04 Jul Gender Pay Gaps
There was a time when only women cared about gender equality. Today, it’s everyone’s issue. So much has changed in the past decade. Let’s define Gender Pay Gaps as they exist today. With 50% of the workforce being women, the gender pay gap is everyone’s problem.
Why? Because women spend. Can you imagine how much more we could spend given economic parity? If that doesn’t grab you consider this: women in the workforce are weighted toward clerical or mid-management positions. While their salary is used to pay the rent, support children or buy food, these women are bursting with ideas at a time when we sorely need innovation.
This isn’t the halcyon call of generations past. No need to burn bra’s today. Today women are empowered. Prior generations have given us role models to follow. We have usable pay gap data going back to 1955. If you’re interested, the study is here This article is about how to get to the next level, narrowing the gap without disenfranchising anyone necessary to a business’s value chain.
GENDER PAY GAP
The Gender Pay Gap is the ratio of women’s pay divided by men’s pay for a similar job function, seniority and skill set.
The gender pay gap differs with job function, as well as age and level of education which on average show women are paid roughly 80% of what a man makes for the same job function. In 1970, this figure was roughly 59%.
The Gender Pay Gap is written about often. The topic has as many sources for statistics as there are articles written about it. It’s important to compare apples to apples. The articles I’ve cited appear to do this, but if you find better comparisons, please share the links.
American Progress published a report that cites April 17th as Equal Pay Day (the calendar day on which women have made enough to cover the Gender Pay Gap of 20%). Their report offers other useful comparisons clear of bias, and treatment of differing job titles, etc. it’s worth a look due to the slicing and dicing aspect of the stats.
This blog is about financial parity. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen at Global Summits. Change starts locally as a result of discussion and sharing ideas.
But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. To understand the complete picture of the impact on spending power, let’s look at the pink tax.
THE PINK TAX
The Pink Tax is the additional money a woman pays in excess of what’s charged a man for certain goods and services. A 2013 study by The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) found women pay approximately 7 percent more than men on similar products. Broken down by product type, women pay:
- 13 percent more for feminine personal care products
- 8 percent more for women clothing
- 8 percent more for women senior/home healthcare products
- 7 percent more for girl’s toys and accessories
- 4 percent more for girls’ clothing
According to the 2013 DCA report, 35 out of 40 product categories analyzed women’s products cost more than men’s products 42% of the time. The study shows women pay roughly 7% more per year than men purchasing the same or similar products.
I wonder what would happen if the companies which make the products cited in the NYDCA study lowered prices on certain high margin women products. Then a verified entity studied the results of women having an additional 7% in her pocket? Maybe she’d spend 7% more on that company’s product. But maybe she’d spend 15% more.
Disclosure: In a personal survey of 10 of my friends, 4 would save it, 3 would spend it on a new handbag and 3 would save it for their children’s education.
THE IMPACT OF BOTH THE PAY GAP & PINK TAX
GROSS INCOME ADJUSTED FOR PAY GAP & PINK TAX
- The Gender Pay Gap: On average, women make 80% of what a man would make for the same job.
- The Pink Tax: On average, women pay 7% more than men on average for goods and services targeted for sale to women.
ILLUSTRATION OF GENDER PAY GAP & PINK TAX IMPACT
- MEN’S SALARY $100,000
- PAY GAP 80%
- WOMEN’S SALARY $80,000
- DIFFERENCE: Given a man makes $100,000, a woman in the same job would make 20% less; the woman’s salary would be $80,000
- WOMEN’S SALARY (adjusted for gender pay gap) $80,000
- PINK TAX 7% of $80,000 or $5,600
- WOMEN’S NET “in pocket” SALARY is $74,400 versus $100,000 in-pocket salary for a man with the same position.
SUMMARY OF IMPACT
A man making $100,000 per year finds his female equal makes do with $74,400. Women have $25,600 less (25.6% less) per year than a man performing the same job.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
When I was a toddler, my forward-thinking father told me I could be just as smart as any boy and go on to do great things with my life.
I asked my father why I would need to dumb myself down in order to fulfill my dreams. He agreed and told me to forget he’d said it. While my parent’s laughter was lost on me at the time they never told me I was wrong. Now I understand the issue much better and thank them for not dismissing my innocent statement.
My mother graduated from university in 3 years, entering her freshman year at the age of 16 and graduating at 19 with a degree in Textile Science.
Yet when she joined the workforce as a newly divorced woman, she worked hard, kept her skills up to speed with the economy and didn’t allow her gender (or her looks) to define her intelligence.
At the age of 85, I found she’d received her Appraisers license to appraise decorative arts between 1850 – 1900. Yeah, she was a badass. She must look hella-cool in her Balenciaga wings and matching halo! To say I was raised with strong role models would be an understatement and I’ve only mentioned half the tale.
THE ROAD TO ECONOMIC EQUALITY
Most American schoolchildren today learn about the suffrage movement of the 1900s and the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Some of the hurdles to economic freedom were eliminated as recently as the 1970s.
- Women were unable to get a Credit Card prior to 1970 without a male co-signer.
- In the 1970s, with divorce on the rise, it became necessary for women to get their own credit cards.
- I remember my mother receiving her first American Express card without her father or husband co-signing it. And yes, I’m smiling as I remember her pride.
- A decade later, I received my first American Express card (1981)
- In local stores, women had a “charge and send” account. A house account that worked much like a credit card but there was no physical card. Just neighborhood familiarity with the family and – you guessed it – the signature of the buyer’s father or husband.
- All bills were sent to the man of the household. Did a shiver go up your spine ladies?
- I shudder to think of my husband knowing the number of little black cocktail dresses I own. How often I’ve said, ”oh this old thing, I’ve had it for years”
- As recently as 1920, a woman was unable to inherit their parent’s assets directly. If she was married when her parents died, all assets were placed in her husband’s name.
- This changed post-WWII as more women were widowed or unmarried.
- My namesake, Nelly McCabe, was my great aunt on my father’s side. She was unmarried. She was a suffragette about whom my grandmother would say, with some disdain, “she smoked cigarettes in public and wore dresses that came to her ankles”. Wow! she was a wild one! Lock up your sons, they might see a cankle! (swelled by hours of picketing for the rights we have today. Thank you, Nelly).
- Nelly became an early beneficiary of direct inheritance for women by petitioning the courts upon her parent’s death.
Perhaps you already knew these limitations and our progress since. But now we see them in context, giving us a point from which we can determine how we want to elevate the issue to today’s needs.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Using the 2013 pay gap of 20% versus 1970, when the pay gap was ~40%. In 43 years we’ve seen a 20% improvement. At that rate, it would take us another 43 years to achieve gender income parity.
I’m not suggesting that every woman should be given an immediate raise of 20% (27%), regardless of performance, thus achieving gender income parity tomorrow. Um…no. Gender Equality will take longer than a day to change and must include performance, potential, and other job-related variables.
The first thing women can do is to reframe the issue. Instead of viewing the issue as fair/unfair, view it as two sides of a transaction negotiating their positions. Negotiation takes the emotion out of the situation.
I recall a young single mother being very upset when she found out she didn’t receive the same percentage as the men around her. But this smart woman went around our office and sought out five women she felt she could trust to give her good advice. Sadly, we couldn’t help her much. As calm as she was as she left the ladies room when confronted with the taunts of her manager about her “status” as a single mother, she lost it. And the firm lost the best technical analyst I’d met at that point in my career.
The lesson stayed with me: I hold a vision of my father’s smile in my head as a walk into my manager’s office. I see my manager in his underwear watching football, resting his beer on the damask silk sofa. These cognitive jokes keep me focused on my objective. I typically arrive armed with the statistics to bolster my request. But I don’t slam them on the table and I don’t make an ultimatum. They know what the numbers are and they know the ramifications of their decision. So why get all dramatic? This only feeds into the illusion of women becoming “hysterical”. Keep your statements focused and the dialogue on point.
Become more proactive in working with women. Women used to feel competitive with other women simply due to gender. Through observation, I saw this for the fallacy it is. Women working with women was a very strong learn for me. Supporting other women by attending trade awards geared toward women are also of great use. What better way to motivate a woman to continue to reach higher than to show your appreciation for her current contribution?
The most important thing is to keep your job skills current. Whether it’s the same job under different regulations or a new goal one hopes to reach. Keep reaching. Prove your worth through your performance. Prove your worth through your professionalism. Your life will be happier and more fulfilling.
How do we create real change? Hmmm…I want you all to open your window…and yell as loud as you can (Ode to the movie Network)…nah…oh, I know, get one woman to stand on a table with a sign (Ode to Norma Rae)…nah.
Great in the movies but in real life, answers aren’t as easy. To limit paying Pink Tax, buy men’s products where gender doesn’t matter. Jo Malone fragrance & nice undergarments remain my purchasing choice. But where there’s no difference, I use the products for men. Why? Because I can. And you can too.
If you’re a business owner, adhere to a policy of equal pay regardless of gender. Therefore differences in pay arise only due to experience, skill set or performance. One business isn’t big enough business to make a difference. But if all small businesses do it and a groundswell of support builds, maybe, just maybe larger businesses will join the trend.
Most importantly, when your industry experiences a large scale change re-train your employees. A confident worker is more productive, more compliant to regulation and more likely to follow up their training with good ideas they’re no longer concerned about voicing.
Particularly if there are mandated rule changes regarding pay, an email blast will show every employee the change is for everyone. Gender has nothing to do with it.
Hey, I’m but one voice. The proverbial tree falling in the forest. But if you hear me and agree even in part with what I’ve said, man or woman, American or not become a disruptor. Become a tool for change.
“They may say I’m a dreamer…but I’m not the only one”
– John Lennon