Bringing Equity to Your Workplace

April 7, 2022

By Alayna Van Tassel

Last year, we launched our 2021 EqualPayMA series with eight roundtables to examine specific themes present in our Commonwealth’s fight for equitable pay for women, and especially, for women of color. These themes highlighted the intersecting ways that inequity affected people based on their gender, race, and industry.

Our 2021 Findings Report examines some of the many powerful findings from our convenings. Through their own stories, our panelists shared their unique perspectives on the battle for equity in their demographics and industries. Through these experiences we heard thoughtful recommendations and best practices on how to create a more inclusive and empowering work environment. What I found particularly compelling were the powerful ways in which individuals can advocate for themselves and their peers. This call to action included tactical suggestions for employers to use their authority to bring equity under their leadership as well.

Equity in pay is crucial but not simple. In many ways employers can create a more equitable environment by ensuring there are approaches from the top down as well as from the inside out. Starting with an internal audit is a great place to take stock of where your company may be in terms of the market and comparable data. Is your C-suite reflective of your workforce? Is your workforce reflective of your client base? Who is advancing in your company? Are there programs to lift up and empower BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and women in your organization? There is always room to create more programs, initiatives, and policies that create a more inclusive environment such as remote flexibility for parents, free technology and hardware provided for all employees, and culturally competent holidays and norms.

The fight for equal pay is a multi-pronged journey; we must ignite our individual, collective, local, and state powers to take bold steps and make significant investments in women. In addition to implementing best practices at work or with your own business, being a powerful state and local advocate can effect real change. Our panelists applauded our roundtable audience members who work within their communities to advance equity by advocating for legislation and dedicate time to learning more about the issues at hand. For example, legislation like the Pay Equity Bill, The Pay Transparency Act, and Parity on Public Boards Act were brought into the discussion as potential steps forward in our cause.

I was honored to share my perspective on mothers’ challenges navigating a career and the fight for equal pay. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic this call for equity only grew louder and more necessary. Childcare centers closed at alarming rates this past year and left many families to make impossible choices about their careers. Mothers are leaving the workforce (or are being forced out by circumstances and lack of support) at much higher rates than fathers. Childcare workers who are still employed are facing extreme burnout being underpaid and overworked. These workers are also mostly women and women of color.

Throughout our 2021 series we heard from leaders in non-profit, government, and private industries. Although our speakers and audiences represented many identities and industries, their messages all had one common theme: the need to act is now.  We have heard the stories, we have read the statistics, and we have felt the effects of inequity for too long. Now is the time to act as leaders, as advocates, and as allies.

You can learn more by reading our 2021 EqualPayMA Findings Report, watching any of our eight 2021 EqualPayMA Roundtable recordings or our first 2022 EqualPayMA event recording.