Today, April 2, 2019, is Equal Pay Day – a day dedicated to raising public awareness of the pay gap between men and women. This day represents the time in the year when the wages of all working women, on average, equal what men earned in the previous year. In other words, because women make less, women have to work four more months than men in order to earn the same amount.
At Box, we’re committed to pay equality and are proud to share that we’ve reached pay parity in the U.S. Additionally, this year we signed the California Pay Equity Pledge, an initiative to help address pay inequality in California launched by the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and the Office of California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. By signing the pledge, Box commits to conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis, reviewing hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers, and identifying and promoting other best practices that will close the pay gap to ensure fundamental equity for all workers.
While Equal Pay Day calls attention to the difference in what men and women earn, the wage gap is not the same for all women. The ACLU found that, on average, compared with white men:
- Asian women make $8,000 less per year
- White women make $14,000 less per year
- Black women make $21,000 less per year
- Native women make $23,000 less per year
- Latina women make $26,000 less per year
Today, to help further our understanding of and educate Boxers about this issue, we invited Elizabeth Gill from the ACLU to join us at Box HQ for an Equal Pay Day lunch discussion. Elizabeth is a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Northern California and the National ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project.
I sat down with Elizabeth to discuss the ACLU’s broader gender equity portfolio, LGBT rights and Elizabeth’s case challenging the Department of Defense for failing to integrate women into combat positions.
Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways from my discussion with Elizabeth:
Equal Pay is not just a women's issue.
While Equal Pay is often characterized as a women’s rights issue, it is not solely a women’s rights issue. Elizabeth shared how the ACLU approaches Equal Pay and gender justice in the workplace overall.
"All of our work is deeply interconnected. For us, equal pay isn't a single issue - it's part of a larger idea of gender justice which is more intersectional. We think about who is harmed the most? Who are our most vulnerable groups out there? Equal pay affects more than just women in Silicon Valley. We see a deeply disproportional impact on colored and trans women. We need lift up these groups while recognizing that cultural change needs to come from the top to the bottom. Changing Silicon Valley is important but we must look out for the most vulnerable."
Participation is key!
When I asked Elizabeth about what gives her hope in today's tumultuous climate, she highlighted that active participation in issues of social justice and equality is one of the most powerful ways to create change. For us at Box, this is an important reminder that we are all responsible for creating the culture that we would like to be a part of.
"I'm heartened by the fact that you are all here and care about this issue. The ACLU cannot do this work ourselves - we can't take ownership over all of the inequalities in the country."
Leadership from the private sector is essential to drive change.
In closing, I wanted to learn what we can do as a company to help play a leadership role in this space. Elizabeth emphasized how important the private sector is for leading efforts to create cultural change and equality as we are the ones who interpret the law everyday. At Box, we recognize that a culture of belonging is a business imperative - when we have diverse perspectives at the table, we will make better business decisions.
"You all are really important. We can file lawsuits, which is important, but as you all know you interpret these laws everyday. Having leadership in the private sector is critical. We can make legal change, but it's really about changing the culture. The more companies that can say, you don't have to work at a place where there isn't paid family leave, or where where sexual harassment charges only get charged in arbitration - that changes the world."
We're heartened by the momentum but also know we have more to do and are eager to make sure we're progressing our thinking and our practice