Equal Pay, for Equal Work -- Easy Enough Right?

Equal Pay, for Equal Work -- Easy Enough Right?

Back in June I watched the 14 hour State of Women presented by The White House. While it was obviously inspiring, it was also a lot to take in. They say that the mark of any true intellectual is the ability to summarize and teach a complex issue simply. So, not wanting to over inundate, here is one of the hundreds of points that was made that day. This is not to say the answer is near, or even easy, but awareness and acceptance are the first steps to progress. 

Of all the issues that face women locally and abroad, the one that stood out to me first was equal pay. Which just happened to be the first issue listed on the "President Obama's Record on Empowering Women and Girls" tab of the White House website. 

President Obama signing the Lily Leddbetter Fair Pay Act in 2012. 

President Obama signing the Lily Leddbetter Fair Pay Act in 2012. 

Speaking on this issue was Patricia Arquette. It could be because I love her as an actress or because the information she was saying was just that dauntingly powerful for me, but I reflected most on her words in the days to follow. 

So, let's break it down; these stats are proven and real: 

  • A woman working full time, year-road earns $10,800 less per year than a man, based on median annual earnings. This disparity can add up to early a half million dollars over a career. 
  • On a percentage basis, a woman earns only 79 percent of what a man ears. This is known as the "gender earnings ratio.". The 21% difference between men's and women's earnings means that women are paid less than $4 for every $5 paid to men. 
  • Minority women face even larger gender pay gaps. Compared to white men, African-American women, on average, are paid only 60 cents on the dollar and Latinas are paid only 55 cents on the dollar. 
  • ...and about 40 pages more of stats. 

As recently as this past year, actress Jennifer Lawrence made headlines after finding out she made less than her male co-stars following the Sony email leak. In an open letter she questioned how she had to constantly be aware of her tone, stating that she doubted her male co-stars didn't have that issue. 

She also recognized the fact that what she was fighting for was millions of dollars and probably not the most relatable problem to have. That said, she still bravely and bolding acknowledged that there was a pay gap. 

In an interview series (I'm obsessed with put on by the Hollywood Reporter) called the Roundtables, Lawrence and fellow actresses chatted about hollywood and life. In this they ask her 'what's the solution'? To which she says 'acknowledgement and conversation'. This may seem like a cop-out answer, but let's think about it. 

How many LOCAL "influencers" talk about the pay gap? I'm going to say slim to none. And why is this? Why don't women with power speak out and speak up about this very real injustice? I can't answer that for everyone, but what I can say about myself is life sweeps us up and priorities shift to self, or if not directly affected it seems arbitrary. 

So why write about it now? Because something has to go give. I think people, at our core, we want to know we left this place better than we found it. For me, that means spreading education and information about disparities when possible. And with any luck, helping to close the gap. 

But I want to do more than that, I want to give you actionable items for yourself, as a women to earn your keep! 

Here are 3 tips to negotiating: 

1.) Define your value. Far too often, people don't realize what value they really have. Are you uniquely qualified for the service you're offering? How? If you don't know why someone should pay you than you probably aren't ready to negotiate. There's nothing wrong with not having thought this way before, but if we are going to work towards equal pay we have to at least know the language of negotiating and that starts with value offered. Struggling? Try looking for job descriptions in your current (or desired) field -- find the buzzwords that apply to you. You may even see that the job you're doing is worth more than you thought, i.e.- Jennifer Lawrence! 

2.) Know what you want and what they want. They say that a successful negotiation is when both parties walk away happy. Be ready to know what you want and why. It's equally important to know what they want. Why would someone pay you more if you aren't fulfilling a need for them? Business is simple. Mutually beneficial relationships are what it's all about. It's time you go after what you deserve and remember work smarter not harder. 

3.) Be ready to compromise. Often times we get stuck in what we have pre-prescibed ourselves. It's easy not to see other positive outcomes when you have your heart and mind set on something, but be flexible. I find that the most rewarding negotiations come when I offer an option that a partner may not have thought about. Giving both of us added value and creating trust that lasts. Always think about the tradeoffs, have a backup plan or heck two! It's not settling, it's smart. 

My final thoughts on the topic of equal pay? Keep going. Keep striving for success ladies. Educate yourself on your individual industries. Ask your worth, because if you don't who will? 

Peace. Love. And prosperity for all.