Opinion: Is there Hope for the Gender Pay Gap?
This week, on Equal Pay Day (April 10th), thought leaders, influencers, and passionate professionals curated conversations both in person and online pertaining to equal pay opportunities for women all over the world. This issue has been a controversial topic for decades, but recent social media advocacy campaigns like #timesup and #metoo have yet again been the heroic trends that have brought one more important topic to the societal hot seat.
And why shouldn’t this be talked about? Let’s face the facts. The pay gap is still 20% between men and women. While experts say that this gap is closing in, women around the world are saying “try harder” and “let’s do better”.
I had the opportunity to speak to some of those women who are advocates of change and equality within their professional industries and beyond. They are the do-ers, the teachers, the thought leaders, and some of the wonder women of our time. Here’s what they had to say.
“So much of our self-actualization comes from what we do, day in and day out, for a living. What we recognize as our talents and how we try to develop them to support our livelihood, leisure and wellbeing. It’s so crucial that we are properly compensated for that and it’s not only financially detrimental, but psychologically and socially harmful when we’re not.”
– Brittany Brave, Founder, CatCall
“The pay gap will close when we, as a country, demand that it does. That is unlikely to happen when women account for just a quarter of executive and senior-level corporate positions and make up about 20 percent of Congressional lawmakers. The more women we have in positions of power, the more attention this issue will get.We do need to ask for what we deserve and become more comfortable negotiating our salaries and raises. But management teams need to take some responsibility, too, in ensuring equal pay for equal work. Transparency and accountability are key. One reason why the gap has pervaded for so long is that it’s happened in the dark. The more we talk about it and shine a light on the disparities, the more incentive there will be to address it.”
“While the gender gap seems daunting, there are some bright spots that give me hope that it will one day be closed. Flexible work is becoming much more mainstream now, and that’s a very good thing for equal pay. Right now, women are still the default caregivers in the vast majority of families, and that means they’re far more likely to take time away from work to meet those responsibilities. Those work gaps are one factor in the gender pay gap. But when men and women are both given flexible work options, they can take more equal roles they play in caregiving and family life. One example is remote work: Remote companies have much higher percentages of women in leadership roles, and one reason is that remote work options help women stay in the workforce while acting as caregivers. 28% of mostly or completely remote companies have either women CEOs, founders, or presidents and 19% have women CEOs. How does that compare to Fortune 500 companies? Only 6.4% of CEOs in those companies are women. The gender pay gap needs many different solutions, and flexible work options have to be among them.”
– Sara Sutton Fell, CEO, FLEXJOBS and Remote.co
“Equal pay for all women will only be achieved when more women and strong allies are in positions of influence. It will be enforced by changes in legislation, such as the recent laws that make it illegal to ask candidates their prior salary history. Leaders who commit the resources necessary to fix salary discrepancies are showing that it can be done, and maintained. But unless and until more women are in positions of power and influence on boards of directors and executive leadership, nothing will change.”
– Eileen Scully, Founder, The Rising Tides and Author, In the Company of Men: How Women can Succeed in a World Built Without Them
“The only way businesses will have more women leaders is if they have more women in the pipeline. In order to improve pay equity and close the pay gap companies need to have more women in leadership positions. Job seekers, both men and women need to ask companies about their positions on pay equity and hold companies accountable. The forward-thinking companies who make a commitment to equal pay and to closing the pay gap by instituting new policies and programs that support women in leadership roles will be well positioned for success in the future. ”
– Addie Swartz, CEO, reacHIRE
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“This may seem redundant to say, but numerous studies have shown that a big proponent of the gender wage gap is the fact that women are too afraid to ask for a higher salary. For example, a study of recent MBA graduates found that only 7 percent of women attempted to negotiate their salaries, in comparison to 57 percent of their male counterparts. This happens for a number of reasons, but in my experience I’ve seen that it’s mainly because women tend to assume they’ll be recognized and rewarded for working hard and doing a good job. Unlike men, they’re not taught that theycan and should ask for more. Calling this to attention in itself can bring us one step closer to equal pay.”
– Jennifer Schwab, expert on women’s mentorship and Founder, ENTITY Academy
“Gender should never come into play at all. I think we’re living in a time where awareness is stronger than ever on the heels of the #metoo and #timesup movements, so we’re definitely on our way. But the power also lies within us women, to be out there being who we are, making noise and taking action by increasing our presence, speaking up when we feel we are not being treated fairly, and by not staying in situations where these things are happening. I personally want to be recognized as an equal for what I bring to the table, not because someone is forced, so I don’t think legislation would necessarily be the answer, and laws can also be overturned/reversed. I think movements like Equal Pay Day, affirmative action, and making the power of the people work for us is a better way to go. Pay equality may take some time to catch on that way, but it will evolve organically, women will be recognized for what they bring to the table in the right way, and it will hopefully stick.”
– Vanessa Ferrer, Owner + CEO, MerchCat
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