Happy National Equal Pay Day, everyone!
Before you pop the bubbly, you should know that Equal Pay Day is celebrated today, April 12, 2016, because this is how far women must work into the year to earn the equivalent of what men earned in 2015. This dubious holiday is celebrated more with protests and angry rants than with cupcakes and balloons.
At best, you may be able to celebrate with a discounted purchase online as some companies give 21% off to women today to commemorate the fact that women still make an average of 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.
But it is a real thing, with President Obama officially declaring today National Equal Pay Day and building a new monument in DC to honor the movement for women's equality. It could be worse too. As USA Today points out, Equal Pay Day for Latinas isn't until November 1; August 23 for African American women; September 13 for Native American women; and June 4 for moms.
To be clear, the gender pay gap is a rather complex issue, and it's something seen across many more arenas than the technology industry. In fact, tech companies like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Facebook and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) have been among the most proactive in rectifying their pay gaps. They start with transparency -- reporting company-wide pay internally and, sometimes, externally -- and then make closing the gaps where they exist a priority and a mandate from the top. (See Intel Closed the Gender Pay Gap in 2015 and Mind the Gap: Is Public Shaming the Way to End Pay Inequity?)
It certainly costs money initially to close the gap, but as new research from McKinsey & Co. illustrated last week, achieving gender parity in the US could add $4.3 trillion to the country's economy in 2025, and every US state and city can add at least 5% to their GDP over the next ten years by advancing the economic potential of women. (See WiCipedia: Parental Progress & Parity Payoffs and McKinsey: Women Less Likely to Advance at Work.)
Unfortunately, McKinsey concluded that while this is possible it's not probable. The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee says that at the current rate of change, the gender pay gap will not close until 2059.
Faster change is clearly needed. "Holidays" like today's Equal Pay Day are good to create awareness of this persistent issue, but the goal is that in due course we don't need to acknowledge April 12 at all.
— Sarah Thomas, , Director, Women in Comms