Adidas — its flagship and Reebok brands — and companies Lyft, Procter & Gamble, Salesforce and others, are working with equal rights organization Lean In to promote equitable pay among genders, ethnicities and races.
The group on Tuesday launched #20PercentCounts, the first of three public awareness campaigns planned for this year, challenging businesses to close the gap by studying the issue in their own operations and developing new practices to support women in the workplace, so that they are evaluated on their qualifications rather than their gender and/or race.
That date is "Equal Pay Day, which marks how far women had to work into 2018 to catch up to what men earned in 2017 alone," according to the company's website. The group also has plans for Aug. 7 (Black Women's Equal Pay Day) and Nov. 1 (Latina Equal Pay Day) to raise awareness of the 38% and 46% pay gaps they face.
The Equal Pay Counts campaign has launched a powerful argument — that the dollars missing from women's paychecks because of their gender means that their expenses, from student loans to groceries, are weighing them down, while men enjoy both better pay and more support on the job.
The result is a drag on the economy and the businesses' own prospects, the group argues. Last year, the pay gap in the United States amounted to $513 billion in lost wages, nearly equal to Sweden's entire gross domestic product, Facebook COO and LeanIn.Org founder Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a USA Today opinion-editorial last week, saying, "The consequences are real and painful."
"If the pay gap were closed, the average working woman would earn over half a million dollars more in her lifetime," Sandberg wrote. "She'd get an annual income bump that would pay for a year and a half of groceries or nearly a full year of rent. The number of working women living in poverty would be cut in half. Men would benefit as well: think of all the struggling two-income couples where the woman getting paid fairly would increase the economic security of the entire family."
Adidas is using the #20PercentCounts message in stores and online, and will print it on merchandise, bags and store receipts, the company said.