As the first female candidate from a major party for president, Hillary Clinton has made women’s rights an integral part of her campaign. Among those rights? Equal pay. By many metrics, American women make significantly less than men — an analysis by the Pew Research Center in early July found that American women earned, on average, 83% of what men did. For women of color, the gap was even larger.
Clinton has been an advocate for equal pay and addressing the wage gap for years, supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as a senator back in 2009. So, what does she propose for her presidential run? Here’s what you need to know. And if you’re curious where her opponent Donald Trump stands on the issue, you can find out here.
She supports the Paycheck Fairness Act.
In her official platform, Clinton calls for the adoption of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill intended to amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to make it easier for women to realize when they’re being discriminated against. The bill calls to make wages more transparent, stiffen requirements for employers to prove that wage differences are based on work requirements, and would prohibit retaliation for those who discuss their pay with coworkers. The bill has been introduced multiple times since 1997 — including by then-Sen. Clinton in 2009 — with its most recent incarnation sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD.
“There’s not enough transparency, and we don’t know exactly what the pay gaps are in many settings, predominantly in the private sector,” Clinton said in a roundtable on Equal Pay Day in April 2016, ThinkProgress reported.
She supports raising the minimum wage and calls for an end to the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which disproportionately affects women.
Clinton has supported a $12 federal minimum wage, but also encouraged cities and states to take it even higher. “A higher minimum wage will help close the gender pay gap, lift millions of women out of poverty, and have a ripple effect across our economy,” her campaign website states.
Part of the pay gap is attributable to the concentration of women in low-wage and tipped work, driving down women’s average earnings. Women comprise nearly a full two-thirds of minimum wage workers, and two-thirds again of tipped workers, who are paid a subminimum wage of as little as $2.13 an hour, according to the National Women’s Law Center. The organization found that states that had abolished a tipped minimum wage had smaller overall wage gaps than states that allowed tipped workers to be paid less.
The Clinton Foundation has been accused of wage discrimination at its highest levels.
Clinton’s support of the issue hasn’t made her immune to allegations that she’s not putting her money where her mouth is. Clinton and her family have repeatedly been accused of underpaying female staffers, most recently when her opponent Donald Trump tweeted out a comparison of the salaries of top male and female staffers at the Clinton Foundation, saying that men were paid significantly more.
Politifact judged the claim to be half-true, as tax documents showed that high-level women were paid less, but that the sample size of about a dozen individuals was not a reliable source for extrapolating about the foundation as a whole. It also noted that wage discrimination is more likely to be found at the lower end of the pay scale, and there are more variables in determining pay at the higher end of the pay spectrum.
The Clinton Foundation told Politifact in a statement that its senior leadership was evenly split between men and women, and that the women made an average of 91 cents for every dollar a man earned. "Pay equity is an important and difficult issue that many large organizations grapple with, and we take it seriously at the foundation," it said.
She calls the wage gap an economic issue that the whole country should be concerned about.
Clinton emphasizes the idea that, when it comes to equal pay, low wages for women are everyone's problem. “Too many people view it as a women's issue as opposed to what it truly is — it's an economic growth issue," Clinton said at a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event this past October. “It will be great for the American economy when we finally close that gap." A 2016 report by the Senate Joint Economic Committee suggested that if the gap between men and women's wages could be cut by half, the American economy would be 5% larger by 2030.
In an essay on Medium, she pushed the idea that wage discrimination was something that affected everyone, no matter your gender. “If you’re a man married to a woman, this is your problem. When your wife isn’t paid fairly, your family loses out,” she wrote. Which candidate do you think has the best ideas on equal pay? Weigh in below.