Taking Action to Advance Equal Pay

President Barack Obama signs executive actions to strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women, at an event marking Equal Pay Day in the East Room of the White House.

Seven years ago today, President Obama signed into law his first piece of legislation as President: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which empowered women to recover wages lost to pay discrimination. While the gender pay gap has narrowed slightly over the past two years, there is much more work to be done to ensure fair pay for all. Today, the median wage of a woman working full-time year-round in the United States is about $39,600—only 79 percent of a man’s median earnings of $50,400.

Today, the President is highlighting several additional actions that his Administration is taking to advance equal pay for all workers and further empower working families:

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in partnership with the Department of Labor, is publishing a proposal to annually collect summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees. The proposal would cover over 63 million employees. This step – stemming from a recommendation of the President’s Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in April 2014 – will help focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations. It expands on and replaces an earlier plan by the Department of Labor to collect similar information from federal contractors.
  • The President is renewing his call to Congress to take up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that would give women additional tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • The Council of Economic Advisers is releasing an issue brief, the “Gender Pay Gap on the Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” that explores the state of the gender wage gap, the factors that influence it, and policies put forward by this Administration that can help address it.
  • The White House will host a summit on “The United State of Women” on May 23rd that will create an opportunity to mark the progress made on behalf of women and girls domestically and internationally over the course of this Administration and to discuss solutions to the challenges they still face.

These new actions will build on the steps President Obama has taken since day one create more equality in the workplace. In April 2014, to celebrate Equal Pay Day, he signed two executive actions to recognize the full equality of women and increase equity for all in the workplace. The first was an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss their compensation. The second was a Presidential Memoranduminstructing the Secretary of Labor to propose a new regulation requiring federal contractors to submit summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including by race and gender.


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