Silver Screen Sound-Off: Addressing Gender Pay Inequality

5 min read

We’re no strangers to the gender pay inequality argument – last month, Xactly Founder, President, & CEO Christopher W. Cabrera was in the Wall Street Journal after our big data-mining inquiry led to some surprising findings about the gender pay gap in sales. The issue of wage inequity means a lot to us, which is why when Patricia Arquette focused her Oscar acceptance speech on the issue, we felt compelled to comment. Most people have been fist-pumping right alongside Jennifer Lopez and Meryl Streep, but there are some who were not pleased with her decision to comment on the issue, citing elements of her commentary wholly unrelated to the core problem of wage inequity. To me, the crux of the argument lies in what New York Time’s writer KJ Dell'Antonia had to say about the firestorm: “as we listen to her words being torn apart, there’s a real risk that other women, other actresses, others who may at various times in their lives have a chance for one minute that the whole country will hear, are hearing something else: Shhh.” Dell'Antonia hits the nail on the head, and emphasizes the inherent issue with calling for the silencing of opinion – especially as it relates to the wage gap. By discouraging women from engaging with or embarking on a discussion of inherent gender wage issues, we only foster an environment in which such disparities are allowed to thrive. Comments like these are especially problematic when they come on the heels of research from Carnagie Mellon that shows men are four times more likely to ask for a raise then women, and one of the ways that gender pay inequality continues is because women are afraid to speak up and ask for what they deserve in fear of some kind of backlash. Women are paid less out of the gate, and then they aren’t encouraged to engage in their personal progression in the same way that men are. Refusing to address these issues is harmful to both hardworking employees and companies at large, and we need to commit to eradicating the issue together if we want to see corporate America close the wage gap once and for all. We can do this by committing to paying equally when employees have the same level of experience and the same job responsibilities, regardless of gender. Patricia Arquette utilized her platform to draw attention to a major issue that has yet to be reconciled, despite its incredible longevity and seemingly obvious solution. Although women have fought the good fight to encourage pay equality, they still only make between 54 and 78 cents to the dollar compared to men. The American Association of University Women analyzed census data on the wage gap and unveiled further distinct discrepancies in wage equality, driving home the point that this multifaceted issue is far from solved and long overdue for investigation. Most people seem to understand that the core of her Arquette’s message is positive, and ultimately many readers are rallying behind the cry to pay more attention to the wage gap, root out where it lives, and ultimately create a more fair and equitable society. Until this figure is equal, the conversation must go on.