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4 women lined up supporting each other

“Equal Pay! Equal Pay!”

“Equal Pay! Equal Pay!”

How about that US Women’s soccer team?

These women are extraordinary people: getting their jobs done, serving as role models, working incredibly hard, calling out the pay inequities that they face … and winning the team’s fourth World Cup. I don’t know about you, but I got chills when I heard the crowd chant “Equal pay! Equal pay!”


So much for women’s sports not being thrilling.

And isn’t it interesting to see so many of the issues that women face in the workplace — and are working to overcome — encapsulated in their march through the tournament?

First, we saw the backlash that women can face for “unacceptable” behavior.

The team’s goal celebrations were said to be too much, “disgraceful,” and “classless,” and Megan Rapinoe further caught it for her (very meme-worthy) pose and Alex Morgan for her “tea sipping.”

Indeed, the research tells us that women who are deemed to be looking for attention or power evoke emotions of contempt and disgust — in both men and women. This backlash can serve as a powerful constraint on us … from looking for attention or power.

Second, of course, is soccer’s gender pay gap.

These women are performing better than the men — and bringing in more revenue — but earning less. And they’re fighting to earn the same as the men … which, get this, means that they will then be performing better and earning the same. And that will be progress.

This has echoes in the workplace, where the research tells us that women (and others in the minority) are promoted based on achievement, while cis white males are promoted based on potential. There’s also new research in the Harvard Business Review that says women are rated higher on almost every leadership skill. So, bar higher. But, again, gender pay gap.

It’s also worth underscoring that the pay and performance gap in soccer hasn’t been some big mystery. There has been real transparency around the women’s pay — they calculate that they earn 38 cents to a male soccer player’s dollar.

And their strong performance hasn’t been a big mystery, either; the championships are there for everyone to see, as are the men’s more lackluster results. And yet the pay gap has persisted.

Remind you of anything?

Perhaps of how there is so much research on the power of diversity in driving superior business results? Really, sometimes it seems as though not a week goes by without yet another study on yet another way that diversity is good for business.

And yet all of this transparency and data has resulted in only slow change, at best, to the status quo in business.

On this front, the women’s soccer team is showing us a way forward: come together, call out inequities, make some noise, take action (in this case, by suing the US Soccer Federation), be willing to take some criticism.

There can be real strength in numbers … particularly when it’s coupled with delivering strong results.

I remember Venus Williams (tennis great, Ellevest investor, and all-around great person) telling a group of professional women that she thought their jobs were harder than hers. That’s because all she had to do was show up, play tennis, and win — and then the powers that be couldn’t ignore her. But, she said, for professional women, that may not always be the case. “Winning” can be less clear-cut.

But, just as Venus fought for — and won — equal pay for women’s tennis, so the US Women’s soccer team is certainly showing the powers that be — and the whole damn world — how not to be ignored.

Read the original article here.


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