Closing the wage gap: Why employers should stop asking for prior salaries

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By Mariko Yoshihara

In an op-ed published this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, I argue that we are forcing women to bear the burden of the gender wage gap when we allow employers to use prior salaries as a basis for pay decisions during the hiring process.  It’s bad enough employers make you show your cards in salary negotiations, in some cases it’s not an option not to disclose, but it’s even worse when we know women have historically been dealt an unfair hand.

Women today are still making 78 cents for every dollar a white man makes and the wage gap is significantly larger for African American and Hispanic women who make 44 cents and 64 cents, respectively, for every dollar a white man makes. Disclosing these depressed wages to new employers undermines the value of women’s work and makes it more difficult for women to negotiate fair pay.

There are many things that contribute to the gender wage gap, but there is one simple way to help minimize its impact on women trying to get ahead — limit the employer’s ability to seek information about prior pay.  It’s time to equalize the playing field when it comes to negotiating salaries.  Allowing women to ask for salaries that are untethered to past inequities would be an important first step.

Read the full opinion piece here.

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