Best Companies for Women Lists Miss The Mark

I do not agree with any of the Best Companies for Women to Work Lists that I have found.  Some of the lists that I disagree with are:

Each of these list are created by organizations with great business perspective.  Each list has its own methodology to decide the companies. The methodology may differ for each but often there is a very long questionnaire for the companies to submit.  The number of questions is typically greater than 200.   Yet regardless of the selection method, none of the lists consider companies’ gender pay gaps. To me that seems a bit on par with “But how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

From my perspective the main reason we work (male or female) is to earn money. If you agree with that premise than shouldn’t the first criteria for a Good Company for Women be how the women are paid?  The Gender Pay Gap is alive and kicking and yet we give praise to companies that may be paying women at a rate lower than men.

Earning Equal Pay May Not Be A Priority

The fact that we cannot answer whether a company is paying women on par with men highlights one reason women have not made more progress in the nearly 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act.  To our own detriment, women consider the financial aspect of a job as a secondary or tertiary factor in the job. We are blinded by the less expensive alternatives to equal pay such as a mentor program or telecommuting or flextime.  All these benefits are great and I highly recommend them but I don’t recommend having them instead of equal pay.

A statement in Working Mother’s 2011 report, Career vs. Paycheck: The Working Mother Report illustrates the fact. 

     Moms surveyed say that a flexible schedule is trumped only by stability and security when they look for a new job.

Pay does not even make the top three priorities of a job considered by working mothers based on Working Mother’s research.   Is there a term for 4th level consideration?  Pay isn’t secondary or tertiary.  Pay is a quartic priority!   It becomes even more unexpected when you consider 38% of working mothers are the primary wage earners for their family.  I too like having a career instead of working for a paycheck yet there must be a way to marry the benefits of the two.

Back to the Best Companies for Women Lists

Companies work hard to get on these lists.  As mentioned before, many companies want to get on such lists and welcome the vetting process to get on the lists. They openly strive to attract women employees.   How much emphasis do you think a company will put on equal pay if companies who work hard to attract women do not have to indicate they are paying women equally?  To be clear, I am not stating that each company is or isn’t paying fairly.  I’m stating that we do not know.  I’m stating that we are not reinforcing the requirement of equal pay as a base line of acceptability.

Somewhere there are companies that pay women on par with men AND have some kick-ass benefits as well.  I challenge the next group of Best Lists to incorporate equal pay as an important element of the vetting process.    Perhaps if the lists highlight equitable pay then women and companies will move equal pay up the priority list.

@ Copyright 2012 by Katie Donovan