JAN. 29, 2016
President Obama at the White House last week. New rules proposed by the administration would expand on an executive order he issued nearly two years ago that required federal contractors to submit pay information for women and men. CreditZach Gibson/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will move on Friday to require companies to report to the federal government what they pay employees by race, gender and ethnicity, part of a push by President Obama to crack down on firms that pay women less for doing the same work as men.
The new rules, Mr. Obama’s latest bid to use his executive power to address a priority of his that Congress has resisted acting on, would mandate that companies with 100 employees or more include salary information on a form they already submit annually that reports employees’ sex, age and job groups.
“Too often, pay discrimination goes undetected because of a lack of accurate information about what people are paid,” said Jenny Yang, the chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will publish the proposed regulation jointly with the Department of Labor. “We will be using the information that we’re collecting as one piece of information that can inform our investigations.”
The requirement would expand on an executive order Mr. Obama issuednearly two years ago that called for federal contractors to submit salary information for women and men. Ms. Yang said the rules would be completed in September, with the first reports due a year later.
“Bridging the stubborn pay gap between men and women in the work force has proven to be very challenging,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, noting that the median wage for women amounts to 79 percent of that for men. “We have seen progress, but it isn’t enough.”
White House officials said that the requirement was intended to bolster the government’s ability to penalize companies that engage in discriminatory pay practices and to encourage businesses to police themselves better and correct such disparities.
Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com, whom the White House enlisted to help make its case for the rules, said that while he “never intended” to pay women less than men, he had discovered that his company was doing so after two female employees approached him about it.
“We’re never going to solve this issue of pay inequality if C.E.O.s like myself and others continue to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their own corporations,” Mr. Benioff said in a conference call organized by the White House, adding that he was spending $3 million to close the pay gap at his firm.
Mr. Obama was also planning on Friday to renew his call for Congress to pass a measure allowing women to sue for punitive damages for pay discrimination. Republicans have repeatedly blocked such legislation, arguing that it would lead to frivolous lawsuits.
Republicans have sharply criticized Mr. Obama’s moves on pay equity, saying that gender discrimination is already illegal and that additional steps are not necessary.