Ivanka Trump is getting heat for supporting the Trump administration's decision to roll back an Obama-era measure aimed at helping close the gender wage gap from critics who say it's hypocritical given her supposed commitment to women's issues.
According to a White House statement, the first daughter and special assistant to the president felt that even though the initiative's intention was good, it "wouldn't yield the intended results." Ivanka declined Refinery29's request for further comment on why she signed onto the change and what other proposals she thought could better lead to progress on this issue. But a White House official elaborated on her views in an email to Refinery29, saying Ivanka came to believe there were flaws in the Obama policy.
"Her initial feeling was to fight to keep it, but the more she talked to the team and experts, the more she realized it was flawed," the official said. "For example, there are very few job classifications — a hairdresser is listed in the same category as a doctor."
It's unclear why she believes stopping the data collection, however imperfect the categories were, would more effectively tackle pay inequality than improving the Obama measure and using it as a starting point.
The White House says it scrapped the policy because it would be burdensome on employers and the high volumes of data produced would not be in compliance with the federal Paperwork Reduction Act. The equal pay measure, set to take effect this spring, was proposed by the Obama administration as a way to fix pay inequality among women and minorities.
Supporters of the policy say collecting the data could help identify which businesses and industries have issues with pay inequality and create dialogue around how can they be addressed.
"We’d learn about a pay-discrimination problem because someone saw a piece of paper left on a copy machine or someone was complaining about their salary to co-workers,” Jenny Yang, former chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), said in June. “Having pay data in summary form will also help us identify patterns that may warrant further investigation."
Several women organizations criticized Ivanka and the Trump administration for the decision this week.
"This is not a technical tweak as they would have you believe. Make no mistake — it’s an all-out attack on equal pay," Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. "[Tuesday's] action sends a clear message to employers: if you want to ignore pay inequities and sweep them under the rug, this Administration has your back."
The first daughter was also criticized for positioning herself as a figure of female empowerment in the Trump administration — taking up helping female business owners and paid family leave, for example — but not supporting a policy that could help women and minorities.
"For somebody who has long held herself out as a champion for women and for gender equality, it’s really disappointing," Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policy and strategy at the National Partnership for Women and Families, told HuffPost. "[This] spits in the eye of gender equality and in the eyes of women and people of color who are so often paid less and do not know."
As of now, there's effectively no federal law aimed at helping achieve pay equity for women. A bill addressing this issue called the Paycheck Fairness Act has been introduced in Congress over and over again since 1997, without success. Ivanka has not said whether she supports that legislation.