We know that women are paid less than men. We also know that women go unpaid for vital labor such as domestic chores. And we know that women of color are paid less than white women—black women make about 65 cents on the dollar compared to men, while Latina women make about 54.
The gender pay gap has been documented in various studies and research since the 1970s. The question is, what steps can we take towards a more equitable society? The factors that perpetuate these pay gaps are many and multi-faceted, rendering policy a slow route to fair pay.
Some corporations are setting an example by tackling the issue internally, rather than waiting for governmental policy changes. For example, the CEO of a software company called Salesforce ordered an examination of every employee’s salary by gender. His team looked at each employee’s salary, reviewing men and women who performed similar work to make sure they received equal compensation. The company ended up spending 3 million on payroll adjustments.
It’s a step in the right direction, but Salesforce hasn’t solved gender inequity. Case in point: Its staff consists of 70% men, with a leadership of about 80% men.
Staples is another corporation working to mediate the gender wage gap. It got involved during the Obama Administration, when the White House encouraged private sector companies to take the Equal Pay Pledge
Staples has taken a different route to encouraging equal pay. According to their pledge, they’ve taken steps like creating “Women Who Lead Associate Resource Groups,” which encourage connection, networking, and training among women employees. They also host a “Women’s Week,” during which women are invited to extra training opportunities to foster more women in leadership positions.
Ultimately, while these companies have taken different routes towards equal pay, it’s an issue that will need to be tackled from a variety of angles in order to make real headway. It’s imperative that private corporations and government institutions work together in service of women and girls in the U.S. It’s a long road, but every step counts.