The last year has proven to be a transformational one for women in the workplace.
Starting last October, women (and men) in industries around the country began coming forward with stories of sexual harassment and and assault in the workplace following a slew of allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein — driving greater awareness to the #MeToo movement and creating initiatives like Time’s Up. Now, companies are scrambling to clear house of employees who have used their power to sexually harass or assault their colleagues — and, in some cases, have replaced the ousted men with women.
But dismissing bad eggs doesn’t fix the culture that enabled them. On Equal Pay Day 2018, which falls on April 10, women still earned $0.80 on the dollar compared to their male counterparts — and that pay gap is more pronounced for women of color. Executives and workplace leaders cite power as the key dynamic that can lead to the sexual harassment and targeting of employees — and money, as some say, is power.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Network
On how barrier-breaking women can help solve the wage gap: I think younger women are expecting more. I look at my 24-year-old daughter, and she grew up in a different time than I did, so she saw the steps I was able to make and the accomplishments that I was able to do. But she also has her own expectation of what women should be in the workplace. I think each generation is a little bit more demanding in terms of work-life balance or how they were treated in the workplace. I look at my mother’s generation and, well, she had to work. My sister’s generation, they made a decision between work and being a mother. My generation, I think was the first that said, ‘Hey, we can do both. We can be mothers, and be married, and have families and have careers.’ I just can’t imagine what this next generation’s going to do because they’re so much more self-confident. I just have really high hopes for them, that they’re going to really set this world on fire. Because of all of these things they’ve seen happening, they’re just not going to let it happen anymore. When you think of the number of women who have been quiet through #MeToo moments, and now all of sudden people have the courage to speak out? Well, hopefully this will be a signal to all of our daughters that you never have to take anything like this again. I’m optimistic that each generation gets a little bit more equal and we’ve got to keep moving the ball down the court, and hopefully there won’t be any setbacks.
On her work for Time’s Up on creating more diverse board rooms: The board is the starting point for having women especially be seen as an important part of a company. It’s a statement to the shareholders, it’s a statement to employees and executives at the company, that the company is committed to women’s advancement.
On the importance of elevating the voices of women of color: We have to include the voices of women of color. I think with the #MeToo movement, it was important to go back and say, ‘Now wait a moment, this black woman came up this term 10 years ago.’
You don’t want young people feeling like if you look a certain way or if you come from a certain place, your issues are going to be taken more seriously. All of these issues are important, and as you said, with women of color making less than white women, that’s an issue we should talk about . We should have the voices of a diverse group of people. Just like all of the other issues, it’s just really important to make sure we hear from different kinds of people.
Author and former Netflix chief talent officer
On how female-dominated departments can fix the wage gap: What are the three typically most-female dominated in a company? Sales and marketing, finance and HR. I say: Fix pay? We own it. We’re in charge of our destiny. Find your power, and do something about this. It’s called writing checks. I think pay is so fundamental, and, you know, everything else gets very nuanced.
On how #MeToo and #TimesUp have empowered women to demand equal pay: I tell people, look, I’m about to get all shrill on you. I’m going to be aggressive. I’m going to be assertive. I’m going to be bossy. I’m going to be a nasty woman. I’m going to persist. Because I’ve had it. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t pay attention to the soft stuff, I don’t. But we gotta fix pay. Right? You’re going to feel a hell of a lot more powerful, and a hell of a lot stronger, and a hell of a lot more able to stand up for yourself when you’re paid fairly. Right? And then the search for equality is about that: equality.
On knowing your worth: Understanding your worth — what your worth — is a really important financial decision that all of us should be thinking about and not just being passively waiting for it. It’s more about getting information and data to help inform you about what you’re worth, because you’re worth what somebody else will pay you to do what it is you know how to do. It’s a market. It really is a market system in most places, but it’s not if you’re inside of a corporation with a fixed compensation scheme that traps you inside of it. For example, if you go out and interview — which is one of the ways I recommend you find out what you’re worth, and a good exercise to do anyway — it keeps you limber. It’s a skill you should keep up.
CEO and co-founder of Akorbi, a global language translation company
On the importance of having diverse boardrooms: You need to be really thoughtful about diversity in the boardroom. Boardrooms do not necessarily have a lot of diversity in them, so I would say in order to promote equal pay and equal opportunity to women at work, it goes more than that. The diversity of the boardroom is extremely critical, but also diversity in the executive level. I remember that I was the only woman at work in the executive team, and really the executive team was not that exciting. We were working and everything, but the moment we added a woman to the room, we realized it really changed.
On how #MeToo and #TimesUp show a company’s strength is in its principles: It goes back to the foundation of a business. Going back to diverse boardrooms, where women are involved and women and male are equally — and also, community, and diversity, people with disabilities — we have the opportunity to hear their equal perspective. But also creating the right avenues for people to report them. [...] You have to create different avenues and workflows for people to be able to report irregular activities.
On the power of teaching negotiation strategies early on: Negotiation has a technique, and we cannot be victims of negotiation tactics in order to evaluate the value of ourselves. It is important for us as women to understand how to value ourselves and bring those negotiation tactics, and that’s by building that. We need to teach our girls to be bold, to not to think they are less than a man and empower them from childhood to believe that everything is possible.
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