19 September 2023 |

Equal Pay Advocates And Fintech’s Role 


Ahead of Equal Pay Day in March this year, the reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act once again brought the issue of gender pay inequality to the forefront. 

This legislation aims to close the remaining loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, a measure that has passed the House four times over the past 25 years but has consistently faced hurdles in the Senate. The closest it came to passing was 13 years ago when it fell just two votes short. The legislation – if ever passed – would end pay secrecy and strengthen the available remedies for those wronged. 

The gender pay gap is still starkly evident in the US today, with women making, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar men earn, amounting to a loss of $11,782 per year for women. And for women of color, the gap is even more severe.

So, what are the most significant barriers to addressing these pervasive gender inequities?

Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and Mom’s First, and Pat Wadors, a seasoned HR executive, have been at the forefront of this battle. 

During ForbesWomen’s Power Summit last week, both leaders recognized that gender pay inequality is not just a problem for women; it’s a systemic issue that affects us all. 

When organizations merely cut a check at the end of the year to address the pay gap temporarily, they fail to address the problem systematically. To bridge the gap, we must focus on recruiting equitably, providing opportunities, advocating for women in the workplace, and promoting talent consistently throughout the employee lifecycle.

A Different Lens 

Saujani and Wadors stress the importance of viewing pay equity differently

As often suggested, it’s not solely a “woman’s problem” or a “lack of confidence” issue. Too often in society women are told to act like men to get ahead. So, please repeat after me: The problem is not women. The problem is a broken system that perpetuates cycles of inequities. It’s that simple. 

It’s a societal – and business – issue deeply intertwined with the motherhood penalty. While 86% of women become mothers by the age of 45, men receive a 6% pay raise for each child they have, while women face a 4% pay decrease per child. This disparity is a critical factor preventing women from achieving pay equity. Plus, the high cost of childcare in the US, where women make up the majority of caregivers, often forces difficult trade-offs between work and family.

Progress is being made nationally, but the journey toward pay equity remains complex. It’s crucial to get educated and ask the right questions to effect change. Use questions as a tool to advocate for equal pay. Ask:

What constitutes fair pay? 

What does it look like within your team or organization? 

These questions empower women to negotiate more effectively and demand the transparency they deserve. In addition to individual efforts, corporations are responsible for training their managers and recruiters to make fair and unbiased pay decisions.

But the most critical aspect of achieving pay equity is supporting and empowering each other. 

Women often fear competition among themselves, but it’s essential to recognize that the real competition should be based on skills and talents, not compensation. Sharing information about pay, experiences, and strategies can help build a supportive sisterhood. 

Saujani sets a fabulous example. She shared that she advocated for her Girls Who Code successor – Tarika Barrett – to receive higher compensation than she did as CEO, challenging the notion that women should only advocate for themselves. The point is to create opportunities for women. 

The path to pay equity is not limited to individual actions. Corporations must take concrete steps to address systemic issues that perpetuate gender pay disparities. A deep audit of pay structures and policies is necessary. 

Companies should eliminate promotions based solely on time, as this can disadvantage women who take time off for caregiving. Redefining the concept of family care to accommodate diverse caregiving structures is another vital step. Providing childcare and flexible benefits programs can alleviate some of the burdens working mothers face, reducing inequality in pay.

Saujani’s latest initiative, “Moms First,” addresses these three critical pay equity aspects: paid leave, affordable childcare, and equal pay. By tackling these structural issues, she aims to create a more equitable playing field for women in the workforce. Saujani’s vision highlights that pay equity is not just a social issue but fundamental to our economy.

Ultimately, both Saujani and Wadors express hope and optimism for the future. They believe change is possible, especially as high-profile figures like Barbie, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé contribute their voices and resources to the cause. These women are not just symbols of empowerment; they inspire others to take action. The movement for pay equity is gaining momentum, and it’s time for all of us to join in.

Now, I’m wondering – how can fintech play a role in pushing for pay equity? Here are a few ideas: 

1. Fintech for Pay Transparency: One fundamental way that fintech can contribute to closing the gender pay gap is by enabling greater pay transparency. Fintech platforms can develop tools and applications that allow employees to access information about salary ranges, compensation structures, and bonus criteria within their organizations. 

This transparency empowers individuals, especially women, to make informed career decisions, negotiate salaries effectively, and identify pay disparities. By promoting transparency, fintech can help shed light on hidden gender pay inequalities and encourage companies to rectify them. Has anyone built this yet? I’d sign up in a heartbeat. 

2. Fintech for Equal Pay Audits: Fintech solutions can streamline and automate the process of conducting pay equity audits within organizations. These audits can analyze data, considering factors such as job roles, years of experience, and performance metrics, to identify discrepancies in compensation. 

By leveraging data analytics and machine learning algorithms, fintech platforms can offer real-time insights into pay disparities and provide actionable recommendations to companies. This data-driven approach not only helps organizations identify and rectify gender pay gaps but also ensures ongoing monitoring and compliance with pay equity standards.

3. Fintech for Inclusive Benefits and Financial Wellness: Fintech companies can play a pivotal role in promoting financial wellness and inclusive benefits programs that benefit women in the workforce. By offering innovative financial planning tools and educational resources, fintech platforms can help women manage their finances more effectively, plan for future financial goals, and navigate significant life events, such as maternity leave. 

Additionally, fintech can provide benefits like flexible spending accounts for childcare expenses, enabling working mothers to balance their careers and caregiving responsibilities without sacrificing financial stability. These tools help empower women to achieve financial security and reduce the motherhood penalty that often leads to pay disparities.

As we look to the future, I embrace hope, collaboration, transparency, and the innovative potential of fintech to create a world where everyone is compensated fairly, regardless of gender. Together, we can build a more equitable and just society, with fintech as a valuable ally in this quest.

If interested in more ways fintech is helping women, I’ve covered the topic in more detail and so many stories via Forbes: