Apple, Facebook and General Motors, the first U.S. automaker to have a female chief executive officer, are among more than two dozen companies that added their names to a White House pledge to study gender pay gaps among their employees.
The agreement signed by 29 companies on Friday includes an annual review of pay by gender at each company, and an examination of hiring and promotion practices for unconscious bias and barriers to women reaching higher-level jobs. The pledge stops short of companies promising to pay men and women equally for equal work.
"The first step is to understand whether or not there is a pay discrepancy," Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said in an interview. "What we find is that employers who recognize that there is a pay discrepancy and are willing to go through that exercise also are willing to close it."
The gender pay initiative was rolled out at a White House women's summit in June. Friday's announcement brings the number of participating companies to 57. Companies that were among the first to sign said Friday they are forming a group independent of the White House to carry on the pay effort after Mr. Obama leaves office in January.
The pledge is part of an attempt by Mr. Obama to make gender pay equity part of his legacy. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill that Mr. Obama signed into law after taking office in 2009, and he talks often about the experience of the grandmother who helped raise him getting paid less than male counterparts at the bank where she worked.
In 2015, women in the U.S. made 79 cents for every $1 earned by men on average, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. While some of the gap is because of the types of jobs women hold compared to men, the institute found that women on average earn less than men in most occupations for which there is sufficient data to calculate an earnings ratio.
Other companies that signed the pledge on Friday include Akamai Technologies Inc., Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Coca-Cola Co., CVS Health Corp., Delta Air Lines Inc., Dunkin' Brands Group Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., International Business Machines Corp., Intel Corp., LinkedIn Corp., Microsoft Corp., Nike Inc., Target Corp., Unilever Plc, Visa Inc and Chobani.
-- Bloomberg News