As I turned on my computer yesterday and started to navigate my various social accounts, I found out that it was #EqualPayDay. It was a day for all of us to discuss the obvious issue with pay equity in this country. It also marks how far into the year women must work in order as much as their male counterparts earned in 2014. I’m always down for a good social campaign, but something about #EqualPayDay feels banal.
It is well documented that women are paid less than men in the workplace. We also know that black and latino women fare the worse with regard to pay equity. The bigger question is: what are employers going to do about it? It’s cute to hop on social media and tweet your support for the day, but again what is anyone going to do about it?
I am a solopreneur with a little over two years under my belt as a business owner. I can assure you when my time comes to hire a few good women to assist me with building my legacy they will be compensated adequately for their efforts regardless of gender, color or any other identifiable criteria beyond their control. That’s my vision for my company. I have powerhouse women friends who also own their own businesses and have dedicated themselves to filling in all the pay equity gaps women have had to deal with for eternity by offering: fair salaries, childcare and eldercare options, real maternity leave that isn’t confined to a 12 week FMLA allotment etc. You see, the end to the gender pay gap in this country has to start with good intentions. If you have little or no regard for a certain subsection of citizens or better yet the people you employ (who happen to be human beings like you) none of this will change.
Food for thought…
Women don’t just get screwed on salary alone, it is the entire package and delivery that creates economic disparity. Every unpaid medical or maternity leave, the inordinate costs of childcare and eldercare; and wages that have stopped increasing or do so marginally prevents us from being able to sustain ourselves and our families. According to a recent study by the Center For American Progress, over 50% of women work outside of the household and contribute to their families economic security.
I have been pretty transparent about my salary negotiation missteps over the course of my career. However, what’s really disturbing is that the “sisterhood” isn’t collectively on the same page when it comes to closing this gap. Out of the seven positions I have held over the course of my career, I have had one male boss. The rest have been women. In all circumstances, not one of them ever advocated or demanded I be paid my worth. They used to lie and tell me that they were pulling for me to get the raises I was fighting for, but it was hot air. It was never their intention to ensure that I was paid a fair wage for my efforts.
Here’s the bottom-line, if I work hard and provide quality outcomes I expect to be paid commensurate with the result. I don’t want to hear: “hang in there” “I’m rooting for you” “Budgets are tight” or “maybe next year”. Women want this to change now- not in 2049 or 2178.
I say all of this to say leaning-in never increased my salary, asking for more never increased my salary and it had little to do with my ability or lack thereof to negotiate. The system in many companies is not geared to serve the interests of women or minorities for that matter. The companies that care and want to see everyone succeed do so because they start with good intentions, consistent action and passion for establishing fair workplace standards.
I know many of you felt empowered yesterday, but what are you doing about it today in your own businesses? I’ll wait.