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Bill to Close Gender Wage Gap Approved by Senate

Photo: Paul Wellman Hannah-Beth Jackson, California State Senator for the 19th District, at the offices of the Santa Barbara Independent.

The gender wage gap persists. In California, women working full-time made 88 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2016. These figures result in an estimated $78.6 billion in lost wages for women every year. To fight these statistics, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s Senate Bill 171 would require employers with 100 or more employees to report employee hours and compensation by gender, race, ethnicity, and job category. The bill was approved by the State Senate Tuesday on a 27-9 vote and now moves to the Assembly.

“The gender pay gap not only punishes women, it hurts children, families, and our economy,” said Senator Jackson in a statement. “SB 171 will help California employers examine their pay practices and take action to compensate their workers fairly as well as improve their hiring practices.” If implemented, the bill would permit state agencies to identify patterns in wage disparity and enforce wage discrimination laws. A study by the Harvard Business Review suggests that disclosing employee wages increases the number of women being hired and promoted into senior positions, while lowering companies’ overall wage bills by slowing down the growth of male wages.

The proposed bill models an Obama-era policy to collect pay data by race and gender nationwide from large companies. The policy was halted by the Trump administration in August 2017 — a move that was found in violation of the law by a federal judge in March. The Trump administration is now ordered to reinstate data collection on worker pay by September 30.

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