At a candid discussion on the state of equal pay for women in America, Hillary Clinton gave kudos to Silicon Valley CEOs for carrying their share of the load.
“If CEOs and board members will actually ask themselves ‘How sure are we we that we are paying people the same?’ the data shows even in the best-intentioned companies that is often not happening,” she said. Clinton spoke at a round table discussion hosted by salary data site Glassdoor.com. She gave a nod to Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff, who spent $3 million last year to close the gender wage gap at his company, and Gap (GPS), the first Fortune 500 company to announce that it pays female and male employees equally in 2014.
“I’m very focused on making sure we don’t lose the impetus behind this conversation and that we get more companies ... to be public [about their gender wage gap],” Clinton said.
Silicon Valley is rising to the challenge. On Tuesday, Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MS) became the latest tech giants to announce they had achieved pay parity among their male and female workers. They follow in the footsteps of Intel, which announced in February it had achieved 100% pay parity between men and women workers with the same job, and Apple and Amazon, which were quick to follow. At Apple, women earn 99.6% of what male employees earn and at Amazon, women earn 99.9% of men in equivalent jobs. If this trend is anything like last summer’s scramble to publish racial pay data in the Valley, more tech giants are sure to follow.
Whether they get a head start or not, business leaders won’t have long to resist publishing salary data publicly. Under a new federal regulation set to take effect next year, companies with 100 employees or more will have to begin reporting wage data to the federal government.
The panel also included Megan Rapinoe, Women's Soccer World Cup Champion, Robert Hohman, co-founder and CEO, Glassdoor, Inc, Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, executive director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, Dan Henkle, president, Gap Foundation & SVP of global sustainability of Gap Inc., and Tracy Sturdivant, co-founder & co-executive director of Make It Work.
There was only the slightest hint of exasperation in her tone when the Democratic presidential candidate joked about how often she’s asked to weigh in on pay disparities (“almost every day”). The wage gap has barely budged in the last 30 years and it’s been 20 years since Clinton gave her now-famous speech on the state of women around the world at the United Nations. Women still earn 80 cents for every $1 a man earns for the same work, and black and Hispanic women earn even less (64 cents and 56 cents, respectively). Some predict it will take at least another 100 years to level the playing field.
Clinton has called for a multi-pronged effort to close the gap, starting by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would add some teeth to the 50-year-old Equal Pay Act by preventing employers from retaliating against workers who share wage information. She’s also called for a higher federal minimum wage and new laws requiring employers to provide paid family and medical leave (she and her opponent Bernie Sanders agree on that front).
“I feel like [equal pay] is something that’s long overdue but I know we’ve got to keep moving forward,” Clinton said.
Equal Pay day this year falls on the one-year anniversary of the launch of Clinton’s presidential campaign. At the kickoff event held in New York City that day, Clinton promised to keep pay parity front and center in her bid for the Democratic nomination.
“It is way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job — and women of color often making even less,” she said. “This isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a family issue.”