Washington State Women's Commission launches The Pay Equity Tour

Grace Yoo, Executive Director of WSWC (left), and Quinn Dalan, Commission Chair of WSWC (right), honor Trudi Inslee and Governor Jay Inslee for their work advancing gender equity in Washington State.

Grace Yoo, Executive Director of WSWC (left), and Quinn Dalan, Commission Chair of WSWC (right), honor Trudi Inslee and Governor Jay Inslee for their work advancing gender equity in Washington State.
Courtesy of Washington State Women's Commission

ACTIVATE 3.8 The Pay Equity Tour kicked off June 28 at the Nectar Lounge in Fremont. According to the website Activate38.com, it is a “statewide campaign of the Washington State Women’s Commission to activate the full economic potential of 3.8 million Washington women and close the gender wage gap in our state.” Last Friday’s event was the first of a 10-city tour. Over the next year and a half, they will be hosting events in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Sequim, Olympia, Bellingham, Redmond, Pullman, Yakima, and finally back in Seattle in October 2025.

Grace Yoo is the Queen Anne resident who became the youngest agency director of Governor Inslee’s cabinet when she was appointed to be the Executive Director of WSWC a little more than a year ago. She is the former head of the Starbucks Greener Stores initiative and U.S. Department of State’s public-private partnerships advisor to the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate who hit the ground running when she started the role and has not slowed down since. After doubling her staff from three to six and securing a better wage for the team that represents half the people in the state, she set to work branching out to more women statewide. 

“There are 3.8 million women in Washington state and we have one of the largest gender pay gaps in the country,” said Yoo. From listening sessions, benchmarking, and firmly grounded in research, the WSWC mission is to improve the life of every woman by ensuring equitable opportunities and removing systemic barriers through engagement, advocacy, and public policy, while being inclusive of our diverse populations. To that end, WSWC assembled a powerhouse list of leaders to speak at the launch event. 

Andrea Anderson is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington who spoke about the importance of including and empowering the next generation of leaders. With half of the female CEOs, and all of the female astronauts and Secretaries of State, Forbes magazine has called the Girl Scouts the ultimate pipeline for women leaders. Anderson confirmed that the Girl Scouts community is safe, welcoming, anti-racist, and gender-affirming, and invited Governor Inslee’s granddaughters to join a troop. 

Courtesy of Washington State Women's Commission

Governor Jay Inslee, Trudi Inslee, Lekha Fernandes, Grace Yoo, Veronica Bronkema, Cami Feek, Andrea Anderson, and April Sims at ACTIVATE 3.8 The Pay Equity Tour Launch Event June 28.

April Sims is a mother of three and the President of the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO. She spoke about the importance of having more women leading in labor, business, and government relations. She reminded everyone of the old adage about a rising tide lifting all boats, and challenged everyone to change the narrative. “Be thoughtful about the boats we should be focusing on, knowing that the conditions that lift those boats lift all boats,” Sims said. Adding, “When we work on policies that are centered around the experiences and voices of those most impacted, we can lift all workers.” The WSLC uses their multi-pronged approach of passing legislation, increasing access to good jobs, and negotiating strong contracts to do just that. 

Sims concluded by saying that, “When women do better, we all do better. As we continue to advance these initiatives, let’s remember that they are part of a broader vision. A vision where every woman has the support they need to succeed at every stage of their career. The ACTIVATE 3.8 campaign embodies this initiative.”

Veronica Bronkema is the Board Chair of Washington State Employees Credit Union and Regional Administrator for Washington Department of Labor and Industries who shared some of the gains that have been made. She stressed that Washington now requires that boards have 25% women, salary ranges be posted, and that the state is disrupting the history of compounding salary negotiations by not allowing employers to ask about an applicant’s current pay. Bronkema challenged all attendees to collaborate and make a difference together to make Washington the first state with pay equity.

Yoo honored Trudi and Governor Inslee for their work on behalf of women throughout the state and closed the event by reminding attendees to use their voice to speak up for gender equality and help spread the word about ACTIVATE 3.8. More information available on their website Activate38.com.