On Friday, President Obama announced a plan requiring companies with over 100 employees to annually report salary data by race, gender and ethnicity, the New York Times reports.
Timed to the seventh anniversary of his signing of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which loosened requirements for challenging discriminatory pay, Obama’s proposal would expand upon and replace a previous executive order requiring federal contractors to report salary info.
Women’s salaries amount to 79 percent of their male equivalent, on average (the median wage of a woman working full-time in the U.S. is $39,600, versus a man’s earnings of $50,400), and according to a fact sheet released by the White House: “While the gap has narrowed slightly over the past two years” since Obama’s previous executive orders were put into place, “there is much more work to be done to ensure fair pay for all.”
In addition to pay data collection, the President is “renewing” his plea to Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide women with additional methods for fighting discrimination. Thus far, Republicans have preferred to keep their gender discrimination, thank you very much; Republicans like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) have noted that laws like the Paycheck Fairness Act would only result in “more lawsuits,” which, as Erin Ryan previously pointed out on this site, “is a fun way to admit that businesses are probably paying women less in a way that’s egregious enough to merit legal action.”
The actions also includes an issue brief released by the Council of Economic Advisors, which underlines the fact that the U.S. gender wage gap is 2.5 percent larger than the average for industrialized countries; the White House will also host a summit on the “United State of Women” in May.
The Times reports:
Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com, whom the White House enlisted to help make its case for the rules, said that while he “never intended” to pay women less than men, he had discovered that his company was doing so after two female employees approached him about it.
“We’re never going to solve this issue of pay inequality if C.E.O.s like myself and others continue to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their own corporations,” Mr. Benioff said in a conference call organized by the White House, adding that he was spending $3 million to close the pay gap at his firm.
With the Paycheck Fairness Act blocked in Congress, states including Connecticut, New York, California, Missouri, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Delaware have all passed laws aimed at tamping down pay discrimination, the Huffington Post reports. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, four of the five states with the largest gender pay gaps are run by Republican governors.
According to the Times, Jenny Yang, the chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which will publish the proposed regulation together with the Department of Labor), said that the rules will be finished in September, with the first reports due a year later.
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Image via Associated Press.