Reframing the Workplace Conversation On Equal Pay Day
Among negotiators' most powerful tools are framing and re-framing.
Which one of these terms was likely to result in 2012's all too effective battles in a 30+ year war on women's reproductive freedoms?
No one is anti-life but there are plenty of people who are anti-choice, particularly women's choices which are surrounded by acres of thorns crafted by hostile and benevolent stereotypes even today.
We've been framing the women's "issue" in the workplace as a choice between home and family for so long that both women and the mainstream press fell into a coma until Anne Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg woke everyone up.
Think about the recent contretemps about the ABA Journal framing its interview with its President Laurel Bellows as a harsh judgment against "work life balance" (attributing to Bellows the opinion that simply talking about it is fraudulent).
I'm on a women's bar association listserv (something like twitter but developed in the '80s and surviving alongside the business - #Twitter - that captured venture capital and televison news crawls). There was a lot of activity there yesterday about women professionals' ability to "have it all" without giving up their "second shift" at home.
By the end of the day, one woman equipped with statistics reminded us that when women drop out of the legal profession for only one year, they lose 20% of their projected lifetime earnings. Two years, 30%. Five years and they may never work in their chosen profession again.
That got my attention.
We're not talking about "lifestyle" choice here and we're not talking about "having" it all.
We're talking about giving up economic security. We're talking about the stark fact that having your first child is the greatest single predictor that a woman will end her life in poverty.
We're talking about being burdened by it "all."
We're talking not simply about the wage gap, which grows to shocking proportions in the legal profession where male equity partners make 60% more money than their women peers.
We're talking about one in five children growing up in poverty. We're talking about "food insecurity."
We're talking about pregnancy discrimination in the land that supposedly reveres women's reproductive capacity. We're talking about the death and departure of the men upon whom women are taught to depend despite the statistics demonstraing, year after year, that dependence upon any other person for our own financial well-being is a risky business at best.
But what we're mostly talking about is a workplace that continues to refuse to recognize that 50% of its entry-level professional class will likely experience pregnancies that they will carry to term, at which point they will experience the 16% "motherhood gap" - the distance between the earnings of women without children and those with children.
There is no similar distance between men with children and men without children. In fact, men with children (family men) make more money than their bachelor or childless peers. No one presents men with these stark "choices."
So long as the home remains the last place that looks like 1955, women will continue to be the only gender asked to make the biggest investment risk anyone can make anytime, anywhere. The choice to bear and raise children.
When asked what men can do to "help" women achieve what they were born to achieve, Sheryl Sandberg says, "the laundry."
Only when the home is no more burdensome for women than it is for men will we achieve parity.
That is the revolution in your living room. Please join us. Lend a hand. While you're living with or married to the woman you love, make sure she has the same support you do to be all that she can be.
Happy Equal Pay Day. And thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, for your extraordinary contribution to the well-being of women in the workplace, which is the greatest contribution anyone can make to healing the economy that has harmed so many men, women and children for the past five years.
Let's get it together. Go to Take the Lead's Facebook page, click on "like" and raise another dollar for parity for women by 2025. Then come to She Negotiates to learn how to negotiate away your pay gap.
Our consulting clients achieve 20 to 40% raises on a regular basis. Multiply that by your working life and you begin to get the picture, including the picture of your children graduating from Ivy League Universities.