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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Opinion Richard Connor: Awards are nice but not enough; women need equal pay

Richard Connor: Awards are nice but not enough; women need equal pay

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This week’s edition of the Business Press focuses on honorees at our annual Great Women of Texas event. The stories about these high-achieving women in our community are both informative and inspiring.

In the course of gathering information for the stories, we asked each honoree to fill out a questionnaire. One of the questions was: “What advice would you give young women rising to a position of prominence?”

All the answers were thoughtful and relevant; one was especially apropos:

“Follow your dreams with courage and confidence. Always listen to what others say, but do not be deterred or discouraged by naysayers who suggest you cannot or should not pursue your passion. Be bold. Be brave. Do not let your gender, race or age stop you from pursuing your passion. You are much stronger than you think.”

Words to live by – and on point in terms of the challenges women face in life and in business. Unfortunately, obstacles remain for women pursuing their dreams. Even in this day of decreasing tolerance for gender inequality, women are routinely denied equal pay for equal work, and find it far more difficult to become C-suite executives.

Anyone who has spent time in the business world has seen it: women hired or promoted to replace men and being paid less, sometimes by a large margin.

I have personally seen women’s opinions in business settings either taken lightly or totally disregarded in a way I do not believe would have happened to men. I have seen women disparaged in harsh and sexist terms for being forceful and demanding.

In Fort Worth, few women occupy prominent positions at large firms – and even some of those who do are all but invisible in community life.

That’s a loss, for them and for us.

Many of the women we recognize as Great Women of Texas are both prominent and highly visible. The efforts of Mayor Betsy Price at City Hall and in the community, for example, are on display each and every day. Louella Baker Martin’s board work, business accomplishments and philanthropy have long been out front for all to see.

Last year we recognized Marianne Auld, leader of the city’s largest law firm, Kelly Hart. And last year’s legacy winner, Joy Ann Havran, was the driving force behind a high-profile fundraising project that raised nearly $750,000 for Fort Worth Country Day.

Last week we discussed the need for racial and ethnic diversity. This week we hope to remind folks that gender diversity and equality matter just as much. We’re trying to do our part at the Business Press with events such as Great Women of Texas and in our workplace, where our gender ratio is almost exactly 50 percent men and women.

But all of us must commit to doing better. Here are some statistics as reported by CNN that speak for themselves:

“Women earn just 79 cents for every dollar men make in 2019.

“ ‘That’s the “raw” gender pay gap, which looks at the median salary for all men and women regardless of job type or worker seniority,’ PayScale explains in its 2019 report on the state of the pay gap.

“The gap forms early and continues to grow: As data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, men earn more from the get-go.

“Here’s the median income American men are earning at every age:

• 16 to 19 years: $501 weekly ($26,052 annually)

• 20 to 24 years: $624 weekly ($32,448 annually)

• 25 to 34 years: $877 weekly ($45,604 annually)

• 35 to 44 years: $1,112 weekly ($57,824 annually)

• 45 to 54 years: $1,138 weekly ($59,176 annually)

• 55 to 64 years: $1,191 weekly ($61,932 annually)

• 65 years and older: $1,037 weekly ($53,924 annually)

“And here’s how much women earn at every age:

• 16 to 19 years: $437 weekly ($22,724 annually)

• 20 to 24 years: $558 weekly ($29,016 annually)

• 25 to 34 years: $763 weekly ($39,676 annually)

• 35 to 44 years: $877 weekly ($45,604 annually)

• 45 to 54 years: $876 weekly ($45,552 annually)

• 55 to 64 years: $895 weekly ($46,540 annually)

• 65 years and older: $757 weekly ($39,364 annually)

“Women not only earn less, but, as the data shows, their peak earning age is lower than that of the average man.

“This aligns with data from PayScale, which found that pay growth for college-educated men essentially stops at age 49. For college-educated women, it’s decidedly younger: at age 40.”

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net

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