Equal Pay Day 2017: Where Do We Stand?

April 4, 2017 Sarah Sipek

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 4 date signifies that, based on data from 2016, female employees would need to work until April 4, 2017 to earn the same amount as a male earned in 2016 with equal levels of education, experience, skills and duties.

Not-So-Great Expectations

When it comes to both salary and career advancement, today’s women expect less. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that—on average—women expect their highest career salary to be $60,000 less than that of their male counterparts. Furthermore, only 20 percent of women expect to reach a six-figure salary, compared to 44 percent of men.

Women’s lower earning potential may be a factor in their career aspirations as well. Only 4 percent of women expect to reach the C-suite, while 22 percent of women expect to remain or reach entry-level employment.

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 U.S. until the year 2059 – another 42 years.

Unfortunately, minority women will have to wait even longer. Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 and African American women will have to wait until 2124 for equal pay.

A report for the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take an additional 75 years – a total of 116 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 report from IWPR. 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.

How to Ensure Gender Diversity: Lessons From High-Tech Firms 

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