My day job is being a Senior Art Director in the advertising industry. An industry run mostly by white males and filled with stereotypes, overt bias, and hidden bias, that have made my career not boring to say the least. It’s been a tough 10+ plus years working to bust through to the top and to retain my self of sense. Sadly enough, my industry isn’t the only place where this happens. This happens worldwide! All across America, and even worse across other countries that are still punishing women by death. Trying to achieve my goal of being financially independent and to become a millionaire, is hard enough already, but made even harder by the fact that there is an unequal pay gap between women and men. To add even more hurdles in my way, I am also Chinese. Minority women are even further behind in the unequal pay gap. How is it in 2018 that women get paid less than a man for doing the same job?
The 3% Movement
Last week I was so fortunate to be able to attend the 3% Minicon held here in Los Angeles. What is it you say? When the 3% Movement started only 3% of the creative directors in the industry were women, with less being minorities. Since then the numbers have risen to 11% but they won’t stop until it’s at 50%! Their mission is to bring inclusion for all genders and all races. I spent an entire day listening to speakers from top positions from well known agencies speak up. There was even a 13 year old girl there who spoke so eloquently about the issues and was extremely passionate! All of us, or a majority of us, definitely were so inspired by the next generation. We’re fighting for us now, but we’re also fighting to make the future brighter for generations after us. The minicon was overrun with women with a sprinkling of men everywhere. I would have liked to see more men there too!
From the company I work at, 8 women attended. I very much would have liked a few men to attend as they also need to know these issues. It’s harder for people to know what the issues are if they are not confronted with it day by day. Doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the solution, but hearing the speakers inspired us all so greatly. Our next steps are to consolidate our learnings and action steps together so that we can share it with the rest of our company. From there we can take our next steps and push the movement forward!
Women are half the population is this world and we’re hampering our entire world by limiting that growth. Women live longer than men, yet have less in their retirement funds due to unequal pay gaps. Women also tend to invest into their children and community on a higher rate. Women minorities are even more likely to earn less for the same job. Maternity and paternity pay, as well as family leave, aren’t as widespread as it should be in the US, and mostly hampers women as they take time to take care of their families.
Look at the CEO’s of the biggest companies in the country and they are most likely men. Look at our government, how many white males are there vs women?
My dreams vs my reality
It would be great to be evaluated based on what I can do and what I know. Regardless of my gender or skin color. That everyone start on equal ground.
My reality is that I am judged every single day by how I look. I am a petite Chinese woman who looks young for my age. On first sight people assume I am much much younger than I am and don’t realize my age until they talk to me. The smarter people take that time to know me before making a judgement. The not so smart people judge instantly and think that I am in a lower position and don’t know much. I remember these people.
Not just diversity, inclusion
No more tokens! No more including one of each type of person for diversity purposes. It’s not a checkbox that you have one female in the group, one black person, one asian person, and one male. Not only do we need to have all types of gender and races together, but we all need to give them the power to have an equal voice. In my industry it’ll make our work more powerful to have all voices together than just from one view. Our world could use that same power.
So what can we do about it? Not just for people in my industry but everywhere.
Become a mentor
I am forever grateful to the women and men who have stepped up throughout my life and career to take the time to help me. These people weren’t officially labeled my mentors, but they took my under their wing for a short time to teach me. They took time out of their day to help someone along. They’ve taught me so much and gave me a great example to follow. It takes time to be a good mentor (notice I included good) but it’s well worth it. Not only do you help someone grow, you yourself as a person grows too and gain a new perspective.
Stand up for what’s right
If you see something happening that is wrong, correct it. No matter who you are. Doing nothing is also a choice you make. It is allowing the status quo to keep on as is.
Challenge your inner bias
Everyone has bias already. I know I do and I’m constantly trying to adjust to stamp it out as much as possible.
Know your worth – negotiate your pay
There are plenty of sites that post salaries. Look it up and see what your worth and ask for it and more! This goes for everyone.
Equal pay studies
See if your company has an equal pay study or a pledge for one. Some companies have already done those studies and have implemented policies to change unequal pay. Others may have done it but not published it.
Paid maternity, paternity and family leave
Push for maternity, paternity and family leave. My company doesn’t currently have policies in place but I’ve been pushing for it and will continue to do so. My husband has 3 weeks paternity leave. Which is great since men also need leave for their children.
Let our voices be heard
Don’t interrupt women when speaking. Studies have shown that women are more interrupted than men when in a group setting. Our voices are literally being spoken over! If you see it happening, say something. Don’t do it, and bring the issue to light. Most people most likely aren’t doing it on purpose. Also support the person interrupted by bringing the conversation back round to them. Allow their voice to be heard.
It’ll take everyone to step up, women, men, everyone, to change things
Yes everyone, absolutely everyone, will need to step up in order for things to change. Women, men, the people in power, the people not in power banding together to create one large voice, it will take everyone to change. This is everyone’s problem. Everyone has a mother, a friend, an acquaintance that is a woman. Possibly a daughter, a niece, cousins who are women. Even if you think it doesn’t affect you yourself, it’s affecting someone close to you.
This is obviously something very close to me as I just wrote a long article about this. I could’ve written even more! I’m doing my best to fix this in my industry and in the world. Let’s do it together!