Data collection is at the core of many efforts to enforce gender equity in the workplace. Federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make sexual harassment and pay discrimination in the workplace illegal. However, gender-based discrimination persists, requiring state and federal agencies to develop policies to hold employers accountable for not protecting women workers. These agencies require information about incidences of discrimination; salaries; demographic details such as gender and race; and job category in order to investigate discrimination claims.

On Wednesday, Congressman Ted Lieu introduced a bill that would incentivize publicly traded companies to proactively address sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace through mandatory SEC reporting. Employers would be required to report harassment claims and provide demographic information, as well as pay for independent investigations of claims. SEC filings are public and used to evaluate investments, so this information would serve to increase public accountability and transparency. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is one of several organizations to endorse the bill, with president and CEO C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D. saying, “’If we want a thriving economy that works for everyone, we must ensure that employees are guaranteed workplaces free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.”

Later Wednesday night, California Governor signed SB 973, which authorized the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to investigate allegations of pay discrimination and required private employers with 100 or more employees to submit a report that contained pay data broken down by gender, race, ethnicity, and job category. This will better enable the DFEH to enforce pay equity among private companies and incentivize employers to review their internal hiring and pay processes to ensure compliance.

Data and research are essential to equitable and just policymaking. That’s why bills are win for women, and why IWPR will continue conducting research to shape forward thinking, gender equitable policy.