April 30, 2015

The Scandal of Pay Inequality

On April 29,2015, Pope Francis spoke in support of pay equality for women, saying:

“Why is it expected that women must earn less than men?”
“No! They have the same rights.  The disparity is a pure scandal.”

When women are paid less, not only women suffer - families suffer.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, “Families depend on women’s wages more than ever, but a woman working full time, year round, is typically paid less than a full-time male worker." In most instances, it now takes two salaries to support a middle class household.  A woman working full-time earns  $10,876 less per year (at the median), than her male counterpart.  Households headed by single mothers often end up in poverty.

According to the data contained in a 2013 US Census report titled “Income and Poverty in the United States”, the pay discrepancy nationally is about -22 cents - with women earning 78.3 cents for every dollar a man makes.   Women make less in every state but fare far worse in some states than in others.  In Louisiana, the worst state for women’s pay, women earn 65.9 percent of what men earn.  In DC, the best location for women’s pay - women earn 91.3 percent of what men earn.  (The Federal Government is the primary employer in DC).  California ranks fifth in the nation with women earning 83.9 cents for every dollar a man makes. The disparity widens as women progress in their career and significantly impacts retirement earnings.

Women are not being promoted either and the issue is not escaping notice.  Silicon Valley has a diversity problem and they know it.  Women hold only 11% of executive positions, 9% of CEO positions, and a mere 15.7% serve on boards of directors in high tech firms. There is an active push to figure out how to attract more women.  Time will tell how committed high tech companies are to hiring women and welcoming them into the executive suite.

The Gender Diversity in Silicon Valley Report, in January that S&P 100 companies fare slightly better indicating that 16% of their executives being women and 20.9% serving on boards of directors.

The according to the 2014 - UC Davis Study of California Women in Business: A Census of Women Directors and Highest Paid Executives of the 400 largest public companies headquartered in California including Apple, Chevron, Intel, Visa, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle—with a combined stock market value of $4.5 trillion - there is only one woman for every 8 men among directors and the highest-paid executives in the largest public companies in California. “Among the 1,868 highest-paid executives, 185 (9.9%) are women and 1,683 (90.1%) are men.”

Why do you care?  Because women make up roughly half of the population and their pay is crucial to family health.

What can you do if you are a woman to reach pay equality?
  1. Find companies that value women 
  2. Find salary data through Salary.com and Glassdoor.com
  3. Know your strengths and keep track of your accomplishments
  4. Learn to negotiate the terms of your employment – salary, benefits, vacation, training, and tuition reimbursement.
  5. Ask the men what they are getting paid… Someone will tell you…
  6. If you work for the State of California, the Sacramento Bee publishes salaries for every state worker – by name and classification!  That is how I discovered the discrepancy between what I was making and what the men were being paid for equal work over a 20-year period....
  7. Ask for a raise!  No it is not automatic, you probably need to ask.

What can men do to support equal pay for women?  
  1. Hire and promote women. 
  2. Embrace the differences women bring to the table.  It makes for better problem solving.
  3. Mentor a woman. We listen well and we follow through.
  4. Share your salary information – No, they cannot fire you for sharing. Obama signed an executive order: Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information.  He signed that order because nothing is better than transparency in promoting pay equity.