Gender balance makes dollars and sense

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. IWD marks a call-to-action for accelerating gender balance.

This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter because:

“Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

– internationalwomensday.com

By striking the #BalanceforBetter pose, just like the photos in this post, you can help to raise awareness of this important cause.

Striking a pose for the #BalanceforBetter campaign.

Why bother? Gender balance would make a big impact on the world’s economy. A 2019 McKinsey Global Institute report found that $12 trillion could be added to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. The report stressed that public, private and social sectors will need to act to close gender gaps in both work and society.

But just getting a foot in the door can be a challenge. The results of a study of women in the UK revealed that 17 per cent of women believe they had a job application denied solely just because of being female. A further 18 per cent felt their applications were denied because of personal opinion.

That said, progressive companies are already taking the steps towards recognizing the contributions of women in the workplace. For example, last year, I reported on how Salesforce’s CEO assessed the salaries of the company’s female and male employees to determine if gender-based pay inequality existed, and then corrected the inequalities as required.

And there’s still more work to do to unleash the potential of gender balance.

How can you help?

Raise awareness of the need for gender balance by posting a photo of yourself striking the #BalanceforBetter pose on social media, using the #IWD2019 hashtag. Visit internationalwomensday.com or follow IWD on Twitter and Instagram to learn more about building a gender-balanced world.

Another #BalanceforBetter pose.

Image credits: Laine Bodnar.

When will equal work = equal pay?

No matter what women have on their resume or how well they do in a job interview, chances are they won’t get paid the same as their male counterparts when they get the job. In Canada, a woman earns 74 cents for each $1 earned by a man.

If you think that there are extenuating circumstances that result in this disparity, like women working part-time more often, women putting their careers on the back burner to raise a family, or women accepting lower-paying jobs more often, not so fast! These are just some of the myths that lead people to believe that the gender-based gap in pay isn’t real.

The fact is that women don’t get paid the same as men for the same work.

From the perspective of a woman in the workforce, I find this both discouraging and frustrating.

60 Minutes screen shotHowever, a recent 60 Minutes episode has shed light on what’s being done about this issue. It featured a corporation that has recognized the pay gap and its strong leadership is contributing to the fight against it.

In this segment, 60 Minutes interviewed Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, a company that offers customer relationship management software. He discussed how his company is prioritizing pay equality.

As a company that’s been named as one of the best places to work, Benioff expected that the pay gap wouldn’t exist at Salesforce. He decided to execute an organization-wide audit of positions and salaries based on gender to uncover the truth. Benioff admitted that he was surprised when the audit revealed that gender-based pay disparities did, in fact, exist there.

What happened next makes this story notable: Benioff acted on the results and fixed the problem. He revealed that in one year, resolving the issue cost the company $3 million (USD). I’m assuming that when he took this action, he was considering the advice of Salesforce’s human resources executive working on the project (notably, a woman), who advised him that if the audit revealed an issue, the results couldn’t be simply read and filed away – they would need to act to correct them to keep the company’s integrity  intact.

Benioff also noted that he recalled sitting in meetings with high-level folks in his organization, and noticing that the room was filled with exclusively men. He remarked that this practice had to stop, and moving forward, wanted to see women involved in every meeting, proactively giving women the opportunity to bring their perspectives, ideas and approaches to the table when it mattered.

Woman leading a meeting

Once his eyes were opened to issues with gender-based pay at Salesforce, Benioff has described pay equality as one of the big social issues that he’s gotten behind, and has started to spread the word. Other recent social media-based events, one of the more well-known ones being #EqualPayDay on April 10, are also helping to get the truth out and debunk the myths.

Why does spreading the word matter? In the 60 Minutes interview, Benioff said he believes that ending gender-based disparity in pay is one of the doors to gender equality, at the same level of importance as having equal opportunities and being free from harassment.

I’m inclined to agree with him.

What are your thoughts on Salesforce’s move toward implementing equal pay for equal work? Has the leadership in your workplace addressed this issue?

Photo credits: Pixabay.com; CBS News.