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What is Equal Pay?

What is Equal Pay?

Equal Pay refers to the concept that employees have the right to compensation which is free from discrimination based on any factor of their identity, including but not limited to: gender, disability, background, race, age, and more. Here are some interesting facts about Equal Pay and Compensation Discrimination.

Equal Pay Day represents how far into the the next year a woman must work in order to make the same amount of money a man made the previous calendar year. This year, Equal Pay Day is recognized on Tuesday, April 2, 2019.

[Related: How to Get Paid What You're Really Worth: An Equal Pay Guide from Ellevate Network]

These are the dates women will have to work to make the same amount White, non-Hispanic men made in the previous calendar year, corrected to job function, according to

  • Asian-American Women: March 5, 2019 -- $.85 (cents)
  • White Women: April 19, 2019 -- $.77 (cents)
  • African-American/Black Women: August 22, 2019 -- $.61 (cents)
  • Native American Women: September 23, 2019 -- $.58 (cents)
  • Latinas: November 20, 2018 -- $.53 (cents)

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a United States labor law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex (see “Gender pay gap”). It was signed into law on June 10, 1963, by John F. Kennedy as part of his New Frontier Program.

In its final form, the Equal Pay Act mandates that employers cannot award unequal wages or benefits to men and women working jobs that require “equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”

Why is it important?

Equal Pay is important because the pay gap affects the economy negatively. 

Women make up well over half of the workforce in the U.S., yet continue to make less money than men on average in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. Research done by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research indicates that Equal Pay would reduce poverty by half for families with working women.

Equal Pay is important because it gives women and men more freedom of choice.

When it comes to deciding who will take time off to raise children, finances play a huge part. When a woman is paid less than her male counterpart, parents of young children may determine that it makes sense for the mother to stay home while the father takes on primary breadwinning responsibilities. A woman making unfair wages may also face the reality that the  cost of childcare is greater than her salary. In both cases, financial realities will often limit men and women’s choices when it comes to staying home or staying in one’s job. Achieving gender pay parity will allow both men and women the freedom to decide what roles they want to play in raising their children.

Equal Pay is important because women deserve the same rights as men.

Not only does the gender pay gap pose a problem for women in the current economy, but it poses a problem for the future of all businesses. Today, mothers are the sole or co-breadwinner in  almost half of families in the U.S. However, the pay gap is so heavily ingrained in society, that only 4 out of 120 jobs pay women higher salaries. If women are getting paid less, what does that mean for their futures? It means that despite the fact that women live longer than men, they are more likely to live below the poverty line after retirement. Equal pay is not only a woman’s issue, but it is a human issue and it affects everyone.

Who does it affect?

Equal Pay affects everyone. 

When women earn money, they are more likely than men to  donate to local charities and invest their money back into their families.

There are systematic reasons that women get pushed out of (or never receive opportunities for) leadership positions. Yet when women do make it into leadership positions, they lead more company innovation, higher customer focus, and better long-term problem solving -- not to mention better returns.

How do I make a difference?

Ask for a raise. Use this Guide to help you get the money you deserve, a resource from Ellevate Network that we developed through talking with women and getting a hold of the hacks they used to make what they deserve at work.

Use these resources to help you help yourself. Making more money can be complicated, but we have gathered the most valuable resources from the experts that will bring your negotiations and hard work to life.

Start your own business. Women are starting their own businesses at astonishing rates. They’re changing the game by making the workforce better for every type of employee, and becoming competitive employers because of it. If you want to freelance or work remotely, take time off to have a baby, work in a space that gives you the flexibility to live your life as well as contribute your skills, work for a woman.

Lean on your community. Community helps you make smarter decisions because you develop the confidence you need to take career risks when you know that you’re supported. That’s why we developed Squads, and continue to grow a community of changemakers committed to having your back.

Act as an ally. Not everyone is born with the same opportunities. Inequality comes in many forms, and gender, race, identity, background, ability, and more can significantly affect the opportunities that a person receives in their lifetime.

One of the best ways to make sure that people are receiving equal opportunities at work is to act as an ally. Listen to people whose experiences are different than your own and come up with a way that you can change things with your current resources.

Are you a manager? Advocate for equal pay for your employees. Coach and mentor people who are not like you. Ask them questions about their experience.

Are you a business owner? Hire people who are different from you and can bring new perspectives to the table. Seek out diverse suppliers for your business -- check out the Women Owned database.

Are you a parent or community leader? Use your influence to talk about people’s different experiences and invite productive and respectful conversation. Have conversations with your children about the opportunity divide and explain why it matters.

Helpful Terminology:

Equality: the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability.

Gender Equality: The state of having the same rights, status, and opportunities as others, regardless of one's gender.

Gender Equity: fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. UNICEF says gender equality"means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections.

Inclusion: the idea that everyone should be able to use the same facilities, take part in the same activities, and enjoy the same experiences, including people who have a disability or other disadvantage

Intersectionality: the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups

We’re doing everything in our power to get more money and influence into the hands of women because we know it makes a difference. Will you be joining us?

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