We are encouraged by Alabama legislators’ recent passage of House Joint Resolution 115, which will establish the Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force to identify evidence-based policies to assist lawmakers in implementing laws to close the gender wage gap in Alabama. We were proud to follow the lead of our partners at the Women’s Foundation of Alabama in supporting this important legislation.
In 2019, Alabama passed the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act, making it the 49th state to pass their own equal pay law. The Act–which prohibits pay discrimination based on sex or race for jobs that require “equal skill, effort, education, experience, and responsibility, and performance under similar working conditions”–was a great step towards pay equity in Alabama, but more work is still to be done. In 2021, Alabama ranked 47th in the nation for gender pay equity, with women in Alabama making on average $0.74 for every $1 a man made. Pay disparities are even starker amongst women of color, as Latina women lose an additional $14,889 and Black women an additional $18,957 a year when compared to white women.
When examining how to close the gender and racial pay gap, we must consider the difficult choices that too many women have to make between caring for themselves and their loved ones and protecting their family’s economic security, especially in light of the nationwide trend of mothers taking on the role of sole, primary, or co-breadwinners in their families. In Alabama alone, this is the reality for nearly ⅔ of working mothers, who are a vital source of financial security for their families.
Pay equity is much more complex than just the discrepancy in earnings between a man and a woman doing the same job, and Alabama’s Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force presents an important opportunity for legislators to investigate the root causes of the gender pay gap, as well as identify additional policy-based solutions to close the gap. These policies could include reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and lactation, paid sick time, paid family & medical leave, fair and flexible scheduling and child care support. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further highlighted the urgent need for enacting supportive workplace policies like these.
As the task force develops, we are excited to follow the lead of our partners, especially the Women’s Foundation of Alabama, whose work was critical for the passage of HJR 115. We look forward to lending our expertise to the members of the task force as they work to improve gender and racial pay equity in Alabama
Click here to read A Better Balance’s full letter in support of the Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force.