Obama Wants Federal Contractors to Pay Men and Women Equally

Carolyn Kaster/AP

This story has been updated. 

President Obama on Tuesday will issue two executive orders aimed at the federal contractor workforce as part of an effort to eliminate gender-based pay disparities.

The first executive order will protect a federal contractor’s right to discuss their pay openly with coworkers. The order will prohibit an employer contracted by the federal government from retaliating against employees who disclose their pay.

A White House official told Reuters that pay secrecy can lead to women not even knowing they are underpaid compared to their male colleagues. In turn, the women “cannot take steps to remedy the pay gap.”

The second order will enable the government to better track pay information based on race and gender. Obama will direct Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to create regulations that require federal contractors to collect and submit this information, which the agency could then use to enforce existing laws.

Obama will sign the orders ahead of the Senate’s consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would apply the provisions of the executive orders to the entire American workforce, in addition to other measures to help employees facing paycheck discrimination. This mirrors a strategy the White House pursued earlier this year, when it boosted by executive order the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10, while calling on Congress to do the same for all workers.

Women currently earn about 81 cents on the dollar compared to men, according to the Labor Department. Obama will sign the orders on National Equal Pay Day, celebrated annually to show how far in the current year a woman must work to earn what a man earned in the previous year.  

Not all parties are convinced the executive orders are a good idea. Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, called the unique focus on federal contractors arbitrary.

“Government contractors are employers like all other employers and to the extent possible you’d like to see people treated the same,” Soloway said, adding there has been no communication between the White House and the contractor community. He said he will await seeing the specifics of the orders before issuing further judgment.

Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum -- a conservative women’s group -- told reporters on Monday figures such as the Labor Department’s 88 cents on the dollar for women do not take into consideration other factors such as experience and education.

“Perpetuating the myth that women are a victim class harms women by making them feel weak, and it distracts them from learning smart ways to increase their earnings, expand their influence in the workplace and pursue the lives they want,” Schaeffer said. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.