Over 1 billion soccer fans around the world watched the Women’s World Cup tournament this year, smashing all previous viewership records. And when the U.S. team took home the trophy, it was met with national pride and celebration parties around the country.
But there was one element of that incredible victory that wasn’t a cause for celebration; the pay.
Despite delivering a phenomenal performance throughout the competition, and walking away with the World Cup itself, the women’s team received just $4 million. Compared to the men’s prize of $38 million (from a $400 million prize pool), that’s a fraction of the winnings.
Now, some would cite viewing figures as a reason, but that’s a misnomer. Over 3.52 billion people around the world watched the 2018 Men’s World Cup, 3.5 times more than watched the Women’s World Cup. But the prize pool is less than one-tenth that of the men’s competition. Viewing figures alone would equate to well over $10 million for the female champs.
Experts cite that both historically and internationally, the issue is compounded by the fact that women have been actively suppressed from reaching their true potential. This is not just in soccer, but in businesses across the nation. Consider that in 1973, the only female CEO of a Fortune 500 company was Katherine Graham of The Washington Post. And even by 1979, women were only earning 62 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, further dissuading women to climb the ladder.
Whether it’s a discussion about viewership figures or performance bonuses, within the historical context, women have long been held back. The achievements may be equal now, but the women’s equity timeline is askew. In short, competing on an even playing field does not have historical equality.
Unfortunately, this problem has had just as much of a negative impact on women’s pay and benefits in the cable and telecom industry. And it’s an issue that WICT has been actively advocating for years. Every two years our PAR report (Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities, Resources for Work/Life Integration) takes a deep dive into the subject and thankfully, we’re starting to see some momentum behind the pay equity reality. But it’s not enough.
FACT: PAY EQUITY AND DIVERSITY ACTUALLY IMPROVES OVERALL COMPANY PERFORMANCE
There’s no doubt about it. When companies pay their female employees the same as their male counterparts, everyone benefits. And the facts support this.
The American Sociological Association found that in a study of 506 U.S. based businesses, each 1% increase in the rate of gender diversity resulted in an approximately 3% increase in sales revenues, up to the rate represented in the relevant population. That’s a phenomenal return on the investment.
Companies that have women in their top ranks are more profitable, with higher employee retention and greater overall staff morale. How much more profitable? Deloitte reports that the top quarter of Fortune 500 companies with the greatest number of women representatives on their corporate boards outperform those in the lowest quartile by at least 53% in return on investment.
Additionally, women control over 20 trillion dollars globally. Over 83% of all consumer purchases in the U.S. are made by women. Logically, that amount of financial control should equate to pay structures, and a proportional number of women in the boardrooms of America.
Plus, the law is on the side of women too, and the U.S. women’s team brought a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation on March 8th (International Women’s Day), claiming that they are being denied at least equal pay, playing, training, and travel conditions.
Federal law prohibits discrimination in pay based on sex, and we’re hopeful things will change for the better when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission starts collecting pay data from employers in September.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO CHANGE THE TIDE?
It starts with a conversation. As a community, it’s important to talk about the topic with peers, human resources, and managers in a positive way. Colleagues can also help tackle the pay equity problem.
By being armed with the facts, many of which are outlined above, the conversation can be steered to talk about the many benefits of pay equity and diversity. It’s not just a morale booster, it’s a revenue and performance booster, and that’s something any business leader can get behind.
At the end of the day, women are valuable employees and deserve at least the same pay and benefits that their male equivalents are receiving. And if females are outperforming males, it’s time to talk about getting what is earned, above and beyond the typical salary.
Change is possible, and WICT is here to offer support, guidance, and a community of strong voices to make that happen.