Latifa Lyles, Acting Director of the Women’s Bureau (WB), noted that today, full-time female workers earn on average only 81 percent of what their male counterparts earn. For African-American females and Latinas, the wage ratio is substantially lower: 68 cents and 59 cents, respectively. But the real cost of the pay gap is more than 18 or 23 cents on the dollar. The real cost is much higher. The consequences of a pay gap affect women, their families, and our nation’s economy.
Shiu and Lyles were joined by Jennifer Hunt, chief economist at the Department of Labor (DOL), and Nancy Leppink, representing the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Here are some of the participant’s comments, the first of which came from BLR® (publishers of HR Daily Advisor) and the agencies’ answers:
Question from BLR: Negotiating skills is cited as a factor in the gender pay gap. Any plans for a skills program?
Nancy Leppink, WHD: Thanks for your question! We’ve got an app for that. The Women’s Bureau knows how important negotiation skills are! http://www.dol.gov/equalpay/apps-winners.htm.
Question from John Frith: Is it true that research shows that when we compare men and women in the same job, same level, same experience and education, that pay is about the same?
Dr. Hunt, Chief Economist: No, especially among more educated workers the pay gap is as large as 15% even when we compare men and women in the same job, same level, same experience and education, and occupation.
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Question from Guest: Why is there such an gap between the pay of men and women doing the same job over the same amount of years?
Dr. Hunt, Chief Economist: We are not sure, but discrimination is an obvious possibility. Another is that women bargain less forcefully over wages when they are in job negotiations.
Question from Annalyn Kurtz: Is the pay gap still evident looking at just the youngest generation of workers?
Dr. Hunt, Chief Economist: Thanks for that question, Annalyn. The pay gap is much smaller at younger ages, which may either mean that the pay gap grows with age or that new generations of women are doing better.
Question from Nikki: How can a woman know if she is being paid fairly? Is there a website for us to check?
Latifa Lyles, WB: We’ve got two resources that might help. We have an equal pay app (www.dol.gov/equalpay) and a Woman’s Guide to Equal Pay document, which you can get at the same site.
Question from Jay-Anne Casuga: Hi, Director Shiu! What are the key steps contractors should take in order to be prepared when OFCCP analyzes their compensation practices during a compliance evaluation?
Patricia Shiu, OFCCP: Hi, Jay-Anne. Contractors should of course already be regularly preparing and updating their written Affirmative Action Plans and proactively reviewing all of their employment practices, including pay, for potential problems and developing action-oriented plans to address them. Contractors should also have their supporting data ready to provide to us. Contractors can expect us to ask them questions about their data, their pay practices and their self-analysis, and that we may need to go on-site to do interviews and investigate issues. I also suggest they review the Directive and the FAQs to have a clear understanding of OFCCP’s investigative approach.
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Question from Simone Avery-Legree: What should a female employee do if she is denied a raise and promotion that are given to a male with less experience and education?
Pat Shiu, OFCCP: She should consider filing a complaint with the appropriate federal, state, or local agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If she works for a federal contractor, she could file a complaint with the OFCCP.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, we will provide more pay equity questions and answers, plus an introduction to how to fairly and effectively drive engagement and loyalty.