by Ashley Crary Lidow, MPH on Nov 4, 2021
Women’s Economic Opportunity
Women serve as the primary or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of South Carolina’s families, so women are key to our state’s economic health. Yet women are more likely to live in poverty, are not paid wages equal to men, and many women face discrimination in the workplace. Fewer opportunities and lower pay undermine women’s lifetime income, which not only affects her own life, but also her children and family members. Economically empowered women and moms are the key to healthy and successful families and intergenerational economic mobility.
WREN is working to educate and advocate for better economic opportunities for women across the state. In the past year, one of WREN’s top legislative priorities, the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act shattered barriers as the first state-level bill in the south to offer crucial protections to pregnant employees. Bills like these ensure that women can remain in the workforce and provide for themselves and their families.
Power Up Your Workplace: A Playbook for Advancing Gender Equity
This resource is designed to provide employers with strategies to improve workplace culture and support cisgender, transgender, and nonbinary women as full and equal participants and leaders in the economy and workplace. While the guide focuses primarily on gender diversity, many of the recommendations can also improve diversity in different dimensions that include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, national origin, and disability status.
This resource was made possible by the generous support of the Central Carolina Community Foundation.
WREN’s Workforce Advisory Group for Equity (WAGE) consists of leaders from diverse industries and backgrounds, who are committed to WREN’s efforts to support women in the workforce. Advisors provide input on strategies to increase women’s participation and advancement in South Carolina’s workforce, including: hiring and recruiting practices; training and educational opportunities; shaping workplace and public policies; and other key strategies. If you are interested in learning more about WAGE, contact Brandi Parrish Ellison, Director of Policy and Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WREN Summit for Women’s Economic Empowerment
WREN hosts an annual statewide event to bring a diverse group of business and non-profit professionals, researchers, policymakers, students, and advocates to learn more about the role of women in South Carolina’s economy and society.
To learn more about the 2019 WREN Summit, click here.
There is a significant, projected workforce shortage in South Carolina over the next decade. By addressing this workforce need, women have the opportunity to create a net gain in economic activity for our state and simultaneously make strides in reducing the gender wage gap.
Why It Matters In SC?
- Working women are more likely to work in low-wage jobs: in fact, three-quarters of South Carolina’s low-wage workforce is female. This is one of the highest rates in the country.
- African American women earn about $0.53 cents on every $1 earned by white men. White women earn $0.74 cents to a white man’s dollar.
- South Carolina ranks 49th in the best states for working moms.
WREN advocates for closing the wage gap. We support policy strategies that will make it easier for women to earn a living, advance in their careers, and support their families.
Act to Establish Pay Equity (H. 3183 and S.514)
These sister bills would make pay discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender identity, age, national origin or disability illegal in South Carolina.
Paid Family Leave for State Employees (H. 3560 and S.11)
This bill would provide state employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Paid family leave is crucial to supporting working families’ economic security and promoting gender equity in workplaces. No one should have to risk their job or face financial loss when they need to welcome a new child.
End Lunch Shaming Bill (H.3319)
This bill would provide equity in school lunches and protect students from punitive measures if they have accrued meal debt.
Pharmacy Access Act (S.628)
This bill would authorize pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, which can make contraceptive care more accessible and affordable by eliminating the need for a separate visit to a health care provider to obtain a prescription. Expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice to include prescribing birth control helps alleviate many of the obstacles to finding and seeing a doctor that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Community Development Tax Credit (Signed Into Law)
Article 25, Section 12-6-3530 was amended and signed into law on May 18, 2021. An additional $1 million in Community Development (CD) Tax Credits were allocated for 2021, and $2 million for tax years beginning after 2021.
Menstrual Equity (H.3747 & S.574)
The Menstrual Equity bills, H.3747 and S.574, would exempt menstrual hygiene products from sales tax. The removal of the tax on period products would alleviate the additional monthly expense of paying a luxury tax on a necessary medical product.
Prohibit Paying Sub-Minimum Wages to People With Disabilities (S.533)
S.533 would assemble a taskforce to create a three-year transition plan to phase out subminimum wage by August 1, 2024. Currently, the United States still operates under a law in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which grants certain employers a 14(c) certificate to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage—sometimes pennies an hour. In South Carolina as of 2020, approximately 1,200 people with disabilities are making less than the minimum wage. Several states have already restricted the use of subminimum wage, and South Carolina looks to be the next state to eliminate this.
Paid Sick Leave Act (H.3469)
This bill would provide earned paid sick leave to employees statewide.
South Carolina Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (H.3188)
This bill prohibits on the basis of sex paying wages to employees of one sex at a lesser rate than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for comparable work in jobs which require the same, or essentially the same, knowledge, skill, effort, and responsibility.