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Whitmer’s new executive directive aims to tackle equal pay

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive directive she says will help secure equal pay for equal work among state employees.

The directive prohibits state agencies and departments from asking about a potential employee's current or previous salaries until they give the applicant a conditional offer of employment that includes proposed compensation.

Judy Welch is the executive director for the West Michigan branch of Michigan Women Forward. She says this could help women who have historically been paid less.

“Hopefully the corporations in the government will look at the job, and the skills, and pay according, and not based on what we’ve received in the past,” she said.

Welch said she hopes employers outside of the state government will be inspired by the new directive and follow suit.

But others are not convinced this directive tackles the right problem in the right way.

Holly Wetzel is with the Mackinac Center, a free market thinktank. She says the issues isn’t that men and women are paid differently for the same job.

“Unfortunately her well intentioned solution is a flawed approach to solving the wrong problem,” Wetzel said. “It has long been illegal for employers to discriminate financially or otherwise based on one’s gender.”

Wetzel said there is an earning gap that comes from women taking different, lower paid jobs. She says the focus should be on removing barriers that impede women from pursuing various professions.

In a statement, Whitmer said, “This is not just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue that hurts working families…This is about doing what’s right.”

The new directive also calls for the state Civil Service Commission to come up with policies to extend equal pay protections.