Senator Kamala Harris is a historic choice for vice president by almost any standard. Yet there is one part of her record that is often overlooked but nonetheless critical to the U.S. keeping pace with the international community, and that is Senator Harris’s fight for pay equity.

Trusaic recently took readers of the PayParity Post on a world tour of pay equity laws. The takeaway from this global survey is that other countries are responding to the global movement for pay equity by passing innovative laws aimed at closing the gender pay gap. Noticeably absent from this trend is the U.S., where the last major legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap was 1963’s Equal Pay Act, with the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act providing additional protections for workers who suffer pay discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress, for example, has yet to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, despite many attempts.

During Senator Harris’s ultimately unsuccessful presidential bid, she revealed a comprehensive plan to bring the U.S. to the forefront of the fight for pay equity. Without a doubt, many political observers will be watching to see how this plan is incorporated into Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign platform. While her policy proposals are somewhat hard to find given that her website materials now link directly to Vice President Biden’s, in March of 2019, the New York Times reported on Senator Harris’ proposal:

“Companies that do not meet the pay certification standards would be fined 1 percent of their profits for every 1 percent difference in pay between men and women. The proposal also says that, should Congress fail to act, Ms. Harris would apply these standards to federal contractors unilaterally, barring companies that fail to obtain an “equal pay certification” from competing for federal contracts valued at more than $500,000.”

From this reporting, we can see there are two elements to Senator Harris’s plan. The first aspect involves a comprehensive bill in congress to create a certification regime to compel certain companies to address existing gender pay gaps. According to Vox, whose reporters also did a deep dive into Senator Harris’s pay equity plan, the equal pay certification would require an accounting of “differences in job titles, experience, and performance.” This accounting is typically accomplished by using statistical controls and is incorporated in solutions such as Trusaic’s PayParitySM Complete Pay Equity Audit Services. The second element involves a presidential executive order in the event Congress fails to pass the equal pay certification legislation. Using the power of the purse, the Senator’s plan would limit bidding on major federal contracts to those employers who have obtained equal pay certification.

Companies should begin preparing now for the significant possibility that the Biden/Harris administration will take aggressive action on pay equity. If your organization is curious about taking the next steps in addressing potential gender pay gaps, experts across the human capital, legal services, and business intelligence industries recommend a pay equity audit as a critical tool in the employer’s risk management tool belt.

Not sure how to get started? Let Trusaic provide your organization with a free Pay Gap Risk Assessment, which can be conducted confidentially.

Here is what you will get:

  • 1-hour consultation to our pay equity team comprised of regulatory compliance experts and data scientists;
  • Answers to your pay equity questions;
  • A pay gap analysis of your workforce.