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Senator Spilka Testifies on Bills for Women’s Health, Equality and Opportunity

July 22, 2015

equal pay

On Tuesday, July 21st, Senator Karen E. Spilka testified at the State House in support of three important pieces of legislation to ensure equality and justice for women in Massachusetts.

The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development heard testimony on Senator Spilka’s Women on Boards Resolution and the Equal Pay Bill, bills to encourage equitable and diverse gender representation on boards of directors in Massachusetts and to help bridge the gender wage gap. The Joint Committee on Financial Services heard testimony on Senator Spilka’s bill to protect access to confidential health care, the PATCH Act.

Massachusetts is a beacon of equality and justice. It’s time that we live up to those values by taking action on equal pay, women in leadership and women’s health.

Continue reading for details on Women on Boards, Equal Pay and the Patch Act.



The Women on Boards Resolution is a non-binding resolution to encourage companies to increase the number of women on their boards of directors and in their senior management ranks. California and Illinois have passed similar resolutions to improve gender diversity on boards in those states.

“We need to help create a pipeline for female leaders and open doors for more women. We need to empower all women to make their voices heard,” said Senator Spilka. “This is not a women’s issue. This is a business issue and an economic development issue. The future of the Massachusetts economy depends on bringing the best talent to the table.”

The positive effects of greater diversity on boards are well-documented, yet the representation of women in leadership remains low. Women hold 14.9% of board seats and 11.8% of executive officer positions in the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts. 24 of these companies have no women on their boards, 46 have no women executive officers and 19 have no women on their boards of directors or in their executive suites.

Senator Spilka was joined by co-sponsor Representative Pat Haddad (D-Somerset), Malli Gero, Co-Founder and President of 2020 Women on Boards and a panel of local business leaders, who shared firsthand how their companies have embraced diversity on their boards: Bennie Wiley, President of The Wiley Group; Bob Rivers, President and Chief Operating Officer at Eastern Bank; Javier Barrientos, Senior Director, Global Diversity and Inclusion at Biogen; and Kevin Maggiacomo, President and CEO of Sperry Van Ness.

Immediately following the hearing, the Committee reported favorably on the Women on Boards Resolution, moving the bill along in the legislative process.


In advance of the hearing, Senator Spilka joined Attorney General Maura Healey, State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, the Equal Pay Coalition and other legislators at a rally to highlight the importance of the Equal Pay Bill, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Representative Jay Livingstone (D-Boston).

Click here to watch a video from the rally. Senator Spilka’s remarks are at the 14:45 mark.

Equal pay for equal work should be a no brainer,” said Senator Spilka. “Women working hard to support their families deserve fair pay. It is time for action to bridge the gender wage gap and ensure equal pay. It is time for equality and opportunity for all women.”

In Massachusetts, women who work full time earn approximately 80.8% of men’s earnings. A report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research projects that the gender wage gap in Massachusetts will not close on its own until 2058.

“In the mid-1980s, one of my first jobs was in the state’s Office of Employee Relations working on the issues of comparable worth and pay equity,” said Senator Spilka. “It’s very disappointing that almost thirty years later, we still have work to do on these issues. If we do nothing, a girl born today would be 43 years old when the pay gap finally closes. That is nearly 70 years of inequality and injustice.”

The Equal Pay Bill seeks to bridge the wage gap in three main ways: ensure equal pay for comparable work, establish pay transparency and require fairness in hiring practices.


The Joint Committee on Financial Services heard testimony on a variety of bills related to women’s health, including Senator Spilka’s PATCH Act, which aims to protect patient confidentiality by requiring personal health information on Explanation of Benefits forms to be sent directly to patients, safeguarding the privacy of people who are dependents on another person’s health plan.

“Patient confidentiality is a foundational element of the patient-provider relationship,” said Senator Spilka. “Unfortunately, victims of abuse or minors are often reluctant to seek certain types of treatment, fearing that their abuser or parent will learn these details. This bill would ensure that all patients have confidential access to the health care they need.”

Click here to listen to Senator Spilka’s testimony at the hearing.

Co-sponsor Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow), Attorney General Maura Healey and advocacy organizations in the Protecting Access to Confidential Health Care Alliance also testified in support of the PATCH Act.

It’s time for equality, justice and opportunity for all women!

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