Women are not gaining ground in the effort to achieve equal pay, and they may be falling behind in the U.S. However, the trends point to the effort to provide equal pay for women to be successful. It’s only a matter of time.
Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that despite efforts put forth by some organizations, the wage gap between men and women is still very much a part of the work world.
The recent report, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017, finds that the 2017 real median earnings of all male workers (regardless of race) increased by 3% to $44,408 from 2016, but real median earnings for their female counterparts ($31,610) saw no statistically significant change between 2016 and 2017.
The report stated that the real median earnings of men ($52,146) and women ($41,977) working full-time, year-round in 2017 each decreased from their respective 2016 medians by 1.1 percent. The 2017 female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.805, not statistically different from the 2016 ratio, substantiating that women still only make 80 cents for every dollar that men earn.
Well aware of this continuing pay disparity, there has been increased support for Congress to again consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was designed to address critical shortcomings in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 aimed at ending wage disparity based on sex.
Organizations such as the Association of University Women (AAUW), the National Partnership for Women & Families, the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), and the National Organization for Women (NOW) are among the groups that have urged passage of this legislation.
As Congress continues to dither around action with the Paycheck Fairness Act, organizations like AAUW are taking on the equal pay challenge. AAUW Work Smart was started to help teach women how to negotiate for a new job, raise, or promotion. Workshops are held across the country with the goal of by training 10 million women about salary negotiation by 2022. AAUW’s research on the gender pay gap shows that, one year out of college, women are already paid significantly less than men. Recent research has found that 42% of mothers with children under the age of 18 are their families’ primary or sole breadwinners. AAUW says, “Women who negotiate increase their potential to earn higher salaries and better benefits packages. By negotiating fair and equitable salaries, you’ll be better able to pay off loans, buy the things you want and need, and even save for retirement.”
AAUW also is an advocate for having organizations provide their pay data and supported the EEOC’s initial efforts to implement crucial pay data collection through the EEO-1 reporting. While that effort has been put on hold by the Trump Administration, some states, like New Jersey, have already implemented pay data reporting requirements for certain employers.
Additionally, several states and cities are banning organizations from inquiring into job candidate’s previous salary earnings. Historically, previous salary earnings perpetuated the wage gap between women and men.
The federal government continues to promote the concept of equal pay through the enforcement activities of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The Women’s Bureau of the U.S. provides an equal pay guide for women that outlines their rights under federal law.
It is evident that the fight for Equal Pay still has a long way to go. Don’t delay the process any longer if your organization hasn’t gotten started. Organizations should learn more about the importance of pay equity. They should take steps to identify problematic pay disparities within their organization. They should make sure they are aware of the many new laws being put into place by state, regional, and local governments in areas in which they operate.
Get ahead of the effort to provide equal pay to all before your organization finds itself behind the societal and government efforts to forge a U.S. business culture based on equal pay for all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other protected classes.