Women's History Month: Equal Pay Day

Authored by

Kelly Young

Chief Executive Officer

For our next post to mark Women’s History Month, I’m focussing on the issue of pay equity. This year, for women in the U.S., Equal Pay Day is being marked on March 15 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. All Women’s Equal Pay Day comes even later, depending on the calculation.

You might be forgiven for thinking that Equal Pay Day is a randomly chosen date to raise awareness of the need to close the pay gap between men and women—a valuable fixture in its own right. But it’s actually something very specific that has led to the date selection. Equal Pay Day represents how far beyond the end of 2021 a woman will have worked to earn as much as the average man earned in 2021 alone. When we drill down and account for different racial and ethnic backgrounds the data gets even worse, and for Black, Native American, and Latina women, these dates can stretch, scandalously, well into the fall.

This can’t be explained away by educational variations. Taking people of the same academic attainment, the facts are still stark. In the U.S., Black and Latina women with a bachelor’s degree earn on average 30% and 35% less than the equivalent white man.

The issue is not confined to the U.S., but is a blot on the labour market across the free-market world. I’m proud that Acadian is committed to working towards the elimination of this disparity. A certain amount can be done by governments, but I don’t believe that major changes like this can ultimately be imposed by top-down legislation. Real success demands action from people and institutions committed to the cause. So what are we at Acadian doing about it?

We are strong believers that a good cause can be advanced powerfully by acting in collaboration with like-minded organisations. Acadian is a proud signatory of the 100% Talent Compact, a fantastic campaign operating under the auspices of the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. In signing the Compact we have pledged to take action to close the gender and racial wage gap in Boston and by acting in concert with 250 co-signers, we can use our combined influence to make a real change in the weather.

We, at Acadian, are in the privileged position that clients entrust us with billions of dollars of assets which we invest in companies globally. It is hugely important to us, and indeed our clients, to be a good corporate steward of these assets. We make a point of engaging with our investee companies—both alone and in collaboration with other shareholders—to lobby for improvements in their governance. One of the specific issues that we pursue is employment practices, including advancing gender equality at all levels across the relevant companies.

So much can be done by acting in collaboration with other organizations. But at Acadian, we are determined to be proactive in our own performance as an employer—and doing so in an open and transparent way. We measure our own workforce diversity profile and set clear targets for improvement. We are actively working toward a corporate goal of meaningfully increasing the percentage of senior staff that are women and under-represented races and ethnicities over the next several years.

We have made a public commitment to taking measurable steps to eliminate earnings gaps and report on our salary and demographic data. You can learn more about this commitment here. This transparency is important, because we want to hold ourselves to account for our performance; and to be equally open to scrutiny by our staff, clients, and other external stakeholders. Our targets are ambitious, but entirely necessary. We won’t really have succeeded until Equal Pay Day is January 1.