Women are contributing to the economy at record rates, and that is especially true in Minnesota. In 2018, the labor force participation rate for Minnesota women was 66.3 percent, which is nearly 10 percent higher than the national average. Minnesota is also making great strides toward reducing the gender wage gap. Nationally, women are paid about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. A 2017 study by WalletHub found Minnesota women earn 84 cents for every male dollar.
While we may be ahead of the curve, we are still a long way from wage parity for women and men, especially for women of color, where we see wage gaps still as low as 49 cents to a white man’s dollar.
April 2 is Equal Pay Day, the date that marks how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned the year before. Equal pay for equal work is an essential initiative in which companies across our state must invest to ensure all women can contribute to our communities and businesses in impactful ways.
Equality cannot be achieved overnight but to continue taking steps toward equal pay, companies can improve diversity and combat the wage gap by implementing diverse hiring practices; offering benefits that support work-life balance such as flexible hours and paid maternity or family leave; providing employees with affordable health care; and prioritizing equal representation for women in the board room and other leadership positions.
This isn’t about parity for parity’s sake. Having women in leadership roles and ensuring diversity in the workforce ultimately benefits our economy, increases company returns, and improves average wages for all workers. If we continue to undervalue women we may miss out on the real impact they can have on our businesses and communities.
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