As we celebrate International Women’s Day, the question of pay equity still looms large as a major concern for the throngs of women still seeking a chance at greater economic parity with their male counterparts. While they is slight variance in estimates, women make on average 77 cents to every one dollar a man makes. That gap in pay is further exacerbated by additional barriers in the workplace, including “being paid less for the same work, being overrepresented in low-wage positions, and facing wage penalties for being a mother, especially if they take time out of the workforce,” according to Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Director of Research at the National Women’s Law Center. For women of color, that gap is even greater. On average, Black women earn 64 cents to every dollar that a white, non-Hispanic man earns, while Latinas make 56 cents to every dollar.
Increasingly, as employers seek to find ways to increase retention, efforts to close the pay gap are becoming more popular. Verizon recently announced a new policy in which it declared, “we understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, including ensuring that all individuals are compensated equitably for similar work and have an equal opportunity to contribute and advance in the workplace. We believe that businesses must play a critical role in reducing the national pay gap for women and we are committed to collaborating to achieve that goal. Toward that end, we commit to identify and promote best practices in compensation, hiring, promotion, and career development, to develop strategies to reduce unconscious bias and to make hiring, promotion and compensation decisions that promote pay equity. By doing so, we believe Verizon can have a positive effect on our workforce that, in turn, makes our company stronger and delivers value to our shareholders.”
Important people are starting to take note. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) recently said, “I applaud Verizon’s recent announcement of its commitment to diversity and pay equity. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, I am excited to work closely with Verizon to keep focus on this initiative and to expand participation to include other companies.”
Pay equity is but one of the critical issues facing women’s empowerment that are on display during Women’s History Month as women, and their supporters, advocate for a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable society. It represents an important next step in ensuring that all people – regardless of gender – have the opportunity to truly reach for and achieve the American Dream.