Jay Carney vs. ABC's Jon Karl on White House's Misleading Gender Pay Gap Statistics



KARL: Jay, I just want to clarify, to come back to this inequality issue. The president cited census data that women on average make 77 percent of what men make. Why is that an example or evidence of discrimination in the workforce at large, but it’s not evidence of discrimination when women here at the White House make 88 percent of what men here at the White House make?

CARNEY: Again, Jon –

KARL: It’s the same measure, it’s the same metric, and there’s a big gab on both sides.

CARNEY: We are hard at work here at the White House in the most transparent of ways to make sure women compete for and earn senior positions, that women are recruited for more junior positions so that they’re put in the pipeline for senior positions in the future. In fact, virtually every woman who sits in a senior staff office today was promoted from within the White House to that position, which demonstrates the president’s commitment to a diverse workforce here at the White House and in the administration, and demonstrates his commitment to having the very best talent around him advising him. Because it’s not just a question of fairness, it’s a question of quality. And there have been great studies in the private sector about having more women in top positions of fortune 500 companies improves the performance of those companies and improves the bottom line of those companies. And I know the president feels that the quality of debate and discussion and advice that he gets within this White House and more broadly this administration is improved by the presence of women, and more broadly of a diverse body of advisers. So look, there's no question that everybody needs to do more to get this right. One of the reasons why, one of the factors that goes into the figures that exist here at the White House is an aggressive effort to bring in young, talented women and others to help the workforce here to be diverse, and to make sure that there are people in the pipeline to be promoted within this White House and future White Houses and administrations so that that talent base is here in the future. It goes to fairness, and it goes to quality.

KARL: But Jay, I'm asking about the metric here. You would say there's no pay discrimination here at the White House, right? There's no pay discrimination at the White House. Is that your --

CARNEY: It is absolutely true that there is equal pay for equal work at the White House.

KARL: OK. But you're using the same metric to argue that there's pay discrimination in the workforce at large. Explain to me why the metric works in the economy at large, but it doesn't work here at the White House?

CARNEY: Again, the fact that there is indisputable census data that women earn 77 cents on the dollar that men earn. A lot of things go into that discrepancy. Discrimination and lack of transparency and the inability of women to find out what they're paid vis-a-vis their male coworkers is part of the problem. That is something we, in the administration via the president's authorities, and Congress through legislation can address. That is what the president is saying today. That is why he took the action he took That is why he's calling on Congress to do what it can do to address those problems. I'm not disputing that there are a lot of factors that go into that, but the discrepancy is real. And the again, I --

KARL: But I still don't understand why you're saying that's evidence of discrimination outside the White House, but the same metric is not evidence of discrimination inside the White House. I mean, it's the same metric.

CARNEY: Again, Jon, what I'm saying --

KARL: Well, you're not going very well -- 88 percent?

CARNEY: Well, first of all, again, if you want to compare metrics, we're doing better.

KARL: So is that the goal, to do a little bit better than the outside?

CARNEY: No, the goal is to do absolutely the best that we can do and that what we're striving to do here. And that's what the legislation the president calls on Congress to pass would ensure that others are doing across the country. And what astounds me about this debate is the suggestion -- and you don't hear a lot of women making it -- is that there isn't pay discrepancy.

KARL: I'm not making a suggestion, I'm asking about the metric you use outside the White House --

CARNEY: I don't think we dispute anything you're saying except that we have transparency here, what this law, if passed, would provide would be greater transparency for women. It exists at the White House, it should exist everywhere. And women should have the protections and tools in order to fight for paycheck fairness and transparency. Republicans object to this strenuously using the same arguments that conservatives used when they objected to every bit of progress made on civil rights for women and minorities for his -- over the past many decades. And they were wrong then, and they're wrong now. But I want to have this debate. I want you guys to -- let's talk about this every day until they pass it. (transcript via Grabien)

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