As ThinkProgress noted this past Wednesday, the Chamber of Commerce’s official blog ChamberPost recently featured a post which argued that women themselves bear most of the responsibility for the gender wage gap. The post claimed that women could close the wage gap by simply choosing the right “place to work” and “partner at home.”
Now, the Chamber has posted a pair of updates to the post. The first comes from the post’s original author, Brad Peck, who serves as the Senior Director of Communications at the institution. In an update to the original post, Peck said he was “attempting, rather poorly, to point out that using the wage gap as the only measure of full equality provides an incomplete picture.” He claims his writing was “interpreted many different ways, few of which were intended,” but fails to apologize for his claim that women themselves are responsible for the U.S. pay gap:
The above post has been interpreted many different ways, few of which were intended. It is the belief of both the U.S. Chamber and I that women should have equal employment opportunity. In the above I was attempting, rather poorly, to point out that using the wage gap as the only measure of full equality provides an incomplete picture. The post was unclear in its message and I would like to apologize to those for whom it has caused offense. There was no intent to dismiss the challenges women face in the economy or diminish their substantial contributions.
The second update to the post links to a new post by the Chamber’s COO David Chavern. Titled “A Wrong and Wrong-Headed Look at the Wage Gap,” Chavern writes that he found Peck’s post “simplistic and misguided,” and even says it was comprised of “an argument from the 1960’s.” Chavern writes that “the ‘glass ceiling’ is real and simply blaming it on women’s work-life choices is ridiculous“:
Yesterday, Brad Peck posted a piece on ChamberPost about the wage gap between men and women. There is a lot that I don’t like about the piece. It is simplistic and misguided. Even worse, I find it very, very old fashioned. “Women still face challenges at work because of their own work-life choices”, blah, blah, blah. It is an argument from the 1960’s.
The trouble that it is an argument that doesn’t explain a whole bunch of bad things. Why, for example, does the number of Fortune 500 women CEO’s and senior managers seem to have topped out? That is a truth that impacts a whole bunch of women who have made a wide variety of work-life choices. It certainly isn’t an outcome one would predict if all companies were really the “equal opportunity” (let alone “equal outcome”) workplaces that Brad implies that they are. The “glass ceiling” is real and simply blaming it on women’s work-life choices is ridiculous.
Chavern assures ChamberPost readers that, “as the COO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce my opinion on these matters counts a lot more than [Peck’s] does when it comes to Chamber policy and operations.” Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce has a long history of opposing legislation that would improve women’s lives. From opposing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to lobbying against legislation that would allow rape victims to bring lawsuits against their employers, the Chamber’s record is firmly anti-woman.
If Chavern is really serious about proving that the Chamber isn’t simply reflexively against progressive legislation that could advance the cause of gender equality, he should look to the first comment on his post. Commenter Carissa Snedeker writes that if the Chamber, “wants to show support for women, how’s about they whip the U.S. Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act? … Have at it, Dave. Put your money where your mouth is.”