The Demand for Equal Pay is in our Roots
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s time to acknowledge National Equal Pay Day which this year falls on Tuesday, March 14th. Every year the National Equal Pay Day date is adjusted to how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. That’s two and a half more months of work in 2023 just to catch up.
As we recognize this day, it reminds us of our earliest beginnings, when in 1929 a pioneering group of women working in the field of communications banded together to establish the first female branch of the journalism fraternity, Theta Sigma Phi—with a goal of obtaining equal pay to their male counterparts. Over time the organization was renamed and then broke away to form what we now know today as New York Women in Communications (NYWICI).
Much has changed since those early days and progress has been made but according to 2021 data, women are still only earning 84 cents on the dollar nationally. In New York, we are faring slightly better with women are earning 88.7 cents compared to our male counterparts. When we look at pay equity’s soul sister—senior-level representation, women only make up 25% of C-Suite roles. That’s an increase from 17% in 2012, which is certainly progress but there’s a long road ahead. Data from Morningstar shows that at this current rate, corporate leadership will not reach gender parity until 2060.
There’s clearly work to be done. The good news is that the desire for pay equity and pay transparency is rising. According to a “State of Pay Equity 2023” study recently released by OpenComp and Open Imperatives, 93% of employers somewhat agree that pay equity is important – that’s a 26% increase over last year. With over half (54%) strongly agreeing to its importance.
The desire for change is here but there’s uncertainly, even fear, around publishing and being truly transparent. In the U.S. only 12% of companies are publishing their gender pay data. Unfortunately, without seeing the problem in black and white, progress may be slowed with room for false narratives. Most of the CEOs in the “State of Pay Equity 2023” study (53%) think they are doing an excellent job in advancing pay equity. They might want to ask around the virtual watercooler before rating themselves so highly.
Today, even though we have come so far, there is still so much more we need to do together and for each other. As we continue the legacy that started back in 1929, we fight for equal pay, support each other through career transitions, forge paths to the top and empower each other to rise, speak up and so much more.
We must celebrate the progress to date and continue to take a stand for stronger laws, most notably to protect those who are disproportionately impacted. If you want to get involved, come together with your fellow New Yorkers, and join the 17th Annual Equal Pay Day Rally taking place on March 14th at 12:00PM EST on the steps of New York City Hall. To learn more and register click here.