Women’s History Month 2023
“Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Taskforce” publishes formal recommendations to address women’s workforce participation and wage disparity.
The Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force released its formal report to the Alabama Legislature with recommendations for closing the gender wage gap and bolstering female workforce participation statewide.
Commissioned by the State Legislature in 2022 (via House Joint Resolution 115), the 11-member task force was chaired by Women’s Foundation of Alabama, President and CEO, Melanie R. Bridgeforth, and was comprised of lawmakers, business and industry leaders, higher education experts, and community champions with a diverse range of expertise spanning economic development, public policy, human resource management, financial planning, and employment and labor law. The formal report is divided into three sections based on core recommendations to:
The task force convened for six months in 2022 to hear from experts and analyze cutting edge-research that quantified the economic impact of women in Alabama, defined factors that drive labor force underutilization, and compared the efficacy of equal pay laws across the United States. Based on aggregated findings, the task force crafted specific policy recommendations and formally approved the report at the final meeting in December, 2022.
“Alabama must act now to create policies and practices that change the landscape for women,” said Melanie R. Bridgeforth, President & CEO of Women’s Foundation of Alabama. “At Women’s Foundation of Alabama, we understand research tells the story of our state’s most pressing economic issues. Data from our most recent ‘Clearing the Path’ report helped inform task force insights and shows that Alabama’s future depends on removing barriers that prevent women from fully participating in and benefiting from the economy. Closing the pay and workforce participation gap could yield radical gains to the tune of an estimated 59,000 new jobs, $15 billion in new income deployed in Alabama businesses, and a boost to our state’s economy by up to $22 billion. While the task force has dissolved, we are hopeful that continued collaboration with lawmakers will move these recommendations forward.”
Beyond the statewide economic impact, ensuring equal pay and access to occupations would have profound effects on the lives of individuals, children, and families – 74% of which rely on a female breadwinner to pay for necessities like food, housing, and childcare. Insights gathered during the task force process are as important as the report, with key findings showing:
Women in Alabama contribute $43 billion to the state’s economy despite these factors. And, while Alabama continues to attract new businesses and bring thousands of new jobs to the state, industries face challenges finding and keeping talent. The state is on a trajectory where there will be more work than workforce.
Rep. Adline Clarke (D-Mobile), introduced House Joint Resolution 115, establishing the Alabama Workforce and Wage Task Force. She also introduced Alabama’s Clarke Figures Equal Pay Act in 2019.
“I am grateful to the members and everyone who contributed their expertise, time, and energy to achieve the mission of the Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force,” said Clarke. “A great deal of research and input was contributed to the effort. I am optimistic that most, if not all, of the recommendations of the Task Force will be adopted by the Alabama Legislature to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Alabama women, families, children, and communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we consider the recommendations of the Task Force.”
Access the full Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force report here.