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    Posted October 27, 2015 by
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    The Pay and Respect Gap for Women in the Social Sector

    Recently, I spoke to a friend who decided to leave the nonprofit sector for a new career. She couldn’t take the uncompetitive pay, as an executive. The demands on her time had her routinely working 60-hour weeks, easy. She essentially told me she has, “no life for barely any money.” In the meantime, another female friend of mine sent me an email. She was livid when she learned a male junior professional with no managerial or revenue generating responsibilities was earning $15,000 more than she was as a director level fundraiser.

    I then happened to come across two great articles. The first was Stop Driving Women Out of Fundraising by Roger Craver, which led me to Your work or a life: a painful choice no one should have to make by Mary Cahalane.

    During this time I was also reading how Bradley Cooper was standing up to try to help his female co-stars earn a competitive salary in film by moving to negotiate in partnership. And, finally, I was talking to a friend who suggested that the reason Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton both won their respective presidential nomination debates was because they know the reality in which we as women live. In other words, they had to over-prepare and win. There was no losing, simply for the fact that they were women. Men often get a second and third chance. Women don’t.

    So, this brings me back to the social sector. I’ve worked in the profession for over 20 years. I was exceedingly fortunate when I was on staff. I happened to work with progressive women and men who cared about equality, which included pay. In my opinion, it’s absurd to pay a junior employee $15,000 more than a director level woman who has responsibility to bring in revenue.

    I echo Roger Craver’s statement. What I see happening is incredibly talented women leaving the sector. His question is valid, “Have we failed to take the effective action we should be taking because, like so many other sectors, we’ve given short shrift to women who are the majority of our profession?” He continues, “I believe we’ve not only shorted women in the matter of equal pay, but we seem to be callously ignorant of the painful choices the nonprofit sector is forcing women to make.”

    They’re leaving because they are not making enough to survive. Many times, salaries are not commensurate with the workload. In addition, as women tend to be the caregivers in their families, I’ve seen women juggling exceedingly demanding schedules, which include long work hours, children and aging parents. When I speak to my friends in the industry, the pressure is intense. Married or single, they’re feeling the squeeze of making sure they meet all of the demands on their time. They can’t afford to lose their jobs. Every day there is a choice to make with regard to who or what is going to get the short end of the stick. Typically, it’s family, or their health, and not their job.

    And that brings me to my final observation on the matter. While the pay gap and long hours are difficult, there’s one other aspect that rankles many women in the industry. At the root of why they’re choosing to leave the field is a feeling that they’re not respected.

    They think and believe there’s a lack of respect for their commitment, professionalism and experience. It’s demonstrated in disparities of pay, for example, or demanding schedules that never take into account the other demands they have to deal with in their lives.

    Here’s what Mary Cahalane pointed out and stated in her piece:

    “Productivity. Is our all-work, all-the-time culture really working?”
    “If our nonprofit organizations work to create a better, more egalitarian world, why do we see this mindset [of ignoring the value and importance of caregiving] there? Shouldn’t we value caregiving as an extension of our missions?”
    Female CEOs in the nonprofit sector make less than men at every budget level. “What does that mean in a sector like ours where women are the majority?”
    Women are smart and capable — but stressed more by the competing demands of home and work.
    Development directors also showed a pay gap. In organizations with budgets of $500,000 to $1 million, median earnings for men were 13 percent higher than women’s.

    It’s unfortunate when I speak to more and more women who tell me they’re leaving the sector. Clearly, as an industry we’re doing something wrong. And, ultimately, this does impact the all-important bottom line.

    Please Don’t Forget to Follow My Blog at Living For Purpose™ and like my Facebook Page.

    Posted: October 27, 2015

    © 2015 Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose™” all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose™” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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