There isn't a little girl alive that says to herself, 'When I grow up I want to make .79 cents on the dollar to men for the same job with the same skills.'
Which leads me to this year's theme for today, International Women's Day, Press for Progress. It November, 2017, the World Economic Forum concluded that it's going to take nearly 200 years to close the wage gap between men and women.
My First Wage Discrimination Experience was 19 Years Ago
Hired to Manage - Well, Actually Clean UpAt the time, I was 13 years into a career in investment management and had just accepted a position as the Trading Desk Manager for an investment firm in Cincinnati. While the company (no defunct due to owner embezzlement...another story for another day) had various divisions, we were a team of 5, three traders, my assistant and me.
I still remember the part in the interview where I asked why the position was open. I was told that the guy I was replacing moved to another position in the company. While that was true, the real reason (as I found out shortly after being in the role) was to be the clean up crew. Files were a disaster, compliance was a nightmare and I later found out he was day trading in his office. They should have handed me a broom on my first day.
If You Thought That Was Good - Here's the 'Best' PartAnnual reviews were typical; strengths, weaknesses, where do you want to be in 5 years. Except when it came to salary and raises. I reported to the Director of Compliance and I remember the day, sitting in his office, going over the reviews like it was yesterday.
We were going over the annual review details of one of the guys on the team. He was 2 years out of college, spent a year at Fidelity and had come over from there about 6 months prior.
Sitting in my bosses office was like a slow motion scene out of movie. I opened up the file of the newbie, glanced the text from the top of the page down and then there it was. My eyes locked on the numbers and it took me, what seemed like the rest of the afternoon, to pick my jaw up off the floor.
The newbie on my team made the SAME SALARY AS ME. Not only did I have 11 years more experience, but I was his direct supervisor. What the hell?
I knew right there and then it was time for me to move on. Talking to my boss was useless and looking back, I should have filed a discrimination complaint with what was the NASD at the time (now FINRA).
I was so furious, livid and, quite honestly, completely blown away that this was actually happening. I immediately started a job search. Within 2 short months, I accepted a position as the Director of Trading for another firm in town.
The questions I asked myself for a long time were:
'Did I not ask the right questions at the interview?'
'How did I not see it and what could I have done differently?'
'Why did I assume wage discrimination didn't exist?'
and most importantly...
'How do I prevent this from happening again?'
The irony? Seven months after I left, I was on maternity leave with my daughter when one day, my former assistant called me. That very morning, employees were greeted by the Securities Exchange Commission, escorted to their offices, had 30 minutes to retrieve only their personal belongings and were escorted out of the building.
The short story? For years, the owner of the firm has been cooking the books of his clients by falsifying quarterly investment statements and embezzling much of the client money for his personal gain. A new employee in his department figured it out and called the S.E.C.
In an instant, about 150 people lost their income, health insurance and other benefits.
I'd like to say that I never faced income discrimination again, but that's not the case. I'll save that story for another day.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your experience, if any, with wage discrimination and what we can do, together, to empower women and girls in this arena.