Today is Equal Pay Day—not a day of celebration, but a finish line for women. This year, April 10, 2018 was chosen to symbolize the day that women, on average, earn as much as men did by their finish line—December 31, 2017. Each year, women hope that the distance to our finish line will beshorter, and that the gap between what men and women are paid will close a bit more.
Equal Pay Day reminds us of how far we’ve come, how far we have to go, and the actions still needed to increase the earning power of our nation’s working women. Today, when looking at median annual salaries for each group, U.S. women are paid about 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. And the pay gap is even worse for women of color.
For significant change to occur, we believe one way it will happen is by having more women assume leadership roles, especially by serving on corporate boards. There’s proof that having more women in board positions yields benefits for an organization’s performance and for society as a whole. And statistics show there is plenty of potential for women to step into more board seats:
Boards of directors make decisions that can impact you, your community, and the country. These boards choose CEOs who then make decisions about compensation and other ways to spend profits, including how to support various social causes. That’s why we think there should be more female voices representing our points-of-view and interests.
In addition to societal advantages, research has shown that organizations themselves benefit from increasing diversity on their boards. First, gender diversity in a company’s leadership roles tends to attract and motivate talented employees who want leadership that reflects the diversity of today’s talent pool. Also, women are increasingly influencing spending decisions for their family’s wealth, so having women on a board provides more insight into the opinions and priorities of all consumers, not just males. Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger suggested to his board that having a more diverse group of leaders “helps you avoid blind spots” when making important corporate decisions.
For suggestions on how to improve your long-term financial security in the face of a pay gap, listen to Dawn’s WTOP 2017 Equal Pay Day Interview.
One of the reasons given for lower female representation in the boardroom is lack of sufficiently educated and qualified female talent. But statistics show women continue to earn advanced degrees at equal or higher rates than men. The real issue is not education, but lack of relevant experience.
How then can women obtain the right qualifications to land a board position?
Overcoming the pay gap will continue to be a challenge for women across the globe. Our hope is that advocating for more representation of women on corporate boards will lead to stronger financial performance and higher pay for all employees, including women. Encouraging public companies to have a board that reflects the same diversity as their buying population is just one way everyone can make progress towards greater pay equality for all.
Consider this your training manual to get and stay financially fit for life!