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Many working women short-changed on pay day


April 21, 2010 | 10:32 AM

Tuesday, April 20, was Equal Pay Day. What does that mean and why should we care?

Equal Pay Day symbolizes the time in the year in which wages paid to America's working women catch up to the wages paid to men from the previous year. Every year in April, New Albany Business & Professional Women joins with hundreds of working women advocates around the country to take note of this day. We care because women workers comprise fully one half of our workforce, and mothers are now the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. They are being shortchanged in terms of economic security and financial stability for their families.

The Equal Pay Act was signed by President Kennedy in 1963 when the wage gap was 41 cents. Though there has been marked improvement since then, we are still far from true economic and social equality. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, women who work full-time earn, on average, 78 cents to every dollar earned by men, a 22-cent gap. For women of color, the gap is even greater: 31 cents for African American women and 41 cents for Latina women. Wage disparity persists across all educational levels and in all states. Here in Indiana, the gap averages 29 cents for all workers over 16; in Kentucky, it is 26 cents. Over a lifetime of work, this pay inequity adds up to a substantial sum of money which has a significant impact on future retirement security. It is real money lost solely because of the gender of the worker.

President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act shortly after taking office in January 2009. That act ensured that victims of discrimination have fair access to the courts, but additional legislation is needed to close the persistent gap between men's and women's wages. The Paycheck Fairness Act (HR12/S182), currently making its way through Congress, will strengthen the Equal Pay Act signed by President Kennedy by closing loopholes and strengthening penalties to guarantee that women are no longer shortchanged on their paycheck simply because they are women.

Gender discrimination is not only a women's issue, it is a business issue. Successful workplaces embrace and practice diversity, equity and work-life balance. It makes good business sense to pay men and women equally to attract and retain the best workers. Employers must be more mindful about their pay practices, and women should be given the knowledge and tools to empower themselves to achieve pay equity.

Our BPW Foundation has developed the Employer Pay Equity Self-Audit to assist employers and their employees in analyzing wage-setting policies and establishing consistent and fair pay practices. It offers specific suggestions to examine how businesses are doing in recruitment and retention of workers, compensation, evaluation of job classifications, training and promotional opportunities and ideas for implementation of changes where necessary. BPW New Albany invites those who are interested in being pro-active in their own workplaces to obtain a copy of the self-audit online at www.bpwfoundation.org.

Employers and employees working together will ensure that all working women's paydays are equal paydays.

Question of the Week
Do you believe there still exists a discrepancy between a man's wages and a woman's?
Yes
No
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Submitted by New Albany Business & Professional Women Board of Directors: Kim Martin-Dawkins, Sarah Ring, Rosalie Dowell, Connie Enlow, Terri Tock, Suellen Wilkinson, Ann Windell and Suzy Higdon

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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 1-812-738-2211 email