Probably, you’ve heard that women make 26% less pay compared to men. What you may not know is that this is largely because men hold the vast majority of high-paying positions (executive and C-Suite), not because women make 26% less than men for the same work. In other words, it’s not just a pay gap, it’s a power gap.A gender data study of 1.4 million employees, conducted by my employer PayScale, found that of all working women, 81.8% hold a position in middle management or lower. A separate study found that only 4.4% of S&P CEO’s are women. This power gap sheds light on how differently we need to think about gender wage equality: even if we gave every woman in the country the same pay as a man for the same job, women still wouldn’t have equal earnings-not even close.
This power gap isn’t just a problem for women. It’s a problem for everyone. Research shows that companies with women in leadership roles perform better by every key business measure. A Catalyst study of 353 Fortune 500 companies found that companies with the most female board directors outperform those with the least on ROS (return on sales) by 16%. An MIT study based on 8 years of correlating employee demographic data with revenue data found that a more gender-mixed workplace can boost revenue by as much as 41%. In other words, whether you are Gloria Steinem or Gordon Gekko, women are good for business.
Change the Way We View Gender in the Workplace – Including Salaries
As such, we need to fundamentally reframe the gender wage gap conversation beyond just dollars and cents to determine the social, structural and psychological factors that are preventing women from holding top positions. Obviously, there has been some progress. As we know from national news headlines, there are some women CEO’s. But that simply illustrates the problem: a woman becoming a CEO still warrants national news headlines.
Now it’s Your Turn
Are you an employer who has a female-populated C-Suite? What advice do you have? Tell us in the comments below.