New statistics released by The U.S Department of Labor (PDF) show that over the past few years the salary gap between men and women has been getting smaller and smaller.

The data shows that between 1979 and 2009 women went from earning average of about 63 cents to the dollar of men to 80 cents to the dollar of men. The change seems minimal, but it is a good sign of progress for equality in the work place. In fact, the 20 to 24 age bracket currently holds the smallest gap, at 92.9 cents to every dollar of mens’ earnings.

Banks Work to Reduce Discrimination

The data could be a strong indicator women are no longer being discriminated against based on gender when entering the workforce. Taking time off to have and raise a child has always been a big factor when discussing women’s pay discrepancies with men, but more and more frequently companies are working to accommodate families needing maternity leave. Companies in the banking industry have taken steps to bridge the gap between the genders’ experiences in the workplace.

Bank of America in 2009 crafted a mission to support its employees by improving service and choosing the best health care and insurance benefits.

Steele Alphin, Chief Administrative Officer for Bank of America, highlighted the changes to its policies in a press statement released last year: “The company also will provide an additional four weeks of paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave (bringing total paid leave to 12 weeks), and extend eligibility for an enhanced child care reimbursement program (Child Care Plus) to an additional 44,000 eligible associates.”

After talking to associates and their families, Alphin and Bank of America made changes to better accommodate families. Historically, businesses did not have much to do with family affairs, but in this day and age corporate rank and image is highly valued among consumers.

Many other companies have followed Bank of America by making changes to their insurance policies and health benefits that have greatly helped women close the gap between salary and gender.

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