The One Thing Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Your Office All Have in Common
Most of us are aware of the gender wage gap that affects the American workforce. But what you might not know is that this discrimination doesn’t only affect the working mothers of the middle class. It’s also happening in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
The Sony hacks gained international attention from the release of the movie The Interview. These hacks lead to the release of some salary information for a few film stars – and that information revealed a surprising and significant wage gap in the industry.
For example, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence reportedly only received 7 percent of the film’s profits for their work on American Hustle, while their male costars Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale received 9 percent.
The good news is that the women of Hollywood are doing something about this gap. Charlize Theron, who starred in Snow White and the Huntsman, negotiated for salary equality for the 2016 sequel after she found out she was making less than her costar Chris Hemsworth.
Not only are women underpaid, but they are also underrepresented. In Silicon Valley, for example, women make up only 11 percent of executives. Women make up 10 percent of directors, 10 percent of committee members, and 8 percent of committee chairs in the Silicon Valley 150, the Bay Area’s top tech companies. What’s even worse is that in some cases, male Silicon Valley workers can earn up to 73 percent more than female workers with the same skills.
There are millions of cases like these, in every industry and country.
The question is, why is this still happening? The facts have been researched, verified, and explained to professionals for decades. Why don’t the people in charge seem to be listening?
I believe that the gender wage gap is the result of subconscious discrimination, and everyone is guilty of contributing to it. As Daniel Roberts wrote for Fortune, “The problem with unconscious bias is that it is often invisible to managers; they may rationalize inequities and fail to consider that their biases – unchallenged assumptions – may be influencing how they set employee pay.”
Eliminate the Wage Gap in Your Workplace
There are many things that we can all do to help close – and even end – the wage gap in our industries. For example, it’s common for young women to be advised to negotiate hard and early in both the interview process and performance reviews – which is really great advice for any young professional.
Here are a few other ideas:
1. Business Owners/CEOs: Don’t wait until the last minute to create compensation models – and if/when you divert from them, ask yourself why. Keep in mind that in many states, it’s illegal to ask or suggest that your employees keep their pay information to themselves. Some companies, like Buffer, have even gone as far as to implement total pay transparency.
2. Managers: Work with employees who are parents (both mothers and fathers) to support them and keep them productive. Try viewing them as training investments. You’ve already invested in helping them learn about the company. Don’t wear them out with too many responsibilities before they’re ready to come back to work full time.
3. Professionals: Always negotiate your starting salary and your raises during performance reviews. Specifically ask what you can do to improve your salary or hourly rate, and then do it. If you notice a pay disparity, don’t assume it’s due to the gender gap. Instead, make a case for the compensation you believe you deserve and take it to your manager.
4. Colleagues: Try not to belittle or ignore pay disparity at your company, especially if you see it. Instead, try to foster a supportive, collaborative environment.
I welcome additional input from others who have faced this issue in the comments.
A version of this article originally appeared on Forbes.
Maren Hogan is the chief marketing brain at Red Branch Media.