The gender pay gap is real. And if we continue on as we are, it will take until 2059 to close it.
Gap, Inc. wants to bring awareness to the issue with a social-media campaign focused on the gender pay gap. Using the hashtag #CloseThePayGap, Gap is asking people to “represent the 21 percent pay gap” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The company created a website devoted to the campaign that’s chock full of basic information about the pay gap. Information such as American women earn, on average, 79 cents for every dollar men make. Or that for non-white women, the pay gap is even worse. African-American women earn, on average, 60 cents for every dollar men make, and Latina women earn 55 cents.
Gap is no stranger to pay equity. The company proudly proclaims on the campaign’s Web page that in 2014 it became “the first Fortune 500 company to announce that it pays employees equally for equal work.” Gap discovered it paid employees equally for equal work through an internal gender compensation analysis it conducted. And to validate its findings, Gap asked consulting firm Exponential Talent to perform its own analysis. Exponential Talent found that “there is no significant gender wage difference between women and men at Gap Inc. within job codes globally and in any of the major retail geographies.” In other words, Gap’s internal analysis was correct.
Pay equity is good for the bottom line, as a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) states. The belief that an employer is fair improves employees’ morale, making their work performance improve. “Workers who believe that they are paid fairly are more likely to contribute their best effort to the job,” the report concluded.
However, not all employers understand that pay equity is good for their bottom line. As the AAUW report points out, there are companies that have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle gender pay discrimination cases brought by women employees. The report cites several companies that have settled such cases, including Home Depot, Novartis and Smith Barney.
And that highlights something about the gender pay gap: There is a bigger problem with gender pay inequity among the private sector. Pay secrecy is “much more common in the private sector,” according to the report, while it is much less in the public sector, which is attributed to the greater amount of transparency in the public sector.
Gender pay equity is good for the economy, as the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found. A persistent gender pay gap “translates into lower pay, less family income, and more poverty in families with a working woman,” according to the IWPR. About 71 percent of all mothers in the U.S. work, and a third of those who work are single. Almost 60 percent of women would earn more if working women were paid what a man of the same age, education and hours of work are paid.
Other findings by the IWPR also demonstrate how closing the gender pay gap would benefit the economy. The poverty rate for all working women would be halved, if there was gender equity pay. The poverty rate for single working mothers would almost be halved. The U.S. economy would produce additional income of $447.6 billion, which represents 2.9 percent of 2012 gross domestic product (GDP).
Gender pay equity is a win-win for everyone, including men. It would be good for the economy and a company’s bottom line. When more companies decide to pay their women employees what they pay men for the same job, education and experience, the gender pay gap will be a thing of the past. And we will all be better off for it.
Image credit: Flickr/jseliger