NEW YORK, NEW YORK — — On Equal Pay Day, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sat down with the CEO of Glassdoor Robert Hohman, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, and others to discuss the gender wage gap. After going over the size of the wage gap, Clinton said she would “use every tool” to close it. “It’s something that is long overdue, but I know we’ve just got to keep moving forward,” she said.
Clinton laid out an agenda to close the gap between what men and women bring home. She again called for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act “so people won’t be fired or retaliated against for asking what their coworkers make,” making it clear that “it should absolutely be prohibited that you would be retaliated against or fired if you either deliberately or inadvertently learn information about your coworkers’ salaries and benefits.”
But she argued the country should go even further than what’s included in that bill. “There’s not enough transparency, and we don’t know exactly what the pay gaps are in many settings, predominantly in the private sector,” she said. “We need to use the federal government, the Department of Labor and others, to really encourage more transparency, to get more public information.”
She also called on CEOs and board members to look at whether they are paying people fairly. Last week, Clinton signalled she would require every company to analyze its own compensation and whether women are paid fairly.
Clinton has not yet detailed how she would do that, but the Obama administration recently announced a similar initiative, instructing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to require companies with 100 or more employees to report pay broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity.
To go even further, however, Clinton could look to state laws that were widespread the 1980s that required companies to pay women and men the same amount when they do the same or similar jobs, and mandated regular analyses of pay to correct any wage gaps that may reappear.
Give women a raise
Women should also be encouraged to enter higher-paying fields like science, technology, engineering, and math jobs, she said. Women are underrepresented in these jobs, which tend to pay well, although the pay in a given field has been found to drop as more women enter it, showing that employers may also simply devalue work when women do it.
Meanwhile, she pointed out that California and New York just raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour and called for a higher minimum wage. She argued that a higher wage would help close the gap since women make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers, while also calling for an end to the tipped minimum wage that is even lower for workers like waitresses and hair cutters. “Women all over America deserve a raise,” she said.
And she called to “do more to support working parents, moms and dads alike, so they can stay on the job and keep earning a paycheck.” She wants to do it through policies like paid family leave — also enacted in New York and California — and affordable child care so parents “can focus on work when they’re at work.”
‘The potential is huge’
The wage gap, Clinton said, “devalues the work that women do, from minimum wage workers to chief executives and even the best athletes in the world,” such as the U.S. women’s soccer team.
Rapinoe is part of a group of U.S. women’s soccer players who are suing over unequal pay, given that their team was paid $2 million for winning the World Cup while the men’s team got $8 million when they lost. For her part, she called for more investment in women’s sports, but also pointed out that the women’s team is making more revenue than the men’s team “even without the investment,” adding, “Imagine with the investment…the potential is huge.”
Tuesday marks Equal Pay Day, the day by which the average American women’s earnings have finally caught up to what men made the year before. American women who work full-time, year-round make 79 percent of what men doing the same make, for a variety of reasons.
Clinton has previously supported the Paycheck Fairness Act, which she sponsored while in the Senate. The bill would ban employers from discouraging their employees from talking about pay, narrow the definitions of what factors can be used by a company to justify pay disparities, and increase the penalties for companies that are found to have unequal pay. Her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, has voted for the bill in the past. But Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked its passage, and the Republican presidential candidates have opposed most policies related to the gender wage gap.