Happy Equal Pay Day!
Well, I guess I take that back. It’s not really a day you celebrate. Not sure what Equal Pay Day is? It’s the day that women would have had to work until in the new year to in order to match the pay that men received (on average) in the previous calendar year.
It’s April, right? We’re over a quarter of the way into the year! Yup. On average, women make $.77 for every $1 that men make. It’s a sad, but true, reality.
Equal Pay Day Matters
There is still a long way to go towards pay equity.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act passed by President Kennedy. In 1963, women were paid $.59 for every dollar that men made. While we’ve lessened the gap, there are still $.33 to go! That gap may not sound like a lot, but it is a lot and it’s more important than ever for us to continue to fight towards pay equality. While Equal Pay Day focuses on the gender pay gap, I would argue that equal pay matters regardless of your gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Unequal pay affects all of our financial futures.
Whether you are male or female, black or white, or gay or straight, if you are being paid less than an equal counterpart for the same work with the same experience level, that gap in wages can have a profound affect on your financial future. Those lost wages can reduce your ability to save, can make it more difficult to pay off debt and will ultimately affect the amount that you can save for retirement. Don’t forget that besides the wages themselves, you’ll also be missing out on employer-matched contributions to your 401(k) and bonuses, which are often based on a percentage of your base salary.
You can help reduce the wage gap
Learn how to negotiate your salary.
Negotiating your salary when you get a new job and throughout your career will help reduce the wage gap. A simple fact is that women don’t ask! Do you know how much you are worth? Do the research. Figure out what you’re making and compare it to averages. Great places to start are the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook and salary sites such as Glassdoor.com. When it’s time to negotiate, you’ll be knowledge and ready to get paid what you are work. Not sure how to go about negotiating? There are many articles and resources on the topic.
Raise awareness… all year long.
Blog about it. Tweet about it. Make the issue known. Contact your legislators. Get involved with an organization like the AAUW that fights for pay equity.Without open communication and awareness, we’ll never be able to achieve the equity we seek. The more people we have on board, no matter their gender, race, religion, etc., the more likely we’re able to achieve this goal.
Equal Pay Day is Just the Beginning
I stand behind Equal Pay Day. Without a doubt. However, we need to be talking about these things more than just one day per year. Raising awareness on one day per year is excellent, but there is so much work and awareness that needs to be done that we can’t just keep this conversation to a single day per year.