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Employers Must Now Release Data To Close Race-Gender Pay Gap

Sep 30, 2019
Originally published on September 30, 2019 8:47 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

How much are women and people of color paid where you work? And how does that stack up against their colleagues who work similar jobs? Now, unless you're surrounded by very chatty co-workers, you probably don't know the answer. But today, for the first time, many employers face a government deadline to disclose what employees are paid broken down by gender and race. This is aimed at addressing pay gaps. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has the story.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: The new data give the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a window into how much employers pay their female and minority workers. The agency already collects annual demographic data from employers. Companies with a hundred or more employees are required to disclose the number of workers in various job categories broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. Now that report will include data about what employees are paid.

Emily Martin is a vice president at the National Women's Law Center. She says this new rule will spur some employers to identify and correct where some people are paid less for comparable work.

EMILY MARTIN: There's nothing like knowing that somebody is watching to motivate you to make sure you're doing the right thing.

NOGUCHI: And for those that aren't, she says the data will help regulators identify companies with the biggest problems.

MARTIN: It's new information that will give the EEOC some red flags that - oh, this employer, they have wage gaps that are way outside the norm.

NOGUCHI: This comes at a time when the push for equal pay has gained a high profile in Hollywood and professional sports, like the U.S. women's soccer team. Some companies are auditing their pay scales and addressing shortfalls as they try to bolster diversity in their ranks and retain talent. But other businesses fought the rule, arguing it added administrative costs and litigation risks. Originally, the rule was set to take effect two years ago until the Trump administration tabled it. Then, earlier this year, a federal judge reinstated the requirement.

Some advocates say the rules don't go far enough because the data won't be made public. Katica Roy is CEO of Pipeline Equity, a software firm that flags potential problems for employers by looking for bias in hiring and performance reviews.

KATICA ROY: I think it would be a bigger impact if the data itself were public - you know? - much like it is in the U.K.

NOGUCHI: That would put more pressure on companies with big pay gaps, she argues, from the public and from individual workers who could use the information to bring claims against their employers. Nevertheless, Roy says, recent measures are helping to narrow the gender pay gap in the U.S. - even if that change is occurring at a glacial pace.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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