Today, Tuesday, April 2, 2019, is the national observance of Equal Pay Day, the day when women and men around the country recognize the wage gap between working women and men, and offer remedies to address pay inequity.
Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.
Across the country, thousands of local advocates are participating in programs and activities focused on eradicating wage discrimination against women and people of color. Local Equal Pay Day activists organize rallies, lobby days, speak-outs, letter-writing campaigns, workshops, and meetings with employers, policy-makers, and enforcement agencies to promote effective solutions for closing the wage gap.
People are encouraged to wear red today as a symbol of how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay.
According to statistics released in 2016 by the United States Census Bureau, women are paid, on average, 80 cents for every dollar their male counterparts are paid — a gap of 20 cents.
But these numbers change considerably for women of color. For example, in 2018, black women needed to work for 20 months to catch up to the pay received by their white, male counterparts. This year, black women won’t reach the threshold until August, 22, 2019.
Here’s what can be done to help:
First, we need to keep affirmative action programs in place to make sure education, jobs and promotion opportunities are open and offered to qualified women.
Second, employers must examine and correct their pay practices. Employers can get help in examining their pay practices through equal pay self-audit guidelines from the US Department of Labor.
Third, women must stand up for equal pay and for themselves. If a prospective employer cannot show that women and men are paid equally for the job you’re seeking, it makes sense to look elsewhere. Positive signs includes a hiring process that seeks diversity through affirmative action, written pay and benefit policies, job descriptions and evaluation procedures. A union for workers is another good sign. Women in unions earn 35% more than women in non-union workplaces.
Women who are paid less than men must discuss the problem with their employer. If there’s a union ask for their help. If discrimination persists, file a complaint with the local or state fair employment agencies or with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A fourth way to close the pay gap is through federal legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act. That’s not a solution popular with employers, but it may be necessary. For employers who continue to pay women less, legal penalties or EEOC action may be the only remedies.
We must work together to fight for pay equity for all women. Today is a great day to start!
Source: National Committee on Pay Equity