53rd Equal Pay Act Anniversary: Let’s Celebrate What Employers Can Do!

Happy Birthday Equal Pay Act!

Fifty-three years is a long time—so that means everything is fixed now right? Yeah, not so much. Maybe fewer employers are telling women straight to their faces that they don’t need to make as much as their male counterparts because they have husbands at home to take care of them. And yes, the wage gap has improved since 1963 when women made a paltry 59 cents on to every dollar made by men. But women are still being valued less for their work. Fifty-three years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women overall are still typically making only 79 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts and this gap has been stagnant for nearly a decade. And the pay gap is even worse for women of color: African-American women are only paid 60 cents on every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, and Latinas only 55 cents. Pernicious unconscious gender bias and the legacy effects of past discrimination mean that the work of too many women is still not being fully and equally valued.

So while we celebrate the Equal Pay Act today, we also recognize that strong public policies—while absolutely critical—are only part of the puzzle.  Concerted efforts by employers to close gender wage gaps in their own workforces are essential to achieving equal pay. That is why today the National Women’s Law Center issued Achieving Equal Pay: Innovative Employer Approaches,a fact sheet detailing promising strategies and safeguards for employers to ensure fairness in compensation decisions at critical points – including recruitment, hiring, performance evaluations and promotions, allocation of assignments and opportunities, and leadership development. Employers can explore, adapt, test, and adopt these approaches to help prevent the perpetuation of gender pay disparities in their workplaces and their magnification over time.

More and more employers are recognizing the need to take action on equal pay and are adopting these approaches. They recognize that eliminating gender disparities in pay helps their bottom line and boosts the national economy.

So, today, let’s celebrate what employers can do to make equal pay a reality!