Equal Pay Day 2022
Today marks Equal Pay Day—the day dedicated to spreading awareness of the gender pay gap. This day is used to show how far into the year the average median woman must work in order to earn what the average median man earned the previous year. This day differs each year, as the pay gap may change annually.
Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996. It was referred to as “National Pay Inequity Awareness Day” then and later changed to Equal Pay Day in 1998. This day was recognized on March 24th of last year. It is no secret that, on average, women earn less than men and must work the same jobs longer in order to have equal pay. The wage gap is even greater for women of color.
Although the gender pay gap has narrowed since 1963, there are still disparities among men and women. The US Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) in 2020, showed that women in the US earned 30% less than men. Women earned 82 cents for every dollar men earned. The US Census Bureau’s QWI also shows that the gender pay gap increases as women get older. The gap narrows for younger women who are more educated and are able to break into male-dominated industries. These industries include information or professional, scientific, and technical services.
How the Pandemic Has Impacted the Gender Pay Gap
It is also important to point out the impact the pandemic has had on the gender pay gap. According to SHRM, Jackie Cook, the director of stewardship, product strategy, and development at Morningstar, noted that the gap has expanded in the C-suite since the narrowing that took place between 2015 and 2019. She said, “a reversal of the narrowing that occurred between 2015 and 2019… Indeed, female C-suite pay as a percentage of pay earned by their male counterparts fell to a record low for the nine-year period since 2012.” She also noted. “While the number of women at the top of the corporate ladder has inched up, women will have to wait until 2060 to reach representation parity at the present rate of progress.”
This data comes from annual proxy statements filed by S&P 500 companies. They are the largest publicly traded US companies. And since they are public, they are required to disclose the pay of their chief executive officers, chief financial officers, and the following three highest-paid executive officers.
The data shows that C-suite pay at S&P companies increased by 24% from 2012 to 2020. Men’s pay increased by 27% while women’s pay increased by 10%. But since the pandemic, women in C-suite positions earned 75% of what men earned, versus the 88% earnings they had to men in 2018.
This issue is not only in the US. Women in Australia have taken a hit too. Fewer women have received pay raises than men since the pandemic, even though Australian women make up nearly half of the continent’s working population. According to the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australian men make AU$261.50 (about US$187) more than women each week.
Meraiah Foley, deputy director of the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney Business School, details how things have turned out for women since the pandemic. She says, “Women have borne the brunt of job losses arising from the pandemic and associated lockdowns… In 2020 and 2021, women lost more jobs and working hours than men, owing to their disproportionate concentration in some of the hardest-hit sectors, like retail and hospitality. Front-line workers in health care and education—both sectors dominated by women—have faced [an] increased risk of contracting the virus.”
What Needs to Change?
While the answer to this question is not short, the Paycheck Fairness Act was proposed in 2019. This act is in correspondence with the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Its efforts are to address the gender pay gap in the United States. It would prohibit employers nationwide from asking applicants about their pay history. It would also require employers to prove that pay differences between men and women are job-related. Check out our prior blog about the Pay Transparency Acts happening all over the US.
There will also need to be a change in the workforce culture and how women are viewed, but we’ll save that talk for another day.
All in all, despite the disparities women face each day, they strive to be the best they can be, climbing any mountain in front of them. Cheers to all the women out there and Happy National Women’s Month!