Flashback: White House Concedes It’s ‘Not a Perfect Example’ for Pay Equity
Today President Obama dedicated a monument to women's equality, focusing his remarks on the "pay gap" he says still exists. Yet in 2014, the White House admitted it pays female employees less than male employees:
REPORTER: "Thank you. I am still confused on the pay equity, if this is has been a signature issue of the President's, for 6 years, and he can't even bring his own staff, into a closer alignment. Is a 100% pay equity simply impossible?"
EARNEST: "Well I think that, this is a difficult policy challenge, because there are a variety of reasons, why this gender gap exists. There are a variety of influences that contributes to, some of this pay gap that we see. So, this is a difficult problem to address. But the question is, are we going to try to solve it or not? And the President has done a number of things, to try to solve it. You will recall the very first bill that this President signed when he took office, is to litigate Better Fair Pay Act. He's going to push for Congress, to act on the Paycheck Fairness Act. He already signed an executive order, mandating that the principles of the Paycheck Fairness Act apply to federal contractors. So, the President is certainly pushing on this policy initiative, and it's something that we're aiming for."
REPORTER: "Well, the staff that he hires and pays for 6 years, he still couldn't do it."
EARNEST: "Well again, it depends on how you want to calculate that, right? That you have, that there are 22 departments here at the White House and more than half of them are run by women. When there are women’s at senior positions, they are paid the same amount as their counterparts. We have seen high profile women here in the West Wing, get promoted over the course of the last year. My colleague, Ammy Brundwich gets promoted to be deputy Communications Director. My colleague, Katie Brunfown who was previously deputy Communications Director, is now running our Legislative Affairs operations. So, we have seen women here in the West Wing, rise through the ranks into leadership positions. And when they rise through the ranks, we see that they are, you know, paid fairly in terms of their receiving their equal pay for the equal work, in the same way that their male counterparts are."
REPORTER: "You're just mentioning 77 cents per dollar. By that measure, the White House still can't reach to one another."
EARNEST: "Well, by that measure, the White house is doing significantly better than the private sector is. And we're encouraging the private sector, to get better. We're certainly going to make some efforts, here at the White House, to improve on our standing. I wouldn't hold up the White House, as the perfect example here. But we are an example of an organization that is making an effort in enjoying some success. And making sure that, there are women who get equal pay for equal work. And women who have an opportunity to advance their careers, here at the White House. And I think our record when judged by that standard, holds up very -- very well. [Indecipherable], I will give you the last one."