by Emily Bader
On Jun.14, 2016, the White House announced the White House Equal Pay Pledge at the USOW. By taking the pledge, businesses commit to closing the gender pay gap and promise “equal pay for equal work" in the private sector to solve its own longstanding problem.
Despite numerous laws, policies, and actions taken by the government to close the pay gap — such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 — today’s average woman only makes 79 cents to a man’s dollar; the wage disparity is even lower for women of color. However, this time is different: instead of attempting to legislate, the president is trying a new tactic and directly asking businesses to change.
The White House said, “Building on the Administration’s numerous actions to close the national pay gap, the White House challenged businesses to take the Equal Pay Pledge.” Should a business sign the pledge, it commits to:
- Conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations.
- Reviewing hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers.
- Embedding equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives.
- Identifying and promoting other best practices that will close the national wage gap to ensure fundamental fairness for all workers.
Obama noted that several companies have already taken huge strides toward equal pay. The President encouraged consumers to do their part in driving this change by voting with their wallets at the Pledged companies:
“We should encourage more businesses to join them; we should shop and frequent those companies that are doing the right thing because the truth is, most folks agree with each other on this.”
Those that have signed the pledge have made other strides in fairness. Many companies that received an A score from Buy Up Index also signed the Pledge, which underscores their commitment and makes them Gender Fair.
- Johnson & Johnson
L'Oréal USA is the first American company to be certified with EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality). As of 2014, Gap, Inc. became the first Fortune 500 company to announce equal pay on average across the company; Amazon actively investigates its business, from hiring practices to career development, to determine if they have unconscious biases that work against women.
Since taking office, President Obama has addressed equal pay. His first act of legislation signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. But the 79 percent figure still holds. He also warned that although he has seen some progress, the American people cannot wait for Congress: “They’re usually a lagging indicator on these issues.” He added that, “If we really want workplace policies that work for everybody, I will say, though, it would help if we had more women in Congress. It would help if we had more women in the corner suite.”
President Obama did mention that the White House and his administration leads by example, “We try to set a good example by giving our employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave.”