November 11, 2016
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – In a major effort to ensure fair employment practices and close the pay gap for women and people of color, Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed Executive Order 21 prohibiting City agencies from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants.
Executive Order 21 is the most recent effort by the de Blasio Administration to ensure the families of NYC’s diverse workforce are supported and enabled to thrive. The Mayor also announced his intent to support Intro. 1253, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James, which seeks to prevent both public and private employers from inquiring about potential employees’ salary histories. The Mayor and First Lady were joined by senior Administration officials, elected officials, City employees and advocates at the press conference.
“It’s no secret that throughout our nation’s workforce, women and people of color are, on average, paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts. As the employer of over 300,000 City workers, I have a responsibility to lead the way in putting an end to that cycle of discrimination,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Women and people of color constitute the majority of our City workforce and a large share of the people of working age in this city. It’s essential to the success of our local government and our city as a whole that everyone is treated – and paid – with the fairness and respect they deserve.”
“Back in 1976, when I graduated from college, women were paid roughly 60 cents for every dollar that men were paid. That means my classmates and I were valued less than our male peers and destined for a lifetime of less income. The disparity in pay is even greater for women of color,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “From the very beginning of our careers, women and men of color have been paid less than our colleagues for the same exact work. The Commission on Gender Equity, which I co-chair, is working hard to address this issue and create a city where everyone is treated equally. Today’s executive order will advance equal pay for equal work in our city, beginning with our hardworking public servants.”
While over 90 percent of the City’s workforce is unionized and paid in accordance with collective bargaining agreements – which have defined salary schedules driving uniformity and equitable pay practices – the City will take additional steps to ensure pay equity across the municipal workforce. A ban on salary inquiries prior to a conditional offer of employment provides a model for other employers in both public and private sectors. By eliminating questions regarding an applicant’s previous compensation – which is often used as a benchmark from which to determine starting pay in a new position – employers take a vital step to stop perpetuating a cycle of suppressed wages for women and people of color within their workforce.
The Executive Order, which goes into effect in 30 days, dictates that prior to making a conditional offer of employment, City agencies cannot seek to obtain information regarding an applicant’s salary history either through direct questioning of an applicant or through searches of public records. An applicant’s salary history includes prior wage, salary, benefits or other compensation. The Order allows for City agencies to inquire about previous salary only after making a conditional offer of employment that includes the salary for the job, and solely for the purpose of evaluating an applicant’s representations about their prior employment, such as degree of responsibility or breadth of role.
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services will provide training for Agency Personnel Officers on the appropriate manner in which to ask about the pay history of applicants who have received conditional offers. Personnel Officers will train their Agency Human Resources staff. DCAS will also conduct periodic reviews to ensure that Agency practices comply with this Order and collect relevant data for its reviews.
Women in New York City continue to earn less than men and are more likely to live in poverty. The income gaps are widest among women of color, older women, immigrants, and women without a high school degree. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the mean income for women in New York City was equivalent to just 80 percent of what men earned, a gap of $10,470. The report also showed that across the United States, women employed full-time lose a combined total of more than $840 billion each year due to the wage gap. Reports on the gender wage gap vary slightly across the board, but according to 2015 U.S Census Bureau data, women earn approximately 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. The problem is even more evident for women of color, compared to what white males make: Black women make 64 cents to every white male dollar, while Latina women make 54 cents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Requiring applicants to provide their salary history perpetuates and exacerbates the existing wage gap,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Executive Order 21, which will cover those seeking City employment, is an excellent start for potential City agency workers. While the City Council has already implemented this initiative internally, we will soon be considering additional legislation by Public Advocate James to go even further by prohibiting this practice in the private sector. I thank Mayor de Blasio for taking this essential step toward tackling pay disparities and look forward to a hearing on the bill that will apply it citywide.”