Sit Down with Sandy: Behind the Scenes with Local Leaders – Evelyn Murphy, Part I
In the 20 years since The Castle Group was founded as a women-owned business, it is encouraging to see that women have continued to advance tremendously in both the public and private sector. These advancements are due in large part to the guidance and examples set by leaders that have come before us, as well as those who continue to advocate for women in the workplace.
Recently, Castle’s own Sandy Lish had an opportunity to sit down with the first female constitutional office holder in Massachusetts, former Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Murphy, to discuss her thoughts on the wage gap, women in business and politics, and the future of the next generation of women leaders.
Part One of this two-part interview addresses women in business, building lasting relationships, and Ms. Murphy’s early efforts at attacking the wage gap.
Sandy: You are very modest, but you have accomplished amazing things for this state and for women in particular. As a woman business owner myself, I’d like to first ask what can businesswomen learn from a woman who was in politics? Or who was in the public sector generally?
Evelyn: That’s a great question. As I have observed women in business in the years since I left office, I get the sense that almost like men in business, they take a look at women in public life, and say, I know what it takes to be successful. And they assume that success in business and politics is so similar. But it’s so different. And once you understand that, then you truly realize that how much we need each other. I know that I could not have been elected Lieutenant Governor if business women in the state hadn’t helped me. It’s that simple.
Sandy: How do you advise businesswomen and women in the public sector to build relationships when they usually only operate in their respective spaces?
Evelyn: It’s about creating forums in which women, like-minded women, can get together informally to discuss their challenges. Over time, these forums will allow women to build forms of appreciation for each other and become good advisors for one another. There may be times where they have different opinions or their responsibilities force them to differ, but creating goodwill and understanding beforehand will be a strong basis from which they can build lasting relationships. It takes time. This doesn’t happen quickly. It takes a deliberate investment of time to build strong relationships.
Sandy: Keeping in mind Castle’s 20th Anniversary theme, Amplify, let’s shift our focus on closing the wage gap; a topic that I know is very important to you. How do you amplify your message?
Evelyn: I take a very modest, but deliberate, approach. I amplify through getting scale through others. For example, I think you know that as part of my work with The Wage Project, I presented workshops to women across the country. We delivered these workshops in 49 states, on 400 campuses, and with working women from community activists to surgeons. A couple years ago WAGE sold the intellectual property of those workshops to The American Association of University Women (AAUW). They have a membership of a couple hundred thousand members. That’s a reach much farther than I could ever imagine. I then turned to Mayor Walsh and Megan Costello, the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Women and they committed to providing the AAUW workshop to 85,000 working women in Boston. That scale is breathtaking! This is the largest effort in the country. It means half the working women of Boston will know how to negotiate to be paid fairly within five years. The Mayor’s office is only a year into the program and it has already reached 1,500 women. The initial two years are building capacity for the program to ramp up to reach 25,000 women a year in 2018-2020. So this project is amplifying through scale.
We can also amplify through employers. The Boston Women’s Workforce Council, of which I am co-chair by the Mayor’s appointment, is working with employers to do just that. When I first started membership was only 50 employers. Today membership stands at 165 companies. If we can continue to get more employers to buy into pay equity, the model of both working with women employees and working with employers can be applied throughout the country. That’s amplification to me. It is very focused on action because my assumption is that women have to act to get employers to react to pay them fairly. These grassroots efforts are really what will promote deliberate scaling of activities that are focused on pay equity. That’s the dynamic I keep trying to make happen. To me, that’s the best way to amplify.
Tomorrow Castle will post Part Two of the interview, in which Evelyn Murphy shares more about how she got to where she is today, her continued efforts to extinguish the wage gap and gender inequities, and the responsibility of young women in the workforce.