The Gender Pay Gap: A Complex Issue with Real Solutions

by Tet Salva, Founder & CEO of MomWarrior

April 10, 2018

Today is Equal Pay Day. It is clear there is still much work to do to bridge the gap. The statistics out there are dismal, but I don’t want to focus on that today. Instead, I want to celebrate what has been done, and look at what we can do to make real impact.

As a mother to four young girls, the desire to effect change and build the right infrastructure so my girls are able to “be anything they can be” is more than palpable - I breathe and live it everyday. The issue of equal pay goes beyond gender; it is symptomatic of old beliefs and mindsets that as a society, we have not been able to shift.

However, there are companies who are starting to create opportunities out of these pressing issues. Salesforce is a company that has worked on bridging the wage gap. Leyla Seka, EVP at Salesforce for AppExchange, was one of the pioneers of this movement. I've had the honor of interviewing her and got to know an incredibly dynamic, bold and fearless leader. “Let’s support women in the workplace who are taking risks and striving to be the leaders our companies need to create a path towards equality for all,” she states. With the support of Cindy Robbins, EVP of Employee Success and Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, they began to close the pay gap, investing $3 million dollars into this effort. And it’s paid off. Literally. 

Let’s take another example: Iceland. Last year, the country instituted a pay equity law requiring companies to prove they have fair pay practices - placing the accountability and onus on the companies, not the employees. Iceland is one of the more progressive countries in the world; they have set an example for what is possible. And, they do acknowledge that there is still much work to be done around the gender pay gap, pledging to close it by 2022.

We’ve had wins, but there is definitely more room for closing the chasm. For one, this is the type of issue where data cannot be generalized. Instead, it needs to become more specific - dissected by geographical location, industry, race, and job class. We need to understand the root causes and the why’s before we can fully create a holistic solution.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something now. Here are some solid recommendations from studies and interviews I’ve done on this very topic:

As an INDIVIDUAL -

Educate yourself. Do your research. Figure out the right salary for your job and weigh that with your standard of living. 

Negotiate with confidence. Knowledge is power. Use the research to back up why you deserve the right salary for your job. Take emotion out of it. The reality is, when women show emotion, it is often construed as being “emotional” and when men show emotion, it is seen as being “passionate.” Give them the "what's in it for them" and how this will benefit you both.

Know your worth. Part of this is doing your research. But knowing your worth goes beyond more than dollars and cents. Ask yourself: What are my values? What motivates me when I get up in the morning? Is what I’m doing aligned with my values? Is the company aligned with my values? Does the company value me as an employee? As a human being? Be true to yourself.

Use your platform. If you are a leader in an organization or have the influence to effect change, use it! Use your platform to amplify the voices around you so that others may be heard. Leaders have the ability to create impactful change.

As an ORGANIZATION:

Show your employees they are valuable to the organization. People are the sole source of company revenue. It is the power of human energy that drives business goals, business strategies, and business operations. Starbucks, Adobe, Google, Intel and Patagonia have shown great progress in this, by providing their people the support they need to thrive both at work and at home. Offer innovative support programs and get rid of archaic programs your employees are not using. Listen to their needs and act on them.

Pay your employees well from the get go. Start the talent acquisition process by setting competitive salaries and benefit packages beforehand. Pay it forward.

Provide more leadership development opportunities. Offer leadership development to employees, regardless of where they sit in the org chart. Most development opportunities are given to senior leaders within an organization. Shift this to individual contributors and middle managers. Show these groups that you value them by investing in them. You’d be surprised at what you find. 

This issue is a complex one. But its solutions can be honest, real and impactful. If we begin to work together and set our differences apart, we’ll see the ripple effects of our efforts. I am a firm believer that when companies become great places to work for women, they become great places to work for all. 

I have much hope and faith for the future. The women’s movement is stronger than ever. This generation is the most woke generation, and I am honored to be raising my girls at a time when movements are taking hold, when herstory and history is being made, and stories are being re-imagined. Let’s celebrate what has been done, and acknowledge the great opportunity we have to innovate and redefine the future for our children.

About Tet:

Tet Salva is the mother to four girls and the Founder & CEO of MomWarrior, a purpose-driven company dedicated to developing working moms into great leaders, empowering them and their sphere of influence to lead with purpose at work and at home. MomWarrior addresses the significant challenges moms face in the workplace, bridging these gaps so companies become great places to work for all. MomWarrior offers innovative leadership development programs, transition coaching, and organizational program assessments. Sign up for their online courses now! For more information, visit: momwarrior.com