The U.S. Equal Pay Act was signed into law 55 years ago, but the topic of the gender pay gap is hotter than ever. Here’s a look at some of the big conversations that happened around this year’s Equal Pay Day.
Let’s start with this tidbit, (which is either unsurprising or shocking, depending on where you sit at the table): Fortune reports that one in three Americans aren’t aware of the gender pay gap, according to new research by Lean In and SurveyMonkey.
Additionally, Fortune’s story addresses common myths about the pay gap for people who are unfamiliar with it (such as the notion that women are paid less because they're less educated).
Equal Pay Day originated in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). It fell on April 10 this year, because that day symbolizes the day through which the average U.S. woman would have to work in 2018 to earn what the average U.S. man did in 2017.
CNBC quotes Lisa Crooms-Robinson, law professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Howard University, on how organizations can address the racial gap within the gap:
"'For most organizations, this would require a shift that goes beyond diversity committees and affinity groups,' says Crooms-Robinson, in regards to creating workplaces where women of color are not only hired, but also promoted and treated equally. 'Committed organizational leadership at the very highest level is essential to make such a significant culture shift.'"
For more on the numbers, The American Association for University Women provides stats on pay gap variations for different racial groups in its report, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.
The day is observed globally, though it won’t fall on the same date in every country.
The U.K. last observed Equal Pay Day on Nov. 10, 2017, symbolizing the day, as the Telegraph writes, when women stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap.
U.K. businesses with more than 250 employees were required to report gender pay information by midnight on Wednesday, April 4 of this year. In last week’s Roundup, we covered key findings from the published data.
Scotland-based independent non-profit media platform The Ferret has since mapped the published data based on the location of the U.K. companies’ headquarters. FastCompany this week also shared a map showing the gender pay gap in every state. According to the map, Louisiana has the biggest gender pay gap. Men earn $15,238 more than women in that state. Florida has the smallest pay gap, with men earning $5474 more than women.
What this means for the workplace
Companies that have made efforts towards achieving pay equity were also featured prominently as part of this week’s conversations about Equal Pay Day. The stories highlighted key ways organizations need to address the pay gap.
Leaders discussed the importance of using modern technology in partnership with truly reviewing and re-evaluating hiring practices, creating policies to ensure equal pay, and analyzing the gender wage gap within organizations.
Certainly, there’s complexity from a compliance perspective, to ensure requirements in specific jurisdictions and countries are met. HR has a crucial role in this process, not only working closely with other key leadership stakeholders, but shifting organizations to a mindset that these practices can’t be reviewed only once a year.