Equal Pay Today! Organizations across the nation penned blogs on Equal Pay Day 2017. Make no mistake, the wage gap is as real as it is conquerable, and we don't have to wait 40+ years. We can achieve Equal Pay ... today.
Joi Chaney, Executive Director, Equal Pay Today! Campaign & Noreen Farrell, Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates, Chair, Equal Pay Today! Campaign, Chair, A Stronger California Advocates Network
Here’s what you can do:
1) Demand that your member of Congress and President Trump support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would ban the use of prior salary during the interview and hiring process; protect employees from retaliation for discussing pay; close loopholes that allow employers to unfairly justify the gender wage gap; strengthen enforcement under the Equal Pay Act; and create a negotiation skills training program for women and girls. And let them know that you won’t settle for less than the best.
2) Support efforts to close the gender wage gap at the state level. Learn more about Equal Pay Today organizations, your state’s wage gap and ongoing state efforts to close the gap.
3) Engage on Social Media. You can download a selfie-worthy, state-specific graphic to tweet to your local, state, or federal policymaker, using #EqualPayDay (today) & #EqualPay (thereafter).
4) Support those businesses that have made a public commitment to closing the gender wage gap. And if you are an employer, consider reviewing and updating your practices to ensure you are part of the solution.
Given who’s in the White House, we have an uphill battle to be sure. But at the Women’s March, at international airports, and at town halls across the country, we have shown our power and what our solidarity and commitment can achieve in the fight for equality.
By Lenora M. Lapidus, Director, Women's Rights Project, ACLU & Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel
Multiple factors contribute to the gender wage gap. They include:
- Lower wages: Some employers still pay women less for the same job — in violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII.
- Lack of transparency: Surveys show as many as half of employers have policies that punish their employees who discuss their salaries, a lack of transparency that prevents women from even knowing when they are paid less than their male counterparts.
- Salary history: Women may be hired at lower starting salaries than their male peers because an employer bases those decisions on the pay earned at the applicant’s last job, perpetuating prior inequalities.
- Occupational segregation: “Women’s jobs” — such as retail, administrative work, child care, and teaching — are undervalued and paid less than traditional “men’s jobs,” such as law enforcement, manufacturing, and the skilled trades.
- Pregnancy discrimination: Women who become pregnant face economic penalties — from outright job loss to being forced onto unpaid leave because their jobs are physically strenuous and they are denied simple job modifications that would enable them to continue working.
- Lack of paid family leave: Women with family care obligations — for a new child or an elderly parent — lose income during periods of unpaid family care leave. Sometimes they even lose their jobs because their employers don’t provide any leave time at all.
To close the gender wage gap, policy makers and employers must address each of these factors.
By Maya Raghu, Director of Workplace Equality & Senior Counsel, National Women's Law Center.
Now, a 20-cent gap might seem like small change, but small change adds up over time. For a 20-year-old woman starting full-time, year round work today, that 20 cent gap translates to $418,800 less than her male counterpart over the course of a 40-year career. To close that gap, she’d have to work an extra ten years. Broken down by race, the lifetime wage gap is even more stark: for a Black woman, that lifetime wage gap adds up to $840,040. For a Native woman, it’s $934,240. For a Latina, it’s over $1 million. Left unchecked, that means Black and Native women would have to work well into their 80s, and Latinas into their 90s, in order to catch up to what white, non-Hispanic men are paid by age 60.
This has to change. Not only is the underlying sexism that fuels the wage gap morally indefensible, this kind of inequality is bad for families’ economic security, our economy, and overall quality of life as a society. It’s bad for families when nearly 42 percent of women are the sole or primary breadwinners in families with children and they are being underpaid. It's bad for business when half of consumers are underpaid, and can't afford to buy as much of what companies are selling. Fewer customers equals less money to pay for employees, and further down the spiral goes.
By Linda Meric, National Executive Director, 9to5
Sometimes it’s about women being paid less than men for doing the same work. For Leisa from Texas, a new employer asking about her previous salary combined with a workplace culture of pay secrecy led to a history of unequal pay following her to a new job.
Sometimes it’s about those intersections of identity, when race or pregnancy or transgender discrimination increase the pay gap. For Deb from Colorado, employment discrimination against trans women meant being penniless and homeless. For Yolanda from Texas, it meant being a bilingual Latina searching for work and being offered lower pay. Christina from Colorado was forced to leave her job to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Sometimes it’s about women’s labor being undervalued and jobs paying less just because they’re done predominantly by women. As 9to5 National Board Co-Chair Gloria Smith from Georgia says, “Why should someone caring for your beloved children make minimum wage while someone performing basic car maintenance makes a solid living?”
And sometimes it’s about being responsible for family caregiving but not being able to pay the bills. Keisha from Wisconsin lays out how not having access to paid sick days or paid family leave forced her to have to choose between her family’s health and a consistent paycheck, and punished her financially for taking care of her family.