Today we mark the day when U.S. women have finally earned as much as the average man did in 2018. Hallelujah! Lucky us!
Despite equal pay day being established in 1996, very little progress has been made. In fact, most of the progress was made in the 80’s and 90’s. In the past 10 years (2009-2018) the weekly gender wage gap narrowed by less than 1 percentage point.
Not exactly the leaps and bounds we hoped for.
The most recent research shows women in the United States make $0.80 on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, according to the IWPR that gap is wider for Black women at $0.61, Native American women at $0.58 and Hispanic women at $0.53 <insert my serious eye-roll and “que carajo” here> compared to their male colleagues. This means our Equal Pay Days are further out at August 22, 2019, September 23, 2019 and November 20, 2019 respectively.
No matter how you analyze it the gender pay gap is real and harmful to women’s economic security. It’s no wonder women have less saved in retirement than men; indeed the deck is already stacked against us.
Congress has passed a bill “The Paycheck Fairness Act”, aimed to strengthen equal pay protections for women by expanding upon the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act. It would ban employers from asking job applicants how much they previously made, prohibit companies from retaliating against workers who share wage information, and increase penalties for equal pay violations. The bill still has to pass an uphill battle in the Senate where it already lost once.
At its foundation, the concept is simple. Men and women doing the same job deserve the same pay. It’s not rocket science.
Some companies are doing their part to eliminate this issue. Starbucks, Apple, Adobe, Salesforce and Lululemon have all closed the gap to reach gender parity.
We have a long way to go, but more companies have to follow suit, we need government to step it up, and we have to fight for salary transparency.
Other solutions - let’s get rid of the term “maternity leave” and call it “parental leave” where both parents take time off and maybe that could curb the unjust discrimination we receive for taking off to have a baby.
How about subsidies for child and elder care? For mothers of young children, particularly those who are low-income, the lack of affordable, high-quality childhood programs and care can prevent working mothers from meeting the demands of their jobs which is crucial to their long-term success.
And of course, we should continue to promote and fund female entrepreneurship. Not getting paid what you’re worth? Now YOU can fully control what that amount is. #BOSS.
Women have broken a lot of barriers, and we know we have a way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We’d love to hear your experiences and what you think we can do to make the gender pay gap a thing of the past.
Valerie Sanchez is Partner at Divine Asset Mgt./Co-creator of Divine WealthWise & a proud Latina entrepreneur.