Guest opinion: Investing in women is good business

Despite the global pandemic, Utah has one of the country’s strongest economies: but not so much for women. According to a recent  report, Utah has the second largest gender pay gap in the country, with women earning 30 percent less than men overall.  


If this pay disparity was represented in the form of paychecks collected during a calendar year, Utah’s average woman would be working, without pay, mid-September, while her male counterpart would get paid through December 31.

On Equal Pay Day and beyond, let’s ask more women what it takes to build a bridge to pay equity. Utah State University’s Utah Women and Leadership Project led a study to examine behaviors and strategies women experienced that supported professional development. Some 53 percent of Utah women working in government emphasized the value of having specific opportunities to learn, gain experience, or to prove oneself. They also shared the importance of being able to be in the room where decisions are made. 

Investing in women makes good business sense because diverse and inclusive workplaces are essential in meeting the needs of diverse clients, communities and key stakeholders. It also leads to greater economic resiliency. 

My employer, Bank of America, recognizes the significant role women play in advancing thriving economies – with women owning 37 percent of all businesses worldwide. It’s why we invest by making meaningful contributions within our company and in their communities at large. 

Our numbers represent an evolving success story: women make up 50 percent of our global workforce, 32 percent of our global management team, more than 40 percent of our managers and 35 percent of our board of directors – exceeding industry benchmarks. 

This growing representation of diverse, multigenerational women within all levels of the workforce reflects how we bring talented women to our company, invest in their career growth while empowering women in the communities we serve.

For example, we partner with Girls Who Code, to offer a summer program for high school-aged girls to learn skills in digital technology. To foster professional growth, we have programs designed to support the retention and career development of women employees such as our LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development) for Women Employee Network. LEAD has more than 36,000 members nationwide, including male allies. 

An effective diversity and inclusion program includes policies and benefits, so all employees feel supported in managing shared responsibilities at work and at home. One example is our 16 weeks paid parental leave, which includes adoptive parents. Due to the impacts from the pandemic, we have offered childcare reimbursement of up to $100 a day. Employees caring for aging parents can also take advantage of our company’s adult care services program to manage responsibilities.

As a leader in financial services, Bank of America supports women entrepreneurs with capital and resources to help them grow their businesses. The Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell provides 50,000 women entrepreneurs with free, online learning to help advance their businesses. 

The takeaway for Equal Pay Day is that every leader at every company and institution can investment in women. By sharing some examples from my employer, I hope to underscore the commitment to a diverse workforce and gender pay equity takes place across all work streams and within all levels of an organization. It requires dedication, and a willingness to make a positive and lasting impact on a company, community and the individuals who contribute equally to Utah’s economic success.  

Brandi Layton is the Salt Lake City-based Human Resources Manager for Bank America.