Metro

Taveras unveils plan to close gender wage gap

If elected governor, Taveras will attempt to resolve wage disparity with state regulation

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mayor Angel Taveras unveiled a three-pronged proposal last week to close the gender wage gap as part of his gubernatorial campaign. The plan includes stricter penalties for businesses that violate pay equity laws and state workers’ pay equity audits and features a continued effort to appoint women to at least half the openings on state boards and commissions, according to a press release from the Taveras campaign.

In Rhode Island, women working full time earn a median weekly wage of $746, whereas men working full time earn a median weekly wage of $917, according to the release. The current Rhode Island wage discrimination statute is more than 50 years old, Taveras said in his proposal, adding that “businesses found guilty of violating Rhode Island’s pay equity laws shall be responsible for … up to 300 percent of the total amount of unpaid wages.”

“We believe that if you want to be able to recruit the best women … and retain the best workforce,” said Danny Kedem, Taveras’ gubernatorial campaign manager, “making sure that there are no loopholes … is a very relevant economic tool.”

“This proposal isn’t in a vacuum,” Kedem added, pointing to other proposals Taveras has made — including plans for minimum wage increases and universal pre-kindergarten.

Taveras discussed support for Providence’s women- and minority-business enterprise program — which aims to increase the number of government contracts available for women- and minority-owned companies — in a roundtable discussion last month with female business owners at the Center for Women and Enterprise, according to a press release from Taveras’ office.

As mayor, Taveras has appointed 74 women to the 141 openings on public boards or commissions and has directed the Human Resources Department to conduct a city-wide wage audit.

Taveras was partly motivated to introduce the proposal given his background as the son of a single working mother and as the father of a daughter, Kedem said.

The city started the audit just before Taveras’ proposal was announced, Kedem said. It was really to show that “a cost-contained audit is possible,” he said.

“The power to change this on a broad scope lies with the state government, not with the mayor” because litigation occurs at the state level, Kedem added. If elected governor, Taveras would introduce his proposal to the General Assembly, he said.

As part of her gubernatorial campaign, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo has said she “intends to create a special certification for companies that do business with the state,” wrote Eric Hyers, Raimondo’s campaign manager, in an email to The Herald. “In order to procure a government contract, businesses must demonstrate that they comply with equal pay for equal work practices.”

Raimondo “will establish an anonymous tip hotline to report workplace incidents of gender discrimination, harassment or unequal pay practices,” Hyers wrote.

Taveras’ plan is unique, said Claudia Williams, a research analyst at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “It’s not a topic that a lot of politicians put their interests behind,” she said. In 2009, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson issued an executive order to establish a task force to develop recommendations for addressing pay equity within the state and in companies that contract with the state.

“Companies wishing to contract with the state of New Mexico have to provide basic pay equity reports” under the new standards, according to an IWPR fact sheet. The New Mexico initiative is an example of how pay equity incentives can be created outside of the state legislature, according to the fact sheet.

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  • MaleMatters

    Re: “Mayor Angel Taveras unveiled a three-pronged proposal last week to close the gender wage gap as part of his gubernatorial campaign. The plan includes stricter penalties for businesses that violate pay equity laws and state workers’ pay equity audits and features a continued effort to appoint women….”

    Taveras will do nothing but cost taxpayers money. Here’s why:

    Many if not most of women’s advocates may think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who’d move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here’s one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm

    A thousand laws won’t close that gap.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes they pave the way to a worse condition)…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages

    -refuse overtime and promotions

    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The most popular job for American women as of 2010 is still secretary/administrative assistant, which has been a top ten job for women for the last 50 years. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html)

    -take more unpaid days off

    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)

    -work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time more often than their male counterparts (as in the above example regarding physicians)

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    “The more alarming wage gap might be the one between mothers and childless women: One recent paper (http://www.npr.org/2012/02/07/146522483/the-wage-gap-between-moms-other-working-women) found that women with kids make roughly 7 to 14 percent less than women without them.” So why do organized feminists and the liberal media focus only on — and criticize — the wage gap between men and women? http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/the-mommy-track-myth/283557/

    More in “Does the Ledbetter Act Help Women?” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/