One hundred years ago, Montana became a national leader when the 1919 legislature passed our state’s equal pay law. Since then, women have increasingly become the primary breadwinners for their families. But here in Montana, women still earn less than their male coworkers.
I believe ALL Montanans deserve equal pay for equal work. That’s why, early into my administration, I created the Equal Pay for Equal Work Montana Task Force to take this challenge head-on.
Since Day One, Montana working families have been my top priority. Equal pay supports our businesses, economy, and most importantly – working families. We need to make sure our economy works for everyone and all Montanans have the same opportunities to prosper.
Equal pay is not just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. Research shows that employees work harder when there’s paycheck transparency and businesses gain a competitive advantage in the hiring market by ensuring pay equity. We also know that good family leave policies reduce costly turnover and improve productivity.
Pay equity is incredibly important to me and my family, and to Montana’s hardworking families. When the Equal Pay for Equal Work Montana Task Force began its work in 2013, Montana women earned 68.4 percent of the median earnings of their male coworkers. Today, that gap has narrowed to 73.2 percent. The task force has taken steps to narrow the gender wage gap through wage negotiation trainings, business outreach, and championing policies that can lead to shrinking the pay gap.
I’m proud of that work and the progress we’ve made, but it’s clear the fight to close the gender pay gap is not over.
Equal pay for equal work is about putting more money in the pockets of Montana families. When female breadwinners are on a level playing field, that money is dispersed throughout the entire Montana economy – creating better jobs and more economic opportunity. Especially in an uncertain economic climate, Montanans can’t afford anything less than a fair wage for a hard day’s work.