Equal work deserves equal pay

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

Wage discrimination based on gender is both illegal and wrong. Unfortunately, it still exists. I believe that equal work deserves equal pay. I want my two daughters and three granddaughters to have the same opportunities to succeed in the workplace as those afforded to my son and grandson. No one should be held back from fulfilling professional goals or providing for his or her family because of gender.
Raising Awareness on Equal Pay Day
In recent months, high-profile incidents of unequal compensation have ignited important and necessary discussions about the salary discrepancies between men and women across America. For example, the U.S. women’s soccer team spoke out on the issue after learning that they were paid less than their male peers, despite winning the 2015 World Cup and generating millions in revenue.
Equal Pay Day is widely recognized for raising national awareness and promoting greater dialogue. For the past two decades, Equal Pay Day – started by the National Committee on Pay Equity – marks how many extra months women have to work into the new year to make what men earned during the previous year. This year’s Equal Pay Day was held on April 12.
Supporting the ‘Workplace Advancement Act’
Republicans in Congress are championing a number of efforts to stop wage discrimination and promote transparency in the workplace. Women should not have to fear retaliation for asking about their salary and how it compares to the compensation of their colleagues.
One of the efforts that I have cosponsored is the “Workplace Advancement Act,” introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). This bill would update current laws, strengthen employee protections, and empower women to have the necessary information at the negotiating table. Equal pay for equal work is an area where Republicans and Democrats agree. Sen. Fischer’s bill earned bipartisan support when it was considered during the budget process last year. It joins a host of bills sponsored by Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in favor of paycheck fairness.
Women and the Obama Economy
Fifty-three years after the “Equal Pay Act of 1963,” it is discouraging that women still earn less than men on average. Since then, the number of women who work as entrepreneurs, CEOs of major corporations, and elected officials at the local, state, and national levels has grown significantly. More and more women are the primary breadwinners for their families.
The stagnant wages and shrinking workforce of the Obama Economy have been particularly difficult for women. Women are more likely than men to live in poverty, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. They also have a much lower labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of Americans who have a job or are actively looking for one.
Lawsuits, government mandates, and intrusive regulations are not sensible, long-term solutions to the gender wage gap. Instead, our mission should be to increase overall economic growth, create better job opportunities, encourage innovation, and promote workplace flexibility. These pro-growth policies can help pave the way for higher wages and ultimately make a real difference in women’s lives and the lives of working families across the country.

By Senator Roger Wicker

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