Equal Pay Isn’t Just Lip Service - It’s What You Do When No One’s Looking

Equal Pay Isn’t Just Lip Service - It’s What You Do When No One’s Looking
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Twice in my career, I’ve left jobs because of gender discrimination resulting in unequal pay. One time I quit. The other time I got fired.

The time I quit, I was part of a gender balanced leadership team. It was amazing. We had a high level of trust and truly enjoyed building a team together. After being part of this team for four years, I learned that a male peer of mine in another department had been making more than me for the past four years, despite the fact that he was running a team of 2 and I was running a team of 65. I also discovered that another male peer of mine was promoted above me in both pay and title, despite having consistently poorer performance reviews than I had had over the years. I was confused. I felt betrayed and lied to. I did go to HR, who did try to help, but no real change came from it. So, I packed my bags and said my goodbyes.

The time I got fired, it was over $5,000. A male peer of mine was getting paid $5,000 more than me. Despite reams of both objective and subjective proof from both employees and clients that our two jobs and our two performances definitively deserved equal pay, equal pay was not given. I expressed my concern and was fired.

Interesting to note that in both cases, my male peers were in full agreement with me, and even went to bat for me.

Unfortunately, I know that I’m not alone. Too often, equal pay is something we must fight for. And too often, we lose. Fortunately, as a founder and CEO, I’m now in the position where I can do something about it, at least at Stride. At Stride, we believe in and demand equal pay. We judge each employee on his or her merit. We’ve got things like salary bands that are common knowledge among all Striders, and every Strider has a mentor that works with her or him to achieve constant career growth.

In fact, last year, we had a male developer ask for a raise. When we reviewed all salaries, we felt that in order to give this individual a raise, we needed to also give another developer a raise. This other developer was a woman. The female developer didn’t come and ask for a raise. Yet, she was given one. Her work was on par with her male counterpart who did ask for the raise and so it was the only right answer.

To me, this is what equal pay means. It doesn’t mean giving equal pay when it’s asked for. It means giving equal pay all of the time, even when it is not asked for.

To show our support for the importance of equal pay, Stride has taken the Glassdoor Equal Pay Pledge. We ask that you do so with us.

Debbie Madden

Debbie Madden

Founder & Chairwoman

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