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Aug 7, 2020
Posted Under: President's letter       Tags: gender pay

Now more than ever we face a multitude of challenges in our communities and our economy, and we know that not everyone is being impacted in the same way. Already existing disparities in economic status are exacerbated by the pandemic, and the same is true for the gender pay gap. Economists are now predicting that as women take on more responsibilities with children at home, the pay gap will widen. With that in mind, now is the time to reflect on what we can do to end the gender pay gap in Alaska. Our latest report specifically details pay inequity in the state’s nonprofit sector, and guess what? We have work to do – and we believe the nonprofit sector can lead the way.

But first, a brief moment of history: In 2015, our board was asked to sign on to a resolution to end the gender pay gap in Alaska by 2025. Rather than simply lending our name to a good effort, we determined that we needed more data. Since then, we have released two reports on the pay gap in Alaska’s nonprofit sector. What is incredibly exciting this year is that we have a new data source. In the past, we relied upon a survey to capture gender, and the results were limited. In 2019, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development – notably Karinne Wiebold – focused the September issue of the Alaska Trends Report on the gender pay gap for Alaska’s entire workforce. But how? Well Alaska, guess what? We have what no one else has when it comes to data on gender (well at least binary gender)—the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application. Yep, you pick a gender when you fill out that form. Karinne was able to share the data with us and our partners at the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development in a way that allowed us to segment nonprofit employees using EIN numbers.

So drum roll please – for the first time in Alaska’s history, and for the first time in the entire country, we have accurate gender pay data for the nonprofit sector. No other state has these tools, so those of us in Alaska get the best data out there to make very important decisions. At the same time, we have identified some workable solutions to address the situation.

To be clear, every employee is counted who works for a nonprofit registered in Alaska, who is an Alaska resident, and who also filed for a PFD in 2019. Is it perfect? No. Are we missing people? Yes. Do we get to honor our commitment to our transgender community? Sadly, very sadly, no. Do we get to segment and understand the impact of race as it impacts this data? Again, very sadly, no. But even given that, I hope you will agree that the information we do have is pretty darned amazing.

We are committed to raising questions of equity when it comes to race, gender, age, and ability. We hope you will join us in that commitment by asking these questions, too, as you use the data and turn it into action – because that’s where the real work begins.

If we want to achieve the change we seek in the world, then we must endeavor to understand what the facts say about an issue and how we can best use that information. We hope you will join Foraker in seeking lasting change in our sector on issues of diversity and equity. Each of our organizations is starting in a different place on this journey. While we might not see our ultimate goals achieved while we are on the board or staff of a particular organization, we can all stay devoted to raising the questions and seeking solutions. To that end, in addition to the data, we are also sharing resources to better explore the intersection of racial diversity on the pay gap, to grapple with how COVID-19 will impact and set us back even further in our goals, and so much more. You’ll find links to these resources, along with a set of generative questions here. Together, these will help you start conversations or reignite discussions you may have been having before COVID-19 changed the focus of our work.

Generative discussions focus more on sense making, values propositions, and the “why” far more than the “what” or the “how.” When you are ready, the “what” and the “how” are waiting for you to make the changes necessary. And most critically, we have provided a set of concrete action steps you can take within your organization, your community, and for the state. These are well proven steps that will make a difference if we commit to taking them together.

Take a step with your team or ask us for support. We are ready to walk with you in this journey.

Finally, I hope you will join Foraker and our research partner, the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, along with our generous donors to this project, GCI Women’s Network (GWeN), Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, and Women’s Power League of Alaska, to explore the data and how we can work together to turn our data into action. Register here and join us on August 25 from 10:30-12:00.