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Equal Pay Day: Time to Get Paychecks in Check

Sarah Thomas
4/4/2017
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Today, April 4 -- or the 94th day of the year -- marks Equal Pay Day, the day the average women would have to work up to in 2017 to make the same amount men made in 2016. It's not a happy "holiday," but it's an important reminder how far the workforce has to go in closing the gap for women.

The stats are sobering: Women make an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man makes, adding up to $10,500 less annually, and the gap is significantly greater for women who are also under-represented minorities. The way things are going, the gap won't close until 2059, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

With a lack of any real legislation mandating equal pay in the US, it's been incumbent on companies to insist upon equality in their employee base. As you can imagine, that's a big part of the reason the gap persists. Investors have put the pressure on tech companies in the past year to be more transparent about their wages and to narrow the gap, but progress is also being made at a legislative level. As Bloomberg points out, this is happening with or without the help of the current administration. (See Investors Pressure Tech Firms on Pay Equity.)


Women in Comms' biggest event of 2017 is coming up on Monday, May 15, ahead of the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas. Register here to join us for a networking luncheon with top-notch keynoters and panel discussions!


At the state level, there are currently more than 60 bills pending across 20 states aimed at closing the wage gap with measures such as banning the use of a job candidate's previous pay in salary considerations, inflicting penalties on companies with pay gaps and making it easier to discuss pay in order to detect discrepancies. (See How Much Is Everyone Getting Paid?)

California is a good state to look to for an example. As of January 2016, it began banning employers from paying one gender more for largely similar work unless they could demonstrate other factors accounted for the discrepancy. It's hard to argue with a law like that, which is simply asking for fair treatment, yet other states fall so much shorter. Some, like North Dakota, Utah, Louisiana and Wyoming, won't see the wage gap close until the next century. (See Intel Closed the Gender Pay Gap in 2015.)

First daughter turned White House employee Ivanka Trump promised to make narrowing the pay gap a priority, personally and for her father's presidency. It remains to be seen whether that was a hollow campaign promise or not -- and so far signs point to "not" -- but the time is ripe to make a real change for women in the workplace.

It starts, of course, with transparency. Companies cannot fix a problem they don't know -- or claim not to know -- they have. If we share salary data, make it permissible to discuss it in context, we can understand the full picture. After that, better policies to support both mothers and fathers in the workplace would also help level the playing field by not putting the onus entirely on women -- and lessening the financial penalty they incur by taking time off for their children. (See Mind the Gap: Is Public Shaming the Way to End Pay Inequity?)

It's often hard to believe that women still have to fight for things like equal pay, transparency and support in the workplace in 2017, but that's the reality here in the US. It's time for a wholesale change that includes legislation, corporate support and an overhaul of company cultures that have allowed the pay gap to persist so long.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

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kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/14/2017 | 11:36:30 AM
Re: It's up to us
It would be interesting if employees would be willing and could publicly post their salaries and benefits online in some sort of forum to spark discussion and provide more impetus to gaining more equality in pay sooner than later. But, I'm thinking there's still too much fear of losing privacy or recrimination from employers who don't want numbers posted for all to see.
cking6178
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cking6178,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/6/2017 | 4:05:05 PM
Re: It's up to us
Sarah - respectfully disagree with your assertion that the linked article, The Insitute for Women's Policy Research, correctly breaks down the basis for the gap. The argument I've seen from your side is a blanket argument that ignores the direct comparisons for employees performing the same jobs. It also ignores the "lost" pay women are subject to bc of maternity leave - it's only a recent phenomenon that men have been granted paternity leave - this should start to help close that "gap" as well. In the end, what your side argues is that the gap is due to unequal pay for equal work, but that's not today's reality. EVERY company I've worked for in the past decade has had in place a salary band system that "slots" employees in based on market rates. Now whether the employee negotiates a package above what's intially offered is something that would be missed by these generic surveys - and science does show that, on the whole, women are less likely to negotiate their compensation packages than men (my own personal experience shows me this as well. Every single guy I know at least pushes back on the first offer and asks for more and only about 30% of the women I know do the same thing - I get it, my personal experience doesn't equate to scientific evidence, but it does reinforce the stats I've seen - one example here, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/06/AR2008110602982.html

 

If you want to argue that women are under represented in the C-Suite, by all means I'm with you there. 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/6/2017 | 11:10:26 AM
Re: It's up to us
The source hyperlinked in the article, The Institute for Women's Policy Research, breaks down the basis for the 82 cents to the $1 statistic, as well as explains and details the gap by state, occupation, ethnicity and more.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/6/2017 | 10:36:41 AM
Re: It's up to us
I'm sure there are people who don't believe there's any such thing as a wage gap. All the data I've seen suggests that such a gap does in fact exist. It's really not hard to find multiple sources on this. The language you use to disparage this story is over the top. And remember -- if you don't want to read a story, you don't have to.
Austin Idol
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Austin Idol,
User Rank: Moderator
4/6/2017 | 10:27:37 AM
Re: It's up to us
mendyK, I come here to read about technology, telecommunications, and wireless. Not to read political op eds about the perceived unfairness women feel they are subject to in the economy. If you are going to make blanket statements about 82 cents on the dollar then you should be able to back it up and speak to it. Otherwise this is just a propaganda piece. 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/5/2017 | 1:40:05 PM
Re: It's up to us
Maybe a source that's more to your taste can start a telecom industry news service, presenting only points of view that you agree with.
Austin Idol
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Austin Idol,
User Rank: Moderator
4/5/2017 | 3:23:32 AM
Re: It's up to us
Shouldnt the job of closing this so called wage gap be up to the people most affected by it? The women themselves? What are the details behind the 82 cents figure? This appears to be more of a political propaganda piece and not what I come light reading for hence undermining what you are advocating. What defines equal work? What defines equal performance?
Kelsey Ziser
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Kelsey Ziser,
User Rank: Blogger
4/4/2017 | 1:32:24 PM
Re: It's up to us
I agree, I think it will be up to companies, industries and states to make real change. It's a shame Trump rolled back the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order. Seems like rolling that back just benefits C-level employees at large corporations, not the workers of Middle America that Trump promised to support. 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/4/2017 | 12:40:24 PM
It's up to us
Let's be honest, the job of closing the wage gap is going to fall to individual companies, industries and the states. Trump is not going to help women at all. His executive order provides more evidence of that. From the hyperlinked NBC article

"The other result of Trump's executive order on federal contractors was lifting a mandate on paycheck transparency, or requiring employers to detail earnings, pay scales, salaries, and other details. The Fair Pay order Trump overturned was one of the few ways to ensure companies were paying women workers equally to their male colleagues."
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