Today marks the 5th anniversary of the historic signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by President Obama.
In 2007, Lilly Ledbetter entered the Supreme Court with a mission: to achieve equal pay for equal work. Ledbetter, a former supervisor at Goodyear Tire and Rubber, received lower pay than her male colleagues. When she neared retirement in 1998, Ledbetter was the only woman working as an area manager. “Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month, while the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 per month and the highest paid, $5,236.”
On May 29, 2007, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision ruled against Ledbetter. Most shockingly was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s dissent stating, “once again, the ball is in Congress’s court.”
I can’t help but wonder if today’s Congress would have accepted Justice Ginsberg’s challenge.
In January 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 250-177 and the Senate with a vote of 61-36.
President Obama signed his first legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on January 29, 2009. An act that stated, “Discrimination based on age, religion, national origin, race, sex and disability will “accrue” every time the employee receives a paycheck that is deemed discriminatory.”
So, where are we today? 5 years later, women still face inequality in the workplace. Women earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.” Salaries are even lower for African-American and Hispanic women, earning 64 cents and 54 cents for every dollar respectively. Today, women in management roles are still earning on average, 71 percent of a man’s salary.
Today, we salute an icon for women’s rights. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a foundation for women’s movements and with an organization like Take The Lead, women will see their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors. Ledbetter truly paved the way for equal pay for equal work.
The Take The Lead Challenge Launch Event inspires and propels women to embrace their power to close the leadership and pay gaps. The Take The Lead Challenge not only calls on women, but men and organizations as well, to give women the tools they need to succeed in the workplace, civic leadership and life.
Ledbetter once said, “We sought justice because equal pay for equal work is an American value.” The time is now. Let us embrace her passion, Take The Lead and together, bring equality to the workplace.