Equal pay is achievable – just ask Gap Inc. Earlier this week the company announced that that it is paying men and women equally for work on the same jobs. It worked with a consulting firm to evaluate its pay practices and confirm pay parity between the sexes. The company also revealed that it is ahead of the curve in terms of its numbers of women in leadership positions.
Gap’s success in maintaining equal pay is all the more striking when you consider that women working in the retail sector as a whole experienced a 32 cent wage gap compared to their male counterparts in 2011. This gap for the retail sector is much larger than the overall wage gap between men and women.
Gap’s encouraging announcement comes shortly after the Department of Labor unveiled a proposal to require companies that contract with the government to provide data about what men and women in their workforces are paid. This data will be used to assess how companies are stacking up on the issue of equal pay and improve enforcement of legal protections against pay discrimination based on gender and race. One of the key benefits of the DOL’s proposal is that it will encourage contractors to proactively assess their pay practices, and identify and eliminate any unjustified pay disparities.
Gap’s recent announcement shows that prioritizing equal pay in this way can be a smart business move – this is the sort of news that won’t be lost on either its customers or its employees. But since some companies will drag their feet, we’ll also keep pushing for the critical public policies that will ensure that women and men are on equal ground.