- The average hourly wage for female healthcare workers is almost 25% lower than the average for men working in health care, according to a study by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. But, about one-third of female healthcare workers make less than $15 per hour and nearly half of the black and Latina women working in the sector earned less than $15 per hour, the study indicated.
- While hospitals employed the largest number of workers making less than $15 an hour, a larger share of the total workforce employed in home healthcare, nursing homes and other residential care facilities made less than $15 an hour, as well, according to the study.
- Raising the minimum wage to $15 — a movement that has seen some success in the fast food industry — would decrease poverty rates among female health care workers by up to 50%, while increasing U.S. health care costs by 1.5%, the study noted.
There is a "real sense of urgency and momentum around the issue," U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Commissioner Charlotte Burrows said of pay equity last year. Spurred by pressure from the government, employees, clients, shareholders and other forces, employers are conducting audits to address pay gaps. But the issue is rooted in more than just bad numbers at a company level. Women of color are more likely to work in lower-paying jobs such as home healthcare, AAUW said in a report, something the organization refers to as "occupational segregation." On top of that, women are paid up to 45% less for the same job compared to men, according to a Hired study.
A study by Willis Towers Watson indicated that 53% of employers said they plan to make pay decisions more transparent within the next three years. Other planned changes include revising annual incentive plans and increasing base pay, increasing the use of technology in making pay decisions, using a more future-focused way to manage performance, and adding recognition programs to reward workers. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had procedures in place to prevent bias or inconsistency in their hiring and pay decisions.
States and local governments have also gotten into the pay equality act by passing laws limiting the use of salary history questions following a number of inquiries into whether the use of the questions perpetuate pay gaps for women and minority job candidates.
Courts have also weighed in on the issue. Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that salary history alone cannot be used to justify pay gaps between men and women (Rizo v. Yovino, No. 16-15373 (April 9, 2018)); the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review the case.