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Ellevate Network Supports Groundbreaking Equal Pay Legislation in NYC

The New York City Council voted to pass Public Advocate Letitia James’ groundbreaking legislation to ban employers from asking job applicants for previous salary information, a practice that perpetuates a cycle of wage discrimination. The bill, which will impact approximately 3.8million workers, will prohibit public and private employers from requesting salary history information.

“Being underpaid once should not condemn one to a lifetime of inequity,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Today, the New York City Council passed my bill that will ban employers from asking about previous salary information, a practice that is known to perpetuate a cycle of wage discrimination. We will never close the wage gap unless we continue to enact proactive policies that promote economic justice and equity.”

Public Advocate James introduced this legislation in August 2016 after releasing a report that found that women in New York City earn approximately $5.8 billion less than men in wages each year. Thereport revealed that women employed by the New York City government experience a gender wage gap two and a half to three times larger than women working in the private for-profit and not-for-profit sectors respectively. It also showed that women of color are disproportionately hurt by the gender wage gap, with Hispanic, Black, and Asian women experiencing a 54 percent, 45 percent, and 37 percent wage gap compared to white men, respectively.

Following the report and introduction of Public Advocate James’ legislation, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio issued executive orders to ban salary history information from the public sector employment process.

A number of New York City based companies have already implemented hiring practices that prohibit questions about salary history following the introduction of Public Advocate James’ legislation. These companies include: Kickstarter, Peeled Snacks, Happy Valley Meat Company, The Cleaver Co., Kinvolved, MCG Consulting, The 4th Bin Inc., and BBMG.

“We need to take a long, hard look at a lot of business practices we’ve gotten used to, ask if they’re fair, and correct them if they’re not,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I sponsored our ‘Ban the Box’ law because it was clear that people with criminal records weren’t getting fair consideration, and I support the Public Advocate's salary history legislation because when wage discrimination is the reality, relying on salary history helps perpetuate it.”

“Women represent half of our city’s population and workforce; and yet we have been shortchanged by the very economic system that would not flourish without our contributions,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Co-chair of the NYC Council Women’s Caucus. “As chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, I want to thank Public Advocate Letitia James for introducing legislation that would help close the gender wage gap by ending wage discrimination in New York City through the salary history ban. Debt, poverty, and homelessness are the realities faced by women living paycheck to paycheck - unable to meet the inflated cost of living in this city. Women can no longer afford to be nickeled and dimed; it is time to level the paying field.”

“In 2017, in the wealthiest country in the world, we are plagued by wage disparities, impacting many of our communities,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Co-chair of the NYC Council Women’s Caucus. “This is unacceptable. Women overall continue to be underpaid relative to men. In New York City, Hispanic, Black, and Asian women experience a 54 percent, 45 percent, and 37 percent wage gap, respectively, compared to white men. And our sisters and brothers with disabilities have median household incomes that are almost half of those of persons without disabilities. Public Advocate James’ bill boldly confronts this problem by banning employers from asking about previous salary information. This legislation is crucial in our continued efforts to level the playing field on wages, and I’m immensely proud to support it.”

“Too often, women find themselves at a disadvantage in the hiring process by being forced to disclose their salary history,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “By removing this requirement, we are helping clear a path towards finally achieving pay equity for women across our City. I thank the Public Advocate, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and my Council colleagues for their support for this important bill.”

“Today the New York City Council took a bold step in breaking the cycle of wage discrimination by banning the use of salary history in hiring,” said Beverly Neufeld, President, PowHerNY. “We applaud Public Advocate Letitia James' tenacity in sponsoring and moving forward this bill to end a commonplace practice which perpetuates the inequitable pay a woman typically earns at the start her career. Those lost wages, multiplied with every job throughout her career, affect a worker's financial health and retirement security. This new law demonstrates New York's commitment to closing the wage and opportunity gap faced by women and people of color.”

“Women’s economic security is more critical than ever, as women are the sole or primary earner for 40 percent of U.S. households with children under the age of 18,” said Ana L. Oliveira, President & CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation. “Closing the gender and racial wage gap is a key component of this effort and we are thrilled that Public Advocate James and the New York City Council are taking a bold stance with the passage of the Salary History Bill. Salary history requirements perpetuate issues of wage inequality, and over time contribute to the wage gap and wealth inequality experienced by women and the families that depend on them. The New York Women’s Foundation is proud to support grantee partners who are advocating for greater protections and policies as a part of long-term and sustainable change in advancing economic justice for women.”

“Relying on salary history to set future pay assumes that prior salaries were fairly established. Anyone see a problem here?” said Lisa Maatz, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy, American Association of University Women. “Thanks to an over-reliance on salary histories, we know if a woman starts her career with a pay gap that it’s likely to follow her throughout her working life. Curtailing this practice is the latest frontier in our fight for pay equity, not only for women but also people of color, and AAUW applauds Public Advocate James for her efforts to level the playing field for everyone.”

“The YWCA of the City of New York is committed to empowering women and eliminating racism. In our current climate, it is important now more than ever to protect our residents from the discrimination that may come with revealing previous salary information,” said Dr. Danielle Moss Lee, President and CEO of the YWCA of New York. “Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that the girls and women in our communities are being treated fairly in the workplace. This is only the beginning in ensuring equal pay for equal work. We stand with Public Advocate, Letitia James in her effort to ban this practice through the proposed legislation Introduction 1253.”

“Employers asking about and using salary history to determine how much a person gets paid, further marginalizes groups that are already marginalized. It’s a “are you underpaid?,” said Dr. Sonia Banks, President of the Manhattan Chapter of the National Coalition for 100 Black Women. “Then let’s make sure we keep you there!” dynamic that has far reaching consequences, particularly for Black women and their children in New York City.”

“The Asian American Federation applauds the Public Advocate's leadership in addressing the gender wage gap issue by prohibiting employers from asking about applicants' salary history,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, The Asian American Federation. “In the Asian community, women from all income and educational backgrounds are affected by wage disparity - particularly those with limited English proficiency, whose occupational options are few - and will stand to benefit from this bill that seeks to remove a significant barrier to more equal pay.”

“Every woman deserves every chance to soar as high as her dreams and hard work can take her,” said Brette McSweeney, President, Eleanor's Legancy. “Through her legislation to ban salary history questions, Public Advocate Tish James is boldly proposing that our future will not be limited, that where a woman starts out in life does not determine where she ends.”

“We applaud Public Advocate James for her leadership and the NYC Council for swift passage of this legislation,” said Dina Bakst, Co-President, A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center. “The gender pay gap harms women, but it also harms families and the economy. Until the destructive practice of asking for salary history is banned, women will face insurmountable barriers to earning the fair and equal wages they deserve.”

“As President and CEO of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and voice for business in Bronx County, I unequivocally support Public Advocate Letitia James’ legislation to ban history information,” said Nunzio Del Greco, President and CEO, Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “Banning history legislation promotes equal pay for women and eliminates the potential for discrimination based on previous salary. The legislation is a positive step toward wage equality for women and people of color.”

“Despite women's contributions, leadership and incredible successes in the workforce, persistent discrimination in the form of unequal pay must be addressed head on,” James Hong, Co-Director at the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “In New York City, an Asian female will earn 63 cents to the dollar, compared to a white male doing the same work. We applaud Public Advocate Letitia James on the passage of a bold measure that will push employers to compensate women equally and fairly. This bill is a tool for us to create better economy, and a better city.”

“Without this bill, the discriminatory practices of the past will continue to shadow the economic future of working women and minorities,” said Miriam Clark, Vice-President, National Employment Lawyers Association/NY. “We applaud Public Advocate James for working nonstop to support women in the quest for economic equity.”

“Discrimination has no place in New York City's workforce, said Yetta Kurland, Senior Partner, The Kurland Group. “We applaud Public Advocate James for ensuring women who may have been undervalued in past employment won't have that unfair treatment follow them into future employment opportunities.”

“Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) applauds Public Advocate Letitia James for addressing gender and racial wage inequality and its consequences,” Kathleen Culhane, President of Nontraditional Employment for Women. “We know full well the value of equal pay for equal work. When there exists equal opportunity, women have the means to transform not only their lives but the lives of their families and future generations.”

“This legislation is a potential game-changer for closing the gender wage gap,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “For too long, hiring and promotion practices have perpetuated inequity in our City. This burden falls particularly hard on Latina women, who experience a 54% wage gap relative to white men. The passage of Intro 1253, prohibiting employers from requesting salary history as a means to determine an employee’s wage, represents an important effort to expose and eliminate pay discrimination, whether based on gender, immigration status, or prior criminal history.”

“The passage of this bill is essential to eliminating NYC's persistent gender pay gap, said Jacqueline M. Ebanks, Executive Director, Women’s City Club of New York. “When barriers to economic security fall, we improve the lives of all women and families throughout New York City.”

“Our society has called on its daughters to do their part for the economy by entering the workforce,” said Katherine Siemionko, Co-founder and CEO, Women’s March Alliance. “The promise of equal opportunity and equal pay have lured women into classrooms, into corporations, into construction and entrepreneurship, into hospitals, banks, manufacturing and into nonprofits. Women have become an economic force that have, put simply, improved our world. It is now time for the same society that called upon our daughters in the first place to show them the respect of an equal wage. It has been earned and it is past due. Thank you to Public Advocate James for sponsoring this critical legislation that moves to close the wage gap once and for all.”

“As a woman-led business with predominantly women employees, we have a strong interest in women’s financial equality,” said Noha Waibsnaider, President of Peeled Snacks. “This legislation is a great step in improving financial opportunities and drawing attention to existing systemic inequality. As women gain financial resources, they’re able to play a greater role in driving economic growth and shaping a better workplace for everyone.”

“This legislation is a simple change to employment policy and practice in this city that has the promise to produce powerful results,” said Miriam Altman, CEO & Co-Founder, Kinvolved. “Women are tremendous contributors to the New York City workforce and economy, and we deserve to be paid equally for our work. In a time in which our nation is pushing policy that further limits the rights of women, especially women of color, our city has the opportunity to promote practices that increase equity for all New Yorkers. As a city and a community, we should not hesitate to seize this opportunity.”

“The Zonta Club of NY applauds the efforts of Public Advocate Letitia James as she works to support equal pay for women,” said Staci Alziebler Perkins, President, Zonta Club of New York. “Her effort to eliminate salary history goes a long way to supporting women's pay equity by reinforcing performance history rather than salary history. It works to level the playing field.”

“The 4,800+ signatures on New York City Public Advocate Letitia James’ petition, Equal Pay for Equal Work, demonstrates the power of individuals to change unfair practices at the local level,” said Joshunda Sanders, a spokeswoman for “We hope her leadership inspires even deeper engagement in civic participation in New York City and throughout the country.”

“In 2017, women continue to make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. For women of color the pay gap is even greater,” said Kristy Wallace, President, Ellevate Network. “We can not allow this to go on any longer, and Ellevate supports Public Advocate James in taking action against bias by pushing for 1253 legislation. Silence is not an option, and we join those in support of Public Advocate James to continue to work toward equality.”

“For Spring Bank, being a responsible community institution also means being a responsible and responsive employer,” said Melanie Stern, Community Reinvestment Act Officer Director, Consumer Lending, Spring Bank. “That is why this year we voluntarily raised the minimum wage of our employees to $15 an hour before the state’s enactment, and why we have adopted a hiring policy in line with the Public Advocate’s Intro 1253. We will no longer be asking candidates for their salary history. As a small bank we are very dependent on great customer service to compete and we know that employees who are satisfied with their work environment, which includes pay status, will be better employees. We look for the best employees we can find without regard to gender, and as employees ourselves, we all know that being treated fairly affects your outlook at work. This new policy of not asking for salary history fits squarely within our mission and is good for our bottom-line. Spring Bank strongly supports this legislation and hopes that businesses throughout New York City, the New York City Council and the Mayor will understand the value to employees and businesses and support it as well.”

“Applause for Public Advocate Letitia James and her continuing support of women and families in New York City,” said Francesca Burack, President Fearless Talent Development, and NFBPWC-NYC. “Prohibiting the salary history question in the employment process is one major step in closing the gender wage gap and the cycle of poverty for women and families. The salary history question begins the ever increasing wage gap as women continue their journey throughout their career and prevents them from being compensated for their true value.”

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