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Hearing of March 16, 2016 - Public Input into the Proposed Revisions to the EEO-1 Report

Written Testimony of Hilary O. Shelton
Director, NAACP Washington Bureau &
Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy

Good morning, Chairman Yang, Commissioner Baker, Commissioner Feldblum, Commissioner Lipnic, and Commissioner Burrows. Thank you so very much for inviting me here to discuss the EEOC's recently announced rulemaking initiative to better understand compensation patterns. I appreciate the opportunity to provide you with the thoughts and opinions of the NAACP on this very important issue. The NAACP strongly supports the initiative by the EEOC, and I am pleased to be here today to lend our endorsement.

Founded more than 107 years ago, in February of 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, is our nation's oldest, largest, and most widely-recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization. We currently have approximately 2,200 membership units across the nation, with members in every one of the 50 states as well as units on overseas military bases. In addition to our community-based adult units, we also have youth and college units in hundreds of communities and schools across the country as well as units in prisons.

My name is Hilary Shelton, and I am the Director of the NAACP's Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. I have served as the Director of the NAACP's Washington Bureau, our Association's federal legislative and national public policy advocacy arm, for over 18 years.

The NAACP has long promoted and subscribed to the expression, "in order to effectively manage a problem, you must first adequately and accurately measure it." We have applied this sentiment to our support for the End Racial Profiling Act, which calls for data collection of traffic and pedestrian stops by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels; we strongly supported legislation which is now law, the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act, which requires that state and local police jurisdictions report all deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers at any point; we support standardized testing of elementary and secondary students - let me hasten to say that we oppose "high stakes testing" by which the fate of a student graduating or moving to the next grade level is determined by a single test - but we do support standardized testing so that we can help determine which students or schools need more assistance; and the list goes on and on.

The NAACP strongly believes that sunshine and transparency is perhaps one of the best deterrents when it comes to people acting with bias, either consciously or subconsciously. The NAACP also believes that a thorough knowledge of a situation will better enable us to adequately and effectively develop solutions and to assess if those solutions are working.

Which brings us to the recent announcement by the EEOC that it intends to begin collecting compensation data from private employers, including federal contractors, who have 100 employees or more. This new data will be instrumental in not only assisting the EEOC in identifying possible pay discrimination, but it will also help employers practice and promote equal pay in their workplaces.

The data will be collected via a revised "EEO-1 form", which employers currently complete and submit to the US Department of Labor to ensure that they are not engaging in hiring or firing discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and gender. The EEO-1 has long served as a useful tool for the Department of Labor and the Commission to gather data to help safeguard the federally protected rights of workers to be free of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and gender. The addition of compensation data to the EEO-1 is overdue. By collecting more and better data, the federal government can ensure it is doing its part to uphold our collective ideal that all hard-working Americans enjoy a fair and level playing field at work.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace based on race, color, religion, national origin, or gender. Yet in 2013, according to the National Committee for Pay Equity for every dollar earned by White men, African American men earn 75 cents; Hispanic men earn 67 cents; white women earn 78 cents; African American women earn 64 cents; and Hispanic women earn only 54 cents.

A 2015 report co-authored by the NAACP and D?mos found that that retail employers pay Black and Latino full-time workers just 75 percent of the wages of their white peers, amounting to losses up to $7,500 per year.1 Contributing to this phenomenon is the fact that, as the report states, "African American and Latino workers are overrepresented in the positions with the lowest pay and the least stability, and more likely to be among the working poor than their White colleagues." The report further concludes that "Living wage employment opportunities, benefits like health care and investments into retirement, and workplace practices are the essential bedrock for all Americans to be able to work towards an adequate, dignified standard of living. Yet our labor market norms have consistently excluded people of color from accessing those foundations of opportunity."

How compensation is determined is an opaque process across many firms and this lack of transparency contributes to the persistence of the pay gap between men and women and between racial and ethnic minorities and their white counterparts. The EEOC's proposal to amend the EEO-1 form to include compensation will help shrink the pay gaps which currently exist between races, ethnicities, and gender by increasing public transparency on compensation, which will support employer efforts to self-monitor compensation practices, and strengthen the EEOC's enforcement efforts.

In short, the EEOC's proposal helps us to more accurately measure the situation, so that we can better manage it. The NAACP, and the people and communities we serve and represent, thus supports the proposal enthusiastically.

I thank the Commission again for providing me the opportunity to express the thoughts of the NAACP and our support for this initiative and I stand ready to answer your questions.


Footnote

1 Demos and NAACP, The Retail Race Divide: How the Retail Industry is Perpetuating Racial Inequality in the 21st Century. June 2, 2015. Can be found at: http://action.naacp.org/page/-/economic%20opportunity%20documents/Retail_Race_Divide_Rename.pdf