Equal Pay Day: Women, Wages, and the New Year
I would like to invite you to take a moment to think about your New Year’s resolution.
Can’t remember? Never made one? That’s okay. I went months without any thought of my ‘commitment to organization in the New Year.’ In all, my service to this cause lasted about an hour and mostly involved scribbling notes on a calendar. I recently added a new note, however, for a day that made me recall my resolution and pushed me to make a better one.
The day I marked was April 8, 2014: Equal Pay Day. Based on the national wage gap, the day symbolizes how far into 2014 women must work in order to earn what men earned in 2013.
I wish I could say that I had simply forgotten to mark the day in my original flurry of notes, but the truth is that I only recently learned of Equal Pay Day—thanks to an email from The Women’s Fund. I knew roughly what the current wage gap looks like, but I had never really stopped to think of its cumulative effect until I went to mark the day, fifteen weeks and four pages into my calendar.
Nationally, a woman who works full-time earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns. Here in Central Ohio, she earns 78 cents on the dollar. Equal Pay Day illustrates how these dollar differences amount to days and years of inequity among workers.
The day also offers a chance to reflect on the progress made over the past several decades. After all, when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, women were paid just 59 cents on the dollar. Advocates for pay parity have made tremendous progress, but women in 2014 are still playing catch up.
Young professionals like me will largely determine how much longer this inequity will continue. Achieving equal pay will require quite a bit of legwork on our part, but can we stand to live we the alternative? Consider that, on average, female-headed households in the Central Ohio area are much more likely to live in poverty and have lower median incomes than male-headed or married households. And poverty rates for girls remain higher than average for all females, with more than 1 in 4 girls in Franklin County living in poverty. The additional dollars and cents and calendar days available as a result of equal pay could go a long way towards improving this picture.
Young professionals in the workforce now assume a great responsibility, but we are lucky to have organizations like The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and the Columbus Young Professionals Club offering us guidance. For this year’s Equal Pay Day, the Women’s Fund and the CYP Club—with support from Fifth third Bank—bring together an impressive group of women to lead a panel discussion titled Equal Pay Day: Leaning Into Your Full Potential. The event offers young professionals an opportunity to learn a variety of concrete skills needed to close the wage gap.
The panelists include:
• Aisha Allen, Director of Sales Coaching and Development at Nationwide, as moderator of the discussion.
• Kris Cannon-Jackson, Training Coordinator for the City of Columbus, sharing her recent experiences in the workplace.
• Catherine Lang-Cline, President and Co-Founder of Portfolio Creative, offering an employer and entrepreneur’s perspective.
• Tanya Menon, Associate Professor of Management & Human Resources at the Fisher College of Business, addressing the importance of negotiation.
I hope that our commitment to pay parity will ensure that “wage gap” is a term that girls only read of in history books. Maybe later in life we will even lament that young women take our achievement for granted, a problem that would evidence our success.
For this year’s Equal Pay Day, as women financially begin year, I’d like you to join me in making a new New Year’s resolution. Think of some small way to stay conscious of the wage gap and its impact on our community. If you attend the Equal Pay Day: Leaning Into Your Full Potential panel, pick one piece to carry with you this year. If you can’t make the event, read up on legislation like the Equal Pay Act or the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act from 2009 to better understand the equal pay laws we’ve got on the books. And, if you haven’t already, plan to attend Keyholder on May 1, 2014 to celebrate the potential of women and girls.
Happy New Year—let’s make the next one come a little earlier.
Written by Patricia Arehart