(News/Talk 1480 WHBC and Ohio News Connection) – Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble called on the U.S. Soccer Federation to be “the strength on the right side of history” in the fight for equal pay. Some policy groups are encouraging the Ohio-based company to act on its own advice.

P&G announced a $529,000 donation to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, winners of last week’s World Cup Championship. In a New York Times advertisement, the company called for equal pay for women players, which Hannah Halbert, policy director for Policy Matters Ohio, said is a welcome move. She urged P&G to get behind policies that make a difference, such as raising the minimum wage and the Ohio Equal Pay Act.

“It would be great to see these sponsors start to throw their weight around,” she said. “That would be a game changer if an entity like Procter & Gamble said, ‘This is a value that we hold for our own employees, and we want to see this for the rest of Ohio workers.’ ”

Halbert said P&G studied pay equity among its workers and has goals for equal pay and hiring practices. The company employs 92,000 people, and is third-largest in Ohio and 36th in the nation in terms of revenue.

The National Partnership for Women and Families ranked Ohio 14th-worst nationally for its gender pay gap, with men earning at least $3 more per hour than women in 2017. Halbert said the pay gaps aren’t just gender-based.

“Black workers are earning just about $13.96 at the median, while white workers at the median are earning $18.57,” she said, “so there’s lots of pay inequity here.”

Several businesses in Ohio including Amazon, The Cleveland Clinic and Nationwide Children’s Hospital have announced plans to raise hourly pay to $15. Halbert called that a good start.

“It would be great if those employers would also support that policy statewide,” she said. “Not only would that boost millions of Ohio workers, but changing the minimum wage to 15 bucks by 2023 would help close both the gender wage gap and the racial wage gap.”

House Bill 304, the Ohio Equal Pay Act, has been introduced four times in the past. It would prohibit gag orders on co-workers discussing their pay; require state vendors to adopt certified equal-pay practices and require public entities to review policies to ensure compensation is based on responsibility, skills and working conditions.

by Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.