Why Businesses Must Recognize Equal Pay Day

April 3, 2017

April 4th, 2017 is Equal Pay Day.

The gender pay gap is still very much alive, with April 4th symbolizing how far into 2017 women must work in order to earn what men earned in 2016.

The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) started Equal Pay Day in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the wage difference between men and women. And while the gender gap has certainly narrowed over the years – the fact that it still exists is a problem.

In 2015, women were paid just 80 cents for every dollar a man was paid (on average), according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW). That’s a 20 percent pay gap. And that’s why Equal Pay Day is still important in 2017.

Quick Facts About the Gender Pay Gap

“[The pay gap is] real, it’s persistent, and it’s undermining the economic security of American women and their families,” says Patricia Fae Ho, AAUW Board Chair, in the foreward of the Spring 2017 report, “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap.

Below are some quick facts from the report that help paint a picture of the current landscape:

  • Women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059 – that’s in 42 years.
  • In 2015, 14 percent of American women (ages 18–64) were living below the federal poverty level, compared with 11 percent of men.
  • The pay gap is smallest in New York, where women are paid 89 percent of what men are paid.
  • The largest pay gap is in Wyoming, where women are paid 64 percent of what men are paid.
  • At every level of academic achievement, women’s median earnings are less than men’s median earnings.
  • Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native, African American, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women earn less than non-Hispanic white and Asian American women.

Gender Bias

While part of the gender pay gap can be attributed to occupational choices and hours worked, discrimination and bias against women continue to remain a factor.

That means when all other things are equal – education, experience, and job title – women still earn less than men on average.

In fact, according to the AAUW report, “women in male-dominated jobs such as computer programming still face a pay gap compared with their male counterparts.”

What’s more, as women continue to break gender norms and move into male-dominated professions, that value of the profession declines as a result of gender bias.

“A study of 50 years of U.S. workforce data concluded that when an influx of women enter a previously male-dominated profession, average wages for the occupation as a whole actually decrease,” notes the AAUW report.

What Your Business Can Do

As you can see, the gender pay gap isn’t a myth. It exists, and waiting 42 years for pay equity is just unacceptable. But here’s the good news: Your business can take action and help eliminate the pay gap.

How? For starters, take a stand and recognize that the problem exists. Evaluate your business to ensure that your employees are being paid the wages they deserve.

“Businesses can take the first step towards achieving pay equity by examining their pay practices to determine if they treat all employees equally,” writes the National Committee on Pay Equity on their website. “Many employers may not realize their pay scales favor white men as a result of historical and conventional biases and inconsistencies.”

Need help identifying if the gender pay gap exists in your company? Zenefits can help you run business intelligent reports for gender and compensation analysis: 

diversity report

Learn more about how Zenefits can help you run business intelligent reports


Raised by small business owners in Long Beach, California, Sarah loves creating meaningful content that truly helps people run their businesses successfully and efficiently. In addition to being a Content Marketing Manager at Zenefits, Sarah is a coffee addict, baked-good lover, and a LA Clippers fan.

Category: HR Tips & Trends, Zenefits

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