April 7, 2016; Chicago Tribune
On Tuesday of next week, many in the United States will wear red to recognize Equal Pay Day, a date selected by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) to illustrate the gap between men and women’s wages. According to the NCPE’s website, “Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color.” In general, women earn 78 percent of what men earn.
Recently, members of the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These players claim that women’s soccer generates $20M more in revenue than men’s soccer, but female players earn four times less.
Addressing gender equity in pay is beneficial for the overall economy. A recent report by McKinsey & Company suggests that the United States could add $4.3 trillion to its economy in 2025 if women were to attain full gender equality. Specifically, researchers argue that some of the country’s largest cities could increase their GDP by up 13 percent. They identify strategies such as increasing the female labor-force participation, narrowing the gap between men and women who work part time and full time, and increasing the number of women employed in the more economically productive sectors. To support these strategies, researchers identified six actionable “impact zones”: leadership and managerial positions, unpaid care work, single mothers, teenage pregnancy, political representation, and violence against women.
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Many nonprofit organizations already do great programmatic work toward the issues addressed in this report. It is important for nonprofits to also look at their own internal practices to ensure they are treating employees in a manner consistent with their missions. The nonprofit sector is not immune to issues of inequality.
The report also developed a state parity score to indicate the distance between current reality and gender parity (on a scale of 0 to 1, where 1 indicates parity). Some of the lower-scoring states (i.e., states farther from gender equity) include Alaska (0.58) and many southern states like Arkansas (0.59), Georgia (0.60), South Carolina (0.60), Oklahoma (0.60), and Mississippi (0.60). Higher-scoring states include Maine (0.74), Minnesota (0.70), Connecticut (0.70), and New Hampshire (0.70).
There are, of course, many nuances to and competing viewpoints about this issue. Gender inequity in pay is rooted in social and cultural norms. These norms shape our ideas about the world. One obvious limitation of this conversation is the historic tendency is the focus on cisgender males and females, thus excluding transgender and non-binary individuals. Advancing true equality requires deep engagement from all parties (employers and employees of all genders), and a willingness to let such cultural and social norms evolve.
For information about recognizing Equal Pay Day on April 12th, visit the site here.—Jennifer Amanda Jones