Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of the California governor, announced Monday that her office’s first initiative will be to help close the state’s gender pay gap.
Newsom, who opted to be known as “first partner” instead of the typical “first lady” title when her husband Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) assumed office in January, said on the state Capitol steps that the new #EqualPayCA project will focus on educating employers and employees alike on what they can do to close the gap and launching an awareness campaign about how to comply with state equal pay laws.
She also announced commitments from more than a dozen California-based companies, including Apple and Airbnb, to conduct annual audits of their own gender pay gaps.
The resources include guides on how employers can perform a gender pay equity analysis, how employees can file a claim for equal pay with their employer and how companies should comply with the state’s equal pay law, which was updated in 2016 to hold employers more accountable.
“California has the strongest equal pay laws in the nation ― but there is still more work to do,” Newsom said Monday.
Newsom is carrying out the campaign in partnership with California Labor Secretary Julie Su, the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and the Time’s Up organization.
The announcement comes one day ahead of Equal Pay Day, the date that marks how far into the year women must work to earn what their male counterparts were paid the prior year. That gap is consistently worse for women of color, especially Latinas.
California is closer to bridging the gap than most other states. While women earn less than 90 cents for every dollar men earn in every state, a 2017 analysis found, California is among the handful of states close to breaking that barrier.
California is also home to two of the six congressional districts where women are paid equal to or slightly more than their male counterparts, the 2017 analysis found.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) has spoken out in support of Newsom’s effort, saying in a statement on Monday that it’s a “clear and comprehensive guide designed to assure effective implementation of California’s equal pay law that I authored in 2015.”
Jackson was behind the landmark legislation last year aimed at bringing gender diversity to corporate boards. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed it in September, creating requirements that any corporation based in California have a minimum of one woman on its board of directors by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, that number will increase to at least two women directors if the corporation has five directors, or to a minimum of three women if the corporation has six or more directors.