Opinion: CT has smallest pay disparity among states. But we're not done yet

Graphic to be used with stories about the pay gap between men and women.

Graphic to be used with stories about the pay gap between men and women.

Kurt Strazdins

When we took our respective offices — one as  lieutenant governor of Connecticut, the other as the CEO of an organization focused on gender parity — we had one singular focus: prioritize women and girls with an understanding that women’s issues are economic issues. And in both our roles, the objective was clear — to grow the economy, society must uplift women and families.

One of the most effective and powerful ways to do so is by working to eliminate economic disparities based on gender. According to an August 2022 study ranking states, within the category of economy, Connecticut was ranked No. 1 in gender equality between men and women. Based on that study, women in Connecticut earned 97 percent of what men earned, reflecting the smallest pay disparity in weekly earnings compared with other states. Despite earning top ranks — we knew we weren’t done yet.

Connecticut has always believed it needed to play an active role in addressing the disparities faced by women in a manner that was fair and equitable. As a result, the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls (CoWaG) was launched.

Launching CoWaG was not a novel idea. A handful of states have similar working groups focused on issues relating to women and girls, but CoWaG stands out amongst those other states. Connecticut took a more holistic approach and supported the public/private collaborations needed to truly resolve issues affecting women and girls.

Cue in Paradigm for Parity (P4P) and Sandra Quince. Since its launch in 2016, P4P has grown to more than 140 companies, including Fortune 500 companies which employ more than 6.5 million workers worldwide across 28 industries. Through P4P’s signature programming and access to best practices, member companies accelerate efforts to create a culture of equity, where women can thrive and advance to the highest levels of leadership. Following P4P’s unique framework encourages companies to work toward a common goal of achieving gender parity in corporate leadership.

Connecticut joining forces with P4P has been extremely intentional. Our partnership has positively contributed toward clear progress in Connecticut by rallying corporations within the state to join in these efforts.  Prior to 2019, there were only four P4P companies in Connecticut. Thanks to our partnership, Connecticut now has 16 companies associated with P4P. Today, Connecticut ranks third as having the most P4P member companies, and number one for the most Fortune 500 companies who have made the commitment.

Sandra and I agree wholeheartedly: There is still much work to be done. More companies and states need to take advantage of the resources P4P offer to gain the needed support to pursue gender parity.

Connecticut hopes to be an example for other states, showing that establishing partnerships with existing organizations, already doing the work, advances shared goals. The goal is for hundreds of companies across the nation to partner with P4P and rally for gender parity as a collective. We are both committed to adding more companies to the P4P list. We hope other states will follow suit.

The time is now.

Sworn in on Jan. 9, 2019, Susan Bysiewicz is serving her second term as Connecticut’s 109th lieutenant governor and serves as chairwoman for the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls. Sandra Quince joined Paradigm for Parity in 2021 as the coalition’s first CEO through Bank of America’s “Leader on Loan” initiative, where she brings more than 15 years of global diversity, equity and inclusion experience.