Three Massachusetts Companies Pledge to Advance Equal Pay

Staples, BCG, and were among 28 companies signing the White House's pledge.

Staples storefront / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Staples storefront / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Twenty-eight private-sector businesses, including three based in Massachusetts, signed a White House pledge to advance equal pay in their own workplace with a goal of setting the tone for other companies to follow suit.

“We have significantly improved the lives of women and girls not just [in the United States], but around the world. And I could not be prouder of what we’ve accomplished,” President Obama said Tuesday during a speech at the White House’s United State of Women Summit.

Staples, Boston Consulting Group, and, all headquartered in Massachusetts, are among the businesses pledging to conduct annual company-wide gender pay analyses, review their hiring and promotion processes, and implement equal pay efforts.

The effort is in conjunction with the first-ever United State of Women Summit, which took place Tuesday. The summit highlighted gains women have made in pay equity both under the Obama administration and worldwide, but also discussed the challenges and solutions that remain ahead. Speakers at the conference included President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Oprah Winfrey.

The summit’s goal was to build a roadmap for policymakers, advocates, and companies to expand opportunities for women. It started with the new White House Equal Pay Pledge being signed the night before. The pledge is an initiative created by the White House that highlights the role businesses play in reducing the gender pay gap.

“This is the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. And the great news is, we’re not the only ones doing it. You’ve got cities and states and businesses across the country that are adjusting to meet the needs of today’s workers,” President Obama said in his comments during the event.

According to the White House, even after the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the typical woman working full-time all year in the U.S. earns 79 percent of what a typical man working full-time all year earns. The Council of Economic Advisors also notes that while the gap closed by 17 percentage points between 1981 and 2001, modest progress has been made since. The gap closed by only 1.8 percentage points from 2012 to 2013 and an additional point between 2013 and 2014.

The 28 private-sector companies that signed the pledge include both startups such as Spotify and Airbnb, and longstanding companies such as PepsiCo and Johnson & Johnson. Other companies are invited to join in the coming months.

Fifty million dollars has also been committed by the Obama administration, private-sector companies, and foundations to extend opportunities for women and girls through a number of new initiatives. Tuesday the Department of Education and Harvard Law School announced the development of a new toolkit that will better prepare community college students for starting a career and negotiating a salary. The Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Family Entertainment will also announce an initiative called “#SeeHer” to motivate advertisers and the media to display diverse women and girls authentically. These initiatives include more than $54 million granted by the Department to Labor to give working parents with childcare responsibilities the opportunity to train for higher-paying jobs.

In addition, the Department of Labor announced plans to update its sex discrimination guidelines for the first time since the 1970s, to address sex-based barriers to equal opportunity and pay in the workplace.

“That is progress. It’s real and we have to celebrate it, but we also have to remember that progress is not inevitable. It’s the result of decades of slow, tireless, often frustrating and unheralded work,” said Obama.