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#TimesUp for Pay Inequity: What You Can Do to Battle the Gender Pay Gap

 #TimesUp for Pay Inequity: What You Can Do to Battle the Gender Pay Gap

I have to be honest, I’m really loving these #TBT posts. Life moves so fast and we move from one experience to the next without spending enough time to really process and enjoy each moment. I know that I’m guilty of this and I’m thinking it may be a time for a delayed 2019 resolution. I need to spend more time in the moment versus racing to the next one. Will you hold me accountable?

This post is the second (of three) in my SXSW series. I really enjoyed the whole experience. I connected with many people in my 48 hrs in Austin (why do I always rush in and out of cities?!?!) and even caught some amazing music, brand experiences, and late night parties.

But the real fun happened on stage when I was honored to be on the SXSW panel, Danger in Silence: #TimesUp for Pay Inequity. The panel was moderated by Nekpen Osuan, Founder of WomenWerk. I have to give Nekpen a huge shoutout. She is my mentee through the 92Y Women in Power Fellowship and she’s one of the hardest working women I’ve ever met. You can check out this video of us together here (1:09).

Nekpen cares deeply about equality and knows that equal pay is key to creating a more just world. When she convened the panel she included Charlotte Burrows, Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (and former Ellevate Mobilize Women Summit Speaker); Hise Gibson, Visiting Scholar at Harvard Business School and a Colonel in the US Army; as well as yours truly. I really loved this panel composition because we brought in the varying perspectives including the current state of corporate America, the voice of women at work, Federal policy and legislation; as well as the US Military which has a very clearly defined pay structure.

In my research for the panel, a few key statistics really stood out to me:

1. One in three people don’t think the pay gap exists. I’m blown away by this stat because research shows that it does.

  • Countries such as the UK have passed Equal Pay legislation (which led to the disclosure that Citigroup pays women 29% less than men);
  • Companies such as Salesforce have found pay gaps in their internal audits. In their case, they realized that women weren’t being promoted at same rate as men— this is what is known as the opportunity gap;
  • Women are individually discovering proof that pay gaps exist. For me personally, my aha moment was when a peer was hired to work alongside me and all of a sudden I received a 20% pay increase. The peer was a man and I know I received the increase because a member of the senior management team demanded that we both be paid equally.

If we can’t admit that there is a problem then we’ll continue to have barriers to moving the conversation forward.

2. There is a huge mental strain attached to the gender pay gap. Try going to work every day knowing that statistically you are making less than the person sitting next to you.

3. The financial strain of the gender pay gap can be debilitating to not just women, but families and communities. If we were to close the pay gap, black women would make $870K more in their lifetime than they do now. The average for all women is $400K more. Because let’s not forget that the pay gap is $0.79 for white women; $0.62 for Black women; $0.47 for Latina Women.

So what do we do about this? Foster a culture of transparency at work within your team, department or company. Talk about money with your peers — and, as Nekpen pointed out, talk about money with men because they are statistically making more than you. Advocate for others in the workplace, just as someone advocated for me, and be a mentor and sponsor whenever you can. Use your voice as a citizen to push for legislation around Equal Pay and vote for representatives that believe in equality.

We asked the Ellevate community what needed to happen to reach pay parity and 70% think it is a joint effort between companies, government and individuals. So let’s work together to create the change we seek.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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