December 03, 2014 Practice Points

Shrinking the Gender Wage Gap Will Take More Than Just Good Karma

By Hannah E. Bellanger

Newly-appointed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made waves across the nation when he stated that women should not ask for pay raises. Instead of asking for pay raises, Nadella encouraged the women attendees at a technical conference he spoke at on October 9, 2014, to believe that “the system will give the right raises as someone goes along in their career.” Although Nadella later apologized, his remarks met substantial backlash. 

In a recent article published in Fortune, Lauren Stiller Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and Executive-in-Residence at the Boston College Center for Work & Family, critiqued Nadella, noting the deep-rooted nature of the gender wage gap. For example, Rikleen informed readers that research continues to evidence a bias in the workplace against mothers. Rikleen stated that statistical data establishes that “when women marry and have children, their average incomes drop; married men with children experience an increase in salary compared to their childless male counterparts.”

Rikleen proposes the following strategies, as a “starting point” for companies seeking to close the gender wage gap in their workplace:

•Monitor assignments to “ensure that women have equal access to the internal informal networks.”

•Analyze compensation data because “you cannot change what you do not measure.”

•Hold managers accountable to established standards for salary increases.

•“Train the workplace in unconscious bias” and “implement structural mechanisms to minimize its impacts.”


Keywords: women advocate, women lawyers, glass ceiling, gender gap, working mother

Hannah E. Bellanger works at Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P. in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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