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2016 Be The Change Award

Be the Change Award

Recognizing Those Who Move the Dial for Women in the Workplace

In 2015, the Massachusetts Conference for Women board announced a new direction for our annual Be the Change award.

Board President Gloria Larson described it this way: “Several years ago we created the Be the Change award to recognize a woman who personifies compassion for her community and commitment to improving the everyday lives of those around her. As we start our second decade with an emphasis on moving the dial for women in the workplace, we are also making a shift in the Be the Change award.

Going forward, we will recognize a member of our community—whether an individual or organization—who is doing something substantial to advance the position of women in the workplace. That may be creating conditions for pay equity, for greater flextime or paid leave, or for increasing the number of women in leadership positions. It may mean confronting unconscious bias or any of the other obstacles that prevent women from reaching their full potential.

At the 2016 Conference, we will present our Be the Change award to a woman, man or organization whose work best exemplifies our purpose.

Our Workplace Summit is one way we’re advancing this mission, but we’re also seeking out champions of real change happening in offices throughout Massachusetts.

Meet the 2016 Winners:

Members of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition accept the 2016 Be the Change award

The Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition, which was founded in December 2014 by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women (Mass NOW), the Women’s Bar Association (WBA) and the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, with the mission of passing the Massachusetts Equal Pay Bill (known formally as An Act to Establish Pay Equity). The bill unanimously passed both the Senate and the House and was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on August 1, 2016. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

The Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition’s job is to engage, educate, learn, collaborate, correct misinformation, and demonstrate how the passage of the bill to law would benefit the people, businesses, and politicians of Massachusetts. The signing of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Law means employees of Massachusetts no longer need to keep their current pay private for fear of retribution from their employer. Job candidates will no longer be questioned about their current or previous pay prior to an employer making a job offer based on previous salary. This one practice perpetuates and compounds the wage gap as employers base job offers on previous gaps. Research from AAUW shows women experience a pay gap in their first jobs with 6% of it not attributed to any legitimate reasons such as education and experience.

This law gives employers incentives, not requirements, to conduct a pay audit to discover gender pay gaps. The internal audit has the power to uncover pay discrepancies, which were previously unknown to employers. 

To achieve this unprecedented policy, the Coalition drafted a bill that balanced the needs of women employees and employers, included clauses regarding legal process and hiring process, and combined well-established as well as groundbreaking legal solutions. This was a calculated move to address the approximate 18% pay gap women in Massachusetts and their families have been experiencing for more than a decade. The impact is even greater for women of color and their families, who experience a 34% pay gap.

The combination of these provisions and other elements of the law should narrow the gender pay gap and potentially close it for the women of Massachusetts and their families. The Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition started the effort, was engaged with every actor in this process, and will stay involved to help educate and prepare the employers and employees of Massachusetts for the changes this law will bring.

Stay tuned for news about nominating a worthy person or organization in 2017! The best way to stay informed is to sign up for our monthly newsletter.