Anthea Stratigos – April 8, 2016
As someone who is presumably in a male dominated field (CEO), I keep wondering about women in the workforce and studies about gender bias. I find this whole discussion challenging because there are so many variables. A recent study pointed to pay-dropping when women enter male-dominated fields and it’s a valid point. I wonder why when I go to hotels there are no male housekeepers. And why are there no female engineers when my air conditioning needs fixing or the sinks leak? Has anyone seen a woman who is a bellman? How about in valet parking?
Sometimes women need/want/require more flexibility in their work-life. Increasingly men do too. There are stories that both face penalties over the long term financially for this kind of ‘work life balance.’ And there is legitimate bias, no doubt. And some jobs are worth more because of supply and demand and not because women are in the field. Take for example the CTO or CIO role vs. the Chief Talent Officer. There may be more men in the former and women in the latter but that’s not necessarily why the roles may be paid differently. It can be a confluence of things including available talent (of any race, sex, or creed) geographic region, technical training or education, required for the role or some combination. I don’t think we can deduce the ‘why’ too easily. But perhaps we can fix the ‘how’ more easily.
Two things come to mind:
To employers: Be diligent about making sure women and men in the same jobs are paid the same and be prepared to behave as if all salaries are published. If they got leaked, hacked or you decided to take the bold move to publish them, would they be ok? Take for example this recent quote in the article describing the pay drops study:
It happens across professions: This month, the union that represents Dow Jones journalists announced that its female members working full time at Dow Jones publications made 87 cents for every dollar earned by their full-time male colleagues. Colleen Schwartz, a Dow Jones spokeswoman said, “We remain absolutely committed to fostering an inclusive work environment.”
I hate to tell Ms. Schwartz that inclusion isn’t what this is about. Raise the darn salaries for your female journalists. It’s about parity and fairness not inclusiveness. If the information and media industry is about transparency and well, information, then why in any instance can salaries for women be 87 cents on the dollar. C’mon. Fix it.
To women: I say, don’t forget to ask the hard negotiating questions. What are your average salaries for males in this role? Or better, be sure to do the homework, and come in with a salary expectation and negotiate for equal salary. One of my dearest friends is an executive recruiter who works at very senior levels in our industry; her lament – too many women are sometimes their own enemies at the negotiating table. Too many wait for the promotion thinking they’ll be recognized. They’ll wait to see what they’ll be offered instead of speaking about salary expectations when it’s time to negotiate. She has been in the field at senior levels for many moons so I heed her concern. When I mentor, I speak to this when I observe it.
There are no/few barriers to entry for starting one’s own company either these days. So as my mom said – if you don’t like the heat get out of the kitchen. She also said, no one says excuse me to a doormat. So if we don’t like what’s going on we must change it. Start a company, get a new job. Publish a salary and ask others to do same. Go for it, because like the brilliant Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion– sometimes you have to fight the system to change it. Or change ourselves. They’re all good options.