The gender pay gap is a real and persistent problem. There has been some movement in the right direction in recent years, but progress has been frustratingly slow. However, if you want to get involved, there are ways you can help to close the gap.
This year, Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, April 10. This is the date that symbolizes how far into the year women working full-time in the U.S. have to work in order to earn what men made the year before. Women of color have it even worse. The pay gap from the prior year isn’t leveled for black women until August 7, 2018. Native American women don’t get there until September 27. And Hispanic women’s Equal Pay Day is on November 1. (To learn more about the Gender Pay Gap, read our report, The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2018.)
“Our Nation is built on the basic promise of a fair shot for all our people” President Obama stated in a Proclamation on National Equal Pay Day, 2016. “Women in the United States still do not always receive equal pay for equal work. When women are paid less for doing the same jobs as men, it undermines our most fundamental beliefs as Americans. Every year, we mark how far into the new year women would have to work in order to earn the same as men did in the previous year, and on this day, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring equal pay for all.”
'Our Nation is built on the basic promise of a fair shot for all our people” President Obama said on Equal Pay Day 2016. “When women are paid less for doing the same jobs as men, it undermines our most fundamental beliefs as Americans.'
Progress toward pay equality has been slow. But greater gains are possible. There are some things that individuals can do to move things in the right direction. In addition to observing and acknowledging the current reality and Equal Pay Day, there are ways you can help close the gap for good.
Support increasing the federal minimum wage
The Economic Policy Institute recently released data that illustrates a strong correlation between state minimum wage increases and wage growth in general, especially for people who struggle the most economically, and for women. They found that increasing the federal minimum wage would have a similarly profound impact. Nearly half of all single mothers, 44.6 percent, would receive a raise if the federal minimum wage went up to $15. In fact, 32 percent of all working mothers would receive a raise as a result of such an increase. Although men make up the majority of the workforce, 55.6 percent of workers who would earn an increase through this change would be women. That would go a long way to help level the gap.
Abandon the idea that the problem will fix itself
The gender wage gap problem would be moving in a better direction if everyone could collectively agree that it isn’t going to go away on its own. In fact, if things continue at this rate, it’s estimated that the gap won’t close until 2059. And, that’s just an average. Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 for their gap to be corrected. The tides of time will not turn this problem around – real people need to work for progress and change.
Negotiating for a higher salary is one of the best ways women can help to close the gap, both for themselves and for the rest of us. Check out PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide to learn more about how best to advocate for yourself. Remember to think about promotions as well as salary. Also, consider negotiating for other aspects of compensation like benefits and flexibility.
Stop asking for/ providing salary history
Salary history questions favor the employer, not the worker. Earnings should be based on factors like experience, job responsibilities, education, industry, company and location. They should not be based upon prior earnings. This practice perpetuates the gender pay gap. If you’re a hiring manager, stop asking for salary history and use PayScale’s Salary Survey instead to find out what you should be paying. You may even want to consider banning the practice of asking for salary history altogether, as other companies and even cities have done, if you have that kind of leverage. If you’re interviewing for a job, and if can avoid it, don’t give a prospective employer your salary history for the same reasons. After all, your salary history is nobody’s business but your own.
Push for a salary equity review
If you have some power in your organization, you might want to consider advocating for a company-wide salary equity review. Younger or newer employers might want to avoid being the one to pose such a challenge to an organization though. Equity evaluations are a fantastic way to make progress within organizations, but pushing for one is still considered a pretty bold move. Workers who’ve been at it a while might be better positioned to advocate for something like this; Senior-ranking women might consider proposing this step. That said, men in senior roles are in the best position to advocate for equity evaluations. Their involvement is a crucial factor when it comes to making progress with the gender wage gap.
To learn more about the Gender Pay Gap, read our report, The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2018.
And if you’d like to help fix the problem, join us on Tuesday, April 10 – online or in person – for Equal Power Day at PayScale HQ.
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