This is a big deal
Photo: Barack Obama
The fight for pay equality is ramping up at the final hour as the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that 44 more companies have signed on to its equal pay pledge, according to the Huffington Post. Launched in June at the inaugural United States of Women Summit, the pledge encourages businesses to take up arms under the banner of equal pay. Adding 44 more companies to the list brings the total to more than 100.
The work of the administration on equal pay—which has been part of Obama’s platform since day one—is in imminent danger as Donald Trump is set to take office. Republican’s have made it clear that they plan to eliminate various aspects of the fight for fair pay. Many consider the fact that women make just 78 cents on the dollar compared to men, a mere myth.
The move is not only worrisome for women, but also for the entire economy. Women are now 50 percent of the workforce and manage a majority of the nation’s households. This discrepancy in real wages hampers the paychecks of every single one of them. According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, equal pay “could add $4.3 trillion to the country’s economy in 2025.” With every U.S.state and city potentially set to add about “5 percent to their GDP in that period.”
According to the Institute For Women’s Policy Research, poverty rates for working women “would be cut in half if women were paid the same as comparable men.” Proving, of course, that not only would bridging the gender pay gap improve the lives of families across the country, it would go a long way to helping poverty in the United States as a whole.
But, Donald Trump seems dead set on ignoring this economic reality in favor of passing the buck to his daughter, Ivanka. In fact, one of Trump’s proposals on paid maternity leave could prove disastrous. Details are vague, but maternity leave would only extend to couples who are “recognized under state law,” according to The Washington Post. This effectively eliminates paid maternity leave for couples living in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage. It also limits the leave to the woman who has physically given birth to the child. That means “fathers, fathers and mothers who adopt, LGBT parents, and some sets of unmarried parents” are also excluded, said Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress.
Yet, all entreaties to Trump to take this seriously have been met with indifference. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Mr. Trump to talk about the wage gap, but was put on the phone with Ivanka.
The parts of equal pay progress that can be rolled back are significant. They include regulations for overtime pay, maternity leave, and if they get their hands on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, they could decide to roll back the ability of American workers to retroactively challenge a wide range of discriminatory practices involving equal pay.