Women + Men = Still not Equal
Great – there’s so much in the news today about gender equality. Not so great – old news. Back in September, 2015, the Wall Street Journal ran a special section called Women in the Workplace. One of the articles focused on What’s Holding Women Back, and gender inequality. Companies were quoted about targeting women for their workforce, C-suites, tech careers, and so on. In October, 2017, the WSJ ran another Women in the Workplace section. Same topics, same hurdles. The newest report says more women have reached higher positions in some firms but the share of jobs held by women shrinks with every step up the managerial ladder. Yet here we are in 2018, and the National Women’s Law Center states that the average, full-time working woman in the U.S. earns cents to the dollar a male counterpart makes. Let me get this straight. Firms are adding female talent, few in upper management, and they are getting the job done, but getting paid less. I’ve got a watchful eye on a new mandate signed by Governor Jerry Brown requiring public companies headquartered in California to hire women to serve on their Boards. Most of my clients are in the AEC industry, and I’m challenging the boards of those firms to take a hard look, make a stand, and do what’s right for equality across their workforce. I’m disheartened this is still a news item year after year. To not insure that there is pay equity for men and women should be an embarrassment. Let’s make an example of talking the talk and walking the walk as an industry. Our reputation depends on it.
I recently talked to a women who was hired to lead a large firm. She had never held that type of position before, but her experience managing large project teams was impeccable. Fast forward a year and the dominant male culture is making it hard for her to succeed. She’s giving it her all but I don’t see it coming the other way. There seems to be expectations being placed on her that aren’t placed on men in similar situations. Both women and men are behind those expectations on her, not just men. We can mandate women to be on boards, but I worry that won’t lead to much more than a token. Taking on unconscious bias, in addition to a mandate, would go a long, long way.
You are right! Woman on Boards is not the only solution. It is only one prong to what needs to be a multi-pronged solution. I think Woman on Boards can help move things forward.