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Saturday, March 25, 2023

The Inequity of Equal Pay for Equal Work

From the very moment I decided to jump headfirst into an industry nontraditional to women, I was always clear about needing to show up with my full self. There was never a time when I believed in not giving my very best in pursuit of professionalism and skill mastery.

Because of the intrinsic nature of wanting to be the very best at whatever it was I was doing, there was never much thought put into the manner in which I would be compensated. Never did I think to compare my value to my male counterparts. Never have I considered my output and performance to be subpar compared to them either.

I presumed all work given a particular role or job assignment was, in fact, created equal. As a result, pay would be equal as well. WRONG!

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 required men and women be paid the same for equal work. It further acknowledged the jobs need not be identical but substantially equal, not defined by mere job title. That was almost sixty years ago. 60. Sixty.

I drive that point home because I was recently awarded 60 thousand dollars in compensation for a claim I brought against an employer wherein one of my claims was directly related to not being paid in accordance with the Equal Work for Equal Pay federal laws.

I was hired to serve in the capacity of Building Official for a municipality and was paid tens of thousands less than the men acting in those capacities before and after my tenure. Many would argue that as one of only 50 women who do what I do in the country, I should probably have been satisfied with my ability to perform in the nontraditional role and that compensation should never have even been a gripe.

However, when you consider earning even ten thousand dollars less annually than your male counterparts over the span of a forty-year career is not too far fetched – a woman could make almost $400,000.00 less than a man during her time in the workforce.

The inequity associated with paying someone less money for equal work is inconceivable. It is unconscionable. It is nonsensical.

Most of the women I know who are fully committed to their jobs often work longer hours at increased intensity. They tend to take on more responsibilities at work. They most likely yield tens of pennies on the dollar less compared to their male peers.

Women are typically overwhelmed and overburdened with “busy” work. We spend countless hours in an attempt to illustrate to those around us our value and prove we are worthy and that we are enough. We do all of this to have our wages and compensation for extraordinary work communicate the contrary.

We are not showing up to our job assignments with a halfcocked 82 percent of our people; so how do we justify earning a mere 82 cents on the dollar? There are some women, particularly women of color, who receive far less than that on the dollar and who also show up with their entire selves.

At what point as a society do we begin to lean into the concepts of equality? While race and politics have always been divisive and an uber sensitive space for us all to engage in, gender issues, though similarly complex, have tended to align with common sense.

Sixty years ago we started the common sense conversation about paying women equal to men performing the same jobs. Sixty years later said conversation has seemingly fallen on societal deaf ears.

Humanity’s greatest advances are not its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity, reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.” -Bill Gates

About the Author

Ladi Goldwire is a State licensed General Contractor and Building Code Administrator certified through the International Code Council. She has over 15 years of experience in the construction industry and owns BrinMar Construction & Development Group Ltd, a design build company. Her primary focus has been in the creation and expansion of small to medium size construction firms. She has found a passion in hemp construction which is sustainable and economical. Ladi is extremely dedicated to mentoring and empowering women in business.

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