A big hot button in this election season is the gender-based pay gap. It’s shocking to me that 2017 is right around the corner, and yet this is still a critical topic of conversation. I had the opportunity to discuss this recently with a diverse group of people at a professional conference. I was pleased that everyone (women AND men, various ages and ethnicity) who took part in this discussion group saw eye-to-eye. In general, women shouldn’t have to ‘do’ anything to close a gap that should never exist in the first place. But what about the things that can be controlled? For any position and for every reason, women have to put forth their best job search campaign (a polished, accomplishment-based resume and strong, confident interview skills). When a woman receives a job offer, she must be able to negotiate (strongly and confidently!) on her own behalf for market pay and benefits. Many women start their career at a lower-than-market salary, and then have to spend their most capable years in ‘catch-up’ mode.
Just like her male counterparts, she has to campaign for, earn and be available for management positions and then pass it on by recruiting and mentoring junior-level women. And of course, it’s not just women who have a hand in this. Men must do their part to create a diverse and inclusive environment. When seeking to become a mentor, men should make themselves available to women candidates (which is rare).
The gender-pay gap is not going to be fixed overnight; it requires a systemic overhaul of processes, attitudes and opportunities.