#EqualPayDay What Are You Doing Differently Today?

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

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. 

 

31 Days, 32 Revelations: Playing The Game Is Played Out

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 13 of 31- Playing The Game Is Played Out

I just read this story about actress and comedian Mo’Nique speaking about how she was blackballed in Hollywood after having success in the movie “Precious”.  Director, Lee Daniels expressed that Mo’Nique hurt her self during the course of the Precious production by “making unreasonable demands and not playing the game”. As far as I’m concerned, she may have been “unreasonable” or even difficult. What I take issue with is the fact that the game isn’t the same for everyone. She was not and will not be the last difficult celebrity to grace a movie stage. Difficult and unreasonable demands of movie stars on set is the kind of fodder that lines tabloids daily. The difficulty doesn’t stop Hollywood from spending millions of dollars supporting projects with some of these people.

This story line is no different to what goes on in Corporate America everyday. I recall just a few years ago being discouraged from filing an EEO claim by an HR person  who cautioned me to “play the game”. I even recall women executives in meetings setting women’s suffrage back several decades by giggling, twirling their hair and flirting through negotiations. My question is: what is the game? Is the game that you “shut up, smile and look pretty” as actress Sheryl Lee Ralph suggests? Why is the advice to women in 2015 that we should bat our eyes, smile when we are displeased and not be heard? If the game is about brown-nosing and/or keeping up appearances, I am out.

I’m not suggesting you have outbursts like a child when the spirit moves you ; but a person should be able to demand and communicate needs and wants without it being tied back to some facade you have to keep up to get ahead. It should be the case that any women can show up to the boardroom or the set as she is. We shouldn’t have to apologize for who we are and why we want what we want, Men do it all the time and don’t have to perform in the manner that we are expected to as women.

Who knows?  Mo’Nique could very well have been terrible to work with. I just wished we lived in a society that treated like instances equally. In this case, that would mean blackballing every actor or actress that is difficult. The truth is money is spent on people that are liked, can bring in revenue and “look” and “act” the part. I wasn’t that person when I worked in Corporate America and Mo’Nique isn’t that for Hollywood unfortunately,

 

Czarina’s Lesson: There are limits to equality and fairness where money is the primary concern.

31 Days, 32 Revelations: Silent Sentinel

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 4 of 31- Silent Sentinel

March 3rd, 1913 a woman by the name of Alice Paul organized  a woman’s suffrage parade of more than 5,000 women participants from every state in the union. This wasn’t just any day, it was President Wilson’s first inauguration. It wasn’t your typical parade, Paul and the participants were marching in the name of woman’s suffrage. Onlookers assaulted the marchers which very quickly escalated to a volatile situation.

Four years later, Alice Paul broke away from the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to form a more radical delegation of women’s rights activists called the National Women’s Party (NWP). It was also during that time that she assembled the “Silent Sentinels” to protest President Wilson’s ongoing lack of support for women’s suffrage. As pictured above, these women asked the obvious questions: “how long must liberty wait and “what will you do for women’s suffrage”.

Why is this important?

This moment in history verifies what I have been saying in previous posts- when you choose awareness and action over ignorance and inaction- it is a problem. Alice Paul and her fellow suffragists were attacked while police officers pretended not to see the attacks and then they were arrested and put away for seven months. I note that when the NYPD and Ferguson had the center stage last year, I did not choose silence over what I knew, I spoke up and called them out – namely the administration for having a poor system and and even worse practices. As a wife to a detective and someone who grew up with the NYPD, I felt there was no one better to talk about the real issues that were causing the civil unrest than me. In return, I had several men chime in. One said that they hoped for my husband’s sake that I was “hot” and that I must be an “A-1 ball-buster at home”. Another exclaimed ” who is this chick that thinks she knows the NYPD and how to fix the issues- she hasn’t a clue.”

Like Alice Paul, these men found my rhetoric and disposition to be “unladylike” and “radical”. In 2015, it is still the opinion of many men that a woman should know her place. I should be seen and not heard. Since I have an opinion, I must automatically drive my husband insane. If the latter is true, the only way the relationship could be worth it (according to these guys) is if I were “hot”. It is not only pathetic but sad, that I even have this as an anecdote to share.

Here’s the facts: I don’t bust balls for folly, but I certainly will-if warranted. I am allowed to have an opinion and feel empowered to speak up, if I choose. I am very much a lady and also radical when the spirit moves me. I don’t take kindly to anyone telling me when and how I should react. I am confident in my skin and operate on these premises, because my father (a man) constantly drilled me on the importance of being independent and strong. I’ve seen what hair twirling, flirting and “lady-like” behavior gets women in the boardroom. You get smirks, raised eyebrows and side-eye from the women witnessing a weak attempt of a fellow woman trying to be seen as worthy and viable. I simply wish that as women we could just show up unapologetically and be accepted for what we bring to the table.

In conclusion, the men that were spewing this stuff  had never been schooled on social media 101 apparently. As such, it never occurred to them that the thread they were bashing me on would be seen by my dad. I can tell you that no matter how old a woman gets, no father takes kindly to people speaking ill of their daughter. My dad had a field day with one of them-to which this gentleman agreed he was in the wrong for making assumptions about who I was because he didn’t like my opinion. While I can’t be sure if these men were truly sorry or just sorry that the father of the conspirator caught them in the act, This situation and others ensure that I will continue to speak out in the future.

The time for women to be paid equitably, treated fairly , and regarded as the awesome human beings we are is now. Alice Paul was fighting this fight over 96 years ago, isn’t it time?

Czarina’s Lesson: When it comes to the fight for civil liberties, what is old is new and what is new is old. There’s no true liberty until everyone is afforded the same opportunities and rights.

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