Although New York City has in many ways led the fight for gender equality, one new report says that men in the city take home a total of about $5.8 billion more than women each year.
Public Advocate Letitia James released a policy report on Monday that looked into the issue of gender wage gaps across the city — focusing on how much women make in different areas.
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Based on the report, women who are public employees see higher wage gaps than those who work in private sectors. And although the city thrives on being one of diversity, the report finds that women of color in New York City deal with significantly worse wage inequalities than the national average.
“Wage disparity strikes at the heart of our City’s values and sets us all back,” James said. “There is simply no excuse for women to be paid less than men. Whether you work in the public sector or the private sector, equal work must mean equal pay."
According to the report — which was released a day before National Equal Pay Day — women who work in the city’s municipal government deal with an 18 percent gender wage gap, which is three times bigger than the six percent gap for women who work in the private for-profit sector face; and over two times larger than the the seven percent gap for women in the private nonprofit sector.
The report also showed that women of color are excessively hurt by the gender wage gap and in New York City these women see wage inequalities larger than the national average.
In the city, according to the report, Asian, black and Hispanic women see 37 percent, 45 percent, and 54 percent wage gaps, respectively, compared to white men. Throughout the rest of the nation, Asian, black and Hispanic women are dealing with 14 percent, 36 percent and 46 percent wage gaps, respectively, compared to white men.
In total, New York City women earn about $5.8 billion less in wages per year than men.
The gender wage gap is seen among women who have college or postgraduate degrees — with 16 percent and 20 percent gaps, respectively. In the city’s healthcare and social assistance sector, which had close to half a million female employees, the gender wage gap is 22 percent.
“As a government, we should be particularly alarmed that there is a disproportionately higher wage gap among municipal employees. While this issue isn’t new, it must be addressed with a focus and vigor worthy of our progressive city,” James said.
At the end of the report, the public advocate also presented recommendations for the city to remove any barriers that could be leading to the wage gaps.
One of the recommendations focused on the creating of an Equitable Pay and Opportunity Task Force made up of individuals with expertise in issues dealing with gender equality. The group would focus on eliminating the pay gap and improve the status of women in the municipal government.
Other suggestions include encouraging city contractors to release information on employee wages by gender at the organizational and job title levels; issuing an executive order forbidding city agencies from asking about previous salary information. The public advocate also urged private employers to stop requesting previous salary information from potential job candidates; and also improving family-friendly workplace policies for working parents, such as flexible work schedules.
“New York City has already taken major steps to support working families, including the launch of universal pre-K and the expansion of paid family leave benefits to city employees, but pay discrimination is a fact of life for far too many women in the state,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women, NYC. “New York City should continue to lead by example, by making every effort to close the pay gap within its own workforce.”
In response to the report, the mayor's office said that the Mayor's Commission on Gender Equity and the Counsel to the Mayor have formed an interagency working group to look at the factors that contribute to setting the salaries for city employees. The group will also look to create sustainable policy solutions for any gender-based inconsistencies found.
"Despite significant progress, the insidious and persistent wage gap among male and female members of our workforce continues. We recognize that this problem demands our attention," said Azi Khalili, executive director of the Commission on Gender Equity. "We are committed to working with elected officials and leaders in the City Council, including the consideration of appropriate legislation, to address this and other important issues facing women and girls, regardless of their race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity."