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A Woman’s Worth

I was already depressed about the pay gap between men and women but this article put me around the bend. Here’s the punch line: as soon as women move into jobs that have been traditionally male, the job itself is devalued. If a woman can do the work then it must not take much skill. So on top of women getting paid less for the same work that men do, certain fields are paying less because it’s now considered women’s work! Can you hear me scream? Roar? Here’s the link to the article.

These attitudes and practices are part of a much larger cultural phenomenon and not so easily addressed within one organization by one group of leaders. That said, I believe companies are a more potent route to change. CEOs and their teams need to take a strong position and quickly remedy the situation. My current favorite example of all-things-must-be-fair-and-not-afraid-to-say-it CEO is Marc Benioff from Read this:

I am especially impressed that it only took 6 months to close the pay gap in a company of 20,000 employees. This pretty much shoots a hole in the “it will take time” position that I’ve heard too often. If you read the NYT article and see the domino effect when highly educated and qualified women move into male dominated fields and then see how Benioff is bucking the trend then it is easy to see how one leader and one company can make a difference.

But it takes a special kind of leader to right a wrong.

I sit with good leaders every day. They are smart, driven and care about their people and the company’s success. But I can only think of 3 people in the last 5 years that have demonstrated the courage and resolve to take action to correct longstanding and senseless practices. I’m being all inclusive here: pay gaps, diversity, outdated processes or practices, environmental policies, bonus philosophies. Absolutely every leader says the right thing and then adds the postscript. “We don’t have the (resources, time, board support, proper data etc) to do anything about it at this time.” Utter bullshit. I would be more satisfied with an honest response like “We don’t really care enough about any of this stuff.” I can’t stand when leaders say the right thing and then do the wrong thing. Sadly, this is the norm.

I urge you to study Marc Benioff’s leadership. He has introduced meditation into the company, closed the pay gap and pulls his business and staff out of states that have anti-gay laws. And his business is booming. I’m a big fan and wish that more CEOs would look to him as a great role model rather than constantly harkening back to Jack Welch! This is 2016 people. Our working world is filled with women, people of color and LGBTQ folks. We are long overdue for a 21st century form of leadership.

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