Government & Politics

Gov. Jay Nixon signs order aimed at balancing pay for men and women

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order Friday requiring Missouri agencies under his control to determine whether there are gender-based wage differences in their departments and to identify “best practices” to rectify the problem.

Nixon signed the order at the annual luncheon in Kansas City of the Women’s Foundation, a research and philanthropic group. A recent study found full-time women workers in Missouri earned 71 cents for every dollar paid to a man between 2008 and 2012 despite laws requiring equal pay for equal work.

“The pay gap persists,” Nixon said. “It’s 2015, and it’s time to start getting results.”

In an interview after signing the order, the Democrat said the state needs to understand the effect of different career paths for men and women.

“The merit system that we operate and hire under really does reward the number of years of service and time of service,” he said, “and doesn’t take into account … the time off for having children or other life changes.”

The executive order encourages private businesses to perform a similar review of their pay structures. But the signing won’t immediately put more money into anyone’s pockets.

“What this is, is just highlighting further that we have an issue,” said Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation. “This is a good first step.”

The foundation is involved in research on pay issues in Missouri. It will publish guidelines on pay equity next April in association with the University of Missouri.

Digital publisher and editor Arianna Huffington delivered the keynote speech to an estimated 1,600 people at the luncheon at the Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center. She urged what she called a “third feminist revolution” to bring more balance into the workplace.

“We don’t want just to be at the top of the world the way you men have designed it,” she said. “Because it’s not working.”

She also said all workers should get more sleep. Huffington said she collapsed at her home eight years ago, a victim of exhaustion.

“I had dinner with a guy the other day who bragged that he had only gotten four hours sleep the night before,” she said. “I thought to myself: ‘You know what? If you had gotten five, this dinner would have been a lot more interesting.’ 

Dave Helling: 816-234-4656, @dhellingkc