Today marks Equal Pay Day, the time on the 2020 calendar it took for women to catch up to what their male counterparts earned by December 31, 2019 doing equal work. The data on this topic is extensive. Women, on average, earn .80 for every dollar their male colleagues earn, costing women an average of $10,000 dollars a year. The situation is even worse for women of color.
The pay gap matters even more in a time of crisis. Earning less over time means women have fewer resources to weather critical events. Women are the breadwinners in half of the households in America. That means families depend on their paycheck.
In Alabama, the gender pay gap is even wider. Women earn 73% on the dollar comparing average median income. According to the AAUW, that puts our state in 48th place for equal pay. At the current rate of change, the projection for when women will earn equal compensation is 2059.
The pay gap is not just a matter of individual salary negotiation. Unconscious bias runs deep through all levels of the employee lifecycle: recruiting, hiring, promotion, and compensation.
Closing the gap will require action on several fronts:
- Public policy protections on the national and local level, such as the Equal Pay Act and Lilly Ledbetter’s Fair Pay Act.
- Greater protections at the state and local level, such as salary history bans and wage reporting by gender.
- Build pay equity into your management training. As a leader, you have both the influence and the responsibility to advocate for fair hiring, promotion and compensation practices. The Society for Human Resource Management has great resources for managers here.
The pay equity gap isn’t a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue that affects our society at large. On a national level, if women were paid fairly, we could cut the poverty rate in half and inject $512.6 billion into the U.S. economy. At the state and local level, pay equity would help us recruit and retain top talent, as well as fuel our local economy and improve prospects for education and investments for thousands of families.
Let’s use our Momentum network to accelerate the rate of change in Alabama.