Are we closing the wage gap? Employers and employees sound off.

A majority say men and women should be paid equally, but a new QuickBooks Time Equal Pay Survey reveals how much work is left to be done

April 2, 2019, marks the day that many women in the U.S. workforce will have to work to in order to earn the same as men did in 2018, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. Essentially, many women must work 15 months to earn what men did in 12 (many women of color still have months to go).

Do people across America believe enough is being done to promote equal pay, and how do their views compare to those of employers? QuickBooks Time surveyed 16,679 adults and 1,067 business owners throughout the U.S. to find out.1

Business owners’ views at odds with the rest of America

According to the survey data, just 22% of Americans—15% of women and 30% of men—believe employers are doing enough to promote equal pay in the workplace. When business owners were asked the same question, 71% said they believe the issue is being addressed adequately.

Are employers doing enough to address equal pay between men and women



Not all business owners support equal pay

One in 5 business owners who took part in the survey said they do not believe men and women should always receive equal pay.

Less than two-thirds of male business owners who took part in the survey (60%) said men and women should always receive equal pay, compared to 72% of female business owners.

What is your opinion about equal pay, generally?

Most businesses are addressing equal pay, but are they doing enough?

The majority (92%) of the business owners who took part in the survey said they are taking steps to improve pay equity, but only a third (33%) regularly publish and report payroll data. More than two-thirds (68%) admit there is no equal pay advocate on their senior leadership team. To learn more about payroll, visit our introduction to payroll guide for small business owners.

What are you doing to promote equal pay in your workplace?

Many employers don’t even know if they have a gender pay gap

Despite the majority of respondents having an active equal pay policy, almost a quarter (23%) admitted they have never analyzed pay rates by gender—and less than third (32%) have done so in the past 12 months. Female business owners were less likely to have analyzed employee pay by gender.

When was the last time you analyzed pay rates by gender?

A third of business owners—both male and female—admit to underpaying employees based on gender

A significant number (43%) of the business owners who took part in the survey revealed that they have personally experienced pay inequality—having been overpaid or underpaid themselves on the basis of gender. More than a third (34%) admitted to knowingly underpaying an employee on the basis of gender.

Have you ever:

A quarter of employers have faced legal action over equal pay

Survey respondents have experienced a significant number of lawsuits over equal pay, according to the data collected, with 1 in 4 (25%) saying they have filed a dispute with another employer—presumably earlier in their career—while a similar proportion (26%) report that they have had a lawsuit filed against them.

Which of the following is true for you?

How can business owners close the wage gap?

Among the 29% of business owners who said they do not believe enough is being done to address equal pay, or who weren’t sure (314 out of the 1,067 who took part in the survey), several recommendations emerged. The most popular measure, attracting 51% of the votes, is to make performance reviews anonymous, with women generally expressing stronger support for this and other measures.

Which of the following actions would you take to ensure equal pay for everyone, regardless of gender?

Many business owners don’t like to talk about pay

Asked whether they are happy to disclose how much they earn to other people, the majority (58%) of the business owners surveyed said they are, but a significant number (42%) said it was a topic they never like to discuss. There were no differences of opinion here between men and women.

Do you discuss how much you earn with other people?

Half of business owners think the government should enforce equal pay

Exactly half of the survey respondents said they support the idea of greater government intervention on equal pay, while 39% believe businesses should be left to enforce their own policies and procedures.

Men who completed the survey were much less likely to support government intervention.
What best describes your opinion about equal pay enforcement?


The general population survey targeted 16,679 U.S. adults nationwide who use websites in the Google Surveys Publisher Network. The majority (13,050 of the respondents, or 78% of the total sample) disclosed their gender, and of these, 6,640 (40%) were women, and 6,410 (38%) were men.

The other survey targeted 1,067 business owners with employees across the U.S. Business owners without employees were screened out of the survey. 533 (49.95%) of these respondents were women, and 534 (50.05%) were men.

General population survey
Business owner survey

Company size

The majority of the business owner respondents were from small- to medium-sized, rather than large, businesses, with just 4% saying their company has more than 1,000 employees.

How many employees do you have in your company?