The Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal.” While that holds true for the actual male gender, it doesn’t apply to the rest of humanity. More than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, women earn 77 cents for every dollar for men. Equality in the workplace still has not been reached. However, that doesn’t lessen the need for fair pay among men and women.

Gender discrimination throughout history
Prior to the 1960s, the U.S. felt that women didn’t deserve to earn as much as men since they were not the breadwinners in the family. They made 59 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. Then, in 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed, requiring men and women to be paid equivalent salaries, benefits, bonuses and overtime for performing the same job responsibilities. Despite this legislation, men and women are still unequal in the workplace.

By the time women reach age 65, they’ll each have lost $431,000 because of the wage gap, despite more than 50 percent of households having female breadwinners, according to the U.S. Government. Along with earning less money, women also face stunted job growth. They were less likely to be promoted than men, regardless of whether their job performance was actually better, Bloomberg explained.

Closing the gender gap
While women are in a significantly better place job-wise than they were in 1963, there is still a ways to go until complete equality. As a small business owner, you can do your part to level the playing field. Ensuring your financial plan is set to pay men and women the equal salaries for the same job responsibilities is a good place to start.

The qualities you look for in potential employees should also be the same despite gender. The bold, confident and intense characteristics that employers seek in men aren’t what they look for in women, according to Bloomberg. Businesses also view women with children as more likely to drop their work obligations for their families, while fathers are perceived as responsible. To erase the gender gap in the workplace, one must start with eliminating stereotypical boundaries.

The road to gender equality in the workplace is a long one. However, the U.S. is gradually getting there. One study shows that the U.S. gross domestic product could actually increase by 9 percent if women worked at the same rates as men, according to FastCompany. By providing the same wages for both genders, everyone can benefit.