A huge and embarrassing problem in the legal industry and Silicon Valley is a dramatic difference in pay between men and women. There have been some dramatic moves lately to remedy this situation. Today, on the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, President Barack Obama spoke about the new steps the administration is taking to promote equal pay. And on the WhiteHouse.gov daily email, Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO at San Francisco-based Salesforce, took the proverbial “mic.”
Here’s Benioff’s pragmatic and inspiring message:
“One day last year, two female executives in my company came to me and said we might be paying women less than men. This was a complete surprise to me. It didn’t occur to me that inequality could creep into our company culture at Salesforce. We then looked at the salary of every employee in the company, and it turned out we did have a pay gap.
Now, we are spending $3 million on closing the gap so that women and men are paid equally at Salesforce, and we’ve instilled equality as one of the core values of our company.
The President has said that a world in which women are treated as equal to men is safer, more stable, and more prosperous—and I wholeheartedly agree. I believe that businesses are more successful when equality is built into the fabric of the company.
But we will never solve the issue of pay inequality if CEOs and business leaders continue to turn a blind eye to what’s happening right in their own organizations. Businesses are the greatest platforms for change in the world—and business leaders, as well as government leaders, must set an example when it comes to equal pay for equal work.
Today, the government is taking a big step toward building a better world where every woman is paid the same as her male counterpart. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposal, many businesses would be required to report their pay data by gender and race so that we can know when and how wage discrimination is happening.”
[Benioff then cites Obama’s live noon (eastern) speech, about new steps the administration is taking to promote equal pay.]
“It’s time for every leader to make equal pay for equal work a top priority. Going forward, we will be judged on whether we made the world a more equitable place for all. I applaud the President and his team for continuing to look for ways to close the pay gap and bring more attention to this important issue.”
Bravo to Benioff. Now Big Law and Silicon Valley, it’s your turn. Follow the leaders and let’s get this done! You don’t want the consequences of not solving this problem.
• Fortune: Salesforce’s Marc Benioff Cheers Obana’s New Equal Pay Measure. (Claire Groden)
Monica Bay is a Fellow at CodeX, a freelance journalist for Bloomberg BNA Big Law Business and a columnist at Above The Law. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @MonicaBay.