April 4, 2017 (SACRAMENTO) California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) marked Equal Pay Day 2017 by announcing her new legislation that will require large companies to publicly disclose data on the gender pay gap between their male and female employees. Assembly Bill 1209, the Gender Pay Gap Transparency Act, has been named a top priority for the Stronger California women’s advocacy coalition for the 2017 legislative session.
“The gender pay gap is real, and women are struggling because of it. Making companies disclose how well or poorly they compensate the women who work for them will show where their values are, and consumers will respond accordingly” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher. “Without real data in black and white, we can’t take ‘equal pay for equal work’ from a goal to reality.”
The Gender Pay Gap Transparency Act requires companies with more than 250 employees to include gender pay data as part of their annual reporting to the Secretary of State. Employers will be required to report the average and median salary of its male and female employees by classification, including the Board of Directors of the company. The data collected by the Secretary of State will be published online. Internationally, this approach to tackling persistent gender wage gaps is growing more popular. In 2010, the United Kingdom passed the Equity Act, requiring businesses to collect data on their gender wage gaps, publish the data on their website and report it to the UK government. The Equity Act takes effect this year, and the first data will be released next year. In 2016, the Obama White House launched an Equal Pay Pledge initiative to encourage businesses to take action on equal pay within their own company. One component of the pledge is to conduct an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations. In less than six months, nearly 100 companies signed the pledge. Additionally, Austria, Belgium and Sweden have all adopted some version of a pay gap disclosure rule for businesses.
The Gender Pay gap has existed ever since women began entering the work force. Today, a woman doing the same work as a man can expect to be making 79 cents on the dollar. The wage gap typically starts affecting women in their 20’s and 30’s, and only grows as she gets older. Over her lifetime, a woman can expect to earn $650,000 less than her male peers, ultimately reducing her social security and retirement savings. As a result, nearly half of elderly women live in poverty. Equal Pay Day has been observed annually since 1996. It’s date of observation – the second Tuesday of April – was chosen to highlight how much longer into the new year a woman would have to work to match the salary earned by her male peers in just the preceding year. AB 1209 will help to eliminate the gender pay gap by making large businesses disclose the wage gaps of their own employees, so that consumers will have an easy way of determining whether a company’s wage practices are in line with the values of equality.