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Obama Plans to Fight the Gender Pay Gap With Data

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Exactly seven years ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, amending the Civil Rights Act to alter the statute of limitations for discrimination claims. It was the first bill he signed into law as president, and an important tool for women fighting to close the gender pay gap. Today, Obama extends those protections by announcing a new rule to require companies with 100 or more employees to furnish the government with pay data on gender, race, and ethnicity.

Exactly seven years ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, amending the Civil Rights Act to alter the statute of limitations for discrimination claims. It was the first bill he signed into law as president, and an important tool for women fighting to close the gender pay gap. Today, Obama extends those protections by announcing a new rule to require companies with 100 or more employees to furnish the government with pay data on gender, race, and ethnicity.

Barack Obama

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor will publish a proposal on the data collection plan.

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“The proposal would cover over 63 million employees,” Melanie Garunay writes at The White House’s blog. “This step – stemming from a recommendation of the President’s Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in April 2014 – will help focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations. It expands on and replaces an earlier plan by the Department of Labor to collect similar information from federal contractors.”

The rule is intended both to catch companies who are discriminating based on gender and also to encourage companies to monitor their own practices in order to prevent unintended pay discrimination, White House officials told The New York Times.

Marc Benioff, the Salesforce.com CEO who directed his company to spend $3 million closing its internal gender pay gap, worked with the Obama administration to build a case for the requirement.

“We’re never going to solve this issue of pay inequality if C.E.O.s like myself and others continue to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their own corporations,” Benioff told The Times.

In addition to the new rule, Obama is taking several actions during his last year in office, in order to combat unfair pay and review progress made during his administration:

  • Renewing the call to Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
  • Hosting a summit, The United States of Women, to mark the progress women have made and discuss ways to address remaining problems.
  • The Council of Economic Advisers has released an issue brief that examines the gender pay gap and discusses possible policy solutions.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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