How To Close The Wage Gap In Your Lifetime In 5 Simple Ways

Today, as we mark yet another Equal Pay Day, it's time to roll up our sleeves and work on solutions. Women working full-time on average make just 80 cents compared to men, and must work more than three extra months to take home the same salary a man did the year prior. This Equal Pay Day, we’re through waiting for equal pay to become a reality. We’re ready to solve this inequity once and for all.

Which is why, at the American Association of University Women (AAUW), where I serve as CEO, we’re giving the gender and racial pay gap an expiration date. By 2030, we believe we can and will close the pay gap once and for all — far ahead of the hundreds of years projected by researchers.

The fight for equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue.

It’s an ambitious goal, but one we will achieve by utilizing comprehensive, practical actions to accomplish total pay equity. Want some examples? Here are five things you can do today, and every day, to help make the pay gap history.

Contact Your Member Of Congress

Federal laws for equal pay haven’t been updated in more than 50 years. Times have changed, and laws must, too. The existing policies have loopholes that perpetuate unfair practices, like gag orders for discussing salaries with others.

Urge your congressperson and senators to pass comprehensive legislation— like the Paycheck Fairness Act — to ensure protections for all workers, regardless of employer, industry, or geography.

While You're At It, Get In Touch With The EOOC

Federal agencies like the EEOC also have a part to play and should move forward with collecting vital salary data from employers. This can help us not only identify gaps and systemic causes, but can inform the solutions we implement to address those gaps.

Push For Progress For Protections In Your State

The fight for fair pay isn’t only at the national level. Join other women, including AAUW’s 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, who are taking the fight to our statehouses and our city council chambers. We're urging them to strengthen the local economy by passing strong equal pay laws.

Thus far in 2018, legislation has been introduced or is pending in 38 states along with the District of Columbia. States are incubators for change, and they’re prepared to show Congress how it’s done.

Encourage Employers To Change Their Practices

Because we need more than laws to achieve change, you can work with and encourage your employer to commit to creating equitable workplaces with environments and policies that protect all workers. Support companies that have strong pay equity policies, and encourage others to adopt them.

We’re telling companies in every sector and field to get into the equal pay fight by committing to best practices when it comes to equal pay, such as regularly conducting internal or third-party pay audits to identify gaps, and also by banning the use of asking for salary histories during hiring. Starbucks has come out with an ambitious and laudatory plans for achieving 100 percent pay equity. Others should follow its lead.

Learn To Negotiate Your Own Salary

At AAUW, we’ve committed to train 10 million women to negotiate their own financial futures by 2022.

Join us. Sign up today to learn to effectively negotiate your salary, free of charge, via our Work Smart salary negotiation workshops. Later this year, they will also be available online in Spanish and in English.

Allison Gore/Bustle

You can also get a preview today of an interactive salary skill builder we are launching with LUNA Bars. We’re urging mayors and governors to partner with us to help us in this initiative to support and empower women through this initiative. To date, we’ve partnered with five cities along with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and we’re just getting started. Not only will the information help you and your wallet, we can accelerate change for women and level the playing field in all workplaces.

This Equal Pay Day and beyond, join us in telling every American that the fight for equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue. Equal pay helps families’ financial security, businesses’ bottom line, and it strengthens our economy. Letting the pay gap continue another day doesn’t make sense. This April 10, let’s say “enough is enough” and commit to having 2029 be the last year anyone sarcastically says “Happy Equal Pay Day!"