Despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was enacted in 1963, women in the U.S. still face a gender pay gap that is closing at a snail’s pace.
Equal Pay Day was established in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity, or NCPE, and symbolizes the extra amount of time a female employee must work to make the same as a male counterpart for the previous calendar year. Today, women in the U.S. average 79 cents for every dollar earned by men.
This year’s April 12 date signifies that, based on data from 2015, female employees would need to work until April 12, 2016 to earn the same amount as a male earned in 2015 with equal levels of education, experience, skills and duties.
Age and Race in Gender Pay Equality
One study takes a deeper dive into pay inequality and suggests there are other factors that contribute to certain women making less money in their careers.
According to the American Association of University Women, the gender pay gap appears to grow with age: Women ages 20-24 made about 92 percent of what men were paid, while women ages 55-64 were paid only 76 percent of what their male counterparts made.
Minority women face an even tougher challenge, with Hispanic and Latina women earning only 54 percent of what their white male counterparts made, and African American women earning 63 percent.
When Will We Reach Equality and What Can You Do?
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, or IWPR, suggests that, if this current trend keeps up, women will not achieve “pay parity” in the United States until the year 2059 – another 43 years.
A report for the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take an additional 75 years – a total of 118 years – for the whole world to achieve gender pay equality.
There are a number of bills proposed in Congress that may help close these gaps, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to make a change.
As recruitment professionals, here’s how you can make a difference at your company:
Allow employees to talk freely about salaries with colleagues. About half of all workers are either prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with co-workers, according to a 2014 IWPR study. Greater transparency in this case will allow women to fight for pay equality where they currently work.
Avoid the typical new hire pitfall of starting women off in lower-paying positions. Some studies suggest that women are more likely than men to graduate business school and still end up in a lower-level job – while men are twice as likely to end up in the C-suite. Don’t discriminate. Go for the right person, with the right qualifications, at the right time.
Want to learn more about this issue? Check out what strategic advisor Naomi Bloom has to say about the lack of women and minority leaders in HR.