Salt Lake Chamber to Champion Gender Pay Equity, Housing Affordability

SALT LAKE CITY — With Utah's employment economy among the strongest in the nation, ensuring that all Utahns are treated fairly when it comes to wages is a top priority for the state's largest business association.

"Like work should get like pay regardless of what gender, race or ethnicity," said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. Speaking to an audience of state business and civic leaders at the organization's annual meeting at the Little America Hotel Tuesday in downtown Salt Lake City, Miller said the chamber will focus its efforts on closing the gender pay gap that currently exists in Utah and around the country.

Noting that women, on average, make less than men in the workplace, he said rectifying the problem will require some acknowledgment from business leaders who may be unwittingly impacted by longtime inclinations they aren't consciously aware of.

"I believe we have business leaders in Utah that recognize the problem, want to solve the problem but just don't really know how to go about doing it because of those internal, not-always-visible biases within the (current employment) system," he explained. The chamber is working with local women's groups and devising a list of possible ideas that will help mitigate the pay equity issue going forward with the goal of total equality, he said.

Currently, the chamber is using focus groups to test some of the ideas that have been put forth to determine their effectiveness, he said. They hope to present a draft to local businesses to get their input on potential implementation, he added.

"We're trying to test the model right now," Miller said. "We'll be ready to roll something out in the next few weeks."

He said gender pay equity is not only a local issue but one of global importance as countries around the world examine how to make the employment sector one of fairness and wage equality everywhere.

Another community issue of immediate importance is the Wasatch Front's growing housing shortage, said Steve Starks, incoming chairman of the Salt Lake Chamber's board of governors and president of the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. He said the chamber will focus on mitigating the strain all three primary housing markets — existing homes, rentals and new construction.

"We need to address how are we going to accomplish all of this," he said. "How is that we can plan for open space, create higher density single-family (housing) without reducing the quality of life that people have?"

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Deseret News Thu, 09/06/2018 - 14:31