I'm making a documentary about the wage gap between men and women. According to government data, that gap persists at about 23 percent across occupations regardless of education and experience. Because men typically hold positions at the very top of that food chain, they often unwittingly (or wittingly) perpetuate the status quo with minimal regard for how to better empower women.
Women work better together
Why should men bother to help women? Research shows women-run companies tend to perform better than those run by men. They bring different qualities to companies; they focus on building relationships (with their teams and clients), they make better listeners, and they're better at looking at the whole picture.
And yet companies often penalize women for the very thing that they are supremely designed for, and without which, there would be no us: the bearing and raising of children.
We're not Europe
The U.S. will never be a Sweden or Germany with their two-year maternity and paternity leaves and socialized healthcare. But we can support initiatives that benefit women—and which, in turn, often turn out to benefit the company. In my research, I keep turning to Deloitte as a great example of what happens when you provide women with better incentives to stick with a company. Deloitte, an accounting firm, realized women were significantly under-represented at the company—comprising a mere 7 percent of Deloitte’s partnership in 1993. After initiating a women’s mentoring program and allowing for more flexible career paths, they boosted the number to 23 percent including female partners, principals, and directors by 2011, and decreased turnover from 7 to 2 percent. (1)
That's a great example of one company, you might think. But what can a movie do. In a 2011 Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation study of
the effects of An Inconvenient Truth, researchers discovered:
- The purchase of carbon offsets in the 10-mile radius of the 1,389 Zip codes where the film was shown increased by 50% compared to Zip codes where it was not shown.
- After viewing the film, CEO Stuart Rose of retail store Marks and Spencer’s set out to become “the world’s most sustainable major retailer,” and cut emissions by 40,000 tons during FY 2009–2010.
- Research conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that within the one month after the film’s release in June 2006, the number of people who agreed that the earth is warming because of human activity jumped from 70% to 79%.
- Newspaper coverage about climate change or global warming doubled immediately following the film’s release, and maintained higher coverage thereafter. (2)
What can you do as one individual? Let's start with this film I'm working on. If you can make a small pledge right now, I'll do everything in my power to help close the gap. Please visit my kickstarter page and see all the great rewards we have to offer!
1. Schepici, Kristin, “Lessons learned: Deloitte’s women’s initiative comes full circle,” http://mylinkage.com/blog/paul-silverglate-on-deloittes-womens-initiatives/, August 24, 2011, accessed November 21, 2011.
2. Search, Jess. Beyond the Box Office: New Documentary Valuations. Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation: May 2011.