Editorial: Equal pay, equal pricing — Business in the 21st century

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Earlier this month, the nation marked another pitiful Equal Pay Day. This year, it was April 2, which calculated (confetti and drum roll, please) how far into 2019 women had to work to earn what the average male got paid in 2018.

It’s a painful reminder of a ridiculous system: Women in Colorado make about 86 cents to every dollar their white, male counterparts get paid. By the way, we’re still quite a few weeks and months away from Equal Pay Day for women of color: Hispanic women make about 54 cents for every dollar a white male takes home.

(Side note: Equal Pay Day is always on a Tuesday, the day of the week when women’s weekly wages catch up to their male counterparts’.)

And it’s not getting better any time soon. At the current rate, women will achieve wage equality sometime in the year 2057, according to the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

And it’s not just a little bit of money that women and families are forced to do without. The average pay gap between men and women in the state is $7,000 a year, says the Women’s Foundation. That’s almost enough to pay for an associate degree.

It’s not sustainable for the economy or for Colorado households. When half the population makes less despite working the same jobs and having the same qualifications, everyone loses.

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If women made the same money as their male co-workers, the poverty rate would drop by half.  Poverty for single mothers would drop by two-fifths. It’s real money and it would make a real difference. Imagine if women had that $7,000 in their paychecks (money they earned, by the way, but aren’t receiving by virtue of being women). They’d have more disposable income to spend at local businesses, to buy food, cars, clothing. In turn, business owners would have more money, and cities and states would earn more sales and income taxes.

Of course, much of the money women earned from having equal pay would be lost to yet another archaic business practice: The Pink Tax. Women pay more than men for similar items while simultaneously making less money. Outrageous, right?

But it’s been going on for years, and few people realize it — research shows that women spend about $1,331 more annually than men on similar products for everyday items like shampoo, razors, dry cleaning.

It starts young. Toys designated for girls cost more in every single category than those designated for boys. And it holds true across time. Here’s the breakdown: 7 percent more for toys and accessories; 4 percent more for children’s clothing; 8 percent more for adult clothing; 13 percent more for personal care products; 8 percent more for senior or home health care products (a big one, since women tend to live longer).

Pricing of goods and services shouldn’t be dependent on gender. What you get paid for your work shouldn’t depend on whether you are a man or a woman. Basic economics suggests paying people what they are worth to your company — based on skills, expertise and dedication — can make a business successful and encourage economic growth.

And no one should pay more for an item because it’s pink,  or made specifically for women. It’s a crass marketing tool that isn’t fooling anyone. The practice should have been put to rest decades ago. It’s time to realize that holding one gender back — for whatever reason — does not make sense in terms of labor, taxes or safety net programs.

Make Equal Pay Day Dec. 31. End the Pink Tax, which never served any purpose except to line the pockets of businesses that think women are too stupid to comparison shop. Strive for equality: Your business will prosper; your clients will be happier.

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