Today is Equal Pay Day. Yes, we have a day for everything. And most matter. And this day matters most.
The National Partnership for Women and Families reports that women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to many thousands of dollars annually. For African American women and Latinas, the disparities are even greater.
More households are headed by women. More women are graduating from college. More women are embarking on professional careers. More women are taking leadership positions in business and government. We even have a viable candidate for the White House who happens to be a woman.
Why then does the gap persist? Why has it barely budged in the last decade? Why is it that in 2015 women are still fighting wage inequities?
Implicit in the gender gap is the belief that women don't deserve as much. But bosses are husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons: they see the effort and the talent; they understand how wage parity would benefit their families. The real issue, in organizations big and small, is the bottom line. Just as debates about the minimum wage and family-friendly policies are really about keeping costs down (and in larger corporations about building stockholder value), so too is it fiscally advantageous for employers to downplay the qualifications and value women bring to the workplace.
When Nancy Davis and I started this business twenty-seven years ago, women business owners were few and far between. It is inspiring now to see women take charge of their lives, pursue their dreams, launch new enterprises, and succeed where success used to be impossible. To reach our full potential, we must all continue to challenge ourselves, create our own opportunities for advancement, and stretch our capabilities.
For too long, we have looked to others to "do the right thing." At a time when more women than ever are starting their own businesses and minority business start-ups are growing at the fastest rate, we have an opportunity to change the culture, debunk the tired attitudes, challenge the status quo, take calculated risks, support each other as never before, and model for the world how it can--and should--be done.