Beyonce was right when she answered her own question: “Who run the world? Girls.” Or at least they do when no one is standing in their way. But payslips don’t always reflect the contribution women make. Lawtrades’ Lauren O’Neill talked to #bossladies and women-in-legal champions Karla Pinckes, Senior Director, Corporate Legal & Securities at Viavi Solutions, and Maureen Frangopoulos, Senior Legal Director at Uber, about equal pay and how to get it, as well as tips for leaders who want to promote a fairer work environment.
These ladies have serious cred on this topic. Maureen manages over 65 legal professionals and views herself as their chief advocate. Karla is involved in two female-focused organizations - Sunlaw, a community for women in-house counsel, and Girls Inc, a non-profit that works with underrepresented teenage girls to help them be brave, bold, and healthy.
Here are our top takeaways from the event.
💰 It’s not all about the money, money, money.
As we explored in this deep dive, female legal professionals are (still!) getting short-changed. The average weekly income for female lawyers is $1,878 while male lawyers earn $2,202. And women acting as general counsel make ~$100k less than men (sigh). But that’s not the only unfairness faced by the so-called fairer sex. Legal, like many industries, also has plenty of old-school attitudes that deserve a wince, a headshake, and a major update.
Challenges faced by female legal professionals include:
- Exceptional women are sometimes overlooked in favor of mediocre male colleagues.
- Behavior that’s seen as a display of leadership qualities by Jim, is described as bossy when Jill does the same thing.
- A global survey of legal workers found that 1 in 3 women had been sexually harassed in the workplace.
- Mothers are penalized for parental commitments in a way that fathers are not.
Maureen appeared in court in a pantsuit only to be told by the judiciary to “Come back when you’re in a skirt.” And Karla was asked about her “child plans” in a job interview (which is illegal btw). Seriously, legal? It’s 2022! 🙄
🌪️ Hold on to your hats, fellas. Change is on the horizon.
Diversity and equality are no longer “nice to have.” Failing to address the wage gap can:
- Put off investors, especially as ESG reporting becomes standard practice.
- Send female employees packing, especially as more companies are making public commitments to do better (e.g. including salaries on job posts, publicizing wage gap figures, or ensuring there are women on interview panels).
- Invite lawsuits (and expensive ones too).
- Alienate younger talent.
Gen Z cares more about their employers’ values than previous generations and talks more openly about pay so the clock is ticking for companies to get with the program. Besides, research shows (picture a white coat) that a diverse workforce can only make companies more successful.
🦸🏾♀️ Be the #bosslady (or boss gent) you wish you’d had.
If you’re in a leadership role, advocate for the women in your team. Put measures in place to ensure you are treating everyone the same e.g. everyone gets the same amount of one-on-one time to discuss their career. You can also use LinkedIn or other social media to promote content that shows your commitment to equality and fairness.
⬆️ Lead upwards.
If your manager/GC/partner/client isn’t making equality a priority there are strategies you can use to advocate for yourself.
- Make sure your manager sets out objective criteria and goals by which you will be evaluated. That way it’s less likely that unconscious (or conscious) bias will creep into promotion/raise negotiations.
- Start conversations with the higher-ups about equality and diversity.
- Get good at negotiation. Some of us feel nervous about being pushy or think it’s impolite to talk about money. Do your research or seek mentorship on this topic and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. You know the guys are doing it!
🤔 Be picky
If all your best efforts to push for fair pay seem to be an uphill battle, it may be that you’re at the wrong place. Hey, not all employers deserve fabulous female talent. Startups with a less developed leadership team, for example, might not have good structures in place to mitigate unconscious bias such as measurable objectives with defined assessment structures. Check Glassdoor for reviews of the company. Look at who’s on the board. And ask questions about the company’s compensation philosophy, diversity policies, and potential career progression in the interview. But stay cautious. It’s easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk.
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👋 The team at Lawtrades