New Census Bureau data released in September revealed that the wage gap between men and women is the narrowest in U.S. history. But before you applaud the progress we’ve made, take a look at the numbers: more than 50 years after the women's liberation movement, women working full-time are earning just 80 cents for every dollar men make.
The pay deficit in Silicon Valley -- a place known for breaking boundaries and creating change -- is even worse. Women there are earning 61 percent less than their male counterparts. While these sobering numbers have been a catalyst for unparalleled transparency in the form of countless company diversity reports, these strategies simply measure the degrees of failure or success.
To move past the diagnosis, we must implement real, long-term programs. This starts with collaboration. Instead of competing over the same, limited pool of currently available and diverse talent, the tech industry should come together to create new, larger pools. We should combine efforts to solve the lack of diversity and equity at a foundational level. We need more programs that support STEM education, vocational schools and skills training for underrepresented groups. Pooling resources to empower the next, more diverse generation of the workforce grows the pipeline of potential candidates for everyone down the line.
We also need to determine whether the people we already employ are being paid fairly. We need policies that make salary a non-issue. My company implemented a clear compensation philosophy based on third-party salary data. We do not perpetuate past biases, we pay each individual according to the market rate for their skills and experience.
Gender-related issues are particularly visible in the Valley because of the intense spotlight on the tech industry. Tales of male-dominated startups that espouse “brogrammer” culture and the fact that the high-paying STEM jobs at the heart of the industry suffer one of the greatest gender imbalances among the U.S. workforce do not help. Instead of a zero-sum game that pits forward-thinking companies against each other with the presupposition that the “winner” will be the company whose diversity numbers move up and to the right, we should be working together to create a more diverse and balanced industry.
In the echo chamber that is Silicon Valley, it can be very difficult to see past whatever ideology happens to be in vogue. To move this issue forward we must adjust our thinking beyond short-term and proprietary gains. At best, they fail to create long-term solutions that address the root issue. At worst, they create a zero-sum game that pits forward-thinking companies against each other with the presupposition that the “winner” will be the company whose numbers move up and to the right.
Instead, we must choose a path that treats every person equally and be maniacally consistent about following it. And above all, we must not waste our opportunity to create opportunity and foster equality for people who don’t currently have it.
Originally posted on Linked IN by: Kelli Dragovich
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