Recognizing Progress Made and Action Still Needed on Equal Pay Day

April 6, 2017

Elected in 2014, Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg is focused on protecting taxpayer dollars, bringing new levels of transparency to state government and advancing policies that break down barriers and create economic empowerment through wage equality, financial literacy and college savings plans to name a few.

Treasurer Goldberg previously served for six years on the Brookline Board of Selectmen, including two as its Chair. Prior to that, she worked in retail operations, buying, and consumer affairs at The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc., a business her family grew from a small grocery store in the North End into a $1.2 billion New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) company.

Over her career, Treasurer Goldberg has led programs and advanced policies that have empowered women, children and families. She is the President of Adoptions with Love and serves on the Advisory Board of the Greater Boston Food Bank. She was one of the Founders of Berkshire Hills Music Academy, a school for individuals with intellectual disabilities, is a trustee emeritus at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a Director of Affiliated Physicians Group / Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare.

A graduate of Boston University, Boston College Law School and Harvard Business School, Treasurer Goldberg grew up in Brookline where she still lives with her husband Michael Winter and their son, Evan, and daughter, Meredith.

Halfway through my first term as Treasurer and Receiver General, I am proud of the work we have done to help lead on instituting wage equality and economic empowerment initiatives for women throughout our state.

Equal Pay Day on April 4 signifies how long women must work from the beginning of 2016 into 2017, just to catch up with what men earned last year. It is a bittersweet day where we gather at the State House Library to observe this injustice and plan future action to remedy it.  

Massachusetts women who work full-time make 83 cents for every dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic male. Asian women in Massachusetts make 80 cents; Native women, 63 cents, Afro-American women 61 cents and Latina women – just 50 cents. Mothers in Massachusetts only make 71 cents on the dollar compared to fathers. Regardless of educational attainment, women remain economically disadvantaged in the workplace. Massachusetts women with graduate degrees, for example, take home annual median earnings that amount to $30,000 less than their male counterparts. That number is especially disheartening, when our office is working hard to help more kids save money for college so they can attain skills that lead to equal economic opportunity.

From the day I was sworn in, we have taken significant steps to help more women earn the pay they deserve. I created the Office of Economic Empowerment because I understood the need for real solutions that break down barriers and create lasting economic stability for everyone.

After assembling a Financial Literacy Task Force, we have already implemented 14 of 22 of their recommendations. Many of our initiatives have already had meaningful impact. By the end of this spring, 20,000 kids will have attended our Credit for Life Fairs, which provide high school students with simulated scenarios dealing with spending, budgeting, saving for retirement, and more.

Our Women's Economic Empowerment Series has engaged about 185 women so far in Newton, Quincy, Worcester and Springfield, including one session we held translated into Mandarin. We are teaching skills such as wage negotiation, money management, retirement and investment strategies to women of all ages, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and levels of financial knowledge.

This summer, we will welcome our second group of Women in Finance Fellows. Last year, seven women participated in rigorous research projects, had programs at different financial institutions such as State Street and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and benefited from mentorship from women throughout Treasury.

Our website, EqualPayMA.com, has also served to expand our reach. With its wage gap calculator and online function that enables women to send an anonymous letter to their employer about their own wage gap, we have reached women all over the country. A critical tool on the site outreaches to businesses. We answer questions about why the wage gap matters to them. They can access a downloadable toolkit to help them address the wage gap within their own companies, helping them become more successful and profitable, too. 

I am hopeful that these resources, plus Massachusetts’ bipartisan equal pay law, which passed in 2016, will help us finally solve this problem in our state.  Only when all residents start with the same economic opportunity will they have the same pathway to prosperity.

There is much more we can do to accomplish our goals, and much more I hope to achieve in the years ahead as Treasurer. I look forward to building on our initiatives and programs within the Office of Economic Empowerment and throughout Treasury and will report back with more progress very soon.