Kamala Harris has announced an ambitious, long-overdue plan that could significantly improve the lives of countless working women and their families: the end of the pernicious gender pay gap.
On Monday, one day after Harris stressed to CNN that the wage gap is a “really big issue,” the presidential candidate officially unveiled her plan to abolish it. Per the New York Times, Harris’s plan — what her campaign has called “the most aggressive equal pay proposal in history” — dictates that all companies with 100 or more employees must show they have “eliminated pay disparities between women and men who are doing work of equal value.” Corporations will also be required to report the percentage of women in high-paying leadership roles. (Per the Census Bureau, women currently make 80 cents for every dollar that mean earn — a disparity that widens for women of color.)
“For too long, we’ve put the burden entirely on workers to hold corporations accountable for pay discrimination through costly lawsuits that are increasingly difficult to prove,” Harris’s campaign said on Monday. “We’ve let corporations hide their wage gaps, but forced women to stand up in court just to get the pay they’ve earned.”
If companies fail to gain certification, they will face major repercussions. Under the plan, those that do not comply will faces fines for every one percent pay gap that they fail to close in their workplace, which will go toward funding national paid family leave and medical leave programs, neither of which exist in the U.S. Over the initial ten-year period of the plan’s enactment, Harris’s team anticipates that the collected fines could amount to a whopping $180 billion.
So far, the proposal’s reception has been overwhelmingly positive. Julie Kashen, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, told Politico that Harris’s plan would finally hold employers “directly accountable.” On a similar celebratory note, Vicki Shabo, a senior fellow at New America, told HuffPost that Harris’s plan is “exciting” and “long overdue.”
“Closing the wage gap would mean tens of millions for women and their families,” she said. “It could wipe out student loan debt, give relief to homeowners, and literally put food on the table.”