US government takes steps to close gender and ethnicity pay gaps

gender and racial pay gapsUS president Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris have announced plans to close gender and racial wage gaps, as well as advancing pay equity for federal workers and federal contractor employees.

The initiatives were announced to mark Equal Pay Day (15 March) in the US, which highlights gender-based pay disparities. The measures designed to address this issue include limiting the use of salary history in employment decisions by federal contractors, promoting efforts to achieve pay equity for job applicants and employees of federal contractors, and ensuring equitable access to good-paying jobs.

Executive orders issued by the president also include strengthening pay equity audits by federal contractors, because conducting audits helps to address and prevent pay disparities based on gender, race, or ethnicity.

According to the US government, on average, women who work full-time earn 83 cents for every dollar that a man earns, with the gap even wider for women of color. Over the course of a 40-year career, a woman is likely to lose out on about $400,000 (£304,000), being closer to $1 million (£759,000) for women of color.

In January, the president issued executive orders to work toward ensuring that employees working on federal contracts and federal employees earned a $15 (£11) per hour minimum wage, with around 370,000 workers receiving a pay rise.

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Speaking at a virtual summit held to announce the measures, Harris said: “Lower wages mean working women have less money; less money to save today. And lower wages mean they receive lower social security benefits in their senior years.”

“Gender equality is not a women’s issue. It benefits everybody,” Biden added.