Tuesday is national equal pay day, and women in Pinellas County are using the day as a lunching point to push for change. April 4 is symbolic because it represents how far into a new year women would have to wait to catch up to men’s wages the previous year.
On average, women earn 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. The Business and Professional Women of St. Petersburg-Pinellas is not happy with that. Tuesday night, they’ll host an “unhappy hour” at Ruth’s Chris Steak House from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The women are also pushing for a bill currently being discussed in Tallahassee, which would ban employers from paying workers differently based on sex or gender identity. It would also clarify the legal reasons employers can use to pay people differently, including education, skill-set, and experience. The bill would also bar employers from asking about or screening applicants based on prior salary.
A recent study found Florida may be the first state to close the gender wage gap. One way: Local companies stepping up to make sure women are paid the same in the office. Symphony Media in St. Petersburg is one company leading the way.
Lauren Davenport, the owner of Symphony Media company in St. Petersburg, says whether you are a man or a woman, the pay at her business is always equal. “We are always looking for those people who have a lot of drive and are excited about marketing, and what we pay them is absolutely the same,” said Davenport.
She believes more companies need to follow suit.
Davenport says one way women can get ahead is to negotiate higher salaries. In fact, 75 percent of people who ask for a raise, get more money. “We see more men negotiate their salaries more than women, and it's an important for women to be empowered to do that,” said Davenport, “It's okay for us to say 'I deserve more. I'm worth more.'”