This is how a former CEO would fix the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act

DEDHAM, Mass. — When Megan Driscoll decided to raise the base salary at her Quincy-based PharmaLogics Recruiting in 2016 from $38,000 to $50,000 a year, she assumed it would put a dent in the company’s bottom line.

But her company didn’t lose money. She said it actually generated more because her workers’ morale went through the roof.

“They were more engaged, they were more productive,” Driscoll said. “And we overall increased our revenue, so it was a total win-win.”

The former CEO now spends her time advocating for equal pay, and she’s using her business experience to help women earn more. Driscoll is lobbying lawmakers on Beacon Hill to pass two wage transparency billsH.1950 and S.1208.

“There’s studies that show when salaries are transparent the wage gap diminishes,” Driscoll said.

For every dollar Massachusetts men earn, women earn just 83 cents, according to the Office of Economic Empowerment. The gap widens for women of color: Native women earn 64 cents, African American women earn 59 cents and Latina women earn 51 cents on the dollar. Asian women earn 84 cents, the agency said.

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The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act went into effect in 2018 and said employers couldn’t ask applicants how much they were paid in the past. Driscoll said the question, “What are you currently earning?” was replaced by “What are your salary expectations?”

“You can probably imagine men are better at shooting for the stars,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll said H.1950 and S.1208 would require companies to tell applicants the salary range of the position they’re applying. Driscoll believes that would level the playing field for women who are so often under-represented at the top of the corporate ladder.

Driscoll talked about closing the wage gap Thursday during a Facebook Live event hosted by State Senator Adam Hinds.

“If you work in Massachusetts for 40 hours and you can’t afford to put food on your table and house your children, then we have a systemic problem, and that is happening every single day,” she told Hinds.

The two wage transparency bills were referred to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.