This week President Obama will sign not one, but two executive orders (EO) to increase wage transparency for federal contractors. The first EO will prohibit contracting companies from penalizing employees who openly discuss their wages, and the second will require contracting companies to provide worker compensation data, that must be organized by race and gender.

What’s important about both of these orders is the ongoing debate over equal pay for equal work when it comes to women’s rights. The new laws will make it easier for women to discover violations of fair pay laws, and  will apply only to federal contracting, which makes up about one-quarter of the U.S. workforce. The language in the orders is similar to that found in the Paycheck Fairness Act, which applies more broadly and is the subject of Senate debate this week.

Of the executive orders, Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel, says, “Congress still needs to do its part and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, but we’re one step closer to achieving pay equity thanks to this White House.”

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