On May 23, the Seattle Metro Chamber and Women’s Funding Alliance hosted the inaugural 100% Talent Wage Gap Summit, where local employers and professionals gathered to discuss King County’s gender wage gap, an inequality that is having direct consequences for our labor market, our regional economy, and our quality of life. 100% Talent, a joint initiative between the Chamber and the Women’s Funding Alliance, has been engaging regional employers in highlighting best practices to effectively tackle King County’s wage gap.
New data released at the Summit shows we are making progress-- women working full-time, year-round in King County now make 78.6 cents on the dollar when compared to their male counterparts, a gain of more than two cents since 2013. However, there is still a long way to go before women achieve pay equity. Additional coverage of the new data appears in the Seattle Times, GeekWire, and the South Seattle Emerald.
The Summit featured area employers talking about the actionable solutions 100% Talent members and others are using to successfully tackle this issue and further close the gap. Attendees also had the opportunity to delve into tactical steps through a series of breakout sessions on topics including best practices for engaging talent, tools and metrics to measure wage gap progress, and how men can be champions of inclusive leadership.
Speakers included King County Executive Dow Constantine, who provided welcome remarks to the more than 200 attendees, where he stressed the importance of closing the gender wage gap to fuel King County’s continued growth and prosperity. Tammi Kroll, CIO/CTO/COO of Gravity Payments, also shared her perspective on the company’s innovative equity programs.
Attendees also got more insight into the employer case for gender equity from Chamber President and CEO Maud Daudon and Women’s Funding Alliance President and CEO Liz Vivian. The two gave an overview of the new data on King County’s wage gap and signs of progress, highlighting the importance of the 100% Talent Initiative and the ongoing employer engagement it entails.
Closing keynote Pat Milligan, Senior Partner at Mercer and Global Leader of its When Women Thrive initiative, reiterated the importance of ongoing discussion around the wage gap from multiple angles. She noted that to be effective, organizations need to examine and pinpoint the challenges they face around gender equity, from equal pay, to women leaving the company in higher proportions than men, to promotion barriers that may result in lower female representation at senior levels. Milligan emphasized that it will take all of us working together—individuals and organizations—to respond to the challenge and do better for our community and our economy.
So, what can individuals and organizations start doing, right now? Here are a few suggestions by folks that attended:
- Think. ‘Know thyself’ as an organization. Begin to track, and frequently revisit, your organization’s own diversity metrics. Also think about how this can be replicated across industries.
- Act. Start a conversation with your HR and business leaders, and share a few learnings from the Summit.
- Share. Spread the word – share your best practices, raise awareness, and reach out to get more industries and young people involved in this effort.
- Invest. One participant reminded all attendees that everyone can invest a little time in the career of a young professional. Our moderator, Kirk, also suggested supporting organizations that are helping to connect young professionals with mentors and career opportunities, such as 100% Talent, the Chamber’s WIBLI program, Women’s Funding Alliance, and Technology Access Foundation.
For more on 100% Talent’s ongoing efforts, and information about how you can get involved, head to http://www.100percenttalentseattle.com/.