Retailers are paying female employees significantly less than male employees, according to new data released by the Retail Action Project and Stephanie Luce of the City University of New York Murphy Institute. Because retail is a growing industry that predominantly employs women, hundreds of thousands of women workers will be working long hours this holiday shopping season for less pay.
When hundreds of stock, sales, cashier, and workers at national retail companies in New York City were recently surveyed about their wages and other benefits, it was discovered the median wage gap between women and men was the difference between $9.00/hr and $10.13/hr. For low-wage hourly workers, that difference of 12% adds up fast. Further, women were found to be less likely than male co-workers to be promoted, or to have health benefits. This has huge implications for women’s health, as uninsured and underinsured women are less likely to receive routine care that can be lifesaving. Furthermore, taxpayers are subsidizing retail giants whose low-wage employees qualify for public benefits.
The Retail Industry Leader’s Association, a powerful retail lobby group of retail corporations - such as WalMart, Target, Best Buy, JC Penney, Lowe’s - reports that retailers greatly benefited from early Black Friday sales, as evidenced by the surge in hiring and record profits. But the experience for women workers was far from positive. Women were paid less while many were forced to work on Thanksgiving Day, spending the holiday apart from their children and families because several giants opened on the holiday for the first time. So if retailers are thriving despite the current downturn, why are retail giants paying women less?
Retail businesses such as Old Navy, Target, Toys R Us, and Sears plan to capitalize on the holidays even further by instituting around-the-clock sale hours as Christmas approaches. Since women are the majority of the retail workforce across the country, it is women who will be working extra, for less pay than their male counterparts.
Closing the gap in wages, promotions and health benefits between men and women retail workers would be a first step to addressing continuing patterns of inequality in the workplace. Tell the President of the Retail Industry Leader’s Association, Sandy Kennedy, to ensure that retailers pay equal pay for equal work! Together we can hold retail corporations accountable for perpetuating the gender wage gap.