Will This Finally Fix The Gender Wage Gap?

Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/ Getty Images.
It has been illegal for companies to pay men and women different salaries for doing the same job since 1963. Yet more than 50 years later, the gender pay gap still persists in the U.S. This morning, the Obama administration took another step toward closing this gap with its new plan to require private companies with more than 100 employees to report salaries along with the race, ethnicity, and gender information they provide yearly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is an extension of an executive order President Obama signed two years ago requiring government contractors to submit the same information, and will allow the EEOC to identify businesses that might be discriminating against women.
While Obama has made closing the wage gap one of his passion projects, progress has been excruciatingly slow. When he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act nine days into his first term, women were making 77 cents to every dollar a man does. In 2015, the gap closed by just two cents, and the disparity is even bigger for women of color. According to the EEOC, there were 938 equal pay complaints filed in 2014. Since 2010, the commission has obtained more than $85 million in restitution for victims of unequal pay practices, but the annual median earnings of women working full time is still only $39,157, compared to $50,033 for men.
Some experts argue that salary transparency is the only solution to the gender wage gap, and while employees are legally allowed to share their salary information with one another, it's a practice that's highly discouraged. More and more tech companies are doing their own internal reviews in hopes of fixing this systemic problem. Salesforce did an exploration of its pay practices in 2015 and discovered problems it didn't expect to uncover. The White House has recruited CEO Marc Benioff as an advocate of this new executive order.

“We’re never going to solve this issue of pay inequality if CEOs like myself and others continue to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their own corporations,” Benioff said in a conference call with The New York Times. He also told the paper he committed $3 million in order to close the pay gap at Salesforce.

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