Comparing Women at the Best Companies to Work For to National Averages
Rachel Maddow’s recent row with CNN contributor Alex Castellanos regarding the pay gap between the salaries of men and women, got me thinking about whether or not the Best Companies to Work For, or great workplaces in general, are better providers of equal pay. Despite Castellanos’ contention, research from the BLS reveals that for roles from lawyer to janitor, the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings is 81.2%.
Given that more women than men now complete college degrees, it is interesting to consider if this balance will shift in coming years, though I suspect that until we see more women in management, including executive leadership, the disparity will persist.
While the data we collect in our search for the Best Companies to Work For through our Culture Audit© measures fairness in pay, promotions, and related areas, we do not collect data regarding pay by sex. It would be impossible to draw any conclusive statement about whether or not pay disparities by sex exist at the Best Companies to Work For.
However, we can confidently state that the Best Companies to Work For have strong presence from women in the workplace and stronger presence in management roles. On average the 2012 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® have 48% women employees. According to a 2010 report by the Senate, women constitute 49.8% of payroll, so the Best Companies do not have more women employees on average. As the graph below demonstrates, 43 of the 100 Best Companies have more than 50% female employees. The vast disparities we see among the 100 Best are likely due to industry and reflect industry averages, with fewer women represented in the technical fields, and a larger representation of women in professional services and healthcare.
However, we see a stronger than average representation of women in management and executive leadership at the 100 Best, with 44% of managers and 31% of executives at the 100 Best as women. This is higher than the 29.9% women in general management reported by the BLS in 2011 .
As with most things, numbers only tell a part of the story. Whether pay disparity exists at the Best Companies or not, the Best Companies are extraordinarily committed to gender equality and diversity, and to supporting the work-life of both men and women employees. For instance, Accenture hosts an annual conference around the world to discuss women’s careers and address their concerns regarding opportunities for growth and support for work-life balance. Mercedes-Benz is contemplating an entirely new model of work-life “integration” as they call it, developing programs to reflect the fact that life does not turn off when people are at work, and vice versa. Finally, Brocade Communications recently shared details about Women in Networking, a robust initiative developed with the support of the CEO to better engage women at Brocade, promoting career growth and increasing hiring and retention of women employees around the world. Such companies might not yet exceed national averages, but they aspire to have an engaged workforce of women, including women in roles of leadership, and while supporting the wealth of roles that women employees often are responsible outside of the office.
What does your company do to support women in the workplace?
Leslie Caccamese serves as Senior Strategic Marketing Manager with Great Place to Work® Institute