Moms Equal Pay Day falls on August 15 this year. It marks the point in the year when mothers need to work to catch up with men’s previous year earnings. The date fluctuates each year—in 2022 it was September 8, indicating that some progress has been made.
Still, a significant wage gap for working mothers continues to exist.
Not all moms are impacted equally. There is a disproportionate impact on moms of color. According to Census data from 2022, working mothers make only 62 cents for every dollar earned by working fathers. For full-time, year-round workers, the gap is slightly better at 74 cents per dollar.
Working moms, particularly Black and Latinx caregivers, struggle with increased caregiving responsibilities and debt, leading to job losses and delayed financial goals. Working moms’ financial stability across all racial and ethnic groups often face added hurdles in terms of pay equity, career advancement, and work-life balance compared to their male colleagues. It’s important for organizations to particularly consider moms of color and wage disparity.
Challenges Faced by Working Moms
Working moms face what has been referred to as the “motherhood penalty”—that gap between what they’re paid when compared to both childless women and men with children. The motherhood penalty is driven by a number of factors, including:
Limited or no access to flexible work opportunities.
Career interruptions that occur when taking time off to care for children.
Limited access to leadership positions as mothers are even more likely to be overlooked for these opportunities than women in general.
Lack of supportive policies to address the unique concerns of mothers in the workplace.
Childcare responsibilities and career advancement are two opposing factors that drive pay gaps for working mothers. The challenges faced by mothers in the workplace that impact their pay and create the pay gaps that are highlighted each year on Moms Equal Pay Day are impacted by traditional gender roles and biases that have persisted for decades. There are steps, though, that organizations can take to help close these gaps.
Closing pay gaps is not only the right thing to do to ensure equitable pay between moms and others, but it’s also required. Failing to do so can result in lawsuits, penalties, and the associated impact on companies’ reputations and brands. Pay equity claims are on the rise with more than 950 charges of pay discrimination filed with the EEOC in 2022.
Closing the Pay Gaps for Moms
There are a number of steps that organizations can, and should take, to address the negative impacts of pay inequities between women and men—and between mothers and their female colleagues without children. For example:
Commit to compensation policies and practices that are fair and transparent. Conduct regular pay audits to identify pay gaps based on gender and other demographic attributes—like being a parent. Tools like Trusaic’s PayParity can help.
Offer flexible work options to help address the unique needs of working mothers and aid in their ability to better balance their personal and professional life needs.
Implement and promote paid parental leave policies.
Ban the use of salary history during the talent acquisition process. The use of this information has been tied to pay equity issues, particularly for women.
Provide resources for working parents like on-site childcare, lactation rooms, parenting support groups, and information and access to community support groups.
Finally, commit to ongoing evaluation. Internal and external changes create continual shifts in fair pay practices. Commit to reviewing your practices regularly as well as communicating regularly to ensure that you are not, however unintentionally, creating financial challenges for working moms.
On August 15, let’s prioritize gender and racial equality in the workplace as we contemplate the profound implications of Moms Equal Pay Day.
Conducting a pay equity audit is a key component to ensuring equitable compensation within your organization. Just as important as the analysis is how you communicate findings and progress with various stakeholders. Download The Pay Equity Communications Planner to learn best practices for discussing compensation, both internally and externally.