At the Republican National Convention last summer, Ivanka Trump took the stage and promised to champion equal pay for women.
Last week, she endorsed her father’s policy to scuttle a modest policy to enforce the Equal Pay Act. Her disappearing act reflects a cynical approach to an issue of fundamental importance to American families.
Each year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) collects data from large employers on the race, gender, ethnicity and job categories of their employees. Last year, the Obama administration added a requirement that would be implemented in March of 2018: reports on compensation for men and women. The aim of this simple initiative was to increase wage transparency.
Gathering information on worker pay is a reasonable, and necessary, means of assessing the extent of the gender wage gap that exists between men and women. The Trump administration’s decision, with the support of Ivanka Trump-- First Daughter and White House adviser-- to halt that initiative will widen the disparity and further undermine the principle of equal pay for equal work. After all, if companies are not required to release worker pay information, they cannot be called to account when they discriminate between men and women. In a word, they are let off the hook.
How bad is this perennial national problem? Studies show that women earn 78% of what men are paid for equal work. African-American women earn 64% and Latina women just 53%. There is no earthly justification for this exercise in discrimination. It mocks the Equal Pay Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the principle of equality.
The problem is exacerbated when President Trump, and daughter Ivanka, pledge to American voters that they will close the gap, and then engage in cynical subterfuge. The First Daughter issued a public statement, seeking to rationalize her flip-flop on an issue that had won, among Republican women, support for her father’s campaign: “Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results.” Yet, information gathering is central to achieving results.
Ivanka Trump’s words were as hollow as those that she used during the presidential campaign to “promote” paid family leave. She has been a self-described champion of family leave. Her company, however, offered maternity leave only after public outcry forced her to change its policy, lest she suffer charges of hypocrisy and embarrassment. The proof is in the pudding.
The gender pay gap is appalling. Those in public office whose actions undermine their purported leadership on “family values” should be held accountable. At a minimum, members of Congress and the administration should enact enforcement measures with real teeth.
The issue of gender inequality in the workplace is one of the many topics that will be discussed at The Alturas Institute’s annual “Conversations with Exceptional Women,” Sept. 21-22, held at The Community Library in Sun Valley. Tickets for the event may be purchased at www.alturasinstitute.com
The gathering of extraordinary women from various sectors will address pressing issues confronting the nation. Lynn Walsh, President of the Society of Professional Journalists, will discuss the state of freedom of the press, at a time when the First Amendment is under relentless attack. Barbara Morgan, astronaut and Teacher in Space, and Teresa Carlson, VP of Amazon Worldwide, will offer remarks on the importance of STEM education. Other participants—award-winning writers, international human rights activists, historians and legal scholars, as well as prize-winning film actors, directors and producers, and Fortune 500 corporate leaders, will focus on the broad theme of “Uniting Women Across Generations.”
As America nears the 100th anniversary of the landmark 19th Amendment to the Constitution—guaranteeing women the right to vote—there is a compelling need to assess the status of women in the workplace and the political arena. Gender discrimination courses its way throughout our nation. Solutions to it require thoughtful, penetrating civil dialogue and citizen participation. Standing on the sidelines will not deliver solutions. Come join us!
David Adler is President of The Alturas Institute, with headquarters in Idaho Falls, established to advance the Constitution, civic education and gender equality.