“The two actions President Obama will take tomorrow are important steps in promoting fairness in our nation’s workplaces, closing the wage gap that still punishes women and families, and helping workers put food on the table and house and care for their loved ones.
Too often, employers use pay secrecy policies as a shield for discrimination. These harmful policies, which prevent employees from discussing their wages, are a way to hide unequal and unfair wages paid to women and people of color. Lilly Ledbetter is but one example of a worker denied fair wages for decades simply because of her gender. By prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation, President Obama is removing a major barrier to fair pay. By ordering the Department of Labor to create a data collection tool to understand what federal contractors pay their employees across gender and race, the administration is encouraging employers to really look at their pay scales and consider whether their wages are fair. This data also will help regulators focus their limited resources on the sectors and employers that need scrutiny the most.
We fully expect these measures to have a positive impact on the federal contractor workforce, which employs more than one in five private sector workers in this country. In doing so, they also will blaze a trail for the private sector, demonstrating effective ways to help end discriminatory pay practices and promote fair pay. That should be an urgent priority for the country. Today, the National Partnership is releasing a new analysis of Census Bureau data that finds median yearly wages for women who are employed full time, year round are $11,607 less than the median yearly wages paid to men who are employed full time, year round. Tomorrow is Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before.
The president’s actions will make America’s workplaces more fair, and its workers, families, businesses and economy stronger.”