Leveling the Playing Field: Establishing Equity at Work

TIME’S UP was born in response to a global cascade of voices that revealed the pervasiveness of sexual harassment, assault, and retaliation against women in the workplace.

But from the beginning, we’ve known that the roots of this crisis run deep. Sexual harassment is a symptom of the imbalance of power that has kept women from realizing true equity at work — in almost every job or type of work and around the world — for generations.

From the 19th Amendment to the Civil Rights Act to the Equal Pay Act to Title IX, women in the United States have fought for and won significant gains in the last two centuries. But we have a long way to go to achieve true equity. We need to pass new laws and strengthen existing ones at both the federal and state levels. And we need to change both companies and culture along the way in order to demand this policy change and cement it into practice.

TIME’S UP is committed to removing barriers so that all people are treated fairly and equitably at work — and have the support they need on and off the job to work and care for their families. This means focusing on issues like equal pay, paid family and medical leave, affordable child care, and pregnancy discrimination. It also means increasing representation of women and people of color in leadership and managerial roles and ensuring dignity — wherever they work.

Pay equity is perhaps one of the most stark illustrations of the work that lies ahead. Women represent 47 percent of the U.S. labor force and are the primary or sole breadwinners for their families in 40 percent of homes.

Yet despite growing economic participation, women are still paid, on average, 82 cents on a man’s dollar. That amounts to more than $10,000 in lost wages per woman per year — more than $400,000 over the course of a career. For too many women, that’s the difference between paying rent, sending a child to college, or retiring with security.

And the gap is significantly worse for women of color: Latinas earn just 54 cents for every dollar made by a white man. Native American women earn 58 cents. Black women earn 62 cents. In total, most women of color lose close to a million dollars over the course of their career due to the wage gap.

The good news is that we’re making progress. Forty-nine states have some kind of pay equity provisions on the books, and so far this year, at least eight states have passed new laws to address the wage gap.

Meanwhile, TIME’S UP is helping to advance national legislation that will establish equity for women at work. This year, the Paycheck Fairness Act — which would strengthen equal pay protections outlined in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 — passed the House of Representatives with 239 co-sponsors and bipartisan support.

And other major bills have been introduced: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would protect working pregnant women against discrimination, guarantee economic security while pregnant, and ensure that companies provide necessary workplace accommodations. In July 2019, Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the first-ever federal legislation that would extend labor rights and protections to millions of domestic workers throughout the country.

TIME’S UP is also holding companies’ feet to the fire when it comes to paying their employees equally. In May 2019, TIME’S UP Tech member Sky Kelley spoke on behalf of TIME’S UP, Arjuna Capital, and Proxy Impact at the shareholder meeting of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Kelley introduced a proposal calling on Google to release its median pay gap data.

New research shows that when companies are transparent with their median pay gap data, it actually helps them close it, and results in more women being hired and promoted into high-paying jobs and managerial roles.

The median pay gap is a measure that captures equal pay and equal opportunity. It answers the question of whether women and people of color have the same access to advancement as men and white people. Sky insisted that Alphabet live up to its motto — “do the right thing” — by reporting on and committing to closing its global median gender and racial pay gap.

This is our moment. We can fight to extend equal pay protections; pass paid family and medical leave; ensure affordable child care; and guarantee protections against pregnancy discrimination.

Let’s keep up this unprecedented momentum and establish equity for all. Join us.