Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women on Creating a Culture of Equity
Despite the tremendous milestones that women have reached in the fight for equal rights, pay equity remains a persistent problem that continues to stifle women’s career advancement and growth. Women earn about 80 cents for every dollar a white man makes, while black women earn only 63 cents. Last month, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor addressed the pay disparity while speaking to students at Brown University, stating, “women doing the same work still earn less than men. You can’t fight the facts. Pay equality is one of the biggest issues our nation faces.”
During a panel at the 2018 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, four esteemed professional women of color discussed both the fight and solutions to end the gender pay gap. The panel, which was sponsored by Accenture and titled “Enough is (Not) Enough: Yes, We Can Close The Pay Gap,” befittingly took place on International Women’s Day. Here are four strategies that were shared to accelerate fair pay for women workers.
PUSH FOR TRANSPARENCY
According to panelist Theodora Lee, a senior partner and shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C., female employees should push companies to adopt open pay practices to ensure equity among their staff.
“Transparency is key to overcoming this gap,” said the trial lawyer. “When people know what they’re making compared to those doing similar jobs, and they know why they’re making what they’re making, [then] they can do something about it.”
Women should also take advantage of the cultural shift toward greater pay transparency sparked by tech companies that publicly release internal data on gender- and race-based pay statistics in recent years. As a result, this has pressured businesses in other industries to follow suit and increased the demand for pay equity from shareholders and employees. Lee suggested that employees initiate this change in their own companies by starting with a conversation with their human resources department. “You need to advocate, educate, and encourage transparency in the workplace.”
CREATE A CULTURE OF EQUITY
“We treat women the way we pay women,” said panelist Teresa C. Younger, the president and CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women. However, one way business leaders can overcome discriminatory practices toward women is by building a foundation of equity that “helps unlock human potential” and “creates an environment in which men and women can thrive,” said panelist Tracey Patterson, the managing director or Operations at Accenture, referring to a newly released Accenture report. She went on to touch on three principles that foster workplace equality...