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 be shorter, 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:
- According to the McKinsey report, Women in the Workplace 2017, lack of education is not a major reason that women are underrepresented in corporate line roles. Women have been earning more college degrees than men for the last thirty years.
- Most women are remaining in the workforce rather than taking time out for children. McKinsey research found that the number of men and women who do leave to care for children is quite low – only 2% or less of the workforce.
- According to a Harvard Business Review article using U.S. Census data, in 2010, several managerial occupations became female-dominated including medical and health service managers, education administration, human resources, and property and real estate.
- Redwood City, CA, based Equilar says approximately one in five directors at public companies are female. This number grew by 31% over the last five years.
- According to MSCI research, over one fifth of the 2,451 MSCI ACWI Index companies still have all male boards and nearly all still had majority male boards. Technology company boards appear to offer good future opportunities for female board seats with nearly 1/3 of these companies still having no women on their boards.
- Executive recruiter Heidrick & Struggles estimates 50% of new board directors will be women by the year 2032.
- Legislative and voluntary targets for greater gender diversity appear to work. In European countries like France, Norway and Sweden where such targets exist, women hold more than 30% of board positions.