Equal pay for equal work is a basic civil right, and seems like a common sense statement.
Unfortunately, Arkansas women who work full-time, year-round earn about 75 cents on the dollar compared to men performing similar jobs. Not only is this unfair, it is hurting Arkansas’ families and economy.
In Arkansas, 150,000 households are headed by single women. The gender pay gap can contribute to poor living conditions, poor nutrition, and fewer opportunities for their children.
Businesses and the economy suffer as a result because lost wages mean families have less money to spend on goods and services that support economic growth.
If all working women in Arkansas were paid the same as comparable men, it would add $3.6 billion to the state’s economy. Closing the wage gap would cut the poverty rate in half, increasing financial stability for families and improving our economy as a whole.
This gap is no coincidence. There is a correlation between states with strong equal pay laws and small gender pay gaps, while states with no legal protection tend to have larger gender pay gaps.
Arkansas has some legal protections for equal pay in state statutes, but they need to be strengthened. Although we have basic equal pay language, we also have loopholes that allow employers to continue to pay women less than their male counterparts.
Measures should be put in place to protect working women from retaliatory practices and increase pay transparency through collection and availability of earnings data. Communities and businesses should invest in programs and policies that lead to positive changes and upward mobility of women in the workplace.
Achieving gender pay equity can also be addressed by simply requiring employers to compensate men and women equally for jobs with comparable education needs, skills, responsibilities, and working conditions.
Arkansas can, and should, enact legislation requiring equal pay for equal work, and we should start by commissioning a gender pay study for all state employees in 2017.
The study would evaluate whether the state compensation system is free from bias and identify ways to improve fairness. The gender pay study would also be a way to identify and avoid unintended consequences from proposed changes in classification and compensation systems. It would also serve as a model for businesses who wish to address gender pay equity.
Click Here to Read the simple truth about the gender pay gap, spring 2016 Edition
This guide is designed to empower our members and other advocates with the facts and resources they need to tell the simple truth about the pay gap. It’s real, it’s persistent, and it’s undermining the economic security of American women and their families. We hope you will join us in the fight.
- Linda D. Hallman
CAE AAUW Chief Executive Officer