On Tuesday, the White House announced that it will halt implementation of yet another Obama-era rule, one which would have required American employers to collect data on how much they pay employees based on their race, gender and ethnicity—a critical first step in tracking, and ultimately preventing, discriminatory pay practices in a wide variety of companies and industries nationwide.
Under the plan, private employers with 100 or more employees would have been required to submit data on employment and wages to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation Barack Obama signed into law as President.
Obama proposed the data-collection requirement back in 2016, but according to the Wall Street Journal the Trump administration is characterizing the rule as “enormously burdensome” and insisting that it would not, in fact, “actually help us gather information about wage and employment discrimination.”
Today, Ivanka Trump, a businesswoman and “unpaid adviser” to the president who has come out in favor of equal pay for women numerous times in the past, had no problem throwing her unequivocal support behind the Trump administration’s controversial decision to stop the rule from taking effect in the spring.
“Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results,” the president’s daughter demured. “We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, OMB, Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.”
As Ivanka Trump well knows, women today are still significantly underpaid, earning on average just 82 percent of the amount a man earns based a full-time weekly salary, according to “The Gender Wage Gap 2016: Earnings Differences by Race and Ethnicity,” from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And women of color, according to the report, fare even worse: Black women earn just 68 percent of what white men typically do while Latino women earn 62 percent compared to white men.
These statistics certainly pinpoint how much less women earn but they tell us next to nothing about the types of discrimination women experience in the workplace or why women earn less or how employers justify paying women less (or paying men more) for the same work.
Beginning this year, the Obama administration’s proposal would have required employers to report to the EEOC more data showing how different groups are being paid in addition to the very basic information on the racial and gender makeup of their workforces they have been providing for decades. Such data would have allowed the EEOC to analyze and ultimately combat pay discrimination.
In those desperate days just after Trump’s inauguration some of us, even those of us who should have known better, allowed ourselves to imagine for an instant that Trump’s “more progressive” daughter might temper her father’s crueler impulses.
But Ivanka Trump’s brief and bloodless remarks today further undermine her highly publicized and already shaky “commitment” to women’s rights, such as equal pay, better health care, paid maternity/family leave and child care tax breaks. “We must work to close the gender pay gap!” she tweeted cheerily on Equal Pay Day back in April. Also please note, the Black woman smiling!
#EqualPayDay is a reminder that women deserve equal pay for equal work. We must work to close the gender pay gap! https://t.co/CcwsoBXWdF
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) April 4, 2017
But as we’ve come to learn in the past several months, Ivanka Trump, by choice or by design, exerts no real countervailing influence over her father’s baser instincts or his administration’s efforts to roll back women’s rights to privacy, abortion, birth control, and now, equal pay.
We’ve also come to understand that the numerous public statements and speeches she’s given since her father’s campaign began amount to nothing more than marketing ploys—a series of carefully modulated buzzwords designed to strike the right tone and deliver the desired outcome, namely to make her father look more caring, more sincere, more “down-to-earth” than he actually is. Her commitment to women has to be understood similarly, as equally manipulative and ultimately meaningless.
Civil rights and women’s groups immediately blasted the Trump administration’s “shameful” decision, with Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, warning that “Today’s action sends a clear message to employers. If you want to ignore pay inequities and sweep them under the rug, this Administration has your back.”
What a shameful move. This is a critical #equalpay initiative to address the persistent problem of race, sex, and ethnicity discrimination. https://t.co/6zTbnEgolr
— Civil Rights (@civilrightsorg) August 30, 2017
“This is not a technical tweak as they would have you believe. Make no mistake — it’s an all-out attack on equal pay,” Graves insisted.
At this point, it should hardly be surprising that an administration so overtly hostile to civil rights and government oversight would roll back provisions designed to make America a fairer place for women and people of color to live and work. But it still hurts… women and working families especially.
As for Ivanka Trump, she, like her father, has squandered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve her country with courage and honor, because despite her considerable wealth, celebrity and posturing to the contrary, she, like her father, was never even remotely up to the task in the first place.
- Danielle Bizzarro