The wage-gap was supposedly addressed with the Equal Pay Act of 1963, but white women are still paid an average of 80 percent of the salary paid to a male employee (which adds up to an astounding $1 million, over the course of a working life), while the pay gap for women of color and mothers is still even greater. Based on current projections, the pay gap will not be fully equitable until 2152, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
The good news is that equal-pay success is possible, even probable, in a number of workplace situations, as women begin to demand equity in their wage-gap battles. Businesses are also pushing forward on a number of fronts to equalize the pay and benefits across their employee base. Why?
It just makes sense, of course. As fathers and partners are becoming more active in their children’s lives, it’s not longer “safe” to assume that a woman’s work schedule will be as dramatically affected by her home-front roles, nor is their performance and value insignificant.
Inspiring Equal Wage
As the wage-gap becomes more controversial, companies have made the smart choice to make salaries more transparent and also more equal. President Obama’s 2014 executive joined the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act and the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force to add wait to these efforts, but the movement has gained even more momentum this year with the Equal Pay Pledge.
“This isn’t just good for economic justice,” says Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte LLP, at the 2014 White House event. “It’s good for our companies. Because when you pay based on performance, when you pair fairly, when you pay on merit, you get better people. You do – and that’s good for business and our economy.”
As part of Women’s Equity Day 2016, President Obama further proclaimed: “Underrepresented in management positions, underfunded as entrepreneurs, under-encouraged in STEM fields, and confronted with higher levels of unemployment, women and girls of color still face very real challenges, significant opportunity gaps, and structural barriers.” But, he also expressed his dedication to “tackling the challenges that remain and expanding opportunity for women and girls everywhere”, as he called upon Americans to “promote gender equality.”
Next Steps: Wage Gap Pledges
For all the steps forward that we’ve seen (with the law and in actual practice by US companies) those successes demonstrate that there’s a growing receptivity to pay equity. Most female workers are now expecting an even demanding higher pay, to be on-par with male co-workers, but millennial women are also making faster progress. Younger women, in particular, have learned from the Lean-In Revolution, and they’re taking what they’ve learned to ensure their own success, while also supporting other women.
Perhaps most hopeful of all, though, are those equal-pay pledges from companies across the US. Just look at which companies enthusiastically signed up: Akamai Technologies, Anheuser-Busch, Apple, Chobani, The Coca-Cola Company, CVS Health, Delta Air Lines, Dropbox, Dunkin’ Brands, EY, Facebook, General Motors, The Hartford, The Hershey Company, Hilton, IBM, Ikea, Intel, The Libra Group, LinkedIn, MailChimp, Microsoft, MuleSoft, Nike, Patagonia, Target, Unilever, and Visa.
Yes, those companies represent some of the most progressive and diversity-rich examples of the American workforce, but their statements and important wage-gap policies will almost certainly ensure even more success stories in future days. With so many high-powered companies pushing forward on this important issue, more-hesitant companies won’t have any choice but to fall in line.