Support Equal Pay

Walk the Walk: A Call to Businesses for Concrete Action on Equal Pay


By Noreen Farrell, Executive Director

Noreen Farrell
By Noreen Farrell, Executive Director

This Viewpoint was originally published by The Women Business Collaborative. Learn more about WBC at the bottom of this post. Cross-posted with permission.

Today is Equal Pay Day, kicking off a year of days marking how far into this year women from different demographics must work to reach the average earnings of men in 2020.  March 24’s kick off reflects latest census data showing that women of all races collectively earned, on average, just 82 cents for every $1 earned by men of all races. Black, Native, and Latina women will have to wait until August, September, and October, respectively, until their average full-time earnings catch up to men.

Even when we set aside the overrepresentation of women in lower paid jobs contributing to these disparities, the gender and race pay gap persists in similar jobs across all industries. It worsens as women progress in their career and leads to significant income loss over their professional lives.

In a year of COVID-19, job insecurity and loss, and radical changes in how we work, the pay parity goals of the Women’s Business Collaborative have never been more important. Women — especially women of color — are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis.  As women left the workforce in droves to tend to family care and remote learning, their wage penalties increased. A new report from PayScale shows that women often incur a pay penalty on returning to work after a prolonged absence, earning 7 percent less on average than men in the same position.

Even when we set aside the overrepresentation of women in lower paid jobs contributing to these disparities, the gender and race pay gap persists in similar jobs across all industries. It worsens as women progress in their career and leads to significant income loss over their professional lives.

As Equal Rights Advocates and business leaders across the country know, equal pay is a key part of fair employment practices and diverse workforces. It also drives market advantage. Competitive and fair pay is critical for recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and high performers, particularly for younger women. We are inspired by employers of different sizes and in different sectors implementing innovative policies and practices to identify and close gender wage gaps and advance equal pay for their employees. They are conducting equal pay audits and remediating pay disparities based on sex, race, and other protected status factors. Many are embracing salary transparencybanning the use of negotiation, and not considering prior salary history (disadvantaging women candidates) when setting hiring pay. Indeed, many businesses were proactive on this front in advance of laws passed in a number of states.  Ending reliance on prior salary is particularly important now, as many women return to the workforce after pandemic related job lapses.

Together, the women’s business community can set an example for employers nationwide when it comes to pay parity. Now is the time to reassess your businesses compensation system to ensure that women workers and businesses emerge from this pandemic stronger than they entered it.


The Women Business Collaborative is an unprecedented alliance of national professional women’s organizations collaborating together to achieve equal position, pay and power for all business women. We are also a social movement of tens of thousands of diverse professional women and men, business organizations, public and private companies and the media accelerating change through collaboration, advocacy, action and accountability. We are #WBCFasterTogether.

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