HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Lilly Ledbetter Discusses Pay Equity

Cornerstone Editors

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

One of the fundamental pillars of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is fair pay in the workplace. This week on HR Labs, Jeff sits down with activist Lilly Ledbetter—a woman whose name is synonymous with the fight for pay equity—to discuss the state of employee compensation today, what needs to change and why it's important for companies and their employees.

Listen to the episode here: Apple — Spotify

A Pay Equity Icon

Lilly understands all too well the injustice of the pay gap. Her fight began 19 years into her career at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, when she discovered that she was making 40% less than her male counterparts. That moment sparked a lifelong journey of advocating for equal compensation.

Lilly filed a sex discrimination case against Goodyear, which she won—and then lost on appeal. Over the next eight years, her case made it to the Supreme Court, where she lost again. In the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc, the Supreme Court ruled that Lilly should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck, despite the fact that she had no way of knowing that she was previously being paid unfairly.

In 2007, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, urging Lilly to fight back. So, Lilly fought—and became the namesake of Pres. Barack Obama's first official piece of legislation as president: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which overturned the Supreme Court’s decision and states that the 180-day time period for filing an equal-pay lawsuit resets with each new paycheck affected by discriminatory action.

Still, Lilly says her work isn’t done. She continues to make visits to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers and advocate for more regulation around fair pay.

"I keep getting up every day, hoping to make a difference in this because this is terribly far from justice for the American family," she said.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

In addition to her work on Capitol Hill, Lilly also speaks with employees and students about salary negotiation, as well as with company leadership directly, in an effort to make meaningful change in the corporate world. Equal pay for equal work ultimately helps organizations be successful, she says. A commitment to pay equity should be part of any company’s DEIB initiative, since it’s an opportunity to turn intention into action.

"Their people are their representatives," said Lilly of companies. "The people sell their product."

Listen below to hear more about Lilly’s story and her lifelong fight for pay equity.

Subscribe to HR Labs and never miss a conversation about strategies for seeing a real impact from your DEI&B efforts. Tune back in on March 17th to hear Duane’s conversation with professor of sociology Don Tomascovic-Devey about improving diversity and inclusion efforts by better engaging white men and middle managers.

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