EWNJ’s Kauffman on Equal Pay Day: ‘We must recognize that our work toward a fairer corporate environment is not finished’

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between the wages paid to men and women.

Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The NCPE said the April 2 date was meant to symbolize how far into the current year that women have to work to make the same money as men doing the same job were paid the previous year.

Tuesday also was selected to represent how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color.

And, while New Jersey has taken strides to correct this imbalance under Gov. Phil Murphy, there is still work to be done.

File photo
Barbara Kauffman of the Executive Women of New Jersey and Newark Regional Business Partnership.

So said Barbara Kauffman, the president of the Executive Women of New Jersey, a group that has been pushing for more equality and opportunity in the workplace.

Kauffman, who also serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Newark Regional Business Partnership, released the following statement:

“Today, on Equal Pay Day, Executive Women of New Jersey commemorates the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, the strongest pay equity legislation in the nation,” she said.

“This bipartisan bill, championed by Sen. Loretta Weinberg and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, addresses the pay inequalities that women — especially women of color — experience in the workplace in comparison with their male counterparts of equal rank. EWNJ was an early advocate of the Equal Pay Act and we are proud to see New Jersey leading the way toward women’s equality in the workplace.

“While we laud this important policy action, we must recognize that our work toward a fairer corporate environment is not finished. There are a multiplicity of factors contributing to pay gaps for women that require us to employ a variety of efforts to address them. Our research, as outlined in our third biennial ‘A Seat at the Table’ report on gender diversity, shows that women continue to be underpaid and underrepresented relative to their male counterparts on boards and in senior corporate governance.

“This reality is particularly alarming when you consider that our research also demonstrates that companies with more women on their boards have stronger financial performance and fewer governance-related issues such as bribery, corruption, shareholder battles and fraud. We know that women deliver significant operational and financial value to their organizations and their pay should reflect this irrefutable fact.

“Accordingly, we are renewing our call for the private sector to adopt practices that not only achieve pay equity, but also increase gender and minority representation in the top leadership of their companies.”

The potential impact of equal pay is enormous, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research said. It said data before the Allen law was passed showed that, if New Jersey women received equal pay for equal work, the poverty rate for working women in the state would drop by half and the economy would grow by $16.6 billion.

Read more from ROI-NJ: