By Susan Smith Blakely • January 11, 2017•Careers, Firms and the Private Sector
Pay equity for women lawyers is a subject that you definitely should care about. I have blogged about it before, but now I have written about it in a comprehensive article published recently by the DC Women's Bar Association. This article also makes the nexus between implicit gender bias and unequal pay for women lawyers, a connection that must be taken seriously. Here is a link to the article: http: www.wbadc.org//Files/Newsletters/2016-2017/WBA_RTB_2016-2017_Issue4_NovDec.pdf.
Here is how I introduce the issue:
One of the tenets of my Best Friends at the Bar program for women lawyers is “Be a discriminating listener, but do not listen for discrimination.” In other words, some things are not intended to be gender discrimination and are not harmful, and it is a waste of time to pursue them. It is better to save your thunder for the real thing that creates a disparate impact and is career damaging.
Having said that, however, gender pay inequality is the kind of discrimination that is definitely a big deal, and it always deserves a second look. The examination of this problem needs to be thorough and discerning and involve a fair comparison of “apples to apples” to assure reliable results. In other words, the comparison of what women lawyers are paid and what male lawyers are paid must involve a very strong similarity of work performed and benefit to the law firm. The volume of articles that have appeared recently on the subject of gender pay equity and also lawsuits, which have been filed within the last year by women partners alleging gender pay inequity at their law firms, will be helpful in that analysis.
And here is one of my conclusions:
It is time for some real soul searching in law firms as they look to the future of the profession. Tolerating implicit gender bias and gender pay inequity will create adversity within the law firm ranks and increased competition among team members. It will discourage camaraderie and will undermine best practices. It also will have a negative effect on law firm succession plans as mid-level talented women lawyers leave because of unfair and unwise practices.
There is a lot of well-researched information and recent developments, including pending law suits against law firms on allegations of unequal pay, between the introduction and the conclusions, and I urge you to read the entire article. You need to know about this issue, the history of equal pay in this country, and how you fit into the overall conversation.
Take time to protect your future --- and the futures of your female colleagues. Read and share!