Editor’s note: This blog is a series about the discussions that took place during Vision + Action = Equality in Motion on Oct. 11-13 in Chicago. This series is authored by Jan Stone, who volunteered her time and talent to attend 3,000 Days and Counting. Read the first entry here. Part three of this blog will be posted Oct. 19.
By Jan Stone
To say we are getting inpatient about achieving pay equity is understatement. But there’s no room for emotion, so here are only a handful of statistics:
- Women earn just 77 cents to every $1 paid to men. African-American women just 64 cents. Hispanic women only 52 cents.
- Over a lifetime, that’s a shortfall of hundreds and thousands of dollars.
- Working mothers bear the brunt of pay equity because hiring employees believe that a female employee means a less competent and committed employee.
- 80% of single parent families are headed by women. 34% are the sole breadwinners.
The gender pay gap is astounding, and it is the largest for women of the ages 35 to 64, which we all understand to be the largest earning years. The more education, the greater the gap is another fact.
To achieve pay equity, Vision 2020’s strategies include:
- Creating a communications campaign by building national, forceful coalitions to educate women and men on the very real benefits of pay equity. It also means identifying women of influence and early adopters who can frame the issues to help the coalition debate and discuss them intelligently. The hope is that this becomes a bipartisan issue so that all voices are included.
- Part of that education includes negotiation training. Quite simply, when we start jobs we need to learn how to discuss our salaries in a way that delivers facts – not emotion.
- There also needs to be the “elevator speech” so women can talk in similar language about the crucial facts regarding pay equity.
April 17, 2012, is Equal Pay Day. Wondering what the day signifies? On average, it takes women 15 months to make the same annual salary of a man in one calendar year. April 17, 2012, is when women will have earned what men did in 2011. Enough said?
The second goal Vision 2020 has set is to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions.
Of the corporate 500 companies, 484 top executives are men, 16 are women. On top of that, only 18% of women are in leadership positions in government jobs, according to The White House Project report in 2009.
In a forward-thinking bit, we were all told to close our eyes and think about Aug. 26, 2020. Upon opening our eyes, there were a panel of women on stage, guests of the Tina Winfrey Show, where Vision 2020 played out in the future.
Tina proudly announced that in 2020, 36% of women are now in leadership positions—doubling 2009 numbers. The panel members then explain the strategies that enabled the growth
Facts of gender inequality were discussed strategically. It’s a sensitive topic to discuss. What’s important to the discussion is that they found organizations that had already embraced equity and told of the greater productivity and overall success that came with equal pay.
They also found an edge by utilizing women already on boards and in senior government positions and asked each of them to place at least one more woman on a board every year.
For those women who felt the obstacles too great, this group was also useful in helping all qualified women understand how to get ahead.
Another strategy that worked for the panel was enlisting the media to create documentaries about gender inequity. The results included doubling the numbers of reporters and producers. And each delegate made it a point to get at least one op-ed piece about the issue in their daily newspapers.
Part three of this blog will be posted Oct. 19.