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Women need to understand what they’re worth

BY Deborah B. Goldberg

10/30/2017
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.

When women are paid what they are worth and have equal opportunities to advance, it strengthens families, grows businesses and boosts our economy.

With that in mind, our first-in-the-nation Office of Economic Empowerment offers a Women's Economic Empowerment Series to promote financial stability and security for women at home and at work.

Women in Central and Western Massachusetts are invited to attend our free sessions coming up in Worcester (Nov. 2 and 9) and Greater Springfield (Nov. 8 and 15).

Wage negotiation, money management, retirement and investment strategies are just a few skills hundreds of women have learned. Attendees span all ages, ethnicities, economic backgrounds and levels of fiscal knowledge.

It's critical more women take advantage of these trainings, because the numbers speak for themselves:

Overall, women in Massachusetts make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes, and for women of color it's worse. Asian women make 80 cents, black women make 61 cents, and Latina women make just 50 cents.

Compounding the problem is women take more time to fulfill family obligations, and have fewer opportunities to excel within their companies.

The consequences are serious and last a lifetime. Women take longer to pay back student loans, and they save less for retirement than men do. This hurts families in the long run, and it is bad for businesses, too.

Pew, State Street, and McKinsey research shows when a company pays women what they are worth, the firm is more stable, creative and profitable.

At the State Treasury, we have chosen to lead by example. We looked internally at job classifications to make sure we don't have pink or blue jobs, and an independent auditor examined our positions, finding we don't have a wage gap. A healthy work/life balance is just as important, so we instituted 12-week paid parental leave and flex time.

As chair of the board overseeing Massachusetts' $68-billion pension fund, I am proud we only vote for boards with at least 30 percent women and people of color, and we have asked companies to conduct their own wage audits.

Our approach is multifaceted to make sure women have the support to empower themselves. The upcoming series is one part of the solution, but we offer additional resources online for those who cannot join us in person.

EqualPayMA.com is our interactive website featuring a wage gap calculator, business toolkit, and anonymous email function so employees can push their company to act.

MyFinancialLifeMA.org provides engaging content for people facing tough money management decisions at every life stage, whether they are students, young families, women, married couples, seniors or veterans.

These issues are not just about women; they are about families and the health and well-being of our entire state.

We look forward to meeting more women in Worcester and Springfield next month who are eager to access the economic opportunities they deserve.

Deborah B. Goldberg is the Massachusetts state treasurer and receiver general.