Today is Equal Pay Day. Sadly it’s not the day where women will make the same amount of money for the same job done by her male counterpart. No; it’s just a day of awareness that this issue remains unchanged, despite huge efforts by many people.
As a nation, we’ve been working on this issue for more than 50 years. In April 2013, we “celebrated” the 50th anniversary of the federal Equal Pay Act. Still, women earn 77 cents on the dollar to a man with equal qualifications and job responsibilities.
- See how this % has changed over time – http://www.pay-equity.org/info-time.html
Who likes to work for free?
To give you an idea of the impact of what 77 cents on the dollar means in a person’s life, Deb Ullman, CEO of YWCA Hartford Region explained to me that a woman would have had to work all last year and right up until today (April 8, 2014) to earn the same amount of money earned by a man in 2013. That’s like not getting a paycheck for 3+ months. Hello? That’s not going to work.
Living on the brink – 42 million women
The Shriver Report was recently issued and it projected that one out of three women in the USA is living on the brink. They are heads of households, working while also taking care of children and their elderly parents. 28 million children depend upon these women. They are living paycheck to paycheck. They are one sick child, one broken down car away from losing it all.
These women are in your life and in your community. You may not recognize their struggle to survive and provide for their children and families. Watch this video to understand the magnitude of the issue that pay inequity has on families and our national economy.
Systematic change is needed
I used to think that this problem could be solved by encouraging women to negotiate better. But the reality is that there is an unconscious bias against women that exists in the USA and in many countries in the world.
“Gender-based wage discrimination has been illegal in this country (USA) for decades, and yet it systematically continues,” says Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
NPR has run a series of reports on the issue of wag gap. Below are a few excerpts from their coverage of the issue:
- “It doesn’t matter if you’re a surgeon, a banker or a fisherman — if you’re a woman in the United States, you’re probably paid less than a man. That hasn’t changed with federal laws or the feminist movement.” (NPR, November 30, 2013)
- “I have actually experienced a situation where my compensation wasn’t comparable to a male counterpart,” Estelle Archibold who was working for a consulting company then. “It was at least $20,000 worth of a gap, which is a significant quality of life issue.” (NPR, November 30, 2013)
“All economies have savings and productivity gains if women have access to the job market. It’s not just a moral, philosophical or equal-opportunity matter. It’s also an economic cause. It just makes economic sense. It’s a no-brainer.” – Christine Lagarde, IMF
- Listen to her interview – http://www.npr.org/2014/03/28/294715846/imfs-lagarde-women-in-workforce-key-to-healthy-economies
Put this idea into action
Examine your own unconscious bias when it comes to wages paid to women versus men. Find out more about the many low paying jobs and career tracks that women occupy (like child care providers, teachers, housekeeper, wait staff, retail clerks, etc.).
Do the math on their family P&L and understand the realities that they have to deal with. Be aware of your attitudes and comments regarding food stamps and other government assistance needed by the poor. Put a real face to the people who receive these meager benefits…and understand WHY it is that they need this kind of help.
Poverty is not a choice that people make willingly. It is not a dream or goal. It’s not an aspiration. Poverty and living on the brink is one of the outcomes of fifty years of not being able to fix a real problem in our society…pay inequity.
Wage inequity is a core issue of the world’s economic problem. If we can correct this problem and pay women what they are worth, we improve life for millions of women, children and families. AND…we improve our local and global economy.
What’s there not to like about pay equity?