As a female entrepreneur and a proponent of female entrepreneurship, it should be no surprise that I’m also fully supportive of workplace equity.
Equity, the fair and equal treatment of all employees regardless of gender or gender identification, can take many forms. When I began my career as a secretary, the fight ranged from the right to wear slacks to work to recognition for work done.
There has certainly been progress, but one key area has still not been addressed adequately: pay equity.
It seems simple: do a job and get paid for the work that’s done. But women who work full time in the U.S. still, on average, only take home about 80 cents for every dollar a full-time male worker earns (some studies set the figure as low as 73 cents).
In fact, in a 2014 2014 World Economic Forum report, the U.S. came in 65th out of 131 countries for gender pay equity.
The pay gap crosses industry lines, and in 2015 people from Hollywood actresses to Google engineers fought to bring the inequality to light, with some companies taking steps towards change.
How can we, as individuals, change this disgraceful status quo? One simple way is to support an organization, with time, energy and/or money, that’s working on the issue.
There are three groups that have been fighting the good fight on pay equity since before panty hose were invented, and required for career minded women working in offices.
Each of these groups offers education and resources about the pay equity problem, and some suggested solutions.
The stated mission of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is “advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.”
Founded in 1881, the AAUW’s website hosts a wealth of information about pay equity, included a downloadable “quick facts” sheet. They also publish a report called The Simple Truth that dives into the details of pay inequality and the need for economic justice. The most recent edition has been updated to cover disability status, gender identity and sexual orientation.
With chapters all over the country, including Long Island, New York as well as Staten Island, there are multiple non-digital ways to get involved with AAUW.
On the flip side is the National Committee on Pay Equity.
According to the website, the committee, founded in 1979, “is a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals working to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.”
The group has detailed steps that businesses and individuals can take to close the pay gap, information on current and past legislative efforts, and a fascinating, frustrating timeline about pay equity. Yes, things are better since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, but we’re far from “there” yet.
NCPE is also behind Equal Pay Day, which launched in the mid-nineties. Primarily an online resource, it’s a great one.
Finally, there’s the National Organization for Women, NOW.
At the forefront of all things feminist, the grassroots organization was founded in 1966 and has been unflinching in its advocacy efforts since.
Economic justice, including pay equity and ending job discrimination, is a top issue for the group.
“NOW advocates for a wide range of economic justice issues affecting women, from the glass ceiling to the sticky floor of poverty. These include welfare reform, livable wages, job discrimination, pay equity, housing, social security and pension reform, and much more.”
NOW, like the AAUW, has chapters in all 50 states, and basic membership dues are less than $50—even in New York!
Equal pay for equal work has been a battle cry of the women’s movement for years. And why shouldn’t it be? If the work is done then it shouldn’t matter if you wear a skirt, pants or a kilt. It matters that you get paid, properly and with no gender bias, for a job well done.