In March, Starbucks announced 100% gender and racial pay equity amongst all U.S. employees performing similar work. While the achievement is commendable, this news making breaking headlines causes us to pause and consider where we are.
In America, women are paid approximately 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. And while progress has been made, it’s come slowly. According to estimates by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, if change continues at the same pace as it has for the past fifty years, it will take at least 41 years, or until 2059, for women to reach full pay parity. For women of color, the pace of change is even slower, with estimates at 2233 for Hispanic women, and 2124 for Black women.
Addressing race-specific wage gaps is critical, as the fight for pay equality must push for progress for all women. And while Starbucks’ announcement is a sign of change, it also serves as a reminder for how much more work needs to be done – both in companies across the U.S. as well as their global partners.
In an era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, gender equality has been propelled to the forefront of business concerns. Starbucks is one of several high-profile companies to announce achieving pay equity in the past few years. Apple closed its gender pay gap in 2015, and Intel, whose realization that women’s earnings take a blow not just at hiring, but at promotion, inspired the company to push for racial and gender pay equity in 2016. Salesforce is another example; after doing a comprehensive analysis of salaries and job functions in 2015, the tech company announced a $3 million initiative to close the gap between the earnings of female and male employees. Other companies, such as Rent the Runway, the online service providing dress and accessory rentals, have had equal pay practices from the time of its launch in 2009.
Reimagining a world in which achieving pay equity isn’t something rare and novel, but is the norm, requires companies to move from words into action. And while celebrating milestones is important, they also invite us to reflect on how much further we have to go.
- Ashley Miller