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Currently Browsing: Gender Discrimination

Here’s to Hoping that Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella Learned Something About Equal Pay in His First Year

Today is the one-year anniversary of Microsoft’s announcement that Satya Nadella would become the tech giant’s new Chief Executive Officer.  Nadella had worked in Silicon Valley since 1992, and had been with Microsoft for 22 years when he was elevated to the position of CEO.  His first year compensation amounts to about $84 million.  Until October, Nadella’s tenure as Microsoft’s CEO was unremarkable.  But then came his remarks at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the World’s largest gathering of women technologists.  The head of Microsoft chose this gathering of more than 8000 attendees, mostly women, to suggest that women were better off trusting “karma” than pushing for raises.  The incident raised the hackles of women inside and outside the technology world and immediately raised Nadella’s profile as well … but not in a good way. The CEO had been invited to speak at a plenary session, which was open to all conference attendees.  In response to a question the best ways for women to advance in corporate America, Nadella said that “[i]t’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.”  Nadella went on to say that not asking for a raise was “good karma.” Not too surprisingly, Nadella’s remarks immediately drew the ire of women, particularly as studies routinely show that women are paid less than men.  Indeed, some research shows that Nadella’s advice is exactly the opposite of what women need.  According to Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University and leading researcher on women and pay negotiations, one of the reasons that women make less money is because they are less likely than their male counterparts to negotiate their compensation. There is at least one silver lining in the story of this CEO blunder — it appears that Mr. Nadella may have learned something from the experience.  The first sign of the lesson learned came in the form of a tweet.  Unlike many CEOs, he did not try to explain away the ignorant remarks.  Instead, within hours of leaving the stage, Mr. Nadella tweeted:  “Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise.  Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of bias.” Next came Nadella’s brief email to all Microsoft employees, in which he stated that his response to the question was “completely wrong.”  Yes, you read that right.  Within hours of making a foolish and...

Six Years After the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Still More Work to Do

Just about six years ago, President Obama signed his first piece of legislation — the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — to extend the time period in which an employee could file a claim for pay discrimination.  The Act overruled the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which Ledbetter said allowed her employer to pay her unfairly “long enough to make it legal.” At the time of its passage, President Obama said that the passage of the Act would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone.” Sadly, in the six years since the passage of the Act, the gender pay gap has – at best – barely budged.   Indeed, by some estimates, the wage gap has actually widened in the last few years. If the new Congress is truly committed to the goal of pay equity, concrete steps must be taken.  First, Congress should pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will strengthen the Equal Pay Act and help secure equal pay for equal work.  Second, Congress must act to increase the minimum wage, as women make up two-thirds of the country’s minimum wage earners.   Third, Congress should enact a universal, government-paid preschool program, as 10% of the wage gap is attributable to time that women spend outside of the workforce. While the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a step in the right direction, Congress still has a lot of work to do to close the persisting wage gap.  Let’s hope by the Seventh Anniversary of the Act, we are closer to pay equity and an economy that truly works for everyone. This post, authored by Sharon Vinick, originally appeared in the CELA VOICE, a project of the California Employment Lawyers...

Riding the Wave towards Workplace Flexibility

In her recent blog post on the CELA VOICE, Sharon Vinick offers insight into the growing momentum for workplace flexibility — the commonsense idea that employers should take a flexible approach to meeting the needs of working families.  Follow the link to see how Sharon answers the question — “Are workplace flexibility laws the wave of the...

Today is Women’s Equality Day!

Today is Women’s Equality Day!  On this date in 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing women’s right to vote. The struggle for the right to vote was led by working women, who understood that the right to equal pay for equal work could never be achieved without the right to vote. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the women (and men) who fought and died for the right of women in the United States to vote.  Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells, Angelina Grimke and more. And we should heed the words of Alice Paul as the work toward equal pay and women’s equality in other arenas continues. When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t put it down until you reach the end of the row....

Equal Rights Advocates Honors Leslie Levy

Equal Rights Advocates honored Leslie Levy for her work at its annual luncheon this summer, where the keynote speaker was equal pay crusader Lilly Ledbetter.  ERA is a national organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls. ERA explained why it chose the Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP partner – ERA honors Leslie Levy for her many contributions to the gender justice movement and the work  of ERA.  Most recently, Leslie served as ERA’s co-counsel in a case representing an immigrant woman restaurant worker who was sexually assaulted and denied overtime pay, despite repeated complaints.  Her compassion and expertise in this case was typical of her accomplished career promoting social justice.   Accepting the honor, Leslie described her long connection to ERA and its mission – Since I was a law student working at ERA 32 years ago, I have had an affinity for ERA and its mission.  While the word “feminism” has fallen out of favor with some, ERA has consistently refused to allow women’s issues to be diluted or marginalized, and has stood strong in support of women’s equality in employment and education . . . I look forward to continuing to stand with ERA in speaking feminist truths to power. At the event, Lilly Ledbetter addressed the continuing struggle for pay equity for women, even following the landmark equal pay law that bears her name.  As part of the movement for equal pay, ERA has launched Close the Gap, a social media campaign highlighting how women earn cents on the dollar compared to men.  As big supporters of this cause and ERA, Leslie and the rest of her firm added their pictures to the campaign.  Leslie, who has represented women firefighters in discrimination cases, featured the pay difference for women firefighters, who earn only 78 cents to every dollar earned by a man doing the same dangerous and demanding...

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