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What’s the Impact of a Penny?

Values, CompanyDanielle Samaniego, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

It took six years, but it’s another penny earned for women.

Women earned 78.3 cents for every dollar men earned in 2013, compared to 76.5 cents in 2012, according to a new Census Bureau report. It’s a subtle bump but it’s a sign of progress.

That progress, though, doesn’t mean true advancement. As the New York Times points out, the 22-cent gap is the smallest gap since 1960 (when women were looking at 60 cents for every man’s $1 earned), but there’s still a wide disparity in virtually every job category. The median earnings of men with full-time, year-round jobs were $50,033 last year, compared to $39,157 for comparable women.

That earnings gap is harder to swallow when you consider the fact that women make up nearly half of today’s labor force and more than 40 percent are primary breadwinners. Moreover, working single mothers are heavily impacted – they currently make up more than 51 percent of the families living in poverty.

But women equal economic power. Since 1970, the additional productive power of women entering the U.S. workforce accounts for about one-quarter of the current Gross Domestic Product. Women are also more likely to reinvest money in their children and communities.

This is a fact we understand at Gap Inc., where 73 percent of our employees are women. In February, we committed to raisingour minimum hourly rate for our U.S. hourly employees to $9 an hour, and by next summer, to $10 an hour. Studies show it is women who stand to gain the most from an increased hourly rate.

We also believe you should be paid for the work you do, not who you are. That is why we pay women and men dollar for dollar, on average, across the global organization.

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently, gender inequality is "the great unfinished business of the 21st century."