Tag Archives: Paycheck Fairness Act

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Girls on the Run: Local organization races to empower young women

“Girls on the Run” is part three of a series about local views on women’s rights issues facing local businesses. Part one addresses the Ban Bossy campaign and part two addresses the Paycheck Fairness Act.

There are many groups dedicated to the empowerment and well-being of pre-teen and teenage girls. Many of these groups are receiving more attention because of the spotlight on equal pay, Ban Bossy, Lean In and women’s rights in general. One such group is Girls on the Run, a nonprofit company dedicated to helping girls achieve their full potential.

Girls on the Run is designed to help pre-teen girls discover self-respect and self-accomplishment. The program spans 12 weeks with meetings twice a week. The curriculum is divided into three parts: how girls can better understand themselves, how they value relationships and teamwork and how they connect with and shape the world at large.

The program also incorporates running, being physically active and a 5k run at the end. Meagan Kukowski, the executive director for the Maricopa County council, explains that the girls never run just to run, but instead the running serves as a role to embrace a healthy lifestyle and helps the girls complete lessons and activities that reinforce the curriculum.

Kukowski explains that the 5k race does not emphasize winning and that it is not timed. All of the girls wear the number one. “The race gives them a tangible sense of achievement and a framework for setting and achieving goals in life. Many of the girls start by saying that there is no way they can run three miles, and when they achieve that goal, they get to see that they could do it,” says Kukowski.

Girls on the Run also addresses important social issues that affect girls such as their appearance, negative self-talk and stereotypes. Kukowski explains that the program addresses the importance of appearance by telling the girls to unplug negative self-talk and talk about others. “We teach them to think positively towards ourselves and others we come in contact with,” states Kukowski. She also explains that they encourage girls to reach outside of the girl box. Despite pressure girls may feel from society, friends and the media to look and act different, Girls on the Run “teaches girls to identify these problems and to embrace who they are.”

Kukowski also explains that the volunteers are great role models for the girls. “Part of the program that reinforces and takes attention off of appearance are the hundreds of volunteers – they are not all star athletes, but they are strong female role models that reinforce what they are teaching them,” states Kukowski.

Along with the other campaigns working to empower girls and women, Girls on the Run promotes girls exercising their voices. “Regardless of the end goal, we teach our girls that if they see something they don’t like or agree with that is happening, they should stand up,” states Kukowski, “And by standing together, they can have a bigger and stronger voice.”

On a resounding note Kukowski states, “What we try to do is recognize stereotypes and negative talk, whether it is being called bossy or being encouraged to not speak up. We teach girls to recognize that and give them the tools to feel empowered and achieve their dreams, regardless of what society or people around them might say.”

Check out your local council of Girls on the Run or one of the many other women’s campaigns helping to empower girls and women everywhere.

Business Woman

Equal Pay for Equal Work

President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order for the non-retaliation for disclosure of compensation information on April 8, 2014. The next day, April 9, 2014, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to pass in the Senate with a vote of 53-44, missing the needed 60 votes.

In part one of this article, the Ban Bossy campaign was discussed by two Arizona business leaders, and what women need to do to break the glass ceiling. The Executive Orders and the Paycheck Fairness Act are two items that are meant to help women receive equal wages for equal work because statistics show that women make 77 percent of what men make for equal work.

One of the major problems facing women in the workplace is that wages cannot be discussed, so most people do not know if they are receiving discriminatory wages. The Executive Order for non-retaliation for disclosure of compensation allows employees of Federal contractors to discuss their compensation without fear of adverse action. Section 1 of the policy states that the executive branch is trying to enforce the civil rights laws of the United States including those laws that prohibit discriminatory practices with respect to compensation and that Federal contractors that employ such practices are subject to enforcement action.

Section 1 states, “When employees are prohibited from inquiring about, disclosing, or discussing their compensation with fellow workers, compensation discrimination is much more difficult to discover and remediate, and more likely to persist.”

This Executive Order follows Obama’s first signed bill from 2009: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration. When signing the bill in the company of Lilly Ledbetter, Obama exclaimed, “Lilly Ledbetter didn’t set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job – and did it well – for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for the very same work. Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits – losses she still feels today.”

Five years later, women continue to fight for equal pay for equal work, leading to the new Executive Order and Paycheck Fairness Act. Although women, especially women of color, suffer from unequal pay, Obama stated at the 2009 bill signing that equal pay is not just a women’s issue, but a family issue. He said, “It’s about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition or child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on . . . And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month’s paycheck to simple discrimination.”

So why would the Senate block the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2014? There are many thoughts about why the Senate Republicans blocked the bill including that the Senate would not consider Republican amendments to the measure, Senate Democrats wanted to control the debate, the bill would lead to job losses and the bill was only an election-year ploy.

Senator Mitch McConnell explained that the bill would hurt employers. He stated, “At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss – all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers. In other words, it’s just another Democrat idea that threatens to hurt the very people it claims to help.” He continued to explain that the bill was part of a broader strategy to appeal to low- and middle-income voters, the same as the move to increase the federal minimum wage and long-term unemployment benefits.

McConnell explained, “For weeks now, they’ve blocked the efforts Republicans have made to improve the picture. Senate Democrats want to control this debate from start to finish and basically do nothing to help with our efforts to expand opportunity and jobs for women and for men. They continue to block all the innovative ideas that Republicans have been offering to turn the tide.”

Senator Kelly Ayotte also explained why Republican women opposed the bill. “There are two other laws that already cover this issue in addition to Lilly Ledbetter. I believe those laws should be enforced. And obviously I think it’s self-evident that I’m for women receiving equal pay. In fact, I’d like them to be paid more.”

From the other perspective, Senator Barbara Mikulski, who sponsored the bill, gave a passionate speech about the bill before the vote occurred. She said, “I’ll tell you what I’m tired of hearing – that somehow or another we’re too emotional when we talk. You know, when we raise an issue, we’re too emotional. Well, I am emotional. If we don’t pass this bill, I’m so emotional I’m going to press on. It brings tears to my eyes to know how women every, single day are working so hard and are getting paid less. It makes me emotional to hear that.” She concluded with a call to action: “Today is the day that’s a reckoning on ‘Do you want equal pay for equal work?’ and I want men and women all across America to be emotional about it. If you think we’re emotional, wait till you see what happens if this bill fails.”

After the bill failed to pass, Mikulski called for women to keep fighting. “Let’s suit up. Let’s square our shoulders. For the women, put your lipstick on and let’s fight on. We will be back another day for another vote,” she exclaimed.

Based upon the social movements looking to empower women and the persistence of senators like Mikulski, women are not going to put down this fight. This is the third time that the Paycheck Fairness Act has failed to pass, but it appears that Mikulski refuses to admit defeat. Lean In, Ban Bossy, the Paycheck Fairness Act and other movements are calling women to use their voices and to empower themselves. We shall see what these movements bring for the future.

If you missed part one of this article, check it out here.

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Local business owners weigh in Ban Bossy campaign

The Ban Bossy campaign led by Facebook COO and Lean In founder, Sheryl Sandberg, and the Girl Scouts of USA works to help empower girls and women. The campaign partnered with celebrities and businesses to share quotes, stories and tips for girls, parents, troop leaders and managers to help women become leaders. The basis of the campaign comes from statistics that show that when boys assert themselves they are called leaders, but when girls assert themselves they are labeled as bossy.

The Ban Bossy websites shares leadership tips for girls, parents, teachers, managers and troop leaders that contain statistics and tips for difficult situations. Some examples include allowing boys and girls to work together in groups, pausing after questions so that all students have time to answer, asking questions without right answers so students can answer without the fear being wrong, reading books and watching movies with heroines and heroes, differentiating between competence and being well-liked in the workplace and eliminating language that contains gender bias.

The site also displays favorite stories and resources that “encourage girls to flex their leadership muscles.” These range from PDF activities for girls and parents to complete, to troop activities, to media choices and information, to stories of real girls breaking stereotypes and being leaders.

So how can we expand upon the Ban Bossy campaign? Two Arizona businesswomen speak up about what it means to be a woman in business and how to break the glass ceiling.

Lisa Pino, an ASU alumna and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at USDA, and Kimber Lanning, an Arizona business owner and founder of Local First Arizona, both talk about women needing to take the initiative and use their voice.

Pino explains that she first took the initiative when she worked at a small, private college. She pitched an idea about how to help women enter and stay in college through difficult socio-economic situations such as teenage motherhood, financial struggles and cultural differences. Through this idea, Pino implemented the first minority retention program at the college. “I was fortunate to have a woman boss, and this gave me the initiative to empower myself and do work other than what I was assigned,” Pino states. After this first critical step, Pino states that she later realized that she could be the leader because she learned how to exercise new muscles in creativity and leadership.

Lanning takes a similar position when she states, “Don’t use ‘I’m a girl’ for an excuse for anything – good or bad.” She continues to explain, “I don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on what I can or can’t do,” Lanning states, “I just leap. Fear of failure is not a reason to not try.”

Lanning took the initiative at a young age. She explains that she was passed over for a manager position at a record shop because “no one would listen to a 100-pound woman.” So, Lanning opened her own store, Stinkweeds, instead.

Both women also agree that women need to speak up for themselves in the workplace. Pino explains, “As a woman, it’s necessary to be able to exercise your voice.”

She continues to explain that there is a recent shift in the workplace. Previously, she says, women needed to act like men in the workplace, but now there is an appreciation for the qualities that women tend to have and how those can be regarded as strengths.

“Women tend to have the likelihood of listening, negotiating and handling situations. They work on challenges with a longer view, and are not just forced by the short-term pressure,” Pino explains, “Women tend to be more ambidextrous because they are used to doing it all – work and family. Juggling many things is part of the norm.”

Lanning agrees that women need to show what they can offer in the workplace. She states, “I try to take the time to be conscientious about what I can offer to other people, but if I need to, I have a big toolbox and boxing gloves if needed.” However, Lanning also points out “if women come to work with their boxing gloves every day that is not helpful either.” She suggests that women find ways to collaborate and show their worth.

Pino also speaks directly about Ban Bossy, Lean In and other women’s campaigns. She explains that, even with some of the criticism, all of these campaigns are successful because they start the dialogue. She claims, “It is not as simple as identifying one word – it is a much more complex subject – but, nevertheless, we are talking about it.” She explains that through the extensive coverage from mass media, social media and other women that now people who are not women have to talk about it as well. “Let’s continue the dialogue, let’s see what measurable actions we can take together, let’s create some sort of coalition of support and collaboration,” Pino states.

Finally, Pino states that she is excited and proud of the millennial generation. “It is so exciting for younger women today. It is fantastic that they are growing up in a culture where they won’t tolerate challenges that women had in the past. Also, male millenials are much more progressive in believing in equity for women. I am inspired by younger women and their courage in speaking out about these issues. The culture is changing.”

As women are still underrepresented in board rooms, in business, in the STEM fields and in politics, the discussion needs to continue about equality in the workplace. Ban Bossy attempts to confront the stereotypes and double standards that women face and show girls and women how to lean in. As Beyoncé states, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.

Check out part 2 of this article discussing the Paycheck Fairness Act and President Barack Obama’s Executive Order.

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Unequal Wages Cost Phoenix Women $3.8 Billion

A new analysis released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow reveals that the Phoenix area’s gender-based wage gap is punishing local families and the economy. Women who are employed full time in the Phoenix area are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap in wages of $6,685. Collectively, this amounts to a loss of nearly $3.8 billion in income every year – money that could strengthen the local economy and provide critical support to the more than 198,000 Phoenix area households headed by women.

The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. The National Partnership analyzed the wage gap in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas and in all 50 states. It found that, statewide, women in Arizona are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to men.

“This new analysis illustrates the great harm to families, states and metropolitan areas caused by the pervasive gender-based wage gap,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “With most women serving as essential breadwinners for their families, the loss of this critical income has devastating consequences. Local, state and federal lawmakers should make ending gender discrimination in pay and promotions a much higher priority.”

According to the analysis, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages in the Phoenix area were eliminated, each full-time working woman could afford to pay for food for nearly one more year, buy 1800+ more gallons of gas, pay mortgage and utilities for five more months or pay rent for seven more months. These basic necessities would be particularly important for the nearly 62,000 women-headed households in the Phoenix area that currently live below the poverty level.

Nationally, women who hold full-time jobs are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men who hold full-time jobs. African American women and Latinas fare worse, being paid 64 cents and just 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. At that rate, it is estimated that women will not be paid equally for more than 40 years.

“Fifty years ago this year, the Equal Pay Act became law. Yet a punishing wage gap persists for women across the country,” Ness continued. “We must do more to close the wage gap, which is present in every part of the country and every industry, and affects workers with every level of education. Congress and the president can and must do more. We are urging Congress to prioritize passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act and urging President Obama to take executive action to ensure that federal contractors do not discriminate in pay.  It is past time the country finally make gender-based pay discrimination a thing of the past.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, help to break harmful patterns of wage discrimination, and establish stronger workplace protections for women; it was reintroduced in Congress in January. President Obama has been a vocal supporter of the bill, calling on Congress to pass it in his State of the Union address in February. Since then, the National Partnership and other advocates have urged the president to issue an executive order on fair pay, which would set an example for the nation’s employers and help ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to support discriminatory pay practices.

The National Partnership’s research on the wage gap was released the day before Equal Pay Day – which marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and spans all 50 states and the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. Reports for each locality, along with state rankings, are available at www.NationalPartnership.org/Gap.