Awareness heightened after #MeToo, but change still needed

The Central Penn Business Journal asked Julie Lando-Cross, president of GRIT Marketing Group in York, to offer some thoughts on issues facing women in the workplace.

CPBJ: What do you think are the main issues facing women in the workplace?

Lando-Cross: 1. Pay disparity and equal job opportunity.

On average, woman make $0.78 to every dollar a man makes while representing almost half of the workforce (47 percent).

Lack of representation on boards and in organizations (this is not just a woman issue, it’s a minority issue in general). For example, just recently an organization named two white men to their board who are approximately the same age and have similar backgrounds. Interesting to think there wasn’t a woman or another minority in southcentral PA who may not have been just as qualified for one of the positions?

2. The support of other women

Believe it or not, other women in the workforce are sometimes part of the challenge. Instead of empowering and supporting each other, in my experience, some women actually seem to root for you to fail. While I have had a number of women who have mentored me throughout my career, I’ve had just as many try to undermine and seem to root for me to fail.

3. The “bitch” factor

While men who speak their mind, make hard decisions in business, and share their opinions in meetings are viewed as leaders, strong women who speak their minds and/or drive action forward within their companies, making hard decisions along the way, are not viewed the same and are actually viewed negatively.

CPBJ: Some of those issues would pre-date the #MeToo movement. Which ones would they be in relation to how the movement has helped those causes?

Lando-Cross: Generally, the #MeToo movement has created awareness more than anything. It’s put people on notice that certain behavior is not acceptable. I would like to believe it opened the eyes of men who may have been participating in it without realizing the true impact.

CPBJ: If pay disparity is a concern, do you have ideas on the best way to address those issues, either through the private sector or through legislation?

Lando-Cross: These issues have to start from within a company with leadership. While legislation would be nice, it could take years. A company’s leadership needs to make equal pay a priority and put initiatives in place to see it come to fruition. A few ways to do that would be to review the hiring process (who is getting hired for what positions and at what rate), conduct a pay audit, review the promotion and performance evaluations process and check what percentage increases men versus women may be receiving. By auditing and reviewing these areas, the numbers and trends may indicate there is a gap within the company.

CPBJ: How have things changed in the workplace in the past year or so, if at all?

Lando-Cross: Unfortunately, other than people being more aware, I haven’t seen any real changes. I also think we live in an area that in many ways takes longer to be progressive. There is still the “good old boy’s network” that while is lessening, still exists in this region. It’s particularly evident when you look around the table at a board meeting. While it’s getting better, it’s a very slow process because it’s still a lot of the same faces. As each new generation enters the workforce and gets involved, it does get better, but I’d just like to see it happen faster.

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