Out of all of the obstacles to gender equality, one of the most insidious is the gender wage gap. We know that white women and Asian women make less than white men, and we also know that black, Latina, and indigenous women make even less. The pay gap is also an extremely complex issue, making it difficult to solve in the short-term (studies indicate we’re currently hundreds of years away from true pay equity in the U.S.). But thanks to a new court ruling, gender pay reporting will soon be required in the U.S.–which will hopefully make it easier to find a solution.
According to Bloomberg News, on March 4th, Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that companies with more than 100 employees will have to share pay data with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This data will have to be broken down into categories based on employees’ gender, race, and ethnicity.
Bloomberg notes that this requirement was originally passed back in 2016, but after President Donald Trump took office, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) blocked it from taking effect. As a result, several women’s groups sued the government, and ultimately won. Reuters reports that in her decision, the Chutkan explained that the OMB didn’t give a reason for blocking the new rule, and she called the block “arbitrary and capricious.”
Reporting pay based on gender and race could be hugely beneficial in closing the wage gap. In a blog post, Sunu P. Chandy, legal director of the NWLC, pointed out that, “Because we don’t like to talk about pay, and because some employers prohibit talking about it, it’s hard to detect pay discrimination, and even harder to challenge it.” Mandatory gender pay reporting is a necessary first step towards changing that.
Forcing businesses to report pay data to the government won’t fix the wage gap overnight, but it’s a promising (and necessary) part of the process.