Build a Tribe and Shrink the Gender Pay Gap
Do you think a company with more women in leadership positions is more likely to offer employees equal pay and have less issues with the gender pay gap? It seems like a natural assumption, right? However, researchers at Oxford University found the opposite to be true in a recent study.
The researchers believe one reason this discrepancy exists is because many company cultures still make it hard for women to feel powerful enough to affect change – something most women likely have anecdotal evidence to back up.
My colleague, Vicki Brackett, author of The Leadership Toolbox, has spent over twenty years helping organizations overhaul company structures and toxic cultures that are poisoning their leadership and preventing growth. Neither of us are surprised by the Oxford study, because it is something that we both have witnessed in organizations and hope to change.
There is Power in Numbers
In order to make equal pay a priority in an organization, Brackett says female leaders need to adopt an “old boys club” mentality, without the negative attributes. “If you are a woman in a leadership position and you are making changes, don’t go it alone.” She recommends collaborating with other women, especially in other divisions. “Create a think tank where you can all come together and brainstorm ideas that will improve the company.”
“Identify gaps in the organization and develop a game plan for addressing and plugging the gaps,” shares Brackett. “By developing a systematic approach to problem solving and building visibility and momentum, your team will become known in the organization as a catalyst for change.”
Women, Stand Up and Stand Out
Vicki and I violently agree that one of the best ways to gain recognition and be paid equitably for performance is to be recognized as a problem solver. Additionally, positively impacting revenue, products, services, productivity gains, customer satisfaction, and loyalty will help women gain visibility and elevate their positions of power. As more women move up in the organization, they can impact the upward mobility and compensation for other women.
Building a safety net of support by enlisting the endorsement of other leaders in the company is key to becoming a change agent. One recommended technique is to approach the Chief of People or SVP of Human Resources to get backing for programs that will build personal visibility and benefit the company. Brackett suggests, “You can pitch a newsletter or blog that recognizes both men and women who are adding to the success of the organization or suggest hosting speakers on trending topics that are important to the company.”
Change the Culture
Women can demand more compensation but if the company system doesn’t support equal pay, then building a collaborative, productive and sustainable group that helps identify and plug gaps within the organization will help with visibility. Building an internal community with a significant number of people who support women’s initiatives can help perpetuate change.
In close, don’t expect change overnight. Women are powerful – especially in numbers. So, take time to build your tribe. And, remember: Any kind of change takes determination and a thick skin. Leadership is not for the faint of heart.