It really seems like there’s a “day” for everything now, right? From high-fives to margaritas, there’s no escaping the deluge of celebrations that play out primarily on social media. But there is one “day” in particular that I would love to escape – Equal Pay Day.
I’m all about everyone, regardless of age, sex, gender, ethnic background, religion, etc., getting paid equally for equal work. But this holiday is not a celebration. I think Sarah Thomas of Light Reading explained it really well in her recent post – Equal Pay Day was “celebrated” on April 12, 2016, “because this is how far women must work into the year to earn the equivalent of what men earned in 2015.” Doesn’t exactly put you in the mindset for eating a slice of cake. (Maybe just a pint of ice cream.)
Yet there are a few big name companies out there that took this as an opportunity to celebrate their own progress. For example, Facebook’s Lori Matloff Goler posted to the social channel that she was “proud to share that at Facebook, men and women earn the same.” And Microsoft’s Kathleen Hogan blogged that “for every $1 earned by men, [their] female employees in the U.S. earn 99.8 cents at the same job title and level.”
Let’s give Facebook a slow clap, and Microsoft an even slower one.
Do not get me wrong. These are victories for the women who work at both of these companies, and I rejoice for them. But on Equal Pay Day, these are being treated as victories for the companies themselves – attempts to garner good PR on a, frankly, very depressing holiday – and should they be? The last time I checked, treating men and women as equals in the workplace wasn’t exactly a novel idea. It’s something that many have been fighting for at least since the second wave of feminism. We’re talking mid-twentieth century here. It’s 2016, and Microsoft still doesn’t pay its female and male employees equally.
Sarah Thomas also brought up an interesting (read: depressing) tidbit – according to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, the gender pay gap will not close until 2059 at the current rate of change. This is absolutely a complex issue with sociological implications that cannot be addressed by simply adding 0.2 cents to a woman’s paycheck at Microsoft. But at the same time, I would really love to spend April 12 celebrating my genuine love for grilled cheese instead of the fact that women are paid, on average, 79 cents for every dollar that a man makes in this country.
Let’s give grilled cheese the opportunity to take back April 12 before 2059, alright?