Division of Labor and Industry


Executive Summary - Report of the Equal Pay Commission


I) Executive Summary

In the ten-month time frame since the appointment of the Equal Pay Commission, the Commission held nine meetings; reviewed a comprehensive literature search, which summarized data on gender-based and race-based wage disparities; received and accepted an offer of assistance from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) to conduct a study on wage disparities in Maryland; reviewed information from the staff at the Maryland Human Relations Commission Counsel's office; conducted research into Pay Equity Best Practices; contacted interest and advocacy groups; and considered and discussed Commission findings, data, possible recommendations and report content. Although hampered by a lack of data and limited resources, the Commission's report, with its attachments, creates a foundation on which to build equal pay initiatives in Maryland.

A key finding in the IWPR report captures the extent of the challenge in Maryland:

"More than one-fifth of the difference in women's and men's earnings cannot be explained by differences in their education, potential work experience, job characteristics, or other measurable factors. A smaller, but still meaningful, portion of earnings differences between whites and workers of color is not explained by observed demographic and job characteristics."

Although these statistics are consistent with the picture on a national basis, they confirm that there are wage gaps based on both gender and race in the State, particularly in the private sector. The Commission was hampered from reviewing the gaps and related factors by time, data and budget limitations. Therefore, the Commission's first three recommendations relate directly to establishing a mechanism for additional study and effective implementation of changes. The final three recommendations provide shorter term strategies that could have an immediate impact on existing wage disparities:

  • Create an On Going Commission
  • Assign Effective Equal Pay Authority to a State Agency
  • Develop and Implement a Consistent and Comprehensive Data Collection System
  • Encourage Implementation of Family Friendly Work Policies
  • Provide for Effective Administration and Enforcement of Existing Laws
  • Gather and Disseminate Best Equal Pay Practices
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