Here Are 5 Ways To Support Wage Equality On Equal Pay Day, Because We Can All Pitch In
Happy Equal Pay Day (not really). Tuesday, April 2 marks Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into a new year women have to work to make the same amount as men did in 12 months. Throughout history, women have faced pay discrimination in the workplace, and the problem is even worse for African-American, Latina, and other women of color. So, what are the ways to support wage equality on Equal Pay Day? You have quite a few options.
Equal Pay Day began in the United States in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) as an effort to publicize the wage gaps between men and women in the workforce. Despite creating this day in 1996, women still make much less money compared to men in the workplace, which is often called a "pay gap." According to American Association of University Women (AAUW) women only make 80 percent of median earnings compared to men on average. However, that's for women overall — Latina and Hispanic women make only 53 percent of earnings, and African-American women only make 61 percent. The fight for equal pay has sparked movements such as #TimesUp, which addresses inequalities women face in the workplace such as sexual harassment and pay inequality, but the fight is far from over.
So, how can you celebrate Equal Pay Day? Lucky for everyone here, we've rounded up a list of ways that range from education to activism. So, make sure to take notes.
Learn About The Issue
In order to fight an issue head-on, you've got to know your stuff. So, for those of you who aren't up to date on the extent of pay inequality in the United States, here's a quick lesson. According to The Institute of Women's Policy Research (IWPR), full-time female workers made less than 81 cents to the dollar full-time male workers earned on average. In addition, the IWPR found that if this continues, women won't receive pay equality until the year 2059.
However, according to IWPR, the rate of pay equality will be even slower for women of color, with Hispanic women having to wait until 2224 and African-American women until 2119 for equal pay.
So, before you start chanting for equal pay, make sure you read up on the history behind this day and the problems it addresses. Always stay informed.
Call Your Congressperson
Sometimes, all it takes is a simple phone call to make a huge difference. At the moment, there's a few legislations that are fighting for equal pay in the United States, such as The Paycheck Fairness Act, which prohibits pay discrimination based on sex and was passed by the House on March 27, and The Fair Pay Act, which was introduced in April 2017 to fight against workplace segregation based on genders. So, if you want to support these pieces of legislation, make sure to call your local congressperson and let them know that you support action that supports gender equality and urge them to make it a reality. Not sure who your legislator is? House.org has a list of representatives here, and Common Cause will let you look up your senator's info by entering your address. (And remember: it's better to call than email.)
Face it, there's no better time to fight for this issue than on Equal Pay Day. Grab that phone, and start dialing those numbers.
Talk About Your Own Salary
Sometimes, talking about your own experience with pay inequality can be hard, which is why the conversation is so important. On Equal Pay Day, don't be shy to talk openly with your coworkers about your salaries and the problem of the pay gap in many professions. Some people may be hesitant at first to start the conversation, but don't be afraid. Not only is it totally legal to do, but according to The New York Times, talking about salaries can be a valuable tool in to fight pay inequality. How so? Well, it can inspire workers to negotiate pay raises, or highlight pay biases among employees.
Not only will you potentially make some discoveries about each person's pay, but transparency in the workplace ensures that pay inequality won't get hidden under the rug.
Sign A Petition
Personal action is great, but you can also go ahead and take it to the big leagues. In order to show politicians how important tackling pay inequality is within the United States, consider signing a petition that fights against the pay gap, and pushes for high wages for women. Not sure which petition to sign? MoveOn's equal pay petition calls for U.S. senators to pass legislation that fights for equal pay among women. The petition only needs 10,000 signatures before it's sent to Congress, and as of April 2019 it's only a few hundred signatures away. In addition, Credo Action is a little less than half way to their goal of 50,000 signatures on a petition to address the pay gap with legislation.
What are you waiting for? Get to signing, people, and make your voice heard in Congress!
Shut Down Pay Inequality Falsehoods
When discussing the pay gap, a lot of times people can be defensive. Sure, it can be an uncomfortable topic, but that doesn't mean people should be avoiding the conversation all together. For those who are faced with people who don't believe pay inequality exists in the United States, make sure to debunk their claims with hard, cold facts. (Which we have helpfully provided).
Some think that pay inequality doesn't exist, but clearly statistics prove otherwise. Department of Labor stats from 2015 show that women were earning just 79 percent of what men were earning, despite better rates of higher education and increased participation in the labor force. The stats also noted that the problem isn't just men being paid more than women — it's also that women are overrepresented in lower-paid work, and underrepresented in more prestigious, higher-paid work. "Pink-collar" jobs, which are jobs in industries dominated by women, are frequently low-paid and low-status (although men who enter these fields can often still expect to be paid more than the women they work with, per a 1992 study in Social Problems).
Another myth? That women don't ask for raises as often as men. Well, on the contrary, a June 2018 report from Harvard Business Journal, found that women ask for raises as much as men, but are less likely to get them.
So there you have it. Equal Pay Day is more than discussing pay inequality, but also an excuse to take action against the issue. Stand up, and speak out.