Governor Steve Bullock today joins the nation in recognizing Native Women’s Equal Pay Day, a day to symbolize how far into the year an American Indian woman must work to earn what a man earned in the previous year.
“American Indian women in Montana, and across the country, should not have to put in nine extra months of work just to break even with what a man earns,” Governor Bullock said. “Recognizing Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is a reminder that while we’ve made progress when it comes to pay equity, we still haven’t closed the gender wage gap. Closing the wage gap is good for our economy, good for hardworking families, good for our Native communities, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Nationally, Native women earn approximately $0.58 for every dollar a White, non-Hispanic man earns. Here in Montana, the gap is slightly narrower. A Native woman earns $0.59 for every dollar a man earns. This is nearly a 14 percent improvement from 2013 when Native women were earning just $0.52 for every dollar men earned.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 7 percent of the people living in Montana identify as American Indian or Alaska Native. That’s Montana’s largest minority population.
Among those is Gwen Lankford, Gros Ventre Tribal Member, and president and owner of Sapphire Strategies, Inc., a small business specializing in strategic communications.
“Inherently when you compensate equitably, you send a message that a woman’s work matters, and that there is value in what they bring to the table,” said Lankford, whose small business is located in Missoula. “Whenever someone feels valued, their work product is usually higher in quality because they in turn feel invested in the success of the business. It’s a smart operating principle, and a solid ROI. As an American Indian woman, I am proud to demonstrate that we can also be effective business owners while positively impacting our communities through work that we care deeply about— with the bottom line being the financial health and security of our families.”
Governor Bullock’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force launched in 2013 with the aim of closing Montana’s gender wage gap. The Task Force has taken steps to narrow the wage gap through wage negotiation trainings, business outreach, and championing policies that can lead to shrinking the pay gap.
For more information about Governor Bullock’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force and to learn more about Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day visit EQUALPAY.MT.GOV.