Legislation the Treasurer’s office brought to the Legislature earlier this year would have promoted a similar concept for businesses. Modeled on a Massachusetts law, this legislation would have encouraged businesses to voluntarily conduct studies like Clinton’s. Employers who took this step would have an affirmative defense in court should they ever find themselves defendants in a gender pay dispute.
The idea is to make employers more mindful of how they pay their employees and to give them the opportunities to address inadvertent pay disparities on their own, without the courts or government getting involved in their workplace. As Republicans, this approach appeals to us.
More importantly, as public servants, it appeals to us. There is more than ample research to show that when employers close the pay gap, they increase their skills diversity, collective intelligence and even their bottom line. And polls show that millennials of both sexes are flat-out disinterested in working for an employer that has failed to address pay-equity issues. Our constituents deserve the highest quality public workforce possible today and moving forward. Pay equity helps achieve that goal.
We recognize that an appeal to the better angels of our nature will not work in every instance, and there may very well be times when court is the only option to address workplace pay discrimination. Mississippi is one of only two states in the nation that does not protect equal pay for equal work in that circumstance.