Six years ago, the City of Boston launched an ambitious plan to become the first place in the country to eliminate the gender wage gap.It’s still in process — based on payroll data submitted by local companies, women are getting paid just 76 cents for every dollar men make, similar to the nationwide gap. The numbers don’t take into account differences in occupation, education, and experience between men and women, which can shrink or expand the gap; factors such as race skew it even more.
But employers are starting to chip away at the causes of this disparity. More than 250 employers have signed on to Boston’s 100% Talent Compact — a pledge to eliminate the gender gaps in pay and representation. The Boston Women’s Workforce Council, a partnership of the mayor’s office and the Greater Boston business community, put out a call to those companies to submit their innovative efforts for recognition. Dozens of companies applied, and four were chosen for implementing initiatives that have made measurable improvements for female employees, which could be replicated by other companies.
HubSpot, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, PharmaLogics Recruiting, and Boston Children’s Hospital were honored in June by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Women’s Workforce Council.
An initiative by HubSpot, a Cambridge marketing software company, debunks the notion that there isn’t enough diverse talent in tech. The company’s “Women Who Lead” series of tech industry events focused on closing the leadership gap for women of color, helping to connect them with mentors and a network.
Vertex has worked aggressively over the past four years to increase the number of women in its top leadership positions. The Boston-based company announced in July that its chief medical officer, Reshma Kewalramani, would take over as president and chief executive next year, making her the first female CEO at a major US biotech company. Four other women hold C-suite positions, compared with zero in 2015 when Vertex began keeping track of this data. At that time, only 29 percent of company leaders in the role of vice president or above were women; now it’s about 40 percent.
PharmaLogics Recruiting in Quincy, which fills jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, managed to close its gender pay gap by instituting pay transparency — meaning that every employee knows what everyone else is earning at every level. Founder and chief executive Megan Driscoll told the city of Boston that the company now boasts pay parity at every level.
And leaders at Boston Children’s Hospital launched the Inside Track, a program aimed at retaining employees by making the path to advancement clearer. The city recognized the program for the impact it had on decreasing the time between promotions for women.
Initiatives like these don’t just help women employed at these companies, says Tania Del Rio, executive director for the mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement. It can make the employer a more desirable place to work overall. “A lot of job seekers, especially in the younger generation, are looking at the culture of the companies they’re looking into,” she says. “Women want to know if they can advance and be heard.”
Katheleen Conti is a freelance writer and a former Globe staffer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.