Today is Equal Pay Day, and the news isn’t sunny—women are still paid less than their male colleagues, women of color are paid even less than their white peers, and progress in reaching parity is maddeningly slow. Last year, women earned about 82% of what men earned, according to the Pew Research Center. Even more depressing (and outrageous), research from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) suggests that women in the U.S. will not reach pay equity with men until 2119.
The date in April that we observe Equal Pay Day each year was chosen by members of the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) to denote how far into the calendar year women must work before they earn what their male counterparts earned the previous year (that’s one year + a quarter).
Today is an exercise in calling attention (yet again) to the glaring gap between men's and women's wages, which has been closing by less than a half-cent per year since the enactment of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Since then:
- In 1963, women who were employed full-time earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- In 2010, women earned 77 cents to men's dollar.
- In 2017, women earn approximately 80 cents for every dollar earned by men.
There are a few bright spots in terms of concrete and meaningful measures taken by a handful of organizations to close the gap to include Starbucks, Apple, Salesforce, Intel, and Adobe, which have reached full pay parity for women and underrepresented minorities in their workforces in the U.S. according to Fortune.
But there is so much more work to be done. What can employers do? Start by conducting a payroll audit, take action on closing those gaps, and establish and continuously reinforce a culture of diversity and inclusion that has real action behind it beyond virtuous optics.