CBA Record July-August 2018
Y O U N G L A W Y E R S J O U R N A L
PAY INEQUITY IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION The Pink Elephant in the Room By Svetlana Gitman T he “Me Too” Movement is every- where. It’s impossible to turn on the television or check your news-
feed without seeing something about the Movement. It represents more than just one specific issue that women face. It has become a phenomenon that highlights all the equality issues women are still fighting for in 2018—including the gender pay gap. It is no secret women are underrep- resented in the legal field, especially as women make up 50% (or more) of most law schools’ student body populations. However, it is discouraging that women in the legal profession are paid less than their male counterparts. The unfortunate fact is, in 2018, White women are still making $0.83 for every $1 a man makes. According to research conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Black women earn $0.66 for every $1 a man earns, and Hispanic women earn only $0.60. Women earn less than men in almost every industry, even when doing equivalent work. The February/March 2018 issue of the CBA Record featured an article by Kather- ine A. Welz about the glass ceiling in the legal community. She cited some statistics about gender disparity in compensation. For example, in 2017, the median weekly salary for a male attorney was $2,105 but only $1,753 for a female attorney. That’s 83% of a male attorney’s salary. Even more striking, she also noted the typical female equity partner in the 200 largest firms earns roughly 80% of the compensation earned by the typical male partner. The disparity is even greater when women are under- represented on compensation committees. Industry giants such as Lululemon, Apple, Salesforce, Adobe, and Starbucks are all making strides to close the pay gap. They have all reviewed their numbers and have either closed the wage gap or are taking steps to close it.
million. More than 10% of the women at Salesforce got a pay increase. The 60 Minutes special touched on a few reasons for the gender pay gap. One is that women do not want to bring up the issue of a pay disparity because they don’t want to be viewed as “the complainer.” Another is an “unconscious bias” by those in positions of power. An example of this is when companies have a promotion schedule that promotes men at a quicker rate than women. Another example is that statistically when men have children, their earnings go up 6%. When women have children, their pay decreases 4% for each child. This unconscious bias can explain, for example, why women only make up 15% of neutral arbitrators: it’s the uncon- scious bias of a client who thinks the male arbitrator is “strong” and is most similar to the client.
The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, was featured in a CBS 60 Minutes segment on April 15, 2018. A female HR director at Salesforce raised the idea to Benioff that Salesforce had a male-to-female pay gap. Benioff denied it was possible and stated he already had a policy in place that made promoting women a priority. He decided to put his money where his mouth was: Salesforce did an internal audit to confirm that men and women at the company were paid equally. Benioff initially agreed to the audit because he wanted to prove his HR director wrong. But to his shock, Benioff was wrong. The audit showed a persistent pay gap between men and women doing the same job at Salesforce. It was every- where–every division, every job level, every geographic area. Benioff and his team corrected the problem by level setting each job. The total cost to correct was $3
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