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Hullabaloo


Saturday, January 30, 2016

 

Pay equity: Time for a run to the gun store, boys

by Tom Sullivan


President Barack Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the East Room
of the White House. January 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian)

President Obama yesterday proposed a new rule for employers to make it easier to identify discriminatory pay practices in the workplace:

Women workers in the United States earn 79 cents for every dollar men do. And President Barack Obama doesn't want you to forget it.

Speaking Friday at a White House event celebrating the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama proposed collecting pay data from companies with 100 or more people — and breaking down the numbers by gender, race and ethnicity. About 63 million workers would be covered, according to a news release accompanying his announcement, which aims to "focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations."

The White House also called again for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, calling it "commonsense legislation that would give women additional tools to fight pay discrimination."

New York magazine provides some background on the president's action:

Large companies have submitted reports on their workforce demographics to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 1966. Under Obama’s new rule, companies with more than 100 employees will now have to add salary data to those reports. White House officials told the New York Times that the new requirement will allow the EEOC to better target investigations into discriminatory practices, while encouraging businesses to police themselves. The latter objective may prove more consequential — with limited resources to investigate abuses, fear of scrutiny may prove the most effective deterrent against racial and gender discrimination in compensation.

So, rather than face public shaming, the hope is that having the data at their fingertips may prompt employers to police themselves. Evidently, there is precedent for that:

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff remarked on Thursday’s call that U.S. corporations have already spent millions of dollars on human resources consultants; business leaders could find out if they’re contributing to pay inequality at the touch of a button. At the urging of two top-ranking female employees in 2014, Salesforce leadership audited its compensation data and found that it was paying women less. The company spent $3 million last year to raise its female employees’ salaries to the levels of their male counterparts. “We will be judged on whether we made the world a more equitable place for all,” Benioff said. “Just push that button.”

Obama's latest assault on white-male privilege will not be subject to congressional approval. Tyranny, tyranny, I tell you. Time to man up, arm up, pocket Constitution up, and find a remote Cabela's store to occupy.