“It’s not fair!”
While watching home movies last week, my husband and I laughed as our then four-year-old daughter complained about her brother getting a “prize” that she did not receive. It was his birthday—but still. She was clearly distressed that she could not have the same and didn’t understand why. Her dad said, “Get used to it.”
My daughter, now 28, was watching along with us and found the exchange funny, but also lamented her very sad four-year-old voice that didn’t understand why her baby brother was getting something and she was not.
This moment came to mind today as I thought about Equal Pay Day. Is that it? Have we just gotten used to it? Have we just accepted the lack of equal pay as a fact of life? It seems that women continue to struggle to earn equal pay for equal work.
All things being equal, isn’t it time--or should I say, way past time?
Here we are again. Women in the U.S. have worked until today, April 2, to earn what men earned in 2018. It is a cycle that has been repeated over and over. Equal Pay Day is a symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness about the gender pay gap. This topic was covered in the CREW Network 2018 white paper, Achieving Pay Parity in Commercial Real Estate. Today’s date symbolizes how far into 2019 U.S. women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that there has been some change. In past years, the date has been April 19, then it moved up to April 12…that’s progress, right? The Suffragettes began this battle in earnest in the late 1800s, and we continue it today. The scope of the conversation has broadened and grown louder. With the “Time’s Up” movement in Hollywood and some extreme cases of pay inequality making the news, it has raised the specter of this debate.
Listen, I know that pay is not black and white. There are nuances, gray areas and many other aspects that determine pay. For example, education level and experience are two key factors that impact salary scale. However, when you have a man and a woman who are equally qualified individuals with the same years of experience doing the exact same job, it seems to be a no brainer that they should be earning the same amount.
If companies like Sales Force, Adobe, Wells Fargo and Starbucks can achieve pay parity, I believe it is truly possible for the rest of the corporate world to follow suit. All it takes is leadership and intentionality. Begin today. Let’s move Equal Pay Day to December 31 in 2020.
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Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.