About Equal Pay

Equal pay for equal work continues to be out of reach for people across Massachusetts because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, and/or disability. There are several wage gaps seen today across demographics and in order to follow our Office of Economic Empowerment’s mission of empowering women, we have created this digital resource to focus specifically on raising awareness and working towards narrowing the gender wage gap.  

Read below to equip yourself with critical information about the gender wage gap, the recent Equal Pay legislation passed in Massachusetts, and why equal pay is good for businesses and employers as well as employees. 

About the Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap is a serious economic issue that affects men, women, and families in our state. 

It exists because women on average are paid less than men for doing the same job. 

The data shows that women in Massachusetts earn just 83 cents on the dollar compared to men. This ratio can be even worse for many women of color:  85 cents for Asian women, 62 cents for Native women, 58 cents for Black women, and 50 cents for Latina women. See source

Even though it is against the law to discriminate against women in pay and benefits, discrimination does still happen and there are many other reasons why the wage gap still exists. 

Many wages and salaries are not publicly shared. Most employers don’t know how to identify and correct the gaps in their payrolls, and jobs have not evolved to be flexible for women and families in the 21st century. The underrepresentation of women in many industries and leadership positions, and the lack of public awareness about the wage gap could also be a major contributing factor. 

What is clear is pay inequity is a serious problem that not only impacts women. It also hurts men and families. Because when women earn less, it affects our economy and communities. 


Equal Pay Law

​​​​August 2016 marked the signing of historic equal pay legislation, giving Massachusetts one of the most expansive pay equity laws in the country. Beginning in July 2018, employers in Massachusetts are no longer allowed to ask employees about salary history, the first ban of its kind in the United States. The new law simultaneously promotes salary transparency, incentivizes internal audits for wage gaps, and requires equal pay for comparable work. The legislation passed in Massachusetts, which had been in the pipeline for almost 20 years, and has become a model nationwide. 

For questions or concerns about enforcement and protections under the law, please contact the Attorney General's Office at (617) 727-2200 or view the AGO's website to learn about employer responsibilities and your rights under this law.


Equal Pay is Good for Your Business

If you are an employer, paying women and men equally for performing the same job will greatly benefit your organization by: 

  • Attracting and retaining talented and diverse employees.
    • Make your hiring team diverse in gender, race and more
  • Reducing employee turnover and improving the efficiency of your organization by retaining staff with knowledge and expertise.
    • Establish systems to maintain equal pay: Make all of your pay information transparent and revise any policies you may have that prohibit your employees from discussing their pay.
  • Making your employees feel valued, and therefore improving their morale and performance.
    • Perform an internal equal pay audit and correct discrepancies: Conduct an assessment on which employees are receiving salary adjustments, bonuses, and reasons for the raises.
  • Encouraging a gender-neutral workplace culture.
    • Provide paid family leave and more
  • Becoming a highly visible leader for women and families.
    • Create a mentorship program and executive leadership training for female employees and more
  • Improving your overall performance and profitability thanks to a happy and productive workforce.
    • Encourage flexible work policies and avoid a culture of overworking

If you haven’t completed an internal equal pay audit in your organization, as an employer, you can’t know if men and women are being paid equally. Use our Employer Toolkit, which contains easy and innovative solutions, to help you close the gender wage gap. 

If you have already completed an audit, the Employer Toolkit offers additional strategies and best practices that will further promote equal pay in your workplace.