By Claire Zillman
April 26, 2017

On her visit to Berlin yesterday, First Daughter Ivanka Trump appeared alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss women’s entrepreneurship.

At one point, Trump expressed interest in the equal pay legislation recently passed by Germany.

“I know that Chancellor Merkel, just this past March you passed an equal pay legislation to promote transparency and to try to finally narrow that gender pay gap,” she said. “And that’s something we should all be looking at—to see the efficacy of that policy as it gets rolled out.”

The policy that piqued Trump’s interest was passed by Germany’s Cabinet in January. It aims to ensure that men and women receive equal pay for doing equivalent work. It requires companies with 200 or more employees to provide workers with information about the salaries of their peers and to document any pay gap. Employers with at least 500 employees are encouraged—but not legally obligated—to report regularly on their equal pay efforts.

Manuela Schwesig, Germany’s minister for women and families, said it’s meant to ensure that “wage determination is no longer a black box.” She said employees can sue if the company can’t demonstrate their pay is fair.

The U.S. has its own equal pay legislative proposals from both sides of the aisle. In February, Sen. Deb Fischer (R–Neb.) reintroduced her Workplace Advancement Act that would make it illegal for women to be fired for sharing or asking about salary information in the workplace. And in April, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D–Conn.) reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure to strengthen the provisions of the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

Fischer attended a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in February where Ivanka Trump spoke with a small group of female lawmakers about her paid leave and child care tax proposal. Fischer has said she’s “thrilled” to work on such issues with Ivanka Trump.

But neither the first daughter nor the White House has voiced public support for Fischer’s bill—or DeLauro’s, for that matter. The administration did, however, send this signal: Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order revoking an Obama-era order that required federal contractors to disclose their pay scales and salaries. It had been one of the few ways the government could ensure companies were paying men and women equally.



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