Women in health IT are chiding Ivanka Trump for backing her father’s dismissal of an Obama-era policy initiative to require business owners to document how much they paid their workers and also the employees’ gender, race and ethnicity.
The rule was to apply to employers with 100 or more employees. It was proposed by President Barack Obama in 2016 as part of a drive to resolve pay inequality among different minority groups, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The data on employment and wages would have gone to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in aggregated form.
The rule was seen as an essential step in helping to close the pay gap in the workplace and in various sectors.
Ivanka Trump, who is senior advisor to her father, President Donald Trump, often speaks in support of equal pay for women, issued this statement regarding why she supported her father’s decision.
“Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results,” Trump said on Tuesday. “We look forward to continuing to work with [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], [the Office of Management and Budget], Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.”
We asked prominent women health IT professionals what they thought about Ivanka’s support for this contentious White House move — and they did not pull any punches.
“Her efforts to become the next ‘Princess Diana’ type figure aren't holding up well against her total disregard for women, gender and healthcare based initiatives,” said Linda Stotsky, President of LSC Healthcare Consultants in Nashville, Tennessee. “She did nothing to interfere in healthcare negotiations that would have removed maternity care from standard insurance plans. And so on. She does nothing to advance the case for women. Self serving and out of touch with gender equality. It’s shameful.”
Mandi Bishop, founder of Lifely Insights, pointed out that Ivanka not only doesn’t understand what it means to be a working woman but also lacks a background in policy, gender studies or economics.
“She benefits from the rollback because she won't have to report out on 3,000 measures that are likely to further enrage women about her pay and leave practices,” Bishop said. “Whether she backs or dissents is irrelevant to what private industry and people should do.”
Ivanka is not the only Washington insider raising eyebrows over gender inequality, of course. So what would leading women in health IT like to see happening right now?
“It is important for both politicians and industry leaders to acknowledge publicly that there is no valid reason for a pay disparity based on gender,” said Max Stroud, Lead Consultant at Galen Healthcare Solutions and Founder at Doyenne Connections. “I personally had some hope, given some of the things that Ivanka has said about women and work that she would have come out in favor of equal pay.”
Stroud said that particular to health IT some bright spots already exist for women professionals, notably consulting work, some startups developing a strong record of equal pay and, while healthcare organizations are not yet seeing as many women in the C-suite earning equal compensation, the sector is making inroads.
What the industry really needs, she added, is visibility and transparency into salary and other equality issues. Crowdsourced salary and company culture resources, sites such as Glassdoor, are making it harder for employers to cover up those attitudes, Bishop added.
“We, as women in healthcare IT, have a responsibility to ensure we minimize the impact by strengthening our self-advocacy efforts,” Bishop said.
As a start, she recommended women HIT professionals learn and put into practice effective negotiation techniques both when accepting a job and when earning a promotion.
“Be willing to walk away from companies and cultures that show themselves as interested in perpetuating gender pay disparities,” Bishop said. “Also, when coming across those companies, share that information with your fellow women in health IT.”
And Bishop offered another suggestion for Ivanka Trump:
“Let her work a month of shifts in one of her own factories and survive with her children on the wages she pays. Then, let's see how she feels.”
Veteran CIO Sue Schade, principal of StarBridge Advisors said President Trump's decision to reverse Obama's work is disappointing because the reporting requirement was a positive step forward.
“As proponents of the rule said, this information can provide an "evidence-based foundation on which to address pay discrimination," Shade said. “As we all know from our work in organizations, you can't improve something unless you measure it. Women should not have to rely on hard-to-pin-down information and anecdotes about pay inequity."
Tom Sullivan contributed to this report.