CHEYENNE — National Equal Pay Day was in April.
But in Wyoming, which has the largest gender wage gap in the nation, Equal Pay Day fell later this year — on June 25.
Tuesday marked how far into the new year women must work just to make what men earned in the previous year.
Gov. Matt Mead recognized the day by signing a proclamation Wednesday with representatives of the Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, the Wyoming Business Council and the Department of Workforce Services looking on.
Carma Corra, the women’s issues council chairwoman, said the gender wage gap is a complicated issue that needs to be kept before the public.
She said companies should be encouraged to allow family-friendly practices, such as flexible hours, that will help to eliminate or reduce the disparity in pay between men and women.
And those companies that offer family-friendly
practices should be recognized, she added.
Corra also said she appreciated the governor partnering with the other groups to address the disparity.
Mead said he didn’t believe the gender wage gap was by design.
“I think we’re all searching for answers,” he said.
It is important, he said, not only because of the costs to families, but in terms of the state’s overall economic outlook.
“You can’t say we’re going to take half our brainpower and our labor off the table,” the governor said. “We want to maximize the potential we have.
“We’ve got a ways to go. Nobody likes the way we are,” he added.
Corra later said in an interview that if she had her way, all companies would offer flexible scheduling for all employees, men and women, who are responsible for raising their children.
“I wouldn’t want either parent to have to choose between having a career and raising their families,” she said.
Corra said while many Wyoming businesses are small, she would like to require all of them to have child care and to permit parents to have laptops and work at home in an emergency.
Finally, she would encourage the Legislature to pay for child care during legislative sessions, “because then I think we would have more women legislators,” she said.
The women’s council has recognized small companies and their managers with its Summit Award.
Olin O. Oedekoven, retired general and president of Peregrine Leadership Institute of Gillette, won the honor in 2012
Corra said Oedekoven flies employees to meet their military spouses. He also allows employees to have laptops and to work at home or to bring their children with them to work.
The council also has recognized CLIMB Wyoming for how the organization treats its employees. The organization trains single mothers for self-sustaining employment.
“We recognize that men tend to work more overtime and that women are apt to work part-time,” Corra said. “We recognize that and understand that, but I think that if these businesses would implement these policies, it would help.”
The proclamation signed by Mead read: “Fair pay for everyone enhances the economy, improves financial security and lessens pressures on the cost of retirement.”