is us taking public policy and influencing culture,” Costello said.