Working Toward Equal Pay: IIWF Series Details Five Policy Strategies to Build a Thriving, Inclusive Workforce

(UNDATED) – The Indiana Community Action Association, its agencies, and partners believe that all Hoosiers should have the opportunity to support their families with jobs that pay adequate wages and allow them to balance work and family.

But unless our policymakers and community and business leaders work to combat bias and establish basic labor standards and work supports, we will continue to see unequal outcomes that keep Hoosiers from achieving their full potential.

Pay discrimination is only part of the equal-pay problem. Many workers — disproportionately women and people of color — face structural barriers to accessing and persisting in high-quality career options. Removing these barriers would allow our families, communities, and economy to thrive.

This month, the Indiana Institute for Working Families released a series of policy briefs on five key strategies that promote an inclusive, thriving workplace. Each brief includes analysis that breaks down why it matters and how legislative action to support it would promote equal opportunity and equal pay.

Those key strategies are:

  • Equity-focused career counseling

The roots of occupational segregation begin early in one’s career (even before it begins), but equity-focused career counseling has the potential to broaden the range of career options Hoosiers consider and pursue.

Read the policy brief to learn why occupational segregation ultimately means that women and people of color continue to see significant wage and wealth gaps, have less saved for retirement, struggle to pay debts and are more likely to experience poverty — plus policy recommendations to combat the issues.

  • Supports for pregnant workers

Workers shouldn’t have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and their jobs. Reasonable accommodations and paid leave enable pregnant and parenting workers to persist safely in the workplace.

Read the policy brief to learn why providing support for pregnant workers is crucial to the health and livelihood of both the mother and child. The brief also provides policy recommendations that can help women continue working safely while pregnant, recover from childbirth and return to the workforce without fear of losing their jobs.

  • Affordable, accessible childcare

Childcare is essential for working parents, yet far too many cannot find affordable, high-quality options. At the same time, childcare workers and preschool teachers often experience financial hardship.

An eye-opening example statistic from the brief: The estimated yearly cost of infant child care in Indiana is $11,795. For that amount to be considered “affordable” by the US Department of Health and human Services, the household would need an annual income of at least $168,500.

Read the policy brief to learn how families, communities and employers would all benefit from a more robust, affordable early childcare system. The brief also outlines policy recommendations to support this goal.

  • Fair scheduling

Just-in-time scheduling practices disproportionately harm caregivers. Conversely, notice and control promote the ability to plan child care, obtain post-secondary credentials, secure transportation to work and budget appropriately.

Read the policy brief to understand the scope and effects of unstable scheduling on workers — who are disproportionately women, black and Latinx — who work in jobs with irregular hours that are not within their control. Also learn how these practices affect the workers’ children, how employers can provide stable schedules and how leaders and policymakers can break this barrier for Hoosier workers.

  • One fair wage

Sub-minimum wages disproportionately harm women, people of color and people with disabilities. One fair wage sets a floor for all types of work.

Read the policy brief to learn more about how the tipped minimum wage has its roots in racial discrimination, the disparate impact of the tipped minimum wage and policy recommendations (including raising wages for all working people — both tipped and non-tipped) that can eliminate the need for employees to put up with abuse, protect workers from wage theft, and provide a more stable floor upon which to base budgets.

“Recently released Census Bureau data clearly shows that there is still a great deal of work to be done in Indiana to ensure that all Hoosiers — regardless of their gender, race, or other protected status — can achieve financial stability and reach their full potential and support their families,” said Jessica Fraser, Director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families. “It’s critical for us to make policy changes to create a more inclusive workforce and make it possible for all workers to thrive.” 

For more about equal pay, visit the Wage Gap page of the IIWF website.