White House moves to bridge pay gap

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have announced moves to close gender and racial wage gaps, and boost pay equity for new federal workers and employees of federal contractors.

Among the steps taken was an executive order signed by Biden, which limits the use of salary history in employment decisions by federal contractors.

The Office of Personnel Management also began work to address the use of salary history in the hiring and pay-setting process for federal employees.

The White House made the announcements to mark Equal Pay Day, which draws attention to gender-based pay disparities.

“Gender equality is not a women’s issue. It benefits everybody,” Biden said in a room filled with nearly 400 women – the largest indoor gathering at the White House since he took office.

On average, women who work full-time make just 83 cents for every dollar that a man makes, Vice President Harris said.

The gap is even wider for  women, of colour she said. Over a 40-year career, a woman will lose out on about $400,000 and that wage gap is closer to $1 million for women of colour, she added.

“Lower wages mean working women have less money – less money to save today. And lower wages mean they receive lower social security benefits in their senior years,” Harris said.

Current and former members of the US women’s national soccer team, who reached a $24 million agreement last month on an equal pay dispute with USW Soccer, joined the president at the White House event.

The dispute, which dated back to a March 2019 gender-discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer, was resolved with both parties agreeing to equal rates of pay for the women’s and men’s national teams.

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