Yesterday, April 12, 2016, was EQUAL PAY DAY. Woohoo! For those who may not know what this means, it’s the day that a woman would have to work up to beginning on January 1st of the previous year, to make the same amount as a man working only for that same previous year. In other words, if my husband and I were working in the same position, in the same field, with similar experience levels, I’d have to work an additional 3 months and 12 days just to get paid the same as him. Does that seem fair? Absolutely not.
As Patricia Arquette mentioned in her article, in the Washington Post, “Yes, it’s about the paycheck. But it’s also about the principle of fairness. Women earn only 79 percent of what men make in comparable jobs.” One of my favorite movies last year was “Boyhood.” Ms. Arquette earned an Academy Award for her performance. More importantly, it was her ability to shed light on this very issue. She was a single mom in the movie with two children. Her struggles were very real. Her effort was relatable to so many mothers and women in our country. I’ve talked to countless women who choose to stay in their marriage for financial reasons, even though they would have filed for a divorce years before.
In my practice, this issue is very apparent when I am counseling single women who have already retired. So many women are not receiving much from social security, partly because of the wage gap or perhaps a break from the workforce to raise their children. They worry about how they can take care of themselves in the event of long term care needs. It’s one thing to not make as much during the working years, but the compound effect of that gap exponentially affects women as they get older.
In Patricia’s article, it stated that “Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff reviewed his 17,000 employees’ salaries and made $3 million in adjustments to equalize gender pay disparities.” Wow. Yes, it’s great that he chose to do this, but $3M?! That is how much women in his company were not making compared to men in just one year? I applaud Marc’s decision, and hope he sparks a domino effect for other companies to follow his actions.
Last year, I watched a TED talk by Former President, Jimmy Carter. As we all know, he has made such an amazing impact after his presidency for his humanitarian efforts. His talk was entitled “Why I believe the mistreatment of women is the number one human rights abuse.” EVERYONE should watch this: http://tinyurl.com/o2vc2l5
Although it does not necessarily discuss gender pay equality, this talk really opened my eyes to know that it’s not just about the paycheck. We would all be better off if we can justify the right and the wrong of the mistreatment of women and girls. In so many parts of the world, both developed and developing.