Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is launching a new initiative Monday to help narrow the gender wage gap by offering free salary negotiation workshops for women working and living in Boston.
Partnering with the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the city will offer 10 workshops this fall, with a goal of reaching 90,000 women in the next five years.
The two-hour-long workshops will help women identify their target salary and benefits package and develop a strategy for asking for raises.
Megan Costello, the executive director of the city's Office of Women's Advancement, said the workshops are meant for every working woman -- whether they make minimum wage or work in a corporate office.
"The idea is to really give women a set of tools so that they can understand their own situation and their circumstances to understand how to go from minimum wage to maybe a manager at their current employer or how to negotiate for that promotion or that salary bump or that end-of-the-year bonus," Costello said in a phone interview.
The workshops will take place in every neighborhood and eventually be offered in multiple languages. They will be led by an AAUW staffer with the help of volunteer facilitators "from all walks of life" and different businesses, Costello said. The initiative also includes networking events for women throughout the year.
Walsh will formally announce the initiative Monday afternoon at the YWCA Boston in the Back Bay.
The gender wage gap issue has been the subject of debate and legislative efforts nationwide. Nationally, women make 79 cents per every dollar men make, according to AAUW. In Boston, women make 80 cents per every dollar men make, according to a report by Harvard and The Boston Foundation.
The wage gap issue touches every organization and institution, Costello said. This includes City Hall, where a report released by the city earlier this year found a gender pay gap across all city departments. There have been efforts at the city and state level to close the wage gap. Back in the spring, Walsh launched more efforts to tackle the issue, including gathering data from companies.
"When women make up the majority of a city but are further behind than their male counterparts, that’s not good for them as individuals, that’s not good for our communities, our neighborhoods, our families, and that’s certainly not good for business," Costello said.
She said her office, which was created in June 2014, has been discussing the issue with employers, giving guidance on how they can work toward closing the wage gap in their companies. The office often talks with employers about creating transparency in wages, as well as offering paid parental leave and flexible work hours to help retain and attract women into the workforce.