What is the experience of a woman in corporate America today? She probably hears a lot about diversity initiatives from the leadership of her company, but she probably has precious little to show it, save a smattering of diversity days, mentoring programs, employee advocacy groups, and other gender programs. Boards and senior leadership at her company remain stubbornly male, and women continue to earn less than men for comparable work.
But what can she do about it? She might suspect that she is underpaid, but societal taboos keep her from comparing her salary with colleagues’ pay. She may be familiar with her company’s benefits and workplace policies, but she has no way of comparing them with its competitors’; the same is true of companies’ records on advancing women. And if she thinks about moving elsewhere to find a route through the glass ceiling, she has no way of truly gauging the culture of those rival companies and how women are treated there.
The good news is that all this is changing, driven in large part by technology. Emerging tools are giving women a host of new ways to empower their professional lives. The implications for companies are significant, as women amass the means and the resources to dramatically change the game. After all, women now control massive resources: In the U.S. they direct 80% of consumer spending and control $5 trillion in investable assets. They jointly control another $6 trillion, according to the Center for Talent Innovation. Women make up just over half of the workforce.
The first change that will empower professional women is the increasing availability of actionable information related to companies’ gender practices. Salary information that allows women to measure their personal gender pay gap is already available from GetRaised, Payscale, ZipRecruiter, and Comparably. Hired takes it one step further, offering a marketplace in which companies bid for talent. That can serve to close the gender pay gap pretty quickly. These solutions are not perfect, but they are a start.
Information on company cultures is available at startups like The Muse. The female-friendliness of company cultures and their policies in particular are being crowdsourced by startups like Fairy God Boss and Doxa. And this information is not just available about the companies we work for: Buy Up Index provides rankings of the gender-friendliness and progress of companies we buy from, while Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (I am the chair of the fund) and the SHE E.T.F. provide the means to invest in the top companies for advancing women.
This article first appeared in the Harvard Business Review. Read more here.