Perpetual victimhood is not a good look…
In the first big initiative she’s undertaken since her husband Gavin Newsom became governor, Siebel Newsom on Monday launched a campaign to narrow the gender pay gap in California by educating employers on how to pay workers fairly and telling employees how to report companies that break the rules.
Siebel Newsom says uplifting women and girls is her priority as California’s first partner, the title she uses instead of first lady.
“When we lift up women, we lift up everyone,” she said. “It’s time to close the gap.”
She’s leading the Equal Pay California campaign alongside Time’s Up, a group formed amid the #MeToo movement to advocate gender equality in the workplace, and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. It’s aimed at promoting compliance with a state law that took effect in 2016 that strengthened California’s equal pay protections.
California has the smallest gender pay gap in the country, according to the American Association of University Women, but women in the state still make roughly 89 cents for every dollar men make.
Despite California’s progress, Siebel Newsom and others involved with the campaign say the state needs to do more to close the gap.
California has had equal pay protections for decades, but the laws weren’t strong enough, said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat who wrote the new law that took effect in 2016.
It says employers can’t pay female workers less than male colleagues who do “substantially similar” work, a provision aimed at helping women prove discrimination even if their male counterparts have different job titles. It also bans retaliation against employees for discussing their wages and puts the burden on employers to show they pay men and women equitably.
“Paying women less than men for substantially similar work is a form of wage theft,” California Labor Secretary Julie Su said. “Passing good laws is not the finish line. It puts us at the start of a great race and enforcement is how we win.”
The new campaign is promoting a website with resources for companies, such as guidelines on how to set equitable wages. For employees, it includes information on how to report employers that don’t pay equitable wages to the state, or file a lawsuit against them.
Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker with a long history of advocating feminist causes, announced the campaign at an event at the Capitol on Monday morning, where she also endorsed a paid family leave bill in the Legislature.
She touted commitments from 13 California businesses, including Apple and AT&T, to conduct their own internal reviews of their pay practices.
“I believe that there are incredible companies in this state who want to do good and want to do better,” Siebel Newsom said. “Now they have the tools, the resources and no excuses.”