When it comes to leadership topics, one of the perennial “hot buttons” remains equality in the workplace. A while back I wrote about the challenges women face in acquiring leadership positions, and I was again inspired to revisit this subject after reading some newly published data by Glassdoor, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey focusing on the topic of pay inequality.
I’ll cover briefly the “facts” – then encourage you to ask deep questions to find out how you may be contributing to inequality in the workplace.
How Gender Pay Equality Looks Today
Glassdoor is one of the few surveys that focuses solely on the issue of the gender pay gap, with data based on 505,000 salaries shared with them by full-time U.S. workers. It’s worth reading the entire survey, but here are a few important takeaways on the pay gap:
- Based on raw data, base pay for men in the U.S. is about 24% higher than for women. However, adjusting the data based on factors like age, education, experience, job title, employer, and location brings the gap down to about 5.4%. Even still, an obvious gap exists.
- The occupation with the highest gender pay gap? Computer programmer. C-Suite occupations also ranked highly, and other occupations with a high gender pay gap include chef, dentist, psychologist and pharmacist.
- Although male-female pay differences have significantly lessened since the 1960’s, the closure has begun to stagnate. For an excellent visual representation of the gender pay gap, check out Org’s data on equal pay here.
Though the survey above had a focus on U.S. workers, a Harvard University piece on equal pay aptly states, “Such inequality is hardly unique to the United States.”
What Causes the Gender Pay Gap?
While the causes of the gender pay gap have long been debated, most would agree that there is no single culprit. Just some of the potential reasons include:
- Conflicting views on diversity: A McKinsey report found that 90% of companies surveyed believed making gender diversity a priority leads to improved business outcomes – but just 37% of employees agreed.
- Gaps in commitment: Saying gender equality matters – and then being willing to address it – are very different. The largest gap was seen in young women (most committed) and young men (least committed).
- Same questions, different results: Women may be asking for promotions and raises like their male counterparts, but the study found that men often achieve more without even asking and face less backlash when doing so.
Instead of debating what causes inequality in the workplace, we’d prefer to focus on what can be done about it.
Equality in the Workplace: Ask the Right Questions
A deeper exploration of pay inequality seems necessary. Many of us really believe that we’re being “fair” – and hardly notice how surprisingly easy it is to find oneself subtly buying into a system without realizing it and then not having the courage to do something about it or to bring about change at a deeper level.
Google is teeming with resources related to “gender inequality” or “how to fix gender inequality in the workplace.” Change starts from within. If we want to correct gender inequality, we need to ask some tough questions:
- What are my biases? Biases – particularly unconscious ones – can be sneaky, sabotaging you and causing unintended consequences to others when you least expect it. If as you read this you’re saying “I don’t have any biases,” I encourage you to take a more honest look within. Start with mindful awareness; pay attention to your subtle reactions throughout the day. You may be surprised – in more ways than one.
- How far am I willing to go to address inequality? Truth be told, few of us would say that the issue of inequality doesn’t matter – but simply making a statement isn’t the same as taking concrete action. For instance, how proactive is your organization when it comes to hiring women? Are you limiting your talent pool? Have you taken a look at your interview process lately? Look for hidden factors that might be leading to inequality.
- Do I really value a work/life balance? Many of us have heard that phrase so often that we’ve become indifferent to it. Yet, Mary Brinton of Harvard University asserts that as young adults attempt to balance work and life responsibilities, women often face additional burdens associated with caregiving. This leads to a disadvantage in the workplace, where many organizations have become accustomed to nearly 24/7 availability.
As we all work together to understand and ultimately address gender inequality in the workplace and beyond, let us remember the words of the great Socrates, “He who aspires to govern the city must learn to govern himself.”
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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As an Executive Coach for Women in Leadership and Transformational Facilitator, my intention is to help leaders in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.