Monthly Archives: June 2016

Best Practices for Better Pay Equity

A handful of recent events exposing gender-based pay inequity has seemed to bring the  issue into the headlines to stay.  A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported on House of Cards star Robin Wright’s battle with Netflix to negotiate pay on par with that of her male co-star, Kevin Spacey. Last month, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team alleged pay discrimination in a complaint they filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission highlighting striking salary and bonus differences between the hugely successful women’s soccer team and the markedly less successful men’s team. And the plight of high-profile women CEOs like Marissa Meyer and Ursula Burns — who stepped down from Xerox a few days ago — suggests that the shrinking ranks of Fortune 500 women CEOs will soon shrink even further. Today, there are only 19. If that number is any kind of bellwether for pay equity, it’s not encouraging. The time is long overdue for leveling the playing field between women’s and men’s pay, now and forever — not only for movie stars and on the soccer pitch, but in corporate boardrooms and everywhere in between.

It’s likely that your own company has a pay equity issue. Most do. In 2015, there was a 21% pay gap between women’s earnings and men’s, meaning that for every dollar a man made, a woman made only 79 cents for the same work. Whether you’re leading a company or on the lowest rung of the totem pole working for one, and whether you are a woman or a man, this is an issue that affects you. The sentiment in your workplace is at stake. To create a culture of fairness and respect, and to maintain a happy and productive workforce, Jane cannot be making less than John. Workers talk. If you are not paying equally, they will know. And they will not be motivated to do their best work if they are being treated unequally. I don’t doubt that discrimination complaints will be on the rise with national attention on this issue. So, what can you do?

For starters, make sure that you pay both women and men fairly for the work they perform. Equal pay is not just about equal wages, either. Make sure to count bonuses, performance payments, and discretionary pay, too. Put in place best practices to ensure successful pay equity. Five specific ideas include:

  • Have transparent policies and practices in place with regard to pay structures.
  • Audit those policies regularly to make sure that, even inadvertently, your company is not paying workers unequally for equal work. I admire how Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and SVP Leyla Seka are spearheading efforts at their 10,000+ person company to track pay across gender to ensure fairness.
  • Consider flexible and mobile work arrangements and how those will help all people at your company to succeed and to thrive better. It is my gut-feel that with more gender balance in the workplace, pay inequity will cease. This has everything to do with attracting and maintaining a diverse workforce.
  • Combat unconscious bias in hiring in order to secure that diverse workforce. Getting things right from the start of the process of staffing your company is critical. Describe jobs fairly. Hire accordingly. Pay based on the skills sought and decide that as much as possible before even interviewing candidates.

These are some ideas to move toward the only acceptable solution of equal pay for equal work. Money isn’t everything, though. In fact, I credit my own success in part to focusing less on pay and more on opportunities and goals. After all, success isn’t only defined in terms of a bank account.

A friend saw Abby Wambach, former FIFA women’s World Cup champion and two-time Olympic medalist and U.S. coach, speak on soccer’s pay equity case recently. When asked what she’d do differently, Abby said she’d have asked for more earlier on in her career. She’d have raised her hand, asked specific questions with regard to the numbers involved, pushed for more when she was winning. But we’re not all emboldened by a national — or international — stage like Abby. As a woman leader in tech, this is my moment to spearhead, to ask the difficult questions, to pursue equity in every way. Especially for young women in tech, we have to make sure that you’re coming to us on a level playing field with the men, whether you’re playing soccer or building an interface or practicing medicine. Pay inequality is everywhere, but it doesn’t have to take us until 2059 to achieve pay equality. We can ensure a better and more diverse workplace by acting now.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn on June 27, 2016.

Five Ways to Get Your Ideas Heard

As an EVP of Innovation, I know that having the latest and greatest technology stems from the ability of my team to bring forth the ideas that make our technology cutting-edge. With a variety of backgrounds and personalities on a team, it’s important for me as a leader to be able to tune in to even the quietest, most introverted team member. Along with that, I aim to instill in my teams the tools for them to advocate for things that are important to them. Sometimes they have great ideas, and the success of those ideas is only as great as their ability to have those ideas heard. These skills can be learned. As such, here are Five Ways to Get Your Ideas Heard:

Make sure your idea is relevant. Know your company’s priorities, and focus on ways that you can improve upon those priorities. Do your research and be prepared to present reasons regarding how your idea will help to advance innovation at your company. This may be a big idea regarding a new technical avenue for the whole venture or a small suggestion about how to foster better interactions among employees. Know your audience and tailor your message appropriately.

Have reasons “why” and “why not.” Selling your idea can’t be focused solely on what it can do to help the company or the product progress. Consider both benefits and risks. When someone brings me an idea, they are often excited to talk about from where the idea came and what it can do to make the world a better place. When I ask the reasons that we should not pursue the idea, though, too often that question hasn’t been considered, or only financial impact has been considered. Considering risk isn’t a negative. It’s a sign that an employee is being thoughtful and thorough, which is critically important to the success of an idea.

Be excited, not nervous. Passion is everything. When my employees have innovative ideas, I want to hear them. When they are tentative and nervous, it becomes easy to doubt their commitment to their idea. There is no hiding passion. It becomes infectious and a force that drives a lot of great work and change. People will buy into ideas a lot sooner and deeper as excitement launches, builds, and sustains something new.

Use action verbs. Be succinct, direct, and do not soften your presentation with words like “I think” or “I believe.” I’d rather hear “this will make a difference because” than “I think this will make a difference.” If you have a great idea, you have contemplated the impact. Sell it with confidence.

Let it go. Your idea is your gift to your team or company, and you have to be willing to let it go from your grasp in order for it to become more successful than if you were to continue working on it alone. Let others expand on your idea or even modify it as appropriate. Or, if your idea falls flat, let that go, too. Not every idea is going to be a winning one. Don’t let that deter you from making the effort to present it, though.

The best, most innovative ideas come from those who are willing to take the risk to make the suggestion — and, when they do, they’re ready to present their ideas in a well-researched, passionate, effective way. This is how great ideas are heard best. A lot of hard work goes into coming up with ideas to present in the first place, and that’s a skill I try to find in employees I hire: curiosity and passion for inventiveness. Great innovation flows from great, effective team players who know how to advocate for change.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on June 16, 2016.