The core idea behind gender equality is that everyone, no matter their gender, should be treated equally in all areas possible. At a minimum, that should include education, most human rights, and getting a job at an equal living wage. Working together, there are many things that we can do to help make these positive changes a reality.
Back in 1963, the Equal Pay Act, signed by John F. Kennedy, aimed to abolish the wage disparity based on sex in the United States. It was an important start. The wage gap has shrunk dramatically in the almost 55 years since then, but there is still a long way to go. Today, the wage gap is estimated at 80 percent. That last 20 percent of the wage gap is proving stubborn, largely because of complications like job experience, education, and other factors that can be used by employers to unfairly justify wage gaps.
The solution is simple—force companies to take that next leap. Our current president should create a bill that gives companies located within the United States one year to pay 90 percent of each sex equal compensation compared to what an individual of the opposite sex is earning for doing the same job. Most importantly, the bill needs to have protections for workers seeking this equal compensation. For example, a woman should be able to go to her boss(es) with five pay comparison documents. In return she should get the compensation data back for all similar job titles and their counterparts in the company. With all their cards on the table, they would then adjust her compensation to be fair.
Employee protection is key for this bill. Anyone requesting this information must have their job protected, in addition to protections against efforts to hinder the process. A person needs to know that they will not be fired, stalled, or penalized in any way for accessing this information. If any of those do occur, then a reprisal process needs to be laid out for the labor department to follow to penalize the company.
The year deadline allows companies a reasonable time to address this issue. As long as a company fixes the problems within a year, they don’t have to worry. With strong enough penalties, the bill would force any holdouts to comply once the deadline hits.
It’s important to note that there would still be more to do. Current projections put gender equality at anywhere from 40-140 years out. A bill like this, given enough teeth to gain traction, could be a big step in the right direction. And the closer we get to the goal of equal pay, the closer everyone will be to true gender equality and a world we can truly be proud to call our own.