Tomorrow is International Women’s Day and every year, we have the same conversation. Why do women still make less than men, on average, for the same work? Differences occur based on where you live, of course. And the problem is multi-faceted.
Sometimes, I’ll feel that some progress has been made, and then I see an article like this one in The Guardian, and I just want to cry. New calculations suggest it will take 217 years before the economic gap between women and men closes. Worse yet, that number used to be better! Progress abruptly halted in 2017 and then went into reverse. If THAT trend continues, women will never close the gap.
Financial Industry Gender Imbalance
I think that is a bunch of crap. Since I started my financial planning firm in 1999, part of my mission has been to hire, train, and mentor women. Talk about an industry with gender imbalance – the financial services industry has this issue in spades. While some improvement has occurred in the number of women in my industry over the years, we have a long way to go.
I attended my first industry conference in 1998. The first event was a dinner that included spouses, so the room was filled with both women and men. The next morning, however, I showed up for class and was met with a horrifying scene: I was the only female financial advisor in the room. The only one. In a room of about a hundred advisors. There were a couple of women representatives from the company which was hosting the conference, but I was the lone female advisor. I was entirely appalled and pretty much then and there I vowed I would work to be part of the solution.
These days I find that there are definitely more women at financial industry functions, but we aren’t close to the 50/50 gender mix that should exist. And if the above statistic is correct, I won’t likely see gender equality in my industry OR gender wage equality in general in my lifetime. That is simply depressing.
Women in Business
We all must find ways to improve this situation in our own lives. As a female business owner, I will continue to focus on finding excellent women to hire for my firm and pay them well. I actively seek out opportunities to work with women whenever possible in all areas of my life. If I need to engage a company for some service or product, I go out of my way to search for a woman-owned option. And of course, I vote. It is always a priority of mine to look for qualified candidates who also happen to be female.
Don’t misunderstand, I won’t always choose a person just because her gender is female. Quality matters. So, while I absolutely hate having to say this, I will: Women need to continue to work hard to be as highly qualified as they can be. It is an unfortunate but real scenario that women are in. We have to work extra hard to rise above the noise and be noticed. As exasperating as that is, the truth is that it seemingly cannot be entirely helped as I write this.
But women AND men can help reverse this situation by digging a bit deeper to find those qualified, deserving women. Let’s raise them up, and in doing so, we will elevate the quality of our entire society.
What are other ways we can all help remedy the gender wage gap? Share your ideas.