Equal Pay Day is an annual campaign that aims to increase awareness of pay inequality and eliminate unfair pay practices and pay disparity. The campaign’s organizers, Equal Rights Advocates, hope to motivate businesses to close the gender and racial wage gap that persists in nearly every industry and profession in the country.
So, what is Equal Pay Day? What’s the history behind it? And when does the US celebrate Equal Pay Day?
This post will address these questions. We will also share a few creative ideas to help you celebrate Equal Pay Day in your organization.
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Equal Pay Day 2023
Did you know that according to U.S. Census data from 2021, the average U.S. woman is paid only 83 cents for every $1 paid to the average man? This means that women, on average, lose more than $10,000 every year to pay discrimination. This figure rises drastically in the case of women of color. Although both men and women are legally entitled to equal pay for equal work, many women around the world still face discrimination and pay disparity in the workplace. And that is precisely what Equal Pay Day aims to address.
Equal Pay Day is an annual movement that raises awareness of the ongoing issue of pay disparity and the gender wage gap. It is a symbolic day that encourages citizens to fight for employment equality and stand up to unfair pay practices.
In the United States, Equal Pay Day will be held on March 14 this year. This date represents how far into the year women must work to make as much as men during the previous year. This year’s event also marks 60 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, which was enacted to end gender-based pay discrimination.
So, what’s new this year?
The primary focus this year is to campaign for more inclusive equal pay data. Income data for many women are still not included in equal pay statistics. This is especially true for migrant women, women working part-time, or those on seasonal or gig contracts. These women often work in the lowest-paying essential fields, such as food service, retail, factory garment production, teaching, daycare, and domestic work. By excluding this data, equal pay statistics reflect an inaccurate picture of the existing reality of gender pay discrimination. And this needs to change.
History of Equal Pay Day
The fight for equal pay isn’t a new concept. In fact, it has been evolving for well over a century now. Progress has been slow, but we are gradually getting closer to gender equality in the workplace.
Let’s take a look at the history of Equal Pay Day to explain how we got to where we are today.
- 1883: The first strike. 8,000 telegraphers working for Western Union across the United States walked out on strike demanding equal pay for equal work for men and women. They also had other demands, including a pay increase and an eight-hour day. Western Union refused to cave into demands and strikers eventually return to work defeated after their funds ran out.
- 1911. Teachers got equal pay. After a long struggle, female teachers in New York were finally granted the same pay as male teachers after a long battle with the board of education.
- 1963. The Equal Pay Act is signed by President Kennedy. The anti-discrimination law, which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, made it illegal to pay men and women working in the same place different salaries for similar work.
- The 1970s: Women’s participation in the economy started rising. By 1970, 50% of single women and 40% of married women were participating in the labor force. Prior to this, only 20% of all women were “gainful workers”. Workplace protections were enhanced with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 and the recognition of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- 1996. The First Equal Pay Day. The National Committee on Pay Equity organized the first Equal Pay Day (originally called “National Pay Inequity Awareness Day”). The aim was to raise awareness of wage disparity and demonstrate the effects of unfair pay practices on women.
What’s the goal of Equal Pay Day?
The ultimate goal of Equal Pay Day is to further the fight for gender equality in the workplace. The aim is to reach a point in society where pay disparity is a thing of the past and no single employer in the US follows unfair pay practices.
Equal Pay Day is important because it raises awareness of these issues, encourages conversations around pay equality, and reminds people that pay parity is still an essential goal if we are to evolve as a society. We have already started seeing changes in legislation with new laws designed to eradicate discrimination and promote pay transparency. This includes the NYC Pay Transparency Law of 2022 and this year’s California Pay Transparency Law. However, the US still has some way to go before both women and men receive equal pay for equal work.
Here are a few specific goals of this year’s Equal Pay Day:
- Raise awareness of gender inequality in the workplace and mobilize communities to take action.
- Ensure continued progress in the fight for equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender or race.
- Reduce employment barriers and promote equal opportunities.
- Prevent employment discrimination relating to a lack of affordable childcare, paid family and medical leave, and fair and predictable scheduling. These factors often prevent women from joining and staying in the workforce.
- Demonstrate that women have to work harder to establish positions in male-dominated fields.
- Address the biases that cause the gender wage gap.
4 ways to support equal pay day
The best way to help the cause and support Equal Pay Day as an employer is to raise awareness of the campaign in your organization. You could even combine your efforts with International Women’s Day which will be held on March 8 this year.
Here are 4 ways that you and your employees can support Equal Pay Day.
Hold an Equal Pay Day activity or event
One of the best ways to celebrate Equal Pay Day is to hold an activity or event and invite all your employees to participate. This can be a geat way to get people involved in the cause. You can have fun whilst raising awareness of issues related to inequality and the gender pay gap.
For example, you could host a panel discussion or fair pay forum or organize a salary negotiation workshop to educate your employees on the difficulties that women often face in this area. Or you could hold a charity Unequal Bake Sale where all baked goods have two prices: men pay full price and women pay an additional $10. Explain to your employees that this supplement symbolizes the gender pay gap.
You could even organize a fun game like Take a Step Forward. This is where you get all employees to stand in a horizontal line then you read a series of statements. Statements might include “You have never wondered if a coworker has a higher salary”, or “You have never earned less than minimum wage”, for example. If an employee identifies with a statement, they take a step forward.
Host an Equal Pay Day think tank
An Equal Pay Day think tank is another great way to educate your employees on issues related to pay disparity. You just need to organize your employees into teams and get each team to brainstorm solutions to certain issues related to pay inequality.
You can offer prompts including:
- Has an employer ever unfairly compensated you as a result of your gender or race?
- When was the first time you experienced discrimination?
- What would you do if you saw a colleague experiencing discrimination?
Then once teams have brainstormed their ideas, you simply bring everyone together and hold an open discussion on people’s experiences around discrimination and inequality and how these issues can be overcome.
Conduct a pay equity analysis
Aside from organizing activities and events, Equal Pay Day is a great opportunity to conduct a pay equity analysis. It’s important to conduct these audits on a regular basis to ensure that you aren’t knowingly or unknowingly promoting a gender pay gap in your organization.
A pay equity analysis is where you analyze pay rates in your organization and establish if there are any unjustified salary differences. You can do this through the statistical analysis of your payroll data. Make sure you compare similar roles within your company to see if you are paying the same salary to employees in similar jobs. Can you directly attribute any differences to gender, race, age, or any other unjustified criteria?
Once you’ve done that, you can work on an equitable compensation framework to ensure equal pay for equal work at your business.
Offer your hiring managers fair hiring training
Finally, the best way to create a fair and equitable workplace is to start from the top. Make sure all your managers are aware of the importance of gender equality and addressing discrimination if they see it. This is especially important for your HR team.
You could even use Equal Pay Day as an excuse to offer your hiring managers training in fair hiring practices. This will help to prevent pay disparity with new hires.
Training should cover the following areas:
- How to add fair salary ranges to job descriptions
- Blind hiring practices
- The importance of using inclusive language during interviews
- The value of including skills assessments in your hiring process
Finally, make sure your HR team understands the importance of tracking diversity, equity and inclusion metrics on a regular basis. A DEI dashboard can be a great way to centralize all your data so that you have access to all the insights you need to continuously improve your pay equality initiatives.
Ultimately, the aim of Equal Pay Day is to ensure that women have the same rights as men in the workplace. It is up to us as employers to support this movement by providing equal opportunities to all. Equal opportunities don’t just relate to pay disparity, however. Employers also have a responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion, follow fair hiring practices, and offer all employees equal access to training and development.
Equal Pay Day is a great first step to ensure that there are no barriers preventing women from fair treatment in the workplace. With the right mindset and collective efforts, we can all contribute to a fairer and more equitable workplace for all members of society. And this, at its core, is one of the founding promises of our Nation.