The legislation is modeled after a law that took effect in the United Kingdom in 2017 requiring private sector employers with more than 250 workers to report data on the relative earnings of their male and female employees.
However, the Massachusetts bill would dig a bit deeper.
It would apply to all businesses and nonprofits with more than 100 full-time employees. It would require those employers to also provide a breakdown of the average salaries for white, Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, and Pacific Islander workers.
That doesn’t mean that every single employee at those companies would have their individual salaries published. Rather, it would require employers to report the number of employees and average salaries across those gender and racial groups.
It would also require companies to report the average salaries and the gender and racial makeup of their 10 highest-earning employees.
Then, each year, the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development would be required to publish an alphabetical list of all the covered employers and their wage data.
Samuel Gebru, the director of policy and public affairs for the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, said that by making the information public, the legislation would help hold employers’ “feet to the fire,” in addition to collecting measurable data. After the United Kingdom law took effect, media coverage focused on the companies with the worst disparities and the overall gender wage gap shrunk by a fifth, according to a recent report.
“It’s holding these employers accountable,” Gebru said. “And it’s hopefully going to force employers in Massachusetts, of all sectors, to think and approach these issues around promotions and wage within a more thoughtful and equity centered manner.”
Healey also pitched the move for more wage transparency as in businesses’ self interest, challenging GBCC members to “run the numbers” and “look at your own racial and gender wage gaps.”
“You know that equity and inclusion are critical for our region’s economic growth and competitiveness,” Healey said. “Studies show that employers with diverse leadership teams are more profitable, have lower turnover, and attract more qualified job applicants.”
Widely viewed at a potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2022, Healey declined to shed any light Wednesday on her future plans beyond her work as attorney general, but repeatedly stressed that she viewed the recovery from COVID-19 as a vehicle for creating a more inclusive economy — even if the pandemic disproportionately hit women and people of color.
“We’re at this critical moment,” she said. “Yes it’s challenging, but I also think it’s a real opportunity and an opportunity for Massachusetts to lead and to build back a more equitable economy.”