Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the Administration’s Efforts to Mark Equal Pay Day
6:34 P.M. EDT
MODERATOR: Thanks so much for joining us today. My name is [senior administration official]. This call will be on background and attributable to “senior administration officials.” The contents will be embargoed until 5:00 a.m. tomorrow. By participating in the call, you’re agreeing to those terms.
First, to start, I’ll pass it to [senior administration official]. [Senior administration official]?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi, everyone, (inaudible) providing an overview of the administration’s efforts to mark Equal Pay Day, which is tomorrow, March 15th.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have long championed equal pay as a cornerstone of their commitment to ensuring all people have a fair and equal opportunity to get ahead. They both believe that our nation’s economy and the global economy cannot reach its full potential when half the workforce is left behind.
So, our country has come a long way, but we still have work to do to close gender and racial wage gaps. In 2020, the average woman working full-time year-round earned 83 cents for every dollar paid to their average male counterpart. Compared with the average man working full-time year-round, disparities, as you know, are even greater for Black women, Native American women, and Latinas.
Tomorrow, the Biden-Harris administration will announce new actions to promote women’s employment and support working families across the country. I’ll just give you a few highlights of what you can expect to see.
First, the administration will advance pay equity for the federal workforce. The Office of Personnel Management will announce that they anticipate issuing a proposed regulation that will address the use of prior salary history in the hiring and pay-setting process for federal employees.
Next, the administration will promote efforts to achieve pay equity for employees of federal contractors. So President Biden will sign an executive order directing the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to consider limiting the use of salary information in employment decisions by federal contractors.
And finally, the administration’s actions tomorrow will increase equitable access to good-paying jobs. And this is really a continuation of the work that we are already doing.
So the Department of Labor is releasing a report analyzing the impact of occupational segregation on women’s economic security. And through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — which the President, of course, has already signed — the administration is increasing access to good-paying jobs for women and people of color in sectors where jobs are being created under that act and where women have historically been underrepresented — things like transportation, clean energy, and broadband.
So, as I said, tomorrow’s actions really build on steps the administration has taken to advance pay equity over the last year.
A couple other examples of the administration’s prior actions include providing immediate relief through the American Rescue Plan to millions of women who bore the brunt of the pandemic, helping keep childcare providers open and boosting pay for childcare workers, providing tax relief to help families with childcare costs during the pandemic by delivering an historic increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to support millions of working families.
I mean, of course, helping with childcare costs is one of the most important things we can do to help women in particular get in and stay in the workforce.
Increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour for federal workers and contractors, benefiting many women and people of color. And finally, issuing an executive order to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility across the government.
MODERATOR: Thanks, [senior administration official]. Now I’ll turn it over to [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi, everyone. I’m pleased to share that the Vice President will lead the Equal Pay Day Summit tomorrow at the White House, which will be hosted by the Gender Policy Council.
The summit will bring together partners across the country who are taking critical steps to tackle pay discrimination, create good-paying jobs, and support families’ access to care.
Tomorrow, the Vice President will be joined in person by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and the Office of Personnel Management Director, Kiran Ahuja. The Vice President will deliver remarks during the summit, and she’ll participate in a conversation with current and former members of the United States women’s national soccer team about the importance of pay equity.
The summit will also highlight other leading advocates and business leaders to highlight the critical role that businesses can play in reducing gender and racial pay gap. As the Vice President, she — many of you know she shed a light on — shed a spotlight on issues relating to women in the workforce, calling the number of women dropping out of the workforce a, quote, “national emergency.”
She looks forward to leading the summit tomorrow. And for some of you that have followed her background, as California Attorney General, the Vice President supported the Fair Pay Act, which strengthened the state’s Equal Pay Act by making it illegal for employers to pay workers of different sexes different wages for similar work. That bill was signed into law in 2015.
During her time in the Senate, the Vice President co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which requires employers to show that pay differences are not due to gender and crackdown on employers who break the rules or punish employees who seek to be paid equally.
She also introduced the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which among other things would have advanced common workplace rights to domestic workers and created new workplace protections.
So, I’ll turn it over to [senior administration official] with that.
MODERATOR: Great. Thank you, [senior administration officials]. As a reminder to anyone who may have joined a little late, this call is on background and attributable to “senior administration officials.” The contents of the call will be embargoed until 5:00 a.m. tomorrow.
And with that, we’ll take a few questions. So, if anyone has any questions, press the raise-hand function on your keyboard and we’ll just give it a minute for any questions queue.
And our first question goes to Chabeli Carrazana from The 19th. Your line should be unmuted.
Q Thanks so much, you all. Thanks for doing this. Beyond some of these announcements from — for tomorrow, I’m wondering whether the administration is considering anything around pay transparency more overtly, sort of in the style of what some states and localities have done, most recently New York City, to advance pay equity since we know that is one specific piece that has — that seems like it’s effective. And so, I’m wondering if you’re thinking about anything in that realm. Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for the question. Yeah, I mean, there’s — what this series of announcements does is start the path towards thinking about ways that the federal government through federal employees but also federal contractors can increase equity and also transparency.
So one of the things that the Department of Labor will also be doing through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is issuing a new directive, clarifying that federal contractors have already an annual obligation to annual — to analyze, excuse me, their compensation practices.
And, you know, as we know, conducting these kinds of pay equity audits both help address and prevent pay disparities based on gender, race, ethnicity, and other factors.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) that question. Our next question will go to Fatima Hussein from the AP. Your line should be unmuted.
Q Hi. Thank you for taking questions. I hope I’m not making it a complicated or simplified question, but what exactly would be the biggest takeaway from this announcement or set of announcements tomorrow? Would it be the executive order from the President? Is it the notion of creating greater pay transparency in the first prong about advancing pay equity? What exactly is the biggest sort of news from this release?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So, you know, the pay gap is really made up of a number of different factors. And the set of announcements tomorrow is really intended to get at all three.
So the first thing, as we know, is that — you know, outright pay discrimination. You’re in a job, he’s in a job; you’re getting paid less than he is. So, you know, what people refer to as pay discrimination is going to be addressed through the series of things that I just talked about — for the federal workforce, federal contractors, et cetera.
There’s really two other factors of the pay gap that often get ignored and we feel really strongly, and the Vice President will highlight tomorrow. And our policy announcements will really reflect the importance of addressing these as well.
So I would say — you know, one I already mentioned, or I guess I mentioned both. You know, one is what people term “occupational segregation.” Women have historic- — particularly women of color — have historically been in jobs overrepresented in sectors where they’re paid less.
So through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and other mechanisms — the Department of Labor is working on something called the Good Jobs Challenge — and what all of those are designed to do are to get women in — access to the jobs that pay them well. So whether that’s, you know, the new jobs that are being created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan in broadband; in energy; you know, transportation — trucking — right? — you know, getting women access to good jobs. And, by the way, also, the training and support they need to get them into those jobs so that they can have good-paying jobs with a good salary, good benefits.
And then the third piece, as I mentioned earlier, is care. Right? So the thing that keeps women out of the workforce either intermittently over the course of their career: They have childcare responsibilities, for example; they have childcare costs that they literally can’t afford so it doesn’t make sense for them to be — to stay and be in the workforce. And as a result, they come in and out of the workforce or they leave entirely. And that has real economic costs both for the individual and also for the economy as a whole.
So that’s the third piece that — you know, as everybody I think knows, you know, one of the major reasons that the President and Vice President are continuing to advocate for the care agenda.
MODERATOR: Let’s go to Franco from NPR. Your line should be unmuted.
Q Am I good now? Do you all hear me?
Q Thanks so much for doing this. I wanted — can you share a little bit more about, like, kind of what will happen? I mean, it’s embargoed until five. What will happen tomorrow? You know, and I apologize if you mentioned this before: In addition to the executive order, will there — you know, will there be any special guests? I know last year Megan Rapinoe was here when President Biden, you know, signed the proclamation. Will there be any special guests? Will Megan Rapinoe be back? Will there be any other special guests that will help kind of highlight, you know, this — the executive order?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, there’ll be a number of different pieces of this Equal Pay virtual event. One of them, as you heard, is the Vice President will give opening remarks. We’ll also have remarks from the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, from Secretary Walsh to talk about some of the pieces that I have just gone over.
We’ll also have some workers in different sectors, in different fields. We’ll have some athletes. We will have some Cabinet — other Cabinet secretaries. And, yes, we are definitely going to have some soccer players.
Q Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay. And, I’m sorry, I forgot one important piece, which is that we will also be talking to CEOs about why these policies are good for businesses.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) Eleanor Mueller from Politico. Our final question will go to Eleanor Mueller for — from Politico. Sorry about our audio issues there.
Q Hi. Thank you for doing this. I just want to circle back to what you said earlier about the care agenda. I think it’s, you know, tricky to talk about pay equity without talking about things like paid leave. And obviously, we saw the President call for reinstating emergency paid leave in the State of the Union a couple of weeks ago.
I’m wondering if, you know, paid leave is going to be mentioned tomorrow. And, you know, if so, if you’re able to say whether the White House is calling for just the tax credit to be extended or the actual requirement that employers provide the benefit along with the associated tax credit.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The — when the President talked about paid leave in the State of the Union, I think he meant to communicate his ongoing support to fighting for paid family and medical leave and, also, other parts of the care agenda like childcare and eldercare, which, as I was saying early, really — earlier — really are important to women and all families to get into and stay in the workforce when they have care responsibilities.
You know, another part, which I didn’t mention, which I should also highlight, is, you know, when I talked about access to good jobs in sectors that women haven’t historically been in. So it’s really important to ensure that the sectors that they are in are paid well.
And that’s why in the American Rescue Plan, as part of the childcare stabilization funds, there was an investment in childcare providers at a, you know, vital time when folks were depending on them, but also because it’s really important to ensure those are also high-quality jobs.
And, you know, one of the things that we expect the CEOs to talk about tomorrow is also the importance to — of them to — of having adequate access to care for their employees.
You know, they talk all the time about losing workers, whether that’s women or men, to caregiving responsibilities. And that’s why, you know, both ensuring that people have access to care but also that care is affordable. You know, lowering families’ cost for care is essential not only for the workers themselves, but for their employers — just an economic reality as well.
MODERATOR: Great. Thanks for the questions. And thank you to [senior administration officials].
As a reminder to everyone, this call will be embargoed until 5:00 a.m. tomorrow, as is the factsheet that we sent beforehand. We’ll send it again to all attendees to make sure everyone has.
Be sure to reach out if you have any questions. Thanks so much. Bye.
6:51 P.M. EDT