My very first job at 13 years old was babysitting. I’ll never forget walking across the street to the Marciniak’s house. They had four kids, ages 2-8. They were great kids, though I do recall the baby rocking back and forth on the sofa all night long saying, “I want mommy, I want mommy.”
I remember how excited I was when I got paid at the end of the evening. I earned $1 per hour (times have changed for sure and kids earn so much more babysitting now than back in the 70s!). My first ever night of employment, I babysat for five hours and was $5 richer. But I felt richer than that. I felt empowered by my ability to earn money. It was my first taste of financial independence and it was liberating.
When I took on another family for babysitting, they gave me a raise! I earned $2 for the hours the children were awake, and $1 per hour once they were asleep. Wow. What a nice perk of the job. I think I wished the kids stayed up longer so that I could earn more!
Everyone has a “first job” story and fond memories of that first paycheck and perhaps how you spent it. It was your first opportunity to prove your worth as an employee. It was the first test of your ability to work with others. It was your first time to earn pay for doing a job. That is transformative.
As we move on in our employment, we learn more about earning power and the workplace. Some good things and some not so good. Some quite unsettling, especially the fact that there remains a large pay gap between men and women in the workplace. Based on data from the most recent CREW Network Benchmark Study, the pay gap in commercial real estate is 23.3% between men and women, and an even wider 29.8% in the C-suite. Now is the time to #PressforProgress.
Today's International Women’s Day theme, #PressforProgress is a call to action for all industries, leaders and professionals to close the pay gap. We must make progress on this centuries-old approach to compensation. The pay gap is not a women’s issue, it’s not a man’s issue, it’s a business issue. How many employers are willing to lose their best and brightest employees because they refuse to conduct an honest assessment of their salary structure and pay equal for equal work?
Now is the time. It’s long past time, in fact. Let’s not only press for progress, let’s push hard and make change.
Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.
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