April 4 marks Equal Pay Day in America and a new campaign launched by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is aimed at closing the wage gap for women.
American women — who make up 47.4 percent of the U.S. labor force — are paid 20 percent less than men on average. Black and Hispanic women are paid even less at 37 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Additionally, the wage gap widens with higher education levels, according to Sandberg.
The #20PercentCounts campaign, spearheaded by the Facebook COO’s LeanIn.org, offers 20 percent discounts or special deals at more than 300 local businesses across the country. National business partners include Lyft, LUNA, Salesforce and Procter & Gamble, according to the website.
The idea behind it is that if a woman makes 20 percent less than a man, she should have to pay 20 percent less. The discounts are open to all.
The campaign was first launched in Washington, D.C. in 2013, however, 2017 marks the first year of the nationwide effort. Sandberg says she hopes the movement will cause more companies to close the wage gap and possibly even spark legislation.
According to statics on LeanIn.org, if the gender pay gap was closed:
- The U.S. workforce would add $513 billion in new income annually.
- The average Hispanic woman would earn $1 million more over the course of her career.
- Black women, on average, could afford 14 additional months of mortgage payments.
- The average woman could afford 78 more weeks of food for her family.
- More than 3 million working women and their families would not be in poverty.
In March, Iceland became the first country to officially require gender pay equality. The new Icelandic law requires public and private companies with more than 25 employees to prove they are paying all employees equally “regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or nationality.”
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