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Pay Equity: I like… I wish… What if…

Roweena Naidoo, Senior Director, Policy and Impact Investing

Like: Amazing things that are happening
Wish: A hope for something not yet in place, or almost there

What if: Imagine the possibilities

Pay Equity

April 10, 2018 was designated as ‘Equal Pay Day’ across the United States. The day symbolizes how far into the new year women must work to earn what the average man earned by the end of the previous year. The date is based on 2016 U.S. Census data on median earnings for full-time, year-round workers. In 1960, a woman earned 60 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Forty years later, in 2000, the gender wage gap narrowed to 70 cents. And now, in 2018, it has taken two decades to shave another dime off the wage gap.

At a time when women are earning college degrees at a higher rate than men, women are, on average, earning $0.80 for every dollar earned by a man. At this rate, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take more than 100 years for women in the U.S. to reach pay parity. The worse news is that the gap is far wider for women of color. But more on that in a bit, in this post of “I like, I wish, what if.”

I like…

Salesforce is a tech giant: there are 3,000 employees and the company enjoys $10 billion in annual revenue. Founder and CEO Marc Benioff made it a priority to hire, promote, and retain women employees. This is part of the philosophy and culture of the company, that led Fortune to rank it as the number one place to work among large companies.

But in 2015, personnel chief, Cindy Robbins, brought it to Benioff’s attention that women and men weren’t being paid equally. An audit confirmed that Salesforce had a persistent gender pay gap: across every department, every division, and every geography.

Benioff was committed to correcting the situation. It cost approximately $3 million to make the adjustment in the first year. And more than ten percent of the women received larger paychecks.

Next, Salesforce will be working on increasing the number of women in leadership positions – it is currently at 20 percent.

I wish…

It’s wonderful that companies like Salesforce, Citigroup and Amazon are working to close the gender pay gap, because equal pay is just good for business! But I wish we were also focusing on the pay gap for women of color.

April 10, 2018 was designated as Equal Pay day for all women:

  • For African-American women, Equal Pay Day will be recognized on August 7th
  • For Native American women, September 7th
  • For Latina women, November 1st
  • For Asian or Pacific Islander women, February 22 – though large gaps exist among sub-groups

Currently, African American women earn $0.63 for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts. Native American women earn $0.57, Latina women earn $0.54, Asian women earn $0.87, and white women earn $0.79 to the dollar.

As with the gender pay gap in general, discrimination plays a role in this inequity. A study from Northwestern University, Harvard, and the Institute for Social Research in Norway found that white applicants receive 36 percent more callbacks than equally qualified African-Americans, and 24 percent more callbacks than Latinos. An NPR poll found that one-third of Native Americans say they have experienced workplace discrimination when looking for a job, getting a promotion or getting paid fairly.

What if…

Pay equity existed? Despite being paid less, women’s earnings are vital to the economic stability of families. In the United States, half of all households with children under 18 have a breadwinner mother. If we enjoyed pay parity:

  • Nearly 60 percent of women would earn more if working women were paid the same as men of the same age with similar education and hours of work
  • The poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half, falling from 8.0 percent to 3.8 percent
  • Approximately 25.8 million children would benefit from the increased earnings if their mothers received equal pay
  • The number of children with working mothers living in poverty would be nearly cut in half, dropping from 5.6 million to 3.1 million.
  • The United States economy would have produced additional income of $512.6 billion; this represents 2.8 percent of 2016 gross domestic product (GDP)