(Un)equal Pay Day: Is it Good News or Bad News?
Issue 193 — March 14, 2022
It’s progress to be sure that March 15 marks Equal Pay Day 2022. Women now earn 83% of what men earn for matched full time work.
Last year the annual recognition of when U.S. women had to work into 2021 before they earned what men earned what men did in just 12 months of 2020 occurred on March 24. The year before that, the day was March 31.
But beware the Ides of March
The seemingly good news of March 15 can lull you into thinking all is good. Danger lurks in the details.
Besides the obvious fact that equal pay still eludes women, we have yet to assess the full impact of the pandemic on careers and wages. With predictions that women have been set back by a decade in their careers, next year may well find equal pay day backsliding.
Further, and more unjustly, the 82% figure is an average, a composite of all women. White women on average earned 99% of white men’s pay.
According to AAUW, there are many Equal Pay Days, and the pandemic has required a recalculation of what the previous measure of full time work means: “This encompasses a broader cross-section of women, including those who work part time or seasonally, to represent a more accurate picture of how the gender pay gap impacts diverse communities.”
- Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day is May 3. Asian American and Pacific Islander women are paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is September 21. Black women are paid 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is November 30. Native women are paid 50 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- Latina’s Equal Pay Day is December 8. Latinas are paid 49 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
Bots just wanna have fu-un.
Countervailing the potential bad news are changes in technology and the marketplace for talent that open opportunities to accelerate the climb to pay parity for all. Plus, a third countervailing force is that women ourselves are becoming more adept at naming and claiming our value.
First, in regard to technology, there are now apps like Gender Fair that put the ability to buy from companies that have pay parity into our pockets. There are AI solutions like software developed by Pipeline Equity that aim to remove bias from the internal hiring process, motivated by founder Katica Roy’s personal experience with pay discrimination. Here’s my recent interview with her on my first LinkedIn Live.
(You can search me @GloriaFeldt on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to see past interviews that interest you, and find upcoming ones, which are now weekly on Thursdays. The schedule can also be found on my website at www.gloriafeldt.com/intentioning, as well as www.taketheleadwomen/events.)
If positive reinforcement doesn’t work, there’s the very clever bot created by Francesca Lawson and Ali Fensome of Manchester, England. The pair launched their Twitter account @PayGapApp last year to use government data on British companies’ gender pay gaps to call out companies tweeting about International Women’s Day but not themselves having equal pay. Fensome, a software developer, built the account as a bot, writing code that leads it to tweet corporate gender pay gap calling out companies with information about their hourly median gender pay gaps. Nothing like transparency to create change!
Second, the marketplace for talent is particularly intense in the wake of the Great Resignation, Great Rethink, or whatever you call the process by which the confluence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the racial reckoning together have shaken our world.
From 60% of nurses leaving or considering leaving their jobs due to both burnout and realizing they were doing the essential work but not being paid accordingly, to women faced with more caregiving responsibilities at home than they could manage while employed full time, to the many choosing to become entrepreneurs instead of going back into organizations where the cultures aren’t friendly to them, change is afoot.
Companies must adapt their structures and cultures to accommodate those changed priorities or lose the investments they have made in female employees and many men as well. Hybrid work is probably here to stay, for example.
To go deeper into how we can create the organizational cultures of inclusion needed in 2022 and beyond, join me and my guest Felicia Davis on “Intentioning This!” LinkedIn Live March 17. Felicia is an award winning leadership coach, founder of the Black Women’s Collaborative, and an expert in racial healing. This conversation is or should be at the top of the list for CEO’s, HR executives, and DEI professionals.
And when it comes to how courageous individual women lead the way, showing how each of us can make systemic change for equal pay, do mark your calendar for “Intentioning This!” on March 24. My guests will be two women who are my heroines in making Equal Pay Day come earlier. Lilly Ledbetter, whose willingness to take her own unequal pay to court and later legislation named for her became the first law signed by then-President Barack Obama, and Cindy Guerra Robbins who with her colleague Leyla Seka led the initiative for the huge tech company Salesforce to equalize pay between men and women.
As we observe Equal Pay Day during Women’s History Month, just after International Women’s Day, let’s remember there are many reasons to go about “Intentioning” gender equality, especially economic equality.
As Alison Holder writes in Fortune: “Gender equality has been shown to be the most important predictor of peace–more so than a country’s wealth, level of democracy, or religious identity. Gender-equal countries are less likely to go to war, to use force first during conflicts, or to be involved in violent international crises. States that invest in women are more likely to be wealthy, stable, and democratic. It is for these reasons that gender equality has been described as “the taproot of international security.”
Given the state of the world today, what could be more urgent?
Drop your thoughts about Equal Pay Day in the comments.
GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of five books, most recently Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) Good. Her signature 9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career online course is described as “life changing” and “jet fuel for my career” by participants. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet Gloria Feldt.