This day comes every year.
Democrats thrust their Paycheck Fairness Act bill in front of reporters on the Capitol lawn without ever getting much farther than that. Politicians on both sides of the aisle tout their lifelong commitments to closing the gender pay gap. Hands across America grasp poster boards and markers, they take to state houses demanding equal pay.
Yet, Equal Pay Day keeps coming.
It’s intended as a reminder that we can’t give up on this cause, but instead is beginning to remind me of a birthday we dread. Another turn around the sun with little to celebrate, little accomplished.
April 4, 2017, represents the four months longer a woman in this country must work to earn her male counterpart’s salary. Eleven years since the National Committee on Pay Equity began observing the significance of this day, we’re still waiting on that raise.
We live in times when ‘speaking out’ for a cause means tweeting with a trending hashtag. We let our t-shirts do our talking. And, that’s fine. A cause like this should be fought on every medium, Twittersphere and cotton crew-neck included. But, until women make what men are already being paid, we need more action.
So, today, I hoped this wasn’t going to be just another, average Equal Pay Day.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, woke up ready to forge ahead. By introducing #20PercentCounts, she encouraged hundreds of business to offer 20 percent discounts in honor of the 20 percent average in gender pay disparity.
In 40 percent of American households, women are the primary breadwinners according to Pew Research. But, on average, for every dollar a white man is paid, asian women get 85 cents, white women get 75 cents, black women get 63 cents. Latinas get just 54 cents.
Some companies with #20PercentCounts have promised donations to salary negotiation workshops and women-focused charities.
Then, Taketheleadwomen.com launched “Equal Ask Day,” recognizing the need to train women on how to negotiate their salaries. The nonprofit of entrepreneurs and activists provides courses, mentorships and presentations to encourage women to advocate for their own equal pay. They even offer a Close the Gap App, so you can access the best business advice at all times.
And to prove individual companies are heeding the call for gender pay parity, Salesforce stepped up their game big time. The cloud computing company shelled out another $3 million to raise salaries by 11 percent, making good on a promise to evaluate compensations across the company.
Perhaps Equal Pay Day will quickly fade from the social conscience Wednseday morning, but thanks to the concrete steps of these companies, leaders and organizations, we have the tools to make real progress this year. Not just politically-charged stunts, this Equal Pay Day could be changing expectations about the impact of the day.