August 16, 2017

Strengthening the global agenda for women to achieve equal pay for equal work

In the June 2016 edition of the OXFAM Issue Briefing, research determined that rising economic inequality across Asia is threatening poverty reduction and slowing down the fight against gender inequality. And the problem of low wages and the growing impact of inequality extends all over the world, not just in Asia.

In light of increasing gender inequality, a panel at the Annual Meeting in New York examined empowering women and girls worldwide with specific strategies to fight against the tide during the Aug. 11 program, “A New Agenda for Women: Discussion of 21st Century Challenges to Women and Girls’ Empowerment.”

In studying the pay gap between men and women, which starts as soon as women enter the workforce, Roberta D. Liebenberg, senior partner, Fine Kaplan and Black, Philadelphia, said that women still earn 93 cents for every dollar men earn, and this pay gap continues to grow throughout a woman’s career.

“The biggest impact on the earnings of women is between the ages of 45-64, when they are at their prime earning power and the pay gap continues to widen as they age.”

When examining the issue globally, Liebenberg suggested a focus on equal pay for equal work, parity; promotion; and an emphasis on advancing leadership, with positions for women in equity partnership, in particular.

Speaking on the obstacles to progress, Liebenberg said there are still complicit and implicit biases in the workplace, especially for women who have children.

Elizabeth R. Ouyang, civil rights attorney and law professor at Columbia University and New York University, said having women at the table changes things.

Advancing women’s equality can add 12 trillion dollars to global growth in business such as technology, sports, NGOs and other industries, explained Professor Ved P. Nanda of the University of Denver, citing the Global Institute Report.

“When women thrive, businesses thrive,” said Nanda of the University of Denver.

Ouyang said that progress cannot be made without men on board.

So, what can men do to help advance women in the global marketplace?

First, the panelists said that there must be a change in laws that impede women from advancing in education and in the workplace.

Tina Tchen, former executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls in the Obama administration, said that education is key, especially when it comes to adolescent girls. “We have 98 million adolescent girls not in school … and this is where the performance of adolescent girls’ falls off,” she said, referencing worldwide figures.

She said a sustainable goal for the world is to ensure girls obtain at least 12 years of education.

Nanda added that achieving sustainable goals involves not just improving opportunities of advancement for women, but also eradicating the gap between the sexes.

Liebenberg said that using supporting data is key in changing minds and moving women forward. As an example, she cited a report she recently completed on the number of women who serve as first-chair lead counsel.

Libenberg suggested that data would be helpful in working with federal, state and local legislatures, as well as with men in powerful leadership roles who are in the position to make a difference, such as those who set targets to increase gender diversity on Boards and in other leadership positions.

Mark Alcott of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, New York and Marilyn J. Kaman, senior judge of the Minnesota Fourth Judicial District for Hennepin County, MN, provided opening remarks. The program was moderated by Tiffany M. Williams, assistant professor, Legal Practice & Director of Externship Programs, Seton Hall University School of Law and Deputy Representative of the ABA United Nations Delegation.

The program was moderated by Tiffany M. Williams, Assistant Professor, Legal Practice & Director of Externship Programs, Seton Hall University School of Law and Deputy Representative of the ABA United Nations Delegation.