2018 began with a victory for women in the workforce. On New Year’s Day, Iceland’s bill to eliminate the wage gap went into effect. The bill requires companies with 25 or more employees to show evidence that they pay male and female employees fairly. If companies fail to meet these requirements, they will be fined. Data released in 2017 shows that Iceland is first in the global gender gap index; however, the wage gap was still an issue even in the country closest to reaching gender equality. These new initiatives the country has taken are instrumental for pushing forward.

This bill brings the wage gap to the public’s attention. It ensures there will be consequences for companies that fail to pay their employees fairly, so the wage gap in Iceland will go down, if not disappear.

Now the question is if a similar bill could work in the United States. The United States is a much larger country than Iceland, so data would be harder to collect and analyze. Furthermore, Iceland’s bill does not address unfair differences in salary due to race, which fails to fully solve the wage gap problem.

However, such a bill would be advantageous to the United States, because it would enable the government to take clear actions toward diminishing the pay gap. Large corporations would be held accountable for their actions, instead of individual employees.

There is a law requiring equal pay in the United States, but white women still make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, and the gap is even higher for women of color. Black women only make 60% of what a white man makes, and Hispanic women make 55%.

The United States ranks 49th in global gender pay gaps. An Obama-era rule required businesses to collect salary information categorized into gender, race, and ethnicity, but the Trump administration blocked it, calling it “enormously burdensome.” Ivanka Trump also claimed that she wanted to work on eliminating the pay gap but not through this bill, because it “would not yield the intended results.”

A bill similar to the one passed in Iceland would be beneficial to the United States because it would prove that the wage gap is an issue that should be focused on. The data would raise awareness about this problem to the general public. If more people are aware, they can influence the government to make changes and bring in new legislation about fair salaries, which would be a start to eliminating the wage gap.

If companies were fined for paying employees unfairly, as the bill in Iceland does, companies would have an incentive for fair pay, and the wage gap would either decrease, or disappear altogether.