Achieving Pay Equity Together

By Catherine Lang-Cline

In the United States, women make about eighty cents on the dollar that a man will make in a year. In Columbus, it is seventy-eight cents on the dollar. Which is why it is great news that the City of Columbus is facing this issue with The Columbus Commitment: Achieving Pay Equity initiative. It is a completely voluntary commitment by employers in Columbus to join the City in helping close the pay gap for women.

For me, and for all of us here at Portfolio Creative, this is a no-brainer. When jobs are sent to us with an hourly rate or if a direct-hire is requested the idea of the rate or salary being different based on gender or race seems completely ridiculous. If they can do the job, meet the requirements, why would the pay be different? Everyone is submitted with the expectation that the dollars are the same.

How does that play out? In our experience, hourly rates typically stay firm. Salaries can sometimes become sticky. What we see is probably a reflection of what happens all across the country. Jobs are advertised with a range in salary, i.e.; “Salary is based on experience” or “Salary range from $45,000 – $60,000,” etc. This open-ended salary is one place where women are losing the race. Some hiring managers are simply conditioned to think that a male applicant is going to have more experience than a female applicant and will offer him more. There is still some old thinking that a man needs to provide for his family so he should be paid more. You heard that right, single moms.

Sometimes, in a cost-saving move, we hear, “Offer $45,000 and see if she will take it.” Most of the time, a woman will take it. A man will go back and ask for the $60,000 because they believe that they are worth it. (We have had to convince a few people that they were worth it.) From a company standpoint, it is not unusual to try and keep costs down so candidates need to enter the negotiation with the conversation and attitude that you are going to be an asset to that company. They could lose money by not hiring you! Know that the best employers want the greatest talent and will pay for it regardless if it belongs to a man or women. Own your experience!

This kind of thinking needs to change for both the employer and for the female candidate. Employers need to realize that hiring a woman does not mean she is going to work less, be more emotional, not be driven, or get pregnant and leave. Yes, I have heard all of these in the past. From the experience I have had, the women I work within this community work hard, stay focused, and are completely driven. They own and run some of the largest companies in this town. They lead teams, lead initiatives, and become game changers. Some just need to own it.

This is all about being fair. This is about equal pay and fair pay. Do the job, make the money. Period. It is about not asking for pay history, that alone can drive down salaries because if you are already at a disadvantage, how are you going to break out of it? What employers can do is ask the exact same questions to every candidate. Talk about potential, their values, and what they plan to do to make an impact in your business. That is what matters, right? Pay based on experience and what they will add to your company.

Equal pay is something that is built into the fabric here at Portfolio Creative and because of that, we are thrilled to sign The Columbus Commitment along with many other organizations in the community. This is not only good for women, it is good for the economy. Need proof? There was a time, in my lifetime, that a woman couldn’t get a credit card. Then women got credit cards. As a result, women bought lots of things and the economy won. Pay women more and they will spend more.

If you believe in fair pay, please join us in signing the commitment. You can find it here, at the City of Columbus’ website. In doing so, your mom will thank you, your wife will thank you, your sisters and daughters will all thank you for believing in them. Above all, you will thank yourself, because your business will benefit from taking care of your employees.