Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state of California signed the California Equal Pay Pledge on Jan. 27.
His wife, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, led the pledge in an effort to close the gender pay gap, according to a press release. California women lose an estimated total of $87 billion each year as a result of the pay gap — and among these women, Black, Indigenous and Latina women experience the widest gaps, the press release said.
“We can’t reach full gender equity or close persistent gender and racial wealth gaps without reaching pay equity,” Siebel Newsom said in the press release. “As the state’s largest employer, California is leading by example.”
Siebel Newsom also called upon other employers to sign the pledge to create a California where women are “valued, respected, and plaid equitably.”
Currently, more than 60 state employers, such as Airbnb, Apple and Twitter have signed the pledge. As signatories, they commit to conducting an annual analysis on gender pay and evaluate their promotion and hiring practices, the press release said.
Newsom also established a new chief equity officer position to spearhead initiatives to improve equity in the state government’s hiring process. Additionally, he introduced the California Blueprint, which proposes $1.4 million to advance state pay equity rights awareness, the press release reads.
Eugene Whitlock, UC Berkeley chief people and culture officer, noted in an email that campus regularly assesses its compensation practices to ensure equity and is currently embarking on a larger evaluation process to “ensure greater gender alignment.”
Collett Simonian, president of Berkeley Women in Business, said in an email that the pay pledge is an “invaluable initial step” in establishing transparency in gender pay gaps because it holds corporations accountable for their hiring processes.
“Applying a gendered lens and adopting quantitative methods to investigate differences in hiring and pay among genders is crucial to uplifting women and propelling underrepresented employees’ careers,” Simonian said in the email.
Simonian added she hopes the pay pledge will also mean employers will actively engage in daily conversations with their employees to better understand their unique experiences.
Dania Matos, campus vice chancellor of equity & inclusion, noted in an email that while she supports any initiative to “recognize and undo” structural causes of the pay gap, other factors of employers’ identities must also be taken into consideration.
“You need to bring an equity lens to the work and understand how the intersection of other things like race, ethnicity, disability, immigration status or sexual orientation can influence the data,” Matos said in the email. “Looking at gender alone will give only a snapshot, not the full picture.”