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Honoring Equal Pay Champion, Esther Peterson

Honoring Equal Pay Champion, Esther Peterson

By: Amy DeBruyn, SHRM-CP (she/her), HR Consultant, Insight HRM, LLC

Esther PetersonEsther Peterson, head of the Women’s Bureau under President John F. Kennedy and a champion of equal pay initiatives, spent years organizing and collecting data that would lead to the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. In a show of true allyship, which we need so much more of, President Kennedy acknowledged the importance of a woman’s earning power and the need for provisions that would allow her to reach her full earning potential.

The US passed the Equal Pay Act more than 50 years ago, but American women still face a substantial gender-based wage gap. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in 2020, women’s annual earnings were 82.3% of men’s, and the gap is even wider for many women of color.

March 24 is Equal Pay Day:

Equal Pay Day is a symbolic day that represents the average number of extra days women must work to earn what men earned the year before.

Equal Pay Day was established as an act of public awareness to demonstrate the wage gap between men and women. While we have made great strides thanks to the determination of women like Esther Peterson, we still have a long way to go.

To achieve the equivalent pay of their male colleagues:

  • Asian American and Pacific Islander women had to work until March 9
  • White women had to work until April 9
  • Mothers won’t catch up until June 4 (compared with fathers)
  • For Black women, it is not until Aug. 3
  • For Native American women, it is not until Sept. 8
  • For Latinas, Equal Pay Day is more than 9 months into the year on Oct. 21.

Educational attainment is not enough to close gender earnings gaps – Most women with advanced degrees (Master’s or Doctorate) earn less than white men who only hold a bachelor’s degree.

If creating an equitable workplace is your goal:

Foster pay equity by speaking out and advocating for it. Conduct a salary audit across your organization. Look at entry salaries, pay increase schedules, and examine who is eligible for and receiving bonuses. If the results are unbalanced, take action to resolve this bias within your organization.

Visit to review additional resources or contact for solutions with your human resources practices.

Insight HRM partners with businesses of all sizes to help them plan strategically, bridge the gaps between their current situation and future growth, and provide invaluable guidance to meet the challenges of today’s dynamic HR environment.  Insight HRM’s professionals are dedicated to helping businesses navigate the complex world of employment regulations while leveraging your most valuable resource: workforce talent.  In addition to providing HR consulting services, Insight HRM also offers Virtual Administrative Support.

About Amy DeBruyn
Amy DeBruyn is an HR Consultant with Insight HRM. She has a background in Healthcare, Non-Profits, Accounting and Payroll, Higher Education, and Manufacturing. Amy also serves on the Human Resource Association of Southeast Michigan’s Board of Directors as the Diversity Director where she shares Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion workplace initiatives and best practices with other HR leaders. She has presented topics of special interest including Gender Roles in the Workplace, LGBTQ+, Neurodiversity in the Workplace, and Unconscious Bias.
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