Stevenson on Women's Equality Day and newly launched Employers for Pay Equity

August 26, 2016

“It’s easy to get the impression, as the U.S. celebrates the 45th annual Women’s Equality Day today, that the march toward equality has slowed to a crawl. Allow me to disagree,” writes Betsey Stevenson in today’s Bloomberg piece, “Believe it or not, women are doing better.”

Stevenson cites the usual statistics, namely that “[w]omen’s labor force participation stands at less than 57 percent,” but she also points out more promising news.

“Glass ceilings are breaking, and not only in the presidential race: In 2015, 28 percent of all CEOs were women, up from 23 percent in 2008,” writes Stevenson. “Females own 38 percent of all businesses, compared with 29 percent in 2007.”

Of the work that remains to be done, Stevenson describes legislative priorities, including paid family leave and the paycheck fairness act, as well as roles only employers can fulfill.

Businesses, she says, can institute family-friendly policies, work to reduce the pay gap, and, importantly, try “to eliminate more subtle barriers that reduce the likelihood that a highly qualified woman or minority is hired, promoted, or given a deserved raise….”

Earlier today, a new consortium was announced—Employers for Pay Equity—that will do just that.

The consortium is comprised of 25 companies—some of them competitors—who will be working together to share best practices in inclusion and diversity with the goal of eliminating pay and leadership gaps.

“These companies realize these practices aren’t just good for women, or for families. By helping attract and retain top talent, they also make good business sense,” writes Stevenson in a separate Medium piece, “Companies working together to close the pay gap.”

Stevenson, who facilitated an August 3 panel at the White House on best practices for companies working to reduce gender and racial pay gaps, helped the consortium members craft their mission and identify shared goals.

“We should all be grateful that these companies are coming together to lead us to a stronger and fairer economy,” she writes. 

Betsey Stevenson (@BetseyStevenson(link is external)) is an associate professor of public policy and economics at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She served as an appointed member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (2013-2015) and as chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor (2010-2011).