Obama's Equal Pay Rule Makes It Harder to Stiff Women in the Office

Obama Equal Pay rule

Equal pay for equal work ... a simple concept that is taking way too long to catch on. But, with his new "rule of equal pay," President Obama just made it a little bit harder for companies to unfairly pay women and minorities less than their white male counterparts. Well, alright alright!

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At an event celebrating the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (the first piece of legislation that President Obama signed in office!), Obama explained what this new rule would entail -- and why it's so important not just for women and minorities working today, but also for our daughters.

In a nutshell: The proposed rule will require companies with 100 or more employees to report salary information along with other info -- like employees' sex and age -- that employers already have to submit to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This would bring companies of that size in line with a rule that federal contractors already have to abide by, and, according to the the White House, would cover 63 million employees. 

Sounds good to me!

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In a perfect world, companies would not need any nudging from the government to treat their employees fairly. But it's not a perfect world, is it?

According to the White House's official statement on the equal pay rule: "Today, the median wage of a woman working full-time year-round in the United States is about $39,600 -- only 79 percent of a man’s median earnings of $50,400." 

And, as The Atlantic points out, a report from the Council of Economic Advisers found that the gender wage gap in the US is 2.5 percentage points larger than the average among industrialized countries. Come on, people! We can do better than that -- we have to!

While it's important that women feel empowered to negotiate our own good salaries and compensation, the onus shouldn't be all on us to change a system that's only a little bit less unfair today than it has been for hundreds of years. Some required reporting and transparency shouldn't be a problem for anyone who's doing a good job ensuring that their employees are being paid fairly.

And, even for companies headed by people who do care about this issue, and are dedicated to equal pay, transparency always helps. When you're looking at the numbers right there in black and white, they don't lie.

According to EEOC Chair Jenny Yang, this new rule should be completed this year, and the first reports will be due September 2017. Thanks Obama, indeed!

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Image via White House/Twitter

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