Thursday, July 23, 2015

Senator Spilka: It's Time for Action on Women's Health, Equality and Opportunity

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Dear Friend,

Massachusetts is a beacon of equality and justice. It's time that we live up to those values by taking action on equal pay, women in leadership and women's health.

Yesterday, I testified before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development in strong support of my Women on Boards Resolution and the Equal Pay Bill, bills to encourage equitable and diverse gender representation on boards of directors in Massachusetts and to help bridge the gender wage gap.  

I also testified before the Joint Committee on Financial Services on my bill to protect access to confidential health care, the PATCH Act.
Women on Boards
The Women on Boards Resolution is a non-binding resolution to encourage companies to increase the number of women on their boards of directors and in their senior management ranks. California and Illinois have passed similar resolutions to improve gender diversity on boards in those states.

We need to help create a pipeline for female leaders and open doors for more women. We need to empower all women to make their voices heard. This is not a women's issue. This is a business issue and an economic development issue. The future of the Massachusetts economy depends on bringing the best talent to the table.

The positive effects of greater diversity on boards are well-documented, yet the representation of women in leadership remains low. Women hold 14.9% of board seats and 11.8% of executive officer positions in the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts. 24 of these companies have no women on their boards, 46 have no women executive officers and 19 have no women on their boards of directors or in their executive suites.

Thank you to 2020 Women on Boards, the Alliance for Business Leadership and other advocates for your work on this important issue. Thank you especially to local business leaders who joined me at the hearing to share firsthand how their companies have embraced diversity on their boards: Bennie Wiley, President of The Wiley Group; Bob Rivers, President and Chief Operating Officer at Eastern Bank; Javier Barrientos, Senior Director, Global Diversity and Inclusion at Biogen; and Kevin Maggiacomo, President and CEO of Sperry Van Ness.

Immediately following the hearing, the Committee reported favorably on the Women on Boards Resolution, moving the bill along in the legislative process.
Equal Pay
Equal pay for equal work should be a no brainer. Women working hard to support their families deserve fair pay. It is time for action to bridge the gender wage gap and ensure equal pay. It is time for equality and opportunity for all women.

In Massachusetts, women who work full time earn approximately 80.8% of men's earnings. A report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research projects that the gender wage gap will not close on its own until 2058.

In the mid-1980s, one of my first jobs was in the state's Office of Employee Relations working on the issues of comparable worth and pay equity. It's very disappointing that almost thirty years later, we still have work to do on these issues. If we do nothing, a girl born today would be 43 years old when the pay gap finally closes. That is nearly 70 years of inequality and injustice.

The Equal Pay Bill seeks to bridge the wage gap in three main ways: ensure equal pay for comparable work, establish pay transparency and require fairness in hiring practices.

In advance of the hearing, I joined Attorney General Maura Healey, State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, legislators, the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators and the Equal Pay Coalition at a rally to highlight the importance of the Equal Pay Bill.  

Click here to watch a video from the rally. My remarks are at the 14:45 mark. 
The Joint Committee on Financial Services heard testimony on a variety of bills related to women's health, including my  PATCH Act, which aims to protect patient confidentiality by requiring personal health information on Explanation of Benefits forms to be sent directly to patients, safeguarding the privacy of people who are dependents on another person's health plan.

Patient confidentiality is a foundational element of the patient-provider relationship. Unfortunately, victims of abuse or minors are often reluctant to seek certain types of treatment, fearing that their abuser or parent will learn these details. This bill would ensure that all patients have confidential access to the health care they need.  

Click here to listen to my testimony at the hearing.

Thank you to my colleagues in the legislature and all advocates and constituents for making your voices heard on these important issues for women, families and the Commonwealth.

It's time for equality, justice and opportunity for all women!

As always, if you would like additional information or have any concerns or comments, please call my office at (617) 722-1640 or email me at

Warm Regards,
Senator Karen E. Spilka
2nd Middlesex and Norfolk

Office of State Senator Karen E. Spilka
Room 212, State House
Boston, Massachusetts  02133
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Senator Karen E. Spilka | Massachusetts State House, Room 212 | Boston | MA | 02133

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