We're all aware that ending the gender pay gap tomorrow isn't realistic. We can, however, start to narrow the gap if we create new jobs and boost female workforce participation. That’s the premise of a new report from McKinsey Global Institute that shows Canada could add $150-billion in GDP growth by 2026 by advancing women’s equality.
So, while corporate efforts get to work, there’s a lot that we, women, can continue to achieve together to deal with pay inequality. Three entrepreneurs across film, finance, and marketing share their personal stories and triumphs about how to deal with unequal pay, learn from change, and promote gender equality together:
RACHEL COOK, STARTUP FOUNDER, NEW YORK: ‘Women, listen to yourself’
When I was a stock trader in my mid-20s, I learned I was paid a 15 per cent lower base salary than eight or nine men, who started at the same time I did, despite me having a better education and being a more profitable trader. We were hired for the same job. I wasn’t even fully conscious of gender bias as a concept. I hadn't had conversations let alone learned how to navigate it in a sector like finance.
I had to wake up to understand how to set boundaries and not settle for less than what I deserve. That took a lot of work. I was angry. I went back to my boss and I said, “I know that these guys are making this amount. I want this amount also, and I know they’ve been making it since I started so I want the back pay.” I made them pay me the back pay and they did.
Being an entrepreneur is a great job for a woman. It’s the best job I could have except when I have to go raise money from 50-year-old white, male investors. The things we’ll create as entrepreneurs is different from what’s out there. We can’t change what happens to other people. We can change what we're getting ourselves. Focus on our own value and make sure we’re getting that. It’s a psychological thing, it’s not that men are doing better at higher-paying jobs.
Women, listen to yourself. I wish someone had told me that in my early 20s. I listen to myself more now because my meditation helps a lot. My intuition has gotten sharper because I pay more attention to it, and I trust it more so I stopped thinking about the external so much. It’s tapping into a gut voice and inner feeling and really trusting that rather than ignoring it.
SHRUTI GANGULY, FILMMAKER, NEW YORK: ‘We have to be very transparent’
I found myself as a senior producer at a media company, and I realized that the guys my age had the more senior titles and the women, who had that same title, were 10 years older than me. I had been working in digital video longer than a lot of them. So, when that discrimination was obvious to me, that was not a place I could stay anymore.
It's about increasing women in the workforce and making sure salaries are based on people’s value and not based on their gender. If it’s happening to you as a woman, it’s happening to other women in other departments. It’s up to you to decide if you want to see if it’s part of a company culture. If it is, then ideally, it’s not a place where you want to stay. It’s worth having those conversations in a smart and discreet way.
The more conversations we have, the more open we are, and the greater the likelihood for women in film to evolve. If there were more female executives, we’d create more opportunities for women. So, when you walk into a room and there are other women who are network or studio executives, that conversation entirely changes.
It’s not only looking at budgets per project, but having communication among your community of friends. When you start to have conversations like, “Wait a minute, am I getting what I’m worth?” you really have to question things. People get scared, but at the same time people know what people make and what they’re worth. Within a community the gender pay gap is greatly diminished because you support each other.
Make sure the place invests in you as much as you invest in it, and there’s a valuation process of what you’re contributing and what you’re worth. If you have certain goals and objectives then you can also get compensated against that.
Gender discrimination is going to affect the next generation so we might as well get going. You can’t be OK with discrimination especially when you know it’s happening. I think against gender, colour, sexual orientation and preference. It’s really about equal opportunity pay; people have to really stand by what that means.
NICKI SPRINZ, DIGITAL DIRECTOR, LONDON, ENGLAND: ‘A lot of businesses are taking steps to try to address it. It’s not easy’
I had an experience where it became clear that I was being paid unfairly. I didn’t deal with it; I didn’t know how to begin. I left instead. I believe that when the love is gone it’s OK to leave, and if you don’t feel valued sometimes it’s better to join an organization where you don’t feel you’ll have to have that fight.
If women find out they’re not receiving equal pay, I’d recommend that people raise the issue with their HR team and put together a strong case around the value they’re delivering. Bring market data, and demonstrate what you’ve achieved over the last 12 months since your last pay review. It can be tough to know how to discuss pay when it’s not something you’ve had experience with. I know women who are brilliant at negotiating, and I know others who find it really hard. The important point is to know that it's OK to raise it and that you won't be penalized for discussing salary and raising concerns.
We’re introducing leadership training for underrepresented groups, of which women are a part. We’re looking at 50/50 gender shortlists for new roles, fully representative interviewing panels, regular pay review and progression chats, and open discussions in the studio.