Women’s History Month, celebrated in March every year since 1987, is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women who’ve made an impact on culture and society. It’s a time to reflect on those women who have paved the way and those who will follow them. It’s also a time to give recognition to the challenges that women are still facing today, so changes can be made to work towards a more equitable future.
One of the leading challenges that American women face today is continuing inequality in the workplace. Womens’ annual wages in 2019 were only 82% of what their male counterparts earned that year, yet women make up more than half of the workforce, according to data from the Pew Research Center and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, on 2021’s Fortune 500 list, only 41 of all 500 of the CEOs were women, and only four Black women have ever been featured on the list.
Although all women are affected by workplace inequality, women of color experience even higher levels of discrimination and lower pay than white women. For example, compared to every $1 that a white man made in 2018, Center for American Progress reports that, in general, Black women made only 62 cents, American Indian and Alaskan Native women made 57 cents, and Latino women made 54 cents.
A way that businesses can step up to improve these numbers for women, and especially women of color, is by working to diversity the high-paying positions within their companies. Creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace also benefits businesses financially. Builtin pulled together a list of statistics that shows the benefits, such as:
- The cash flow is 2.3 times greater per employee for companies with diversity.
- When management at a company is diverse, its revenue increases by 19%.
- Companies are 15% more likely to “beat industry median financial returns” when they are gender-diverse.
The work being to improve gender inequality in the workplace
Work being done by organizations like Business Roundtable and Thirty Percent Coalition are working towards workplace equality for all genders and ethnicities. Thirty Percent Coalition is an organization with a mission “to have corporate boardrooms reflect the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the United States workforce.” The Coalition is committed to the goal of having women hold at least 30% of board seats across all public companies, Vista Equity Partners is a member of the Coalition, and Smith spoke at the Thirty Percent Coalition Summit in 2020 to bring to light the importance of inclusion in the workplace.
Business Roundtable describes itself as “an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies working to promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy.” The CEOs leading this organization employ a combined total of 20 million people. One of the policy perspectives that Business Roundtable focuses on is Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the CEOs of the organization are making efforts to step up to “the challenge of increasing corporate diversity and providing greater transparency on their diversity metrics.” Robert F. Smith, CEO of Vista Equity Partners, is one of the at-large board members of this organization who has committed to advocating for workforce diversity to strengthen both the U.S. economy and Black communities.
Learn more about Business Roundtable’s first woman Chair, Mary Barra, the Chair and CEO of General Motors.