HELENA – Governor Steve Bullock today, in recognition of Women’s Equality Day, renewed his equal pay Executive Order and extended the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force through 2022 to continue its work to narrow the wage gap.
“Every person in Montana has a stake in ensuring women and men are paid a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” Governor Bullock said. “The actions and advocacy of the Task Force continue to move the needle toward progress and an economy that works for all Montanans. It’s an honor to recognize Women’s Equality Day in Montana by extending the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force for the next two years. Just as Women’s Equality Day recognizes tremendous progress, we also know our work isn’t yet done.”
Governor Bullock was joined by several members of his Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force at the iconic women’s mural in Helena to make the announcement. Governor Bullock first created Montana’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force in 2013 to bring together business, education, tribal, nonprofit, labor and government leaders to raise awareness of and take steps to narrow Montana’s gender wage gap. Since launching in 2013, the gap between what men and women earn has narrowed from 67 percent to 73.2 percent.
In its seven years, the task force has led pay audits in state government to identify women who are underemployed and address and overcome unconscious gender bias. Additionally, 40 state employees were trained to provide Wage Smart wage negotiation trainings to ensure women have the tools to negotiate for a competitive salary. The task force has also encouraged hundreds of businesses to sign a pledge to support closing the gender wage gap and created a toolkit for wage equity best practices for businesses to utilize.
The task force has also successfully supported legislation, including a bill to remove barriers for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking to get unemployment benefits. Other legislation introduced to shrink the wage gap, such as bills to provide paycheck protection and ensure pay transparency, were unsuccessful.
To further raise awareness of economic equity, the Task Force has created a virtual audio exhibit featuring four women in Montana succeeding in leadership-roles in male-dominated industries. The exhibit photos show 26.8 percent of the image removed to represent the 26.8 percent wage gap women in Montana experience. The photos include audio stories from Blackfeet Nation fashion designer Belinda Bullshoe, Northern Rockies Medical Center CEO Cheri Taylor, DNRC forestry specialist and former hotshot Ali Ulwelling, and software project manager and First Lady of Montana Lisa Bullock. The exhibit can be found online at EQUALPAY.MT.GOV.
Governor Bullock’s Executive Order extending the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force is available here. The following individuals will serve on the Task Force until 2022:
Co-Chair Tara Rice, Montana Department of Commerce Director
Co-Chair Brenda Nordlund, Montana Department of Labor & Industry Commissioner
Jamie Palagi, Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services Division Administator, Helena
Jen Euell, Director, Women's Foundation of Montana, Missoula
Representative Laurie Bishop, Livingston
Senator Diane Sands, Missoula
Paddy Fleming, Director, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, Bozeman
Carole Lankford, Councilmember, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Pablo
Tracy McIntyre, Executive Director, Montana Cooperative Development Center, Great Falls
Kelly Webster, Chief of Staff, University of Montana, Missoula
Lauren Caldwell, Montana Federation of Public Employees, Political Director & Student Program Coordinator, Helena
Jen Perry, Jelt Belt, Owner, Bozeman
Lilly Corning, Corning Companies, Realtor, Billings
John Cummings, Anderson Zurmuehlen & Co., Human Resources Director, Helena