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This is how to put power behind the fight for equal pay

Time’s Up and the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team are partnering to put more muscle behind the push for pay equity across all industries.

This is how to put power behind the fight for equal pay
[Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images]

When a movement gains momentum, actions for change can often get watered down into fancy logos, stamps of approval, and branding opportunities. And let’s be honest: These efforts don’t always translate into lasting change in the fight for pay equity.

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Women in the United States make 20% less than men, but the statistics are even worse for women of color. Over the course of their lifetime, women of color lose up to a million dollars or more because of the pay gap.

Absent the swift, systemic action that this problem demands, the gap is not projected to close in the U.S. for a century. Globally, it’s projected to take twice as long, according to the World Economic Forum.

Through the incredible leadership of the four-time world champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), global attention has been given to the pay gap between men and women like never before. Despite their incredible success and ability to generate tons of revenue for U.S. Soccer, the women’s-team players make a fraction of what the male players make.

In response, a few brands—like Luna, Visa, and Secret—stepped in to provide money to the players to offset the pay gap this year, an important Band-Aid for the injustice these players have faced.

Then there are other companies, like Budweiser, that are marketing their support for the players by sponsoring their celebrated victory tour. Though these champions are 100% deserving of these market-leader sponsors, there’s irony in the fact that sponsorships alone won’t move the needle on closing the pay gap.

In addition to supporting the team financially, let’s use this momentum to educate corporate leaders on the steps they can take to close the pay gap once and for all. Conducting ongoing pay analyses and committing to pay transparency is the first step.

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And that’s what the USWNT players are doing through an exciting new partnership with Time’s Up called Time’s Up, Pay Up. The movement is helping to foster a national conversation that they expect will drive culture change at both corporate and legislative levels. The women’s soccer team is helping to widen the aperture of their fight to capture the struggle of all women everywhere, not just those on a national sports stage. Let’s face it: Even with the urgency of the moment that’s been catalyzed by the USWNT players’ demands, this problem is bigger than soccer. Much bigger.

In addition to fueling the fight for pay equity for all women by supporting the Time’s Up, Pay Up initiative, there are concrete steps that business leaders can and should take to level the playing field for all women and accelerate the closing of the pay gap, once and for all.

At my company, we recently released a list of standards for pay equity, which garnered the commitment of major companies. NerdWallet, for instance, publicly announced a commitment to close the company’s pay gap.

Commitment and standards are great places for any company to start if it is serious about equal pay. The standards should include ensuring a commitment to ongoing analyses of the pay gap versus only doing it once per year. Only by knowing what the pay gap truly is can companies develop targeted strategies to close it.

Women are constantly facing an uphill battle in terms of pay equity. Companies need to show accountability and commitment to change, and they need to follow through on that change to bring true equality to the workforce. Fostering a healthy environment that goes beyond being simply “one and done” requires executives to show continuous engagement and transparency to eradicate pay disparity once and for all.

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Together, with a true commitment to change and action going beyond marketing slogans, we can solve this problem now.

Maria Colacurcio is the CEO of Syndio, an HR analytics company, focused on promoting fairness in the workplace through applications that empower modern organizations to hire, promote, and most importantly pay people fairly.

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